Links of the Week: Saturday January 17, 2009

BLOG Links of the Week: Saturday January 17, 2009

postcard jen lemenHow to be an artist: Jen Lemen provides the 25 steps to persevere and become an artist. The step that goes with the picture at right: “Beware of words you put on paintings. Two and a half years ago I made a postcard that I thought would be lovely for random unknown sad people. It only took two years for me to realize the person the postcard was meant for was me.” This is one for your fridge door (or to attach to your easel). There is no mastery; there is only the practice.

Symbols of the self: Gregory Lent is writing a series on the symbols we use to represent ourselves. So far he has three: The tree (emergence), the lotus (awareness), the buddha (grace). We can be anything we can imagine ourselves to be.

Dow at 4000, 60% drop for $US: Just a part of Jim Kunstler’s gloomy predictions for 2009.

The year of letting go: Geoff Brown and I often seem to be in sync in the directions our lives are headed. As the old year ended, I wrote about how I had finally begun to learn to let go, to give up control of my life, my feelings, my relationships, and most of all my efforts to live up to others’ expectations of me — to be raw and authentic and nobody-but-myself. This is the natural culmination of my progression from setting intentions to simply doing the nine things I am meant to do — playing, learning, loving, conversing, giving ideas, time, knowledge and capacity, self-managing, being present, writing and reflecting — and practicing doing them better, letting go of outcome and trusting the process, trusting others, living in the moment. And now Geoff has declared “letting go” as his theme, his approach, what he’s pledged to pay more attention to in 2009. Stay tuned — you’ll probably see Geoff and I riffing back and forth on this (perhaps in a podcast) in the weeks to come.

Turning across the walls: Nancy White has often written and spoken about the importance of building bridges — between disconnected communities rich and poor, local and far away, men and women, younger and older etc. Now she’s thinking about “the place between boundaries in communities or networks” the place where nomads and bridge-builders and curious creatives hang out, and about “how we navigate across them, and connect, disconnect and reconnect with ideas, content and people in those transversing practices”. I’m trying to figure out how to picture these spaces between boundaries — big or cramped, thick-walled or amorphous — and how to visualize “transversing” (= latin, turning across). What do they look like, do you think?

What’s at the core of skillful facilitation?: Tree Bressen tries to name it: Love, magic, energy, spirit, soul, presence. She also uses the word gravity (=latin, heaviness), keeping things on solid ground. At Art of Hosting we learned how to juggle, which is also a useful metaphor for facilitation. To me the core of facilitation is active attentive coaching, helping a group in real time to keep moving forward towards their intended goal. Think of a parent teaching a child how to ride a bicycle. Tree points out that a key purpose of facilitation is to help others build resiliency, an essential survival skill for this complex and turbulent century. Lots more wisdom in this post, too.

Heart Poems: Cassandra points us to a lovely vignette about a heart, and then to her colleague Dave Bonta’s equally poetic heart-felt reprise. Such brilliant lyrical conversation is only possible thanks to the blogosphere.

Pete McGregor kea

The world’s smartest bird: Pete McGregor’s astonishing photographs of the NZ kea, and lots of other birds.

Just for fun: Sheepdogs protect penguin colony. Thanks to Graham Clark for the link.

Thoughts for the week:

 Passing the Millennium at Gurnard’s Head by Dick Jones


Those three horsemen spotted by the prophets
balked the jump.  Their hour came and went:
no hooves beating down the dry stone walls,
just a bitter wind wrapping up the house.

Inside, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and that choral counting
backwards, chanting out this year like it was
just another dead leaf burden to be kissed
into the fire. And then it was (implausibly) 2000

and they broke open the magnums. We stepped
outside, took the muddy path to the field’s edge.
So quiet at first. The wild world’s calm indifference:
cattle hunched clumsy by the bulky walls;

an owl that hooted once; the whisper of the gorse,
thorn against thorn, stones rasping underfoot.
And then, sensed first as restless space, then heard
as a presence inside silence, the black Atlantic,

breathing deep, breathing deep across the parabola
and beyond.  While Gurnard’s Head gazed inland,
uninvolved, one more optimistic tide clambered
over cobbles way below.  Out in the long darkness

it pulled, pulled, lingering on rocks and sand:
‘Reverse the narrative’, it seethed. ‘Turn back time
return to source’.  The message cackled
in the shingle, boomed along the shore.  We waited

in the rattling night one full hour into the millennium.
But nothing shifted, tilted, slipped or fell away.
Wind and sea, implacable land, unyielding
dark. So we climbed back up the slope

to the silent house, slept briefly and woke to a
blustery dawn. And a voice inside the wind laughed
in formless vowels; and a brief shape-changing
cloud-face grinned across the unaltered world

The End of the World, by João Cabral de Melo Neto (tr. James Wright)


At the end of the melancholy world
men read the newspapers.
Men indifferent to eating oranges
that flame like the sun.

They gave me an apple to remind me
of death. I know that cities telegraph
asking for kerosene. The veil I saw flying
fell in the desert.

No one will write the final poem
about this particular twelve o’clock world.
Instead of the last judgment, what worries me
is the final dream.

Goldfish Dream, by Sam Candide


Routine makes a perfect survival tool
for when you are lost in fog,
but when the fog begins to lift
it seems an endless death of sameness.

Memories of dreams offer some relief,
when they will linger and be fastened
like butterfly shards in the book of dreams.
Last night’s dream was a bewildering epic
of magical realism, realer and more magical than most.
Embedded in the horror and distress I fought through,
most of the dream was a central image
that seemed unrelated
to the complicated plotlines on either side:

I remembered I owned a goldfish;
I looked over (in the dim scary house I was trapped in)
and noticed it barely surviving in its bowl.
It was fat and gleaming, yet it gasped and listed a little:
how long since I’d fed it anything?

Interspersed with the other plots and diversions, then–
my quest for fish-food.
I found food for cats, food for dogs, none for fish.
At last I stood across the street from a large supermarket,
waiting for the cross traffic to part, when lo! there came the fish
swimming in midair up the street, over the tops of the cars.
It swelled, it was like a Macy’s parade balloon
untied and on a mission.
As it approached it got larger and larger,
and I realized my fish had died in its little bowl
and this was its spirit.
I called out Wait! Wait! I’m getting you food!
Give me one more minute!

But the goldfish soul was oblivious,
and as it drew even with me
it lifted higher into the air and made for heaven,
growing larger and more transparent the higher it got
until it had dissipated completely,
like a fading golden cloud.

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