All eyes are turned towards the East coast of North America as the hurricane rages and rants through. And up there, thirty feet in the air, is an amazing project. The High Line. A creative development on a decommissioned railway track in the heart of the city. A public park! Simply amazing. A bow to resourcefulness and vision.
The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Friends of the High Line works in partnership with the City of New York to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park.
This is a merit post. Spare a thought for the hardship and suffering brought about by the extreme weather.
Our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces, they are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts’ need for lots of stimulation. And also we have this belief system right now that I call the new ‘groupthink’, which holds that all creativity and all productivity comes from a very oddly gregarious place.
There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.
From time to time people ask why we, in our order, do not pull the crowds and why we remain really small in numbers relatively speaking. The thing is contemplatives, people drawn to contemplation, are rarely gregarious types skilled in communication and the like. However there are many fine examples of reflective types speaking out. The Buddha?
This TED talk The Power of Introverts has really helped me to appreciate the spectrum of behaviour the terms introvert/extrovert cover. Each of us has a reflective side as well as the chatty side. But sitting gazing out of windows at leaves falling off trees is little valued. Even by those of us who are prone to ponder in this seemingly pointless way.
In a famous parable, the Buddha imagines a group of blind men who are invited to identify an elephant. One takes the tail and says it’s a rope; another clasps a leg and says it’s a pillar; another feels the side and says it’s a wall; another holds the trunk, and says it’s a tube. Depending on which part of Buddhism you grasp, you might identify it as a system of ethics, a philosophy, a contemplative psychotherapy, a religion. While containing all of these, it can no more be reduced to any one of them than an elephant can be reduced to its tail.
– Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs; from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.
I’m so glad to find this image of the elephant and the blind men. We often use this parable. To have this image is so good.
I was just having a still moment looking at the Autumn clad Birch tree across the road. Just one leaf was waving in a slight breeze, its quivering shadow cast on the silver bark trunk. Then a leaf from higher up fell through the branches. The one leaf quivered on. And I moved on to other matters.
I’m not sure why this scene moved me to write about it. Perhaps another instance of not needing to derive meaning, yet still called to record it.
This post is for Linda whose life is quivering, readying to loose from the branch. And for her husband sitting close by.