Tagged Body

Elliott Erwitt, "New York City," 1958

Winter Solstice 2017

Today the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the North Pole is tilted farthest from the sun. Our ancient ancestors observed this day, watching the stars and the shortening days, patiently abiding and taking note until one day…it changed. They learned that the darkest day is followed by a little more light.…

Alphonse Osbert (1857-1939), "Silence of the Water," 1895

Be an Island

“Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves….” As he lay dying, the Buddha gave this advice to his beloved disciple Ananda. Death reveals the true value and meaning of life, which can be summed up in two words: it passes. Life goes on with us or without us. When the Buddha spoke of…

Oda Krohg, "By the Oslofjord," 1886 (Detail)

Be Straw

Once a poor miller was summoned to meet with a king. The summons itself must have filled him with terror. Evolutionary biologists tell us that we fear public speaking and other ways of being on the spot because we are all wired to link survival with acceptance by the tribe. And this king was the…

There Must Be More

There must be more to me than this. Have you ever thought this? It’s a little moment of awakening rather than an ordinary thought—a clearing in the clouds, a a distant memory, a knowing that there is more. More to life. More to me. This realization can feel like hitting bottom. It can arise in…

Minor White, Moencopi Strata, Capitol Reef, Utah, 1962. Courtesy of The Minor White Archive, Princeton University.

The Power in Obstacles

Last week, a group of us talked about what happens when we face obstacles and difficult situations.   We agreed that no one escapes such things, and that often what happens is inside is fear, which has a powerful undertow. Signs at ocean beaches warn swimmers not to try to fight their way out of a…

Bonfire, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A Formal Feeling Comes

“After great pain, a formal feeling comes,” writes Emily Dickinson.  “The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs.” After a great shock or loss or change, a stillness comes. We sit still and receive life without leaning forward to grasp at it or commenting on it—think of the way a king or queen receives visitors. We have…