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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Stones of Time

Source: Stones of Time

Olga provided great pictures of water and stones along with a haiku and two quotes. Today, I had a conversation about how do we change the world. I commented that we can only live in the here and now.

Confucius reminds us to do any change we begin with small tasks. When we are mindful and present living in the here and now, we understand the small tasks that call for our attention.

Pericles counsels us that others see and understand the imprint of our living in our actions. Our deeds reflect who we are to children, students, co-workers, neighbours, etc. That was part of our conversation today, as well.

What is most indelible are not our words, but our actions. Who am I as a person is a strong message.

 

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The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

Source: The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

I am on the road for a couple of days, so I am not sure what I can post in terms of original material. I turn to pressing some great posts from others.

Val‘s post resonated with me, because judging and discerning were part of my dissertation. Hans-Georg Gadamer used these concepts in Truth and Method and they formed a significant part of my conceptual framework, literature review, and conclusions.

Gadamer proposed humans judge the world, ideas, and people as they encounter them. He used the term prejudice, which is a way of prejudging the world as we engage with it and others. In effect, there is a right or wrong way to engage. I used parentheses, because it has a negative connotation and to slow the pace of reading. It became (pre)judge and (pre)judice, which annoyed two of my committee members.

When we take more time to read text and (con)text, that which encircles us, we can (dis)cern and (in)form ourselves as we realize the world and people are complex. WE ask eloquent questions that do not have predetermined answers. We let the question frame dialogue with the world and others.

Val said “when we detach [ourselves] from the belief of good or bad, and discern life’s multicolors and shades, we find freedom beyond the rules and conditioning of the mind.” We let go of judgements of a world that is cast in binary choices of black or white, moving to complex (con)textual understandings (sub)ject to discerning and seeking new and continuous understandings. Ted Aoki contended “and” means more than the binary nature of “or.”

The Mountain Reveals Herself

One of the wonders of driving from Edmonton to Prince George is passing Mount Robson. For many years, we drove past it several times a year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the peak. On many days, clouds cover its peak entirely or in part.

Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the Fraser River headwaters the are in the provincial park bearing its name. We have walked along Robson River a ways, but the path goes for about 19 kilometres to a lake fed directly by a glacier.

An azure ceiling shines above,

Shimmering white lace spreads to meet it,

Rippling up from a white jacket;

A snowy zipper on a granite skirt;

Standing on guard below,

Silently an entourage of green warriors.

Gazing upwards,

Discovering her nobility and splendour,

She majestically reveals her grandeur–

To us mere mortals.

Yellowstone Elk

When we write, we write about things that we experienced and imagine. I have had the good fortune to come close to several large animals and took pictures.

This is a poem about an elk I saw in Yellowstone several years ago. I was able to get to about 30 feet (10 metres) of him, protected by the trees a bit. He impressed me with his calmness. He seemed totally unaware of me, but I am aware they are wild animals and I am the one out of my element.

Frank O’Hara wrote about common things in his poetry i.e. aspirin, lunch hours, and harmonicas. Sometimes, those things seem more exotic like this elk.

I picture him in my mind’s eye,

I recall the story.

Walking up the road

Down into a high-banked ditch.

Quietly, always trees between us,

I ease my way to this moment.

He appears unconcerned,

He does not lift his crown.

Cautiously, I approach,

After all, he is king here.

Head down,

He attends to his concerns.

I approach as close as I can,

One shot to recall I was there.

Imperfection/Perfection

Jacques Derrida wrote about deconstruction, which is about thinking in paradoxes. Instead of thinking about binaries i.e. perfection or imperfection, we consider the opposites as being part of each other. We are unable to think of one without the other and continuously deconstruct the meaning.

This continuous making of meaning is a hermeneutic task of  interpreting. Paul Ricoeur wrote about deep or radical hermeneutics, which considered context as part of the meaning-making process. Radical means to go the roots of something, so it requires the person look below the surface and turn things over.

I took a stab at writing a poem. after reading Mary Oliver today. I am reading a book of her essays called Upstream. She writes prose in a poetic way. I love walking in the mountains. Beauty and perfection of mountains reveal themselves in their lack of symmetry and imperfection. As well, there is always something hidden from sight, on the back side of a mountain and in the crevasses we cannot get close enough to.

Inspired by other’s words

I seek my own.

To discover meaning

I sit quietly and receive.

Meanings hold no meaning,

There can be no certainty.

Always something hidden,

On the backside, underneath.

Imperfection exists,

Making perfection complete.

It awaits my mindfulness,

The extraordinary in the ordinary.

I took this picture unsure of why at the time. Later, I used it in a presentation about environmentalism. Today, it adds depth and meaning to what I am trying to say.

Fog

Our spring is arriving in spits and spurts. There have been spring blizzards with accumulating snow. Another part of our spring is fog. It is unusual in Edmonton and could be due to the warming and cooling that has occurred.

In keeping with the slow arrival of spring and the fog, I wrote this poem. When we lived in Prince George, BC, fog was more common. The city is in a valley at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. Edmonton has fog around the North Saskatchewan River, but the valley is not the same.

In Prince George, if I drove out of the bowl, I looked back and saw the fog hanging over the city. Its lines were not clearly drawn, but blurred and uneven.

Look back into the valley’s bowl

Fog hangs;

The city evaporates,

Gray lines blur my vision.

The road ends at the next curve,

Below, the top of bridges;

Suspended on the still grayness.

Across the rivers,

Mills’ stacks and building tops peek out;

Heads hanging on a gray pillow,

Severed from the city’s body.

Image result for prince George bc and fog images

Image from A Place for Things is taken in Prince George.

Our True Heritage

I am reading The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh to remind myself of to listen mindfully to others. When I am fully present to the other, I show compassion and understanding for their suffering.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes beautiful poetry, which reminds me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. This poem reminds me that, when I am present, I experience the cosmos and its precious gems with all my senses.

In the busyness of living, I miss hearing birds singing, the pines chanting, and smiles of those around me. When I am happy, I share that with the world.

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem,

shining through and containing earth and sky,

water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently

for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing,

the pines chanting,

see the flowers blooming,

the blue sky,

the white clouds,

the smile and the marvelous look

of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,

who have been going around begging for a living,

stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness

and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress

and embrace life fully in your arms.

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