Saturday 31

Barone's Health & Fitness Club/Basement. When I arrive home from taking the garbage (7 paper bags of newspapers and magazines, 6 paper bags of bottles--non-recycleable--and 8 plastic bags of garbage) to the dump early this morning, Betsy has this in her hand:

"We could really use this, " she says "for days when it's raining or when we don't feel like going to Smith to workout." Sure, why not. So we drive to Hatfield (On her new CD, "The Northeast Kingdom," Cheri Knight has a song called "The Hatfield Side.") to buy The Recumbent Bike. And when we carry it down to the basement, Betsy says "Bruce, I've been reading the classifieds and we could probably get a Bow-Flex, too." I almost dropped The Recumbent Bike. I laughed. Thank God for Betsy; she's been exercising so dilligently--running 5 miles a day or lifting weights; she IS an inspiration and, yes, I have gotten with the program. She's never looked better. Felt better. And the basement is turning into an health club; oh, we had to take down the basketball backboard and net to make room for the pool table, but there is The Recumbent Bike and we're buying a new treadmill---and, of course, there is ping pong and Nintendo; oh, and two hula hoops. I spent at least one hour this afternoon looking for the lyrics to an old Eric Burden and The Animals song to post with the photo of me below but I it was a futile search; all I could remember was "when I was young," but Google turned up nothing; thinking if I run, weight train, and ride The Recumbent Bike could I ever look like my former self:

Ah, probably not, but....and then I went for a run, outside, as it wasn't raining or snowing, both of which are predicted for Monday, and I heard the strangest mix of music on the radio; I don't know, maybe I was dreaming as I ran around and around our neighborhood but I could swear this is what was playing on WRSI: Air, The Pixies, Pere Ubu, Bob Marley, James Chance and the Contortions, Pharoah Sanders, Ofra Haza; it made for good running music.

Late last night: UCONN women lost; Daryl's first week (of four) of being grounded comes to an end, and I find some fine photos here.

Friday 30

Future Honor Student.

On Wednesday night Danielle was inducted into the Northampton Chapter of The National Honor Society. : I was never an A student. I was always a B student. Oh, I would get an occassional A and I once got an F--in French or Chemistry; ah, it was Chemistry as I remember my teacher, Mrs. Corizzi, saying "Bruce, you flunked but I gave you a C anyway." (I was a senior). I was always popular. I was always a team captain. I was always the student council president. I was friends with the jocks, the nerds, and the hoods. In fact, at a recent high school reunion, a guy came up to me and said "I always liked the way you would talk with anyone." I felt good about that. Jennifer asks if I need to pretend to be fulfilled by my job? That's a hard yet easy question to answer. I always wanted to be an Art History professor and I think I would have made a great one; I love books, I love to read, I am a great leader and I think, teacher, but when I graduated from college I was so without direction and things just happened which eventually led me to marketing at Hearst Magazines. Was that fulfilling? Yes. And exciting. And fun. A few years ago I had my own sales and marketing consulting business, "Visioneering," with two partners. It was five years of high highs and low lows, so low that the bank tried to foreclose on our house for payment of our business loan. Horrible those few years were as I tried to negoitiate with the bank, crying on the phone to my dad, fighting with my wife, delivering pizzas for Dominos at night with my little blue hat and blue jacket on. But I swallowed my pride and we surivived. And I have been fortunate to eventually end up here in this job; good money, lots of money, freedom, flexibility, see art in New York, meet some good people, help people reach their goals and objectives, live on quiet street near Smith College. So fulfillment does comes to me through my job and also through another door. And it comes with friendships, family, books, art.  I was so moved that Jennifer even asked this question. She asks a lot of questions. And that is a good thing. Wordsworth: "obstinate questionings/of sense and outward things/falling from us, vanishing things." Simplicity is a state of mind you say. I think you are right. Emily Dickinson: "Success is counted sweetest/by those who ne'er succeed/to comprehend a nectar/requires sorest need/Not one of all the purple Host/Who took the Flag today/Can tell the definition/So clear of Victory/As he defeted--dying--/On whose forbidden ear/The distant strains of triumph/Burst agonized and clear!." I have always loved that. Here is a living, yes, that's right: Doctor, lawyer, baker, farmer, writer, teacher, chemist, salesperson: Fulfillment from within. It does comes from Within. Find the peace within you. The Light. Tiger Tiger Burning Bright. Art is contemplation of life. A friend asks, finally, "do you think you can have a job and not value it as anything but a form of employing your mind, a place of concentration, which is necessary for mental rigor and at the same time always be available to a lesser or greater job. In other words, never to think of yourself through your occupation or to use it to earn respect or to understand yourself and to never become attached to it as something necessary?" Yes, I do. What about Stevens? And to a degree, Williams? All that matters is a red wheel barrow. Or red sled.

A friend e-mails me this spiritual meditation this morning:

What does it mean for businesspeople to live for a cause greater than themselves in our day and time? Jeremiah Lanphier was a businessman in New York City who asked God to do this in his life in 1857. In a small darkened room, in the back of one of New York City's lesser churches, a man prayed alone. His request of God was simple, but earth-shattering: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), He was a man approaching midlife without a wife or family, but he had financial means. He made a decision to reject the "success syndrome" that drove the city's businessmen and bankers. God used this businessman to turn New York City's commercial empire on its head. He began a businessmen's prayer meeting on September 23,
1857. The meetings began slowly, but within a few months 20 noonday meetings were convening daily throughout the city. The New York Tribune and the New York Herald issued articles of revival. It had become the city's biggest news. Now a full-fledged revival, it moved outside New York. By spring of 1858, 2,000 met daily in Chicago's Metropolitan Theatre, and in Philadelphia the meetings mushroomed into a four-month long tent meeting. Meetings were held in Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago, New Orleans, and Mobile. Thousands met to pray because one man stepped out. Annus Mirabilis, the year of national revival, had begun. This was an extraordinary move of God through one man. It was unique because the movement was lead by businessmen, a group long considered the least prone to any form of evangelical fervor, and it had started on Wall Street, the most unlikely of all places to begin.Could God do something extraordinary through you? Take a step. Ask God to do mighty things through you. (Courtesy of Os Hillman at www.marketplaceleaders,org)

It was snowing when I started writing this morning, then the snow turned to sleet, and now rain. I walked Daisy and we came back to the house on Birch Lane wet; though she looked more like a rat than me. And then I read something very interesting here. Later, I read and research to complete poem for Katharine and I find this, from Emerson:

"The beauty of nature re-forms itself in the mind and not for barren contemplation......Nothing divine dies......All good is eternally reproductive......The creation of beauty is Art......Nothing is quite beautiful alone; nothing but is beautiful in the whole......The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the desire of beauty, This element I call an ultimate end. No reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest sense, is one expression for the universe. God is the all-fair. Truth, and goodness, and beauty, are but different faces of the same All. But beauty in nature is not ultimate. It is the herald of inward and eternal beauty, and is not alone a solid and satisfactory good. It must stand as a part, and not as yet the last or highest expression of the final cause of Nature."

Thursday 29

Jackass or Fatal Misattraction. Betsy leaves for work at 6:45. Danielle is now picked up by Lizza at 7:00. Julie comes over at 7:05 and with Daryl listens to Nelly, or Iconz, or sometimes I don't even know who it is but it's kind of, how do I put it, "dirty," and they leave Napster running for me as they walk out the door at 7:25 and I get my chance at the computer at 7:30; I have already walked Daisy, had a cup of coffee and ran (sometimes). What I often see first in my in-box is a message from, a tip for the day if you will, and many are quite interesting, often applying to much more than sales--to life. To life. Let's make a toast for life today, for living exceedingly well. For example, this morning I find this:

First, the good news: There is far more business out there than you can possibly handle. Now, for the bad: There is far more business out there than you can possibly handle. This unusual dilemma is well illustrated in a famous parable attributed to the medieval philosopher Jean Buridan. Buridan described the predicament of a hungry jackass tethered in a field between two piles of hay. There is plenty of food to satisfy that animal's needs, but every time he moves toward one of the piles, he changes his mind and backs away toward the other. Eventually, surrounded by food, he starves to death—becoming philosophy's most famous victim of "fatal misattraction." Starving to death while you're surrounded by plenty. This paradox is painfully relevant to selling. Like Buridan's jackass, too many of us undermine our own chances for survival, not by ignoring the opportunities that are within our reach, but by being unable to decide among good alternatives. That's the first real dilemma of territory or account management: we're overwhelmed, not underwhelmed, by the choices.

I was not a jackass today and after reading the above, I read a friendly e-mail from Jouke updating me to the fact the Frank Zappa did not in fact shave his legs; I was trying to imagine that act performed so it was good to receive this news which in turn got me thinking about all sorts of things; when Betsy and I first met we either listened to Zappa or Bruce Springsteen, who we saw at a fairly small bar in NYC; we saw the Talking Heads, too, at a small bar in Boston and this morning I simply couldn't get something Jennifer said and an old Talking Heads song out of my mind--I think it went like this

It's not...yesterday...anymore
I go visiting, I talk loud
I try to make myself clear
In front...of a face...that's nearer
Than it's ever been before
Not this close before
Nearer than before
Not this close before

It a million...years ago
I hear music...and it sounds like bells
I feel like my head is high
I wish...I could meet...every one
Meet them all over again
Bring them up to my room
Meet them all over again
Everyone's up in my room

And now...Now I'm busy...Busy again
I feel like sitting down but
I'm still thinking...Thinking about my friends
In my garden...moments
But now I'm speaking out
Speaking about my friends
Now I'm speaking out
Thinking about my friends

Yes, I was not a jackass. And in between important phone calls and e-mails, I finished reading Katharine's "Sarasvati," and was moved by her passion, intelligence, honesty; her skill, craft. Beauty; yes for Beauty with a captial B: the pleasure of reading each word; where it might lead--then, today, tomorrow. Freshness. Sudden outbursts of longing. Sensual. The memory of--what, love, beauty; sometimes obsessive, always like a sparrow, playing with a word here and then there, or a concept, a longing; dropping it, catching it, taking it up again and again--much to smile about, to return to Katharine.

Wednesday 28

Poetry. Jennifer told me today that Mrs. Dalloway is one of her favorite books. In her introduction to the 1928 American edition, Virginia Woolf maintains that a novel comes to the writer just as flowers and fruit to a tree "which has its roots deep down in the earth of our earliest life, of our first experience." Writing in her diary Woolf says "It is poetry I want now...I want the concentration and the romance, and the words all glued together, fused, glowing -- have no time to waste any more on prose." She delivers prose into poetry. The novel starts with Clarissa opening the window. Listen to what I have been reading tonight:

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it has always seemed to her when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like a flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteeen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen: looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling, standing and looking ......

Tuesday 27

Being and Nothingness. It is a day of false starts. Suffering in surrealism: On your mark. Get set. Go. Everyone back to their places, please. I keep coming around the corner. Coming around the corner. Around. Around. I am a guest in the movie "The Exterminating Angel;" the artifice and hypocristy of civilized society--repetitive introductions, the polite acceptance of social invitations, and the perpetuation of self-indulgence--trapped in a bourgeois cul-de-sac harboring savage instincts and unspeakable secrets. Base. Primal. The guests, so thoroughly arrived, are incapable--literally--of leaving. Ah, but Bunuel said, "Those seeking reason or explanations are in the wrong theater." Exactly.

One guest says to another: "Wouldn't it be a good joke if I sneaked up and pushed you out?" The other says, "Try it, and I'll kill you."

Bunuel's firmest conviction was that most people were hypocrites--the sanctimonious and comfortable most of all. He also had a streak of nihilism; in one film, a Christ figure, saddened by the sight of a dog tied to a wagon spoke and too tired to keep up, buys the dog to set it free. As he does, another dog tied to another wagon limps past unnoticed in the background.

Monday 26

Contemplating Beauty.

(a working document)
This is beautiful, this
Is not, what is
Beauty but that
Which we hunger
Like light, fundamental
Unarguable, self-evident
Principle of beauty
In the beginning
Was the word and we
See the world not
As it is but as
We are, this is
Beauty, the truth
That comes each morning
Sweeping down
Up, the birds
The tiny spirit
I see asking
Nothing, perfect
In their exacting
Form, flooding
The sky, it is
The snow
Last night
And now
If you listen
You can hear the chipmunk
Scurry away in the garage
I want to hear
A Chopin Etude
And look
She says it is
The black bear
The thick woods
Rainy days by the river
(more later)

Sunday 25

Lost and Found.


Saturday 24

Where am I going? Beautiful photo narrative from Katharine but today I am thinking about my baby:

"Once every month, during the school year, September through June, my mother took me to New York City to see a Broadway play. And, sometimes, if we had already seen all there was to see, we would spend the day at the Museum of Modern Art, eating lunch with her friends from college, or walking. She loved to walk. It didn't matter how far we had to go. We hardly ever took a cab. And no matter how tired I got or how much I complained, she said it was good exercise. It was fun and it was more interesting stopping to look in store windows, and sometimes, going in to buy herself and me a gift, a watch from Swatch, a new t-shirt from Niketown.. My dad was an art history professor at Smith College. My mom was a poet. The two of us would leave Northampton early in the morning to catch the train out of Springfield, me with my knapsack filled with books, a walkman--to keep me quiet; my mom was always saying 'you ask so many questions,' and after she said it I think she felt bad for telling me to be quiet and she'd start talking to me and asking me questions and before you know it we were in Penn Station. On these trips, they were more like adventures, once we even went to the Bronx Zoo and another time we took a tour of Madison Garden, she'd always call me Baby, Baby all the time She said it was the name of an old song. I was eight and she'd always say you'll always be my baby. Mom I'm not a baby, I'd say. She'd answer you'll always be my baby. In fact, can't you stop right here today forever and I'll hold you in my eye. And then she'd stop talking, smile, and grow quiet for a few minutes and then she'd look at me as if she'd never see me again and say oh forget it I was just being silly. And then we'd be off, walking through Macy's and north on Broadway and sometimes up Eighth Avenue when she was thinking I needed an education about how other people lived far away from the quiet beauty of Park Avenue or steely early morning silence of Sixth Avenue. As soon as we arrived at the Museum of Modern Art, she'd call her friend, Lucy, who was the director of development at the museum. She'd greet us with hugs and kisses and say you just have to let me show you something. Once, it was art by some French woman; pretty strange stuff, stuffed toy animals on the walls, stuffed cloth replicas of body parts hanging from the ceiling. It was a maze you walked through. I didn't really get it but I kind of liked it. Another time it was what looked like dead animals, made of iron, I think, spinning around on a merry-go-round, scraping on the floor making an awful grinding noise and a room showing a video of a clown repeating the joke repeat and pete were sitting on a wall over and over again, strange, but I liked it and I could see that both Lucy and my mother thought it was important and from the way they talked, exciting, fun even. Another time it was paintings of DeKooning which I really liked. Mom did you see that, in the painting Mom, do you see that? Mom, where's Lucy? She has an appointment . Why, Mom, with who? Baby, baby you ask so many questions. With an artist. Who, Mom. DeKooning. Oh, baby, baby with a photographer, Nan Goldin. For seconds after my Mom spoke I stood there silently thinking, my mind wandering through the rooms of our house back in Northampton, down the halls, along the walls, looking at the paintings, the poems, the photographs and then there it was a photograph of a teenager with army shoes and army pants slouched in a chair, a photo my dad bought from this Nan Goldin. My dad said he met her at a bar. She was a bartender at a place called Tin Pan Alley , an artist. Remembering where I was and what my Mom said I asked if we could meet her. Well, I don't know, let's call Lucy, maybe for a second. She kissed me then , once and then again on my head. Let's go. And then we were off my mom holding my hand now and telling me she, too, knew this artist, well not really knew her but met her years ago when she and my dad lived in New York City, well not New York City, but Weehawken. and she came to their house, their apartment for dinner, and she said Cara came too, and Maggie, who owned Tin Pan Alley, and John, and Seth and Rebecca, and it was a good dinner, and it was art and there was beauty in the world here in their house...."

Friday 23

Old Poems and Photographs. Today I am asking: What is Beauty? Quoting Katharine: "What is its purpose? How is it to be harnessed, appreciated, created?"

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty.
I only think of how to solve the problem.
But, when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful,
I know it is wrong.
-Buckminster Fuller

Thursday 22

Beauty. Just starting to think about Beauty. "I know this much, is all," Franny said. "If you're a poet, you do something beautiful. I mean you're supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page and everything."

Wednesday 21

Laura and Eva and Luminaire. I saw Laura today at the FMA Board Meeting and was reminded of how wonderful it was to work with her; when she was president of the FMA, I was its membership chair. And when she resigned from the position because she was leaving Time, Inc. to work at the advertising agency Ammirati Puris Lintas (she's now back at Time), I gave this short speech at FMA Day:

FMA Day, June 11, 1997

Last week, in The Wall Street Journal, Harvey Mackay, CEO of Mackay Envelope, motivational speaker, and author of the best-selling book, "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," was featured in the column "Managing Your Career, " in a story entitled "When Harvey Mackay Networks, He Thinks Quality Not Quantity." He was asked "What's the most important advice you could give to people." And he answered, quote, "Our lives change in two ways, through the people we meet and the books we read." He was, in turn, quoting the American humorist, Will Rogers, who said, "We become smarter by reading and meeting interesting people." How true that is of the opportunity FMA meetings, seminars, and luncheons provide each and every one of us. Don Ross, President of CDS, says "The FMA is the best opportunity to meet and greet the great people of this industry." This quote from a lift note in our, in your, membership renewal package, which you will be receiving within a few weeks. With these quotes in mind.........One last note, a personal note, but I know I speak for all the FMA board members; a note about how our lives change, grow, through the people we meet. I have had the pleasure of working with Laura during the past year on all our membership mailings and other promotions. I will miss Laura's constant support. Her enthusiasm. Her wit. Her Help. For I have grown because of her. She is a great leader. Focused and organized. But flexible. Direct. Sincere. Smart. Kind. Generous. Laura, in the spirit of your mission for the FMA during this past year, which was to have more fun, we have one last message for you (and then a singing telegram hired by moi came rushing in to the room singing a song for Laura--it was a real WOW experience)

Didn't Franny or Zooey take magical trips to The Plaza Hotel? I think they did. A friend recently wrote to me, "I know how Zooey looks when he's speaking and how Franny is wan and radiant. All were radiant at The Plaza Hotel tonight at the "Women in Production Celebrating Excellence, The Fourteenth Annual Luminaire Awards Dinner," in THE Grand Ballroom (I had never been here before--quite beautiful). A funny speech--"Ten Rules to Success--by Cindy Rakowitz, VP, Public Relation and Promotions, Playboy, and moving speeches from Lori Carrabba, Executive VP, Director of Operations for Bates Healthworld and Dora Braschi Cardinale (I sense an Italian thing going on here), Executive VP of Print Production for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (funny thing; I saw Martha twice that day--at this dinner and at lunch at The Four Seasons; she was there doing a shoot in the kitchen and I was at the bar having lunch sitting next to her hair stylist/makeup artist, Eva, who I thought at first was Paulina Porizkova. She was very charming--and smart. I told her the story--see Sunday entry below-- about the little girl in Honduras happy in her life carrying a wood pile on her back in the mud in the rain.) Lori ended her speech quoting something she heard once before:

Dance like no one is watching
Sing like no one is listening
Love like you've never been hurt
Life like it's Heaven on Earth

Cindy's Ten Rules for Success were:

  1. Don't take it all so seriously
  2. Never let them see you cry--never
  3. Workout--it motivates you, gives you confidence/energy
  4. Find efficient Day Care
  5. Dress for success--it too gives you confidence
  6. Always carry a gun--just kidding
  7. Be prepared; prepare early, beat traffic & crowds
  8. Set Goals; short/long term and personal/professional
  9. Listen to that voice in your head
  10. Chose great female role models
  11. Disagreements are allowed but get over them--quickly

Tuesday 20

A Good Day. I had a great appointment this morning At Consumers Union. And dinner with Stacy this evening.

Monday 19

Get Fucked Up. Words and lyrics by Iconz ("Get fucked up, Stay fucked up") pretty much describes my state of being today--the way I feel not the way I am: first long e-mail this morning; poof "you have performed an illegal operation" and second long and much longer e-mail--poof "you have performed an illegal operation." Fuck.

Sunday 18 (still writing)

Sunshine. This is not a sermon. It what I heard today--what I then saw and felt. Todat at Edwards Church in Northampton we welcomed William Wildey, director of the regional office of Church World Service. He has traveled the world visiting place where our One Great Hour of Sharing ofering has saved lives from natural, as well as ethnic and political disasters. He told us of a recent journey to Honduras. He

Saturday 17 (still writing)

Faith Community. I have just returned from a three hour retreat at which we discussed the nature of a "faith community" and how it relates to and impacts on our vision for Christian education at Edwards Church in Northampton. I am thinking of my local faith community, but I am also thinking of the global faith community and our Hebrew, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Unitarian brothers and sisters; and I am thinking how the internet intersects with this community and in what ways is the internet helping to make people of the world more hospitable, loving, caring, thoughtful, peaceful.

Friday 16

Without Words. Sunshine fading behind increasing cloudiness.

Silence vs Confession. Whisper. Dream. Mirror. Mystery. Mystified. Illusion. Sunlight. Exposure. Poetry. Prayer.

Not all cloudy: worked out at Smith College and ran two miles outside first thing this morning (no snow on street but still two feet on yard); a quote request comes one week early from the American Bible Society. A call from Brian of GRI Direct to quote a new project for him. And names from Ann. And an e-mail from Cindy telling me about a Nancy Spero lecture she heard which then has me at Google searching for more information about her and I find this. And I read Helena's latest. And visit Alaina at Purifiance. Inspired by Kaycee today and Amber. Found time to listen to Beethoven and The Sex Pistols. And pray for Jouke; it is A Flood in France. Taught my 12-year-old baby boy to shave (a moustache); he's a man now. Did I shave at 12? Who was I at 12?

Thursday 15

A Vermeer Kind of Day.

"A Woman Holding a Balance" Washington, National Gallery, 42X35 1665-66. Always weighing the meaning of my actions; chosing between the eternal, spirtual path and the temporary, material path. On the wall behind her, a large painting of The Last Judgement; a weighing of souls.

Wednesday 14

"The Girl with a Pearl Earring" The Hague, 47X40 1665. Maybe Vermeer's most famous painting, made not with line but color, there is an almost impressionistic softness about it. It was been thought that this is a painting of one of Vermeer's oldest daughters, but the eldest, Maria, was only 11 in 1665.

Tuesday 13

A List With Notes (and an Angel):

"Virtual Underground, Blue Phase," Amy Myers, 1998, 90"x132", ink, graphite on paper

She would come for me
Tomorrow, an angel
Naked with wings
Coming, coming, coming
I am sure she is
With me, hear her
Voice, she says
"The Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want
He maketh me lie down in green pastures
He leadeth me beside still waters
He restoreth my soul."
She is one with me
Like the black bear
Who visited me last year
What should I say
That it is peaceful and quiet
Here, I saw the animal run
Over the snow to the river
And drink, I dream of her
Seated on green grass beside the river
White legs dangling into black water
Her wings softly falling at her side
And I dream she will be still
Because she knows only this
Life, love, peace---we are
This drawing on the wall
One and I do not need
To look to see, she is
With me, light, light

Monday 12

Soul Searching. Still searching for answers to Alysha's question (and thinking of Jennifer): How do you rest a weary soul?

A monk once wanted to ask Master Yun-men a question and started to say, "The light serenely shines over the whole universe..." Before he had even finished the frist line, Yun-men suddenly interrupted, "Isn't that the poem of Cho Hsiu-ts'ai? The monk answered, "Yes, it is." Yun-men said, "You've missed it."

From "Dharma Discourse by Abbot John Daido Loori, M.R.O.: Koans, these apparent paradoxes of Zen, are specifically designed to frustrate,or short-circuit, the whole intellectual process. You cannot solve them through linear, sequential thinking. You need to make an intuitive leep of consciousness to see them. And although they may often sound very different, koan questions are no different than the questions: "Who am I?" "What is the soul?" "What is truth?" "What is reality?" "What is God?" "What is life?" "What is death?"

The first words the Buddha said on his own realization were: "All sentient beings are enlightened." That being the case, what can you give anybody? The minute you name the truth, you miss it. Truth is not the words and ideas that describe reality, but the reality itself. Truth cannot be talked about; it can only be experienced. We can point to it, but we cannot give it to anyone; we cannot receive it. It reaches everywhere. It is beginningless and endless. No one lacks it. There is no creature on the face of this earth that fails to cover the ground on which it stands -- perfect, complete, lacking nothing.

Yun-men said, "You've missed it!" Indeed. Suddenly, the clouds part and the light shines serenely over the whole universe. How? How, with Yun-men's words, "You've missed it!" does the light shine serenely over the whole universe? Isn't that precisely the true picture of all beings, of our essential nature? The problem was that while this monastic's whole body was in the midst of the light, he was foolish enough to look for it outside himself.

"The light serenely shines over the whole universe." Before Chang-cho Hsiu-ts'ai said it, before Shakyamuni was even born into this world, this light was the original truth of the whole universe. To be more exact, there is no before and no after. (See the Robert Frost poem quoted below) As soon as the monastic moved his tongue, he missed it. Asking the question misses it. Answering, Yun-men misses it. How can you avoid missing it? How would you respond to Master Yun-men?

The thing that blinds us and deafens us is the ceaselessly moving mind, the preoccupation we have with our thoughts. It is the incessant internal dialogue that shuts out everything else. That is the problem with trying to take a preconceived photograph. Before you even walk out of the building, you blind yourself. All day long we talk to ourselves. We preoccupy ourselves with the past, or we preoccupy ourselves with the future, and while we preoccupy ourselves, we miss the moment and miss our lives. Looking, we do not see. It is as if we were blind. Listening, we do not hear. It is as if we were deaf. Loving, we do not feel. It is as if we were dead. Preoccupied, we do not notice the reality around us. How can we be present? How can we taste and touch our lives?

Dogen said: "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things." The ten thousand things are the whole phenomenal universe. What does it mean to be enlightened by the ten thousand things? It means to be the ten thousand things. This is no different than being the breath with the whole body and mind, seeing form with the whole body and mind, hearing sound with the whole body and mind.

All sutras, all poems reduce to a single word. All ideas, to one thought. All gods, demons, saints and buddhas become the one. What is the one? Not the word, not the idea, not the sound, but the very thing itself. What is it? Speech misses it. Silence misses it. Neither speech nor silence misses it. Both speech and silence miss it.

The answer to these questions is not outside yourself. To see this truth requires the backward step, going very deep into yourself to find the foundation of reality and of your life. To see it is not the same as understanding it or believing it. To see it means to realize it with the whole body and mind. To realize it transforms one's life, one's way of perceiving the universe and the self, and of expressing what has been realized.

When you practice the Zen arts, practice your life -- trust yourself completely. Trust the process of sitting. Know that deep within each and every one of us, under layers of conditioning, there is an enlightened being, alive and well. In order to function, it needs to be discovered. To discover this buddha is wisdom. To make it function in the world is compassion. That wisdom and compassion is the life of each one of us. It is up to you what you do with it.

Poet and author Gary Snyder writing in the wonderful book "The Practice of the Wild:"

Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick---don't let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our"practice" which will put us on a "path" --- it is our path

Socrates notion of the well-ordered soul is a conception of the soul of an enlightened sage. Prior to Socrates, the Pythagoreans, Heraclitus, and Empedocles praised the life of awakened wisdom. After Socrates, Plato, the Stoics, the neo-Platonics, and the neo-Pythagoreans did so as well. And in the East, the ideal of the enlightened sage is central to the religions and philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

But how to rest the soul? Pursue positive wisdom. Socrates considered himself a physician of souls. He saw his role in tending souls as being similar to the physician's role in tending bodies. Socrates prescribed the "pill" of self-knowledge and the rigorous discipline of intellectual inquiry to bring about health in a tired/unwell soul. Insight and enlightenment come about from reflective inquiry. Prior to sudden/immediate insight, we invest considerable time questioning, reflecting, probing, or being simply confused.

Socrates used pregnancy and midwife metaphors when explaining this. An insight must gestate for some time; once the time is right, the insight is born suddenly, in an instant.

Sunday 11

What good am I? It is a question we dread coming. We question our very existence. But:

Ubi caritas, et amor;
Ubi caritas...Deus ibi est

Yellow for Light. Love. Sunshine. Elation comes with productivity. I feel unproductive today. What good am I? I know in my heart and in my mind that all I need I have been given. But how can I become more Fruitful? Vital? Loving? Peaceful? Humble? Joyful? Giving? Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote:

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Ah, yes, Beauty is NOT enough. The Great decison we must make: To be Fruitful or not. And then I see something like this; and I am moved: The Rape Project. Go read this.

Saturday 10

Called Back.This is what is written on Emily Dickinson's gravestone in Amherst, Massachusetts. It is also written on the church bulletin distributed today at a beautiful memorial service for Darlene Sue (Older) Bankman which was held at Edwards Church in Northampton. In his moving eulogy The Rev. Dr. Peter Kakos quoted from the Robert Frost poem "In the Home Stretch."

"I don't want to find out what can't be known.
But who first said the word to come?"
"My dear,
It's who first thought the thought. You're searching, Joe,
For things that don't exist; I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings---there are no such things.
There are only middles."

(add copy here about 1) Sue's WVA upbringing 2) God within Us 3) Love 4)in the middle of things 5) The river of love and hate 6) Portal)

Friday 09

Snakeskindress. A gift, a work of art, arrives in today's mail. It is from Helena, a gifted writer, artist, photographer. Written July--November 2000 with excerpts from old journals, essays and stories, it can be read online, which I did last weekend, but there is something uniquely moving about holding a work of art in your hand. Helena writes "This is my love song to myself." (add here)

Thursday 08

Kaycee: "You are being discharged."

This: to honor Kaycee, who is being discharged from the hospital: WOW; this photo that firefighter John McColgan (BLM/Alaska Fire Service), took during the fires in the Bitterroot Valley in August 2000. This: to thank God for her life and health and inspiration:

Tyger ! Tyger !

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze thy fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And why thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors grasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Qualify for Quality. Not everyone is a good prospect; actually most pople aren't. I read this recently somewhere. And I know it to be true. It's what I'm thinking as I start to make my phone calls for today: Columbia House vs American Bible Society; American Express vs Prudential; Bates vs Audubon. I know if I don't get on the phone, or get out there and mingle, I'll never find the good prospects.

Four or five years ago I wrote an essay about love and its impact on sales and marketing. Julian Niccolini, co-owner of The Four Seaons restaurant in New York City once said: "We love the men and women who eat here, and we will do whatever it takes to make them happy."

Love: between phone calls and research on google today I thought of the beautiful little book, Rain, by Kirsty Gunn and the wonderful writing of Carole Maso. The last time I saw Carole she was giving a reading from her book, The Art Lover, at The Globe bookstore in Northampton (the store, which had great poetry, art, and children's section is, unfortunately, gone as is the gorgeous Victorian bar that was a few doors down, Sheehan's). Alas. (more later)

Wednesday 07

Heather and Amber.

Mirrors and Shadows

Dear Amber, Heather is right, of course
The light , it is light, in the mirror is
An image, a photograph caught
In the moment of our desires
We are young and we are
In love, my wife and I
Are 24 and 18 and we have
Only love, when I look
I see
It is Wednesday
It is March
It has stopped snowing
It is my 49th year to Heaven
The photographs are mirrors
One night Heather called
And left me a note
"Photographs and shadows are
Not the same, please"
The shadow is the dark shape cast
When I stand between the surface
And the source of light, the mirror reflects
The light, I see
Full name please
Bruce Daryl Barone
Nickname, none
Occupation please
Sales, sometimes I exaggerate
To tell the truth
New Jersey born
First exhibited in Holy Name Hospital
Around 1952
This is an answer
Whatever the senses apprehend resembles an illusion
Including everything
Ranging from mental concepts to living things
Millions of memories of history
Religion must have played a part
And does still
Angels, devils, paradise
After this I heard
What seemed to be a mighty voice
Of a great multitude in Heaven crying
The cathedral itself was a triumph
Over space and the scene was always set
I was thankful to to have percieved this
Thankful for my B.A. in Art History and English
William Blake wrote
"Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go and ask the Mole?
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
Or Love in a golden bowl?"
Seeking to find the balance between
Our light side and shadow side
To prepare the ground for the spiritual
Experience, the marriage of opposites
It is a wonder
That it is
All connected
Or perhaps
The photograph in the mirror
Shows the
The reflective moment when I ask
Who am I
Where did I come from
Where am I going
Where is it written
I cannot still enjoy The Clash and Chopin
The same questions, the same images
Repeating like quarter notes on the snare drum
I played in Junior High School Band one
Two three four one two three four
Write one for me
And music that too
Is language
Beethoven transformed the first few bars
Metaphor is repetition
All connected
That it is
Is a wonder
In a favorite book the author writes
"And as he read and didn't find the answer
To the secret, he made a resolution
That he would someday write the book
That would unlock the riddle of the earth
Of Raintree County, of his mother and father,
And himself......then perhaps
He would recapture the word
Which had been from the beginning,
Which had awakened him from sleep
And touched his ears with music and
Ecstasy, a word that quivered
Through the grove and caused the tree to shiver
And send down a rain of yellow and unusual,"
In the mirror image I can see
The snow of Spring
Outside I see a favorite movie forming
On the street, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie"
A projector light illuminates the face
Of a friend who writes to say
"Your letters are like poems"
And I wrote her once
About the strangest job I ever had
Stripping tobacco, rain, cold November mornings
Holding damp stalk in left hand, ripping leaves
Down and off with right, in a dark barn
Pioneer Valley, with an old farmer
Less his left pinky, left big
Toe and touch in his right hand
"They went right in an'got it"
The vein, this, for three or four
Dollars an hour, mirror mirror
On the wall, an image
Moments in my life I want to experience
Again, my wedding day or the time we
Walked along the Ramapo River
A bottle of wine in hand (I still
Prefer red or a vodka martini)
And the birth of Danielle, Daryl
All the days of their lives
Any Christmas morning
Psalm: I am a believer
In God and I pray everyday
Meditate and exercise, I am
An admirer most of my mom and dad
Who taught me the most important lessons and carols
Smile and do
Unto others as you would have them do unto you
I am truly moved by Kandinsky
Picasso, Chardin, Rogier van der Weyden
I am a gourmet cook and people
In High School thought I was
A jock, I am sometimes
A procrastinator, I am
A good friend, I am
Someone who has difficulty saying
No, this photograph is a mirror
In which we see
This is a happy time
Last summer I am chaperoning
(Heather you saw the photographs)
Daryl and his friends
Tim, David, Andrew, Alisa, Leah,
Alysa, Katie, Ericka (each name a poem)
At Six Flags New England
One girl gets a black eye, fainting
While waiting in line to buy french fries with Daryl
Have you ever fainted before I ask her
No, never, she says and I think of
All the happy songs I've sung and prayers
I've said to Daryl and Danielle
Frere Jacques, Let's Go Fly a Kite
The Lord's Prayer
The best gift I've ever received is this
My children, my wife, my love
My life, every spring I have
Planted new seeds
And waited for the roots
To take hold in the earth
Behind our house
I saw the monkeys in the tree
At the corner and talked with the bear
In our yard, I saw the blue light
In the snow and stars at night
In this photograph the mirror image tells
Me yesterday I was thirty
Today I am 49 and still
Believe in love, art and I wish
You were here, having
A great time.
--for Heather and Amber--

Tuesday 06

Pain and Belief.

An angel with soft, heavy arms falls
To me, in my arms calls to me
"Do you accept Jesus Christ
As you personal Lord and Savior?"
I whisper in her ear so only she can hear;
"Every Sunday in church we recite:
We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit
God of our Savior Jesus Christ
And our God, and to your deeds we testify:
You call the worlds into being,
Create persons in your own image
And set before each one the ways of life and death.
You seek in holy love to save
All people from aimlessness and sin.
You judge people and nations by your righteous will
Declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth,
Our crucified and risen Savior,
You have come to us and shared
Our common lot, conquering sin and death
And reconciling the world to yourself.
You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit
Creating and renewing
The church of Jesus Christ
Binding in covenant faithful people
Of all ages, tongues, and races.
You call us
Into your church to accept
The cost and joy of discipleship
To be your servants in the service
Of others, to proclaim
The gospel to all the world and
Resist the powers of evil,
To share in Christ's baptism and eat
At his table, to join
Him in his passion and victory.
You promise to all who trust you
Forgiveness of sins
And fullness of grace,
Courage in the struggle for justice
And peace, your presence
In trial and rejoicing,
And eternal life
In your realm which has no end.
Blessing and honor,
Glory and power
Be unto you. Amen."
Some Sundays after prayer
I wonder why I am
Not like Alfred Barone, born
In Salerno, Italy
Of noble parentage, at an early age
Turned to religion
Stoned, imprisoned, he was
Almost burned at the stake
Nonetheless, with the help God,
He was able to give birth to many
Protestant missions and churches
Throughout Italy and later
In America where he preached
The Gospel and established missions
In Haverhill, in Springfield,
In Monson, in Stamford.
Yes I have sinned my Angel
You who has never witnessed
Evil or selfishness, "take me
To the river, drop me
In the river, push me
In the water, washing me
Down, washing me."
Yes my angel all this is
Exaggerated but didn't he
Say I exaggerate to tell the truth.
We come back to genralization or
Who what where when why.
Chapter I, Verse I: The Word.
Will you walk with me
Before the darkness overtakes us
Before before she never comes
Ever since my mother died
I believe in nothing, sometimes
I'm called back but
Years later I see her still here
In the way I see you Angel
Mom Mom I see you
Mom Mom wave to me
Please, on the river's edge, peace
I am a priest acting
In a Bergman movie
In the beginning was the word
I cannot understand
Take me to the river
Drown me in the river
He says and he is
Lifted up out of the water
Into a dream carried
On a wooden platform
Angel he says
Where are we going she says
Not there it is only
dreaming Angel why is
Pain easier why Angel do you
Mean it is more difficult
To love, reading fossilized prayers
My body breaks, cracks
Like thousands of atoms
Into nothingness into
The earth where I planted
The milkweed it is pain
Singing a quiet hurtful song
Swells from the earth below
If I knew how to sing
If I knew how to talk
If I knew how to believe
If I knew you angel to be
Real, here, with me, I walk
On water in this dream
From day to day
Searching for the answer
My angel requires love
love love love
all there is love
love is all there is and
In another life
The mystic tells me
I am a priest
Who are you
Who am I
Where are we
Tell me a story, please
In this park
Once behind home plate
In Phelps Park in Teaneck
New Jersey I stoned a turtle
It has haunted me till today
Forgive me, I want
To believe, I want
To burn with love
With belief, with you.

Monday 05

Apology--to Katharine.

This is a photograph I have always
Loved and today I looked for it
Inside a box in the basement
And found only love
Letters, postcards, report cards
Later I watch the snow
Come down, the cardinal
In the woods and remember
The photograph I lost
Of Katharine, I try
To see the white
Shirt, black and white
Pants, and now, I think
Cecil Beaton took it
When she was 17
We somehow find the image
And see again
See, listen
Outside one
Thousand red birds
Flood into flight
Inside I
Look for a postcard
It is a postcard
I never mailed saying
"Make Love, Not War"
And if I call her name Katharine
Katharine will she appear
In the warm bath water
Under the soft red light
In the darkroom

Sunday 04

Within You. Today in church my minister talked about how the Kingdom of God is within us, each of us; not without--and as I sat there I thought of this song of The Beatles, written and sung by George Harrison:

We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away.
We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.
Try to realise it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows within you and without you.
We were talking-about the love that's gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don't know-they can't see-are you one of them?
When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you.
"Within You, Without You" Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

And tonight, Alysha, Ruth Simmons, the new president of Brown University (outgoing Smith College president), in an interview on the tv program 60 minutes said "Education is nourishment for the soul."

Saturday 03

Dano. From a short story: Danielle is not my real name. Not anymore. Not since my Dad died. It's Dano. My younger brother, Daryl, when he was learning to talk and stuttered, would call me Dano. And it became my nickname. I was never a Dani. And when my Dad was feeling either particularly happy or nostalgic, he'd call me Dano. I tell everyone now that my name is Dano, not Danielle. It helps me to remember. It helps me to remember my Dad's voice. His laugh. Dano, he'd call to me. How 'bout going outside to play basketball? Or, Hey, Dano, you want to go for a jog? Let's go rent a movie Dano. Let's go hit some golf balls Dano. And Dano, I haven't seen Katie in a long time. Is everything okay? This was before he drowned. We were on vacation with friends in Maine.

I was reminded of this today because an Italian professor from Smith College was at our house today and she said that the principal at the high school thought "the world" of Danielle. And so do (more coming...)

Friday 02

Ludacris. Driving home this afternoon from my appointment in Boston at the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor (the winner of the 2001 Editor and Publisher Magazine's Eppy Award for Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service (circulation between 50,000 and 99,000). This is the second year in a row that this site has won this prestigious award), I was listening to Ludacris on JAM'N 94.5 and I was struck by how completely hip hop music has penetrated mainstream culture in our country. Take me son, Daryl, as an example; he will now listen to classical music only on Sundays evenings during dinner--he'll pick out the cd, too(Beethoven, Bach, or Chopin). He played the piano in church once, too; Beethoven--the same day Danielle moved us all to tears playing the Moonlight Sonata. Now if it's not Slip-Knot, Godsmack or Lincoln Park, it's Nelly, Mystikal, or Ludacris. (more coming)

Thursday 01

Fractuals and Friendship. Chaos. Patterns. Fractuals. The photographs of Andreas Gursky. I was surprised that I found most of his photos at MOMA quite interesting (and so did my friend Ann) and I was reminded of a number of things as I looked at them: 1) Jouke recently talked about patterns and tiles in life, or at least I remember him saying something about the subject; 2) Katharine asked recently "What does it make you think?"

The photographs, Katharine, made me think chaos and poetry. They made me (more coming)