Woods on a Snowy Evening

Woods-Dark-and-Deep

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by R. Frost

 

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Robert Frost,
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost.
additional resource: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening” is one of my favorite poems. It was one of my fathers favorite poems –fitting for a man who spent much of his life hiking in the woods and taking his family to state and county parks. I recited this poem at my fathers remembrance in July.

Both dad and I read a lot. We spoke oft of the literary theme of “What is it to be Human“. “What is it to be human” is explored in Frost’s Poem. What is… human-nature
The protagonist narrator stops to watch these woods fill up with snow, they are lovely dark and deep. Yet his horse, accompanying and journeying with him, cannot understand. What is to be human? to be able to enjoy the aesthetics of a his surroundings, to find a rich symbolism.. for peace, (perhaps even death -as many readers of the poem have suggested). The narrator protagonist, after enjoying the moment, returns to his sense of responsibility, shared by loyal companion upon their journey.
He has promises to keep. And Miles to go before he sleep.
Dad had alway encouraged a sense of responsibility in me. I have miles to go before I sleep.

Recently, donated by family members, a tree was planted in remembrance of Dad.

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New Years Day. Death, Living and Changing

It is the new year: The beginning of a new calendar cycle – a graduated period of time that measures Change. I am experiencing a great amount of change recently. The most meaningful event of the previous year was the death of the man who was both my best friend and Father. The most noticeable change upcoming is supporting my mother as she gains (at huge cost) more independence and responsibility.

Death

Death, it seems final. It is, after all, the end of a life.  Life, a graduated period of living. However each life is an integral part of larger impermanent event. Yet, I am not transcendental in my attitude. I’m instead I remain empirical  and existential in attitude. Death, living and changing are existential themes.

  • What-exists is integral part of All,
  • What-exists has it’s own nature —All while changing . Willfully or with beat of the Cosmos.

What exists as a person, may cease existing as a person – We often say is ” the end of a life” or a Death. What existed as a person may be soon exist as a tree, be the Earth below it,   dew forming on its leaves,   the atmosphere around it.

A figure of an ever-changing work of art… eventually  fades into the ground.   A wave disperses to back to the tumultuous sea.
Figure and ground.   wave and sea.   ones-own-nature and Nature.     being and not-being.   –phenomenologically speaking .

Living

As I postulated: one’s existence is part of All. The willful part of existing, seem to be “ doing”.

Doing something is expressing our own nature. We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.

– Shunryu Suzuki

To say that I exist, that “I am!” (while remembering that, at the same time I’m an integral part of All) is to say that I am expressing my nature. I breathe, I feel, I move, I ponder… All the while I participate, I express my- nature  I am part of Nature — therefore I am.
(the two fold connectivity of “my nature”, and “Nature”. –Suzuki’s Oneness of two ; Kierkegaard’s authenticity, Te and Tao … I’ll save some future post/)

Changing

[…] the natural state of man is as a single, whole being not fragmented into two or more opposing parts. In the natural state, there is constant change based on the dynamic transaction between the self and the environment…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

One exists by expressing his own nature and harmonizing with Nature  . IMHO, this is participation,  an organism separating, connecting and integrating with his environment –this is living,   When one is  living in the present, while letting go of what is no longer part of he/she —this is change.
I am presently remembering my Dad and his life still affects mine. At the same time I let go of  what-is-not-me today.

change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not…

–Arnold Beisser, from: The Paradoxical Theory of Change (Gestalt Therapy Now) 1970

Its been a tough year, but i have a good life, with reason to optimistic towards the future.  I  am saving a Robert Frost poem,  that I read at my Fathers service, until my next post.  until then—
Happy New Year!

Planting Potatoes and Paternal Wisdom

Without the daily prescribed medication: I would lose my ability to think rationally, and my attention span would dwindle to nothing, my body would creep into overdrive. I could feel this at the end of a work day as the medicine wore off and it scared me every day. Without the medication I could become more and more manic, eventually I would have to be hospitalize or worse… risk being incarcerated in prison.

This was one of the new realities of “Bipolar Disorder“. I was in my late twenties and just diagnosed . and there is more:
The daily medication was very expensive. without them,  I was a risk to myself or (mildly)to society.  So I had to work a full time job to pay for the medication.  I had to pay for and take the medication to work the full time job and remain part of society.

  • No medication or no work meant catastrophe.
  • Anytime with the medication, meant dealing with side effects, or the meds could stop working.
  • Miss time at work and I could lose my job.
  • Life was a daily cycle of fending off catastrophe.

I found this cycle frustrating, and I complain to my Father ( I had just moved home with my parents):

All I do is work ,so I can pay for bipolar disorder management, so I can work, so I can pay  for bipolar disorder...”

Dad’s replied with  a sympathetic grin:congratulations!.. you now have a child.

A truth blunted with humor.  The message was clear. The message , clearly and poetically stated  from a war veteran (Dad) ,who came home to raise a family while he worked (some times two jobs ) and finished college.
I had a new life-long responsibility. I was responsible for managing my health (the best I could). I was learning to be responsible to my self, family and community by doing what it to takes to manage my circumstances… Just like any other responsibility. I would do my best to repay those who helped me in those difficult days… especially my parents.

My father passed away recently and I am reminded of his wisdom on being responsible.
He also encouraged me to plant a potato just for fun (the photo above). It just bloomed recently.

When A Fellow Blogger Passes Away

relationary buttonnsWhen a fellow blogger passes away, the feeling is different,  than when someone I know in my day to day life dies.   Internet friends are connected differently. We talk about things that we don’t ordinarily do… with blogs and with social networking.  And yet when they are gone, I realize that we never really new much about each other.
Despite not knowing blogger “Relationary” in his real day to day world, I read his uncanny  thoughts on Geometry, Physics, Sociology, religion and psychology, and he read my uncanny hacks about meditating, existentialism, and  mental wellness.  It would turn out, we manage similar health problems and struggles.

So when I received word, via the internet that” Relationary” passed away, I was shocked. .
I  do not even know the details surrounding his passing, and I realize how little I knew of his life.  Yet he was as unconventional as he was bright, his blog reflects a creative playfulness, a graphical vision, rational organization when blogging about his topics.

I thought I would honor him by pointing to some of my favorite blog posts by him:

Induction, Deduction and Eight States of Change

On this post, Relationary explores  the nature of grief in his own way, graphically working out the “states of change”  post- event.  He  further  postulated the fluctuation in mood and emotion after a death, that is the grieving cycle,  maybe more universal as to apply to any shocking event or crisis.
Even more, some people get stuck in feed back loops after big life changes, shocks or crisis.
I have wondered, after reading this  if  one could draw similarities with Post Trauma.

Religion: Reciprocitism: A New Command I Give You

If you hate yourself, you will hate others in the same way…..
And so reciprocity in its current form is a curse to all of humanity.

Relationary  gives his own take on the ethic of reciprocity  (otherwise know as the “Golden Rule“)  He and I have come to the same conclusion with different words.  He says reciprocity and love,  I say reciprocity and dignity.

Mental Order for a Change

(Note: the link may load slow on slow connections, lots of images. )  Relationary coins his own term psychism: a term he uses for discrimination and stigmatization against mentally ill,  mentally challenged or disabled, or “mentally different”.   We all have differences of opinions on labels we give ourselves and we are all grateful to have a relationary to encourage us to research further.

Buddhism: the Four reminders.

Relationary blogged about religion and he understood religions major theme of death. We cannot escape death it is part of life.  With good fun intended towards Buddhisms Four Noble Truths he posted his “the Four reminders”.

We will lose some friends during our  lives.  In  our  world tied together more and more electronically,  different types of friendships manifest, but death remains the same. We remember are friends and as for death, we do not dwell on it.

Agnosticism, After life, and my pet Cat.

To clearly understand my agnostic view point on death, one must understand that some questions and beliefs have different level of importances.
an example.

Many  Quantum Mathematicians have posed mathematical possibilities
of  parallel universes, universe with different rules than our universe, even a “multi-verse“.

There is little empirical proof in our living world or close proximities in the universe, that other universes truly exist…
…not enough to top all reasonable doubt.
Just the same, not enough empirical evidence to dismiss other universes outside our own.  So it remains a mathematical possibility.

with that said, I don’t know if  parallel universes or a multi-verse  exist.
Do I need to proclaim   one of the statements….

  • I  actively believe in a  multi-verse!
  • I actively do not believe in a muliti-verse!.

Well if my career was astrophysics whether I believe or not, maybe important.
For the curiosity’s sake,  the possibility is worth investigating.
However, in my   life, my world that I live in, my reality.. its not important or relevant as other belief statements…..

It is more important just to be able to say I don’t know“.

Same goes for other supernatural questions.. As an agnostic
I do not know if consciousness leaves to another supernatural place  after death. I do not know what happens after existence.
For me, it is not as important as questions pertaining to this life or existence.
Its ok to say I don’t know, whether I suspect one way or the other or neither way.
This is not a matter of belief/disbelief  that creates ambivalence in my  life, presently.
——–

My pet cat passed away this week.
I am not concerned of beliefs of where his spirit or consciousness went after existence.
I am only concerned with remembering his existence…
he had a pretty good life.
he was a good friend.
I feel the loss.

Thats far more important and meaningful to me than metaphysical statements of beliefs or disbeliefs in an afterlife.

for these questions, and many others I answer
I don’t know…
and thats ok .

Mary Travers and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Mary Travers (November 9, 1936 – September 16, 2009)

If I Had A Hammer
Blowing In The Wind

Mary Travers lost her battle with leukemia September 17 at the age of 72.
Mary was one third of the Pop-Folk Revival band:
Peter, Paul and Mary”  who had a great deal with making folk music popular in the 1960s.

My Father was a huge fan of these bands when he was a young.
I, in turn, would sneak into my fathers vinyl record collection, and listen to  this Trio, and many others the like, when I was a kid.

I think it might of helped developed my strong sense of social responsibility as well, my life long love affair with music.

Mary Travers will be missed.

Happy memorial day

Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S.

The holiday was originally a dedicated to remembering those who died in combat or in times of War.


(left: Vietnam memorial ; center: world war II memorial; right: memorial cemetery at Gettysburg … photos from Wikipedia)

Today ,Memorial Day has been unofficially expanded to being a day for gatherings, picnics and barbecues . Some will visit  cemeteries to remember passed loved ones and family members who veterans of war
For many it is Holiday to reflect on the brave acts veterans.

I, with family, will remember my Grandmother and  Grandfather both who served in World War II and my Great Uncle who’s life was taken by a grenade. Many others, as well.

*
“Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is  My Land” … a favorite song of some veterans who’ve passed in my family, and who  I’ll be remembering today .
(video posted at youtube by alargedog)

Happy Memorial day!