Binge Watching Ordinary Events Playing Out in Real Time

Binge Watching Ordinary Events Playing Out in Real Time

I've shared strategies for using movies to strengthen attention. Just as in ordinary life, what makes tending to the sensory components of a film so challenging is the pull of the narrative. But what would it be like to focus on the changing sights and sounds without having to resist the gravitational pull of story elements? 

Starting today, you can find out. 

Carry On Your Own Strategy

Carry On Your Own Strategy

Nobody wants to learn new coping strategies from the people who they perceive to be orchestrating their immediate discomforts.

Exhilarating, Luxurious, and Urgent

Exhilarating, Luxurious, and Urgent

"In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still."

~ Pico Iyer

A Whole New Life

"Meditation from 14A"
by Jennifer Maier, from Dark Alphabet


And what if the passage out of this life
is like a flight from Seattle to St. Louis—

the long taxi out of the body, the brief
and terrible acceleration, the improbable

buoyancy, and then the moment when,
godlike, you see the way things fit

together: the grave and earnest roads
with their little cars, stitching their desires

with invisible thread; the tiny pushpin houses
and backyard swimming pools, dreaming

the same blue dream. And who but the dead
may look down with impunity on these white

birds, strewn like dice above the river whose name
you have forgotten, though you know,

having crossed the Divide, that it flows 
east now, toward the vast, still heartland,

its pinstriped remnants of wheat and corn
laid out like burial clothes. And how

you would like to close your eyes, if only
you could stop thinking about that small scratch

on the window, more of a pinprick, really,
and about yourself sucked out! anatomized!—

part of you now (the best part) a molecule
of pure oxygen, breathed in by the farmer

on his tractor; by the frightened rabbit
in the ditch; by a child riding a bike

in Topeka; by the sad wife of a Mexican
diplomat; by a dog, digging up a bone

a hundred years in the future, that foreign city
where you don't know a soul, but where you think

you could start over, could make a whole
new life for yourself, and will.

You Have to Know How to Wait

CasAntica, Oaxaca de Juarez, 31 de octubre de 2010

Para hablar con los muertos
de Jorge Teiller

Para hablar con los muertos
hay que elegir palabras
que ellos reconozcan tan fácilmente
como sus manos
reconocían el pelaje de sus perros en la oscuridad.
Palabras claras y tranquilas
como el agua del torrente domesticada en la copa
o las sillas ordenadas por la madre
después que se han ido los invitados.
Palabras que la noche acoja
como a los fuegos fatuos los pantanos.

Para hablar con los muertos
hay que saber esperar:
ellos son miedosos
como los primeros pasos de un niño.
Pero si tenemos paciencia
un día nos responderán
con una hoja de álamo atrapada por un espejo roto,
con una llama de súbito reanimada en la chimenea,
con un regreso oscuro de pájaros
frente a la mirada de una muchacha
que aguarda inmóvil en el umbral.

In Order to Talk with the Dead

In order to talk to the dead
you have to choose words
that they recognize as easily
as their hands
recognized the fur of their dogs in the dark.
Words clear and calm
as water of the torrent tamed in the wineglass
or chairs the mother puts in order
after the guests have left.
Words that night shelters
as marshes do their ghostly fires

In order to talk to the dead
you have to know how to wait:
they are fearful
like the first steps of a child.
But if we are patient
one day they will answer us
with a poplar leaf trapped in a broken mirror,
with a flame that suddenly revives in the fireplace,
with a dark return of birds
before the glance of a girl
who waits motionless on the threshold.

Librería Grañén Porrúa, 31 de octubre de 2010
Librería Grañén Porrúa, 31 de octubre de 2010
Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, 31 de octubre de 2010
Casa de Josefina Mendez, Teotitlán del Valle, 1 de noviembre de 2010

An Unknowable Language

Visiting the Graveyard
by Mary Oliver, from Red Bird

When I think of death
it is a bright enough city,
and every year more faces there
are familiar

but not a single one
notices me,
though I long for it,
and when they talk together,

which they do
very quietly,
it's an unknowable language—
I can catch the tone

but understand not a single word—
and when I open my eyes
there's the mysterious field, the beautiful trees.
There are the stones.

Xoxocotlan Cemetery, 31 de octubrre de 2010

Xoxocotlan Cemetery, 31 de octubrre de 2010

Xoxocotlan Cemetery, 31 de octubrre de 2010

Xoxocotlan Cemetery, 31 de octubrre de 2010

Thinking of Being Somewhere Else

Kansai International Airport

by W.S. Merwin, from The Rain in the Trees

None of the computers can say
how long it took to evolve a facility
devoted to absence in life

you walk out of the chute
and a person smiles at your ticket
and points you to your seat

is this the only way home
nobody asks
because nobody knows

the building is not inhabited it is not
home except to roaches
it is not loved it is serviced

it is not a place
but a container with signs
directing a process

there is neither youth in the air
nor earth under foot
there is a machine to announce

yet the corridors beat with anguish longing relief
news trash insurance dispensers
and many are glad to be here

thinking of being somewhere else
hurrying at great expense
across glass after glass

we travel far and fast
and as we pass through we forget
where we have been

The Elementary Course

Year-End Retreat 2009, Rancho Palos VerdesMysticism for Beginners
by Adam Zagajewski, from Mysticism for Beginners

The day was mild, the light was generous.
The German on the café terrace
held a small book on his lap.
I caught sight of the title:
Mysticism for Beginners.
Suddenly I understood that the swallows
patrolling the streets of Montepulciano
with their shrill whistles,
and the hushed talk of timid travelers
from Eastern, so-called Central Europe,
and the white herons standing—yesterday? the day before?—
like nuns in fields of rice,
and the dusk, slow and systematic,
erasing the outlines of medieval houses,
and olive trees on little hills,
abandoned to the wind and heat,
and the head of the Unknown Princess
that I saw and admired in the Louvre,
and stained-glass windows like butterfly wings
sprinkled with pollen,
and the little nightingale practicing
its speech beside the highway,
and any journey, any kind of trip,
are only mysticism for beginners,
the elementary course, prelude
to a test that’s been