“Starting With Black”

... But Not Necessarily Ending With Black

… But Not Necessarily Ending With Black

The following is a poem by Jim Haba, which appeared in today’s Salon.Com. Let me start with the text of the poem:

Starting With Black

In a dark place
In a dark time

Start with black.
Stop. Soak up its energy.

Remember the circle
However bent and broken.

Prize balance. Seek pleasure.
Allow surprise. Let music

Guide your every impulse.
Support those who falter.

Steer by our fixed star:
No Justice. No Peace.

I like what the Haba said about his feelings writing this poem:

The profound and expansive confusion that consumes us today requires much more than a momentary stay (even though any respite can help) and I cannot overestimate the danger of immediately grasping for the solace of normalization or simple denial. When the gravity of our current confusion somehow reminded me of Matisse’s remark that ‘black is also a color’ I began to see the necessity of squarely facing the darkness of our predicament. It seemed that only when we stop and give ourselves over to fully taking in this darkness can we begin to gauge its scope and scale. And then, paradoxically, we may discover within that very blackness the energy that will sustain our resistance, our struggle for clarity. Deeply inhabiting a work of art (letting ‘music/guide our every impulse’) strikes me as an important way to tune ourselves and to provide a life-preserving rhythm for the long struggle that lies ahead.

So, Happy New Year to all of you. My fingers are crossed.

The Lion Dance

Lion Dancer at Chinese New Year Parade

Lion Dancer at Chinese New Year Parade

I have seen perhaps a dozen Chinese New Year parades, and I am quite used to seeing dragons and lion dancers. What I find interesting, however, is that there are no lions in China, nor have there been for about two thousand years. According to an article in China Highlights:

In traditional Chinese culture, the lion, like the Chinese dragon, was only an animal which existed in myth, and there were no actual lions in China. Before the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), only a few lions had reached the Central Plains from the western area of ancient China (now Xinjiang), due to Silk Road trade.

Stone lions can be seen, however, acting as guardians to Beijing’s Forbidden City (see below). And Chinese images and beliefs relating to the mythical strength of the lion have spread around the world with the Chinese diaspora.

Stone Lion at the Forbidden City in Beijing

Stone Lion at the Forbidden City in Beijing

There are two styles of lion dance, the Northern and the Southern. Although most Chinese-Americans originated in South China, all the lion dancers I have seen at New Years parades were of the Northern type, which is associated with Chinese martial arts organizations. In the Northern style, only one person manipulates the lion costume. According to the China Highlights website, “Northern lion dances are more gymnastic, involving rolling, wrestling, leaping, jumping, climbing, or kowtowing.” It’s quite entertaining to see the feats of gymnastics performed by Kung Fu practitioners.

 

The Best of 2015

I Never Would have Thought It Possible....

I Never Would have Thought It Possible….

A couple of weeks ago, while I was visiting my brother in Palm Desert, the best thing about 2015 hit me right between the eyes. It was a four-month old baby named Oliver Moorman. I normally don’t go goo-goo-eyed over infants, but I have to admit I did this time. Little Ollie’s mother, my niece Hilary, and her husband Joe Moorman have collaborated on a co-production that has radiated hope in the lives of our tight little family. As you may know, I am a terrible pessimist, but little Ollie has given me some glimmerings of hope for the future.

He makes me want to help make this a better world.

 

Yay! Hooray! Yawn….

Who Celebrates the Passing of Time?

Who Celebrates the Passing of Time?

First of all, don’t make any New Year’s resolutions. It’s a wasted effort, usually leading to broken resolutions before the month of January is over. Sure, everybody wants to be rich, healthy, and thin; but that just may not be your path. (It’s certainly not mine.)

Don’t go to any New Year celebrations. That would only embolden the terrorists. (Come to think of it, is there anything that doesn’t embolden the terrorists?)

It’s not a terribly good idea to get drunk. That’ll make you feel maudlin and resentful, just what you’re trying to avoid, isn’t it? Ditto for recreational drugs. There are no happy dopers.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to see your friends. Just make sure you show them how much you appreciate them. You may need their help in the coming year.

Remember that time will pass whether you celebrate it or not. As those calendar pages fly off, stick to the things that count, like love. Everything else is pretty much frou-frou.

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Yet Another Year...

Yet Another Year…

Okay, so we’re all poised to dive off this Fiscal Cliff. And now I hear that Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned FLDS leader is saying that the world will end before the New Year. Is he plotting some kind of remote control Jim Jones type of Götterdammerung to astonish and sicken us all with tomorrow morning’s coffee?

Yes, both craziness and sanity exist side by side in this most imperfect of all worlds. Some are preparing for the worst, others are calmly trying to get on with their lives while alarms are ringing all around them. House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party minions are pretending that nothing bad will happen if they jerk our chains so bad that we are strangled by them. And Barack Obama is laughing as if he knew something we didn’t.

The earth is heating up rapidly, and the land is ravaged by superstorms of increasing intensity. We continue to assume that peak gasoline will never arrive: After all, can’t we just ramp up the fracking?

In 2013, life will continue to change at a frumious [sic] pace. Little by little, some of us will fall off the jet-powered skateboards we are on and refuse to get back on. Suddenly, we will start remembering things—little things—that are no more, even if they are as innocuous as Twinkies or a favorite brand of hair shampoo or spicy cookies shaped like Dutch windmills or bookstores or Westerns or Moderate Republicans. Inevitably, they are replaced with new things, some of which are worthy replacements, others of which are strictly blow lunch, to use an old Dartmouth expression.

We will struggle on. Some of us will fall by the wayside, only to replaced by new people, people who are different but undoubtedly have many things to recommend them.

In the New Year, some horrible things will happen. Crazy people will shoot up innocents and turn their guns on themselves, thinking they will go to hell with plenty of company. Sports teams will break records. Individual athletes will break records, sometimes without the help of performing-enhancing drugs.

How will we keep our sanity? In the novel I am reading, Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, there is a quote I particularly like: “The world has progressed no further than the truth spoken by a sixth-century Christian: ‘Condemn the sin and forgive the sinner.’”