All Quotes tagged The Art Of Awareness(167)

Falling in love for us meant falling into talk. We talked about our memories, broken bones, broken hearts and one broken marriage. We talked about our mothers, one Jewish and one Italian, constantly cooking and feeding. We talked about our fathers, neither of whom cooked or fed.

We talked about friends, come and gone. We talked about our careers, climbing the ladder of success, falling off the ladder, leaning in and leaning out.

We talked about our dreams: of traveling, of marriage, of how many children we would like and what we would name them. With those subjects addressed, we turned to smaller details and anecdotes, the stories about getting drunk, getting lost, crashing the car, stealing a candy bar and falling down a flight of subway stairs before a job interview.

Finally, we talked about the nonstories, the quirky facts and facets of personality: our favorite movies, what we liked to eat, what we wouldn’t eat. He hated Kalamata olives. He could do without cucumbers. I hated capers and marshmallows (and the end of ‘Ghostbusters’). He talked about rivers and rocks. I quoted Frank O’Hara and Mayakovsky. We compared 5K running times.

There was never enough time and so much to discuss. We talked about the colors of leaves, the shapes of clouds and why the word ‘warmth’ has a hidden ‘p.’

We talked about sex.

We talked about our wedding.

We talked about our new house.

We talked about furnishing it.

We talked about pregnancy.

We talked about the child.

Then the second.

Seven years into it, our marriage was different. After the machinations of getting the children to sleep, we would sit side by side in bed with computers on our laps, surfing the internet. We were not talking, not sleeping, so close and yet so far apart. This dynamic — of being physically together but emotionally disengaged — had also bled into the mundane of the everyday, with too much silence and space between us on the couch and with us cooking on opposite sides of the kitchen island.

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

Take a shower. Wash away every trace of yesterday. Of smells. Of weary skin. Get dressed. Make coffee, windows open, the sun shining through. Hold the cup with two hands and notice that you feel the feeling of warmth. 
 You still feel warmth.
Now sit down and get to work. Keep your mind sharp, head on, eyes on the page and if small thoughts of worries fight their ways into your consciousness: throw them off like fires in the night and keep your eyes on the track. Nothing but the task in front of you. 

Get off your chair in the middle of the day. Put on your shoes and take a long walk on open streets around people. Notice how they’re all walking, in a hurry, or slowly. Smiling, laughing, or eyes straight forward, hurried to get to wherever they’re going. And notice how you’re just one of them. Not more, not less. Find comfort in the way you’re just one in the crowd. Your worries: no more, no less.

Go back home. Take the long way just to not pass the liquor store. Don’t buy the cigarettes. Go straight home. Take off your shoes. Wash your hands. Your face. Notice the silence. Notice your heart. It’s still beating. Still fighting. Now get back to work.
 Work with your mind sharp and eyes focused and if any thoughts of worries or hate or sadness creep their ways around, shake them off like a runner in the night for you own your mind, and you need to tame it. Focus. Keep it sharp on track, nothing but the task in front of you.

Work until your eyes are tired and head is heavy, and keep working even after that.

Then take a shower, wash off the day. Drink a glass of water. Make the room dark. Lie down and close your eyes.
 Notice the silence. Notice your heart. Still beating. Still fighting. You made it, after all. You made it, another day. And you can make it one more. 
You’re doing just fine.
 You’re doing fine.

I’m doing just fine.