I’m running after work. I run or ride every day at 5. (It’s the only way I stay sane in desk job.) The sun is shining, warm, though falling fast. Shadows creep and fields glow, golden. But as my feet hit the pavement, my mind is miles away — Dr. Haluska is gone, and gone far too soon. How many years do I have left? What will I do with them? . . .
Suddenly, I glance left. I gasp at the glorious scene. It’s a mad world we live in, but there is always beauty to be seen.
With obesity rates skyrocketing in the United States, many people are asking, “Why?” Why are we fatter now than, say, fifty years ago?
Some look to fast food chains for their answer. “It’s all your fault!” they like to say. “You’re too cheap, and you taste too good!” Others blame more healthful foods. “It’s all your fault!” they’re apt to say. “You’re too expensive, and you taste like wood!” Some others blame traffic and a commuter lifestyle. “You take too long!” they often say. “You crawl along; you’re in my way!” And, still others, the weather. “By gosh, it’s hot. Too hot to go; I guess I’ll stay . . .”
Occasionally a bright-eyed individual will examine their use of time throughout the day. They walk when they could drive, move when they could sit. They actually enjoy exercise — or, at least they try to find ways to exercise that they enjoy. And they put their phones down. And turn off the TV. And have real conversations. And go outside.
They see more. And breathe more. And feel more. And live more.
Our bodies were made to move. When we render them stationary — be it by a desk job, TV addiction, video game, social media, or what have you — we compromise them, and our minds, and our lives.
One of my favorite poems by William Wordsworth sums up my thoughts well:
Lines Written in Early Spring
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
For an (imperfect!) audio recording of this poem, click below.
After writing about writer’s block the other day, I did my usual. I cleaned my apartment (surprise, surprise), did laundry, responded to emails, hung out with Jon, and decided to “man up” and get over my dislike for riding in the city. I took off on my bike (Jon wanted to go for a run instead) and rode thirty miles up the Berkeley hills — to here. ..
View from Grizzly Peak
On the backside of the mountain, I saw these guys:
Looking at San Pablo Reservoir. California has happy cows!
And then on my run down by the water last night, I saw this:
I’m waiting in line at the drive-thru at Starbucks the other day. It’s a beautiful evening and, after rolling down my window and turning off the radio to order, I don’t bother to roll the window back up or turn on the radio. My mind is a million miles away, but, suddenly, I hear sounds. Zweet-zweet-zweet! I look up. Birds are flitting to and from nests built into the STARBUCKS sign. Zweet-zweet! And then . . . Buzzzzzz. A bumblebee meanders near my window as a soft breeze creeps into my car and tousles my hair.
Suddenly, I know: Everything’s going to be all right . . .
Except, Honk!!Oh sh-t! What happened to the line?! ..
Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe on January 3. This place should be BURIED in snow.
There’s a story often told about the Eskimos. In the dead of winter, when out hunting caribou, hunters plant blood-covered knives blade up in the snow around their camp at night. The blood on the knives attracts wolves who, rather than attack the camp as they would have, lick the blades excitedly, thus cutting their tongues. The wolves are so excited about the blood, however, that they ignore their pain and go on licking, not realizing that they’re drinking their own blood . . .
The truth is, this story isn’t true (Google it if you don’t believe me), but there’s a lot of truth in it — at least in parallel. I am thinking particularly of the drought in California. Continue reading →
My mind has been going a million miles an hour in a hundred different directions lately, and it’s making writing difficult. I’ve been working on a new poem (which I love) for the past several days, but I’m having a hard time finishing it. What am I trying to say? It’s a question I haven’t been able to answer . . . Continue reading →
I’m riding my bike beneath the ink sky. The air is cool and my jacket, thin. I shiver. Glancing up, I see dust and glitter — the Milky Way. I turn off my headlight and pedal in darkness. Brighter this way.
Suddenly, I see him. To the east, just coming up over the top of a hill — Orion!
I went running tonight, as usual. It’s been too hot to run during the day recently, and I like running beneath the stars best, anyway.
If there is one area in which Taiwan does not not compare to Northern California, it is the night sky. The humidity in Taiwan and, in many places, the smog and bright lights, make star-gazing an almost impossible dream.
In Northern California, on a moonless night, they’re all you see.
But I was worried, tonight, that I hadn’t been clear in my last post. You see, although I loved Taiwan, it would be a lie to say that I loved every minute I was there. Continue reading →
I made it. Starting at 7:45 a.m. (we got a late start) and 45° F (7° C) on Sunday, my dad and I took off from our cabin and didn’t look back. We rode clockwise around the lake, starting from the south shore. It was my first organized ride—Bike the West: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride—and kind of fun. There were a lot of cyclists on the road and people cheering along the way.
The first big climb was around Emerald Bay, a popular tourist spot on the lake. At the bottom of the hill, right by the shore, is an old home called Vikingsholm. It’s quite pretty and made entirely from materials native to the Tahoe area. Continue reading →
Please don’t hate me! I was not content with my first version of this poem. Something about the third stanza (and a few other things) just didn’t fit. So I revised it, and here it is. Most of you know by now: This poem is dedicated to “wind.”
From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.
O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
from Asia to the Balkan:
the world is your domain.
At times I’ve seen you angry,
you howl and wreak havoc.
It’s then I shiver meekly,
and stand in awe, dumbstruck.
But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your whispers soft and balmy,
you can take me whole.
And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.
Forgive me. I was an English major. My last post reminded me of this poem by William Wordsworth.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn. Continue reading →