What kinds of things make the world a reasonable place in which to conduct a life when the above have been removed from us by a virus we call COVID 19 and by the rantings of a madman? It largely depends on disposition. For example, musicians are lucky, dancers are lucky, writers are lucky: they share in one thing: obsession with art. I am one of that kind. Art for us is the redeeming feature of life on earth. But not everyone gets bitten by the same bug.
In general, what, besides art, makes the world turn clockwise for me? and what of those things can I share? First, I think anyone can share a learned sense of discipline. I learned discipline as the first law of survival from the few concentration camp survivors I got to know and exchange thoughts with as I grew up in New York: To survive in extraordinary conditions, discipline is needed. An ability to allocate time to specific human pursuits, many of them in situations of human interchange. Tertullias, were a big part of survival for POWs during the Spanish Civil War: tertullias we might translate as workshops, or discussion groups devoted to specific topics.
Exercise. Physical exercise releases endorphins that come from good breathing. It tunes up the body, and tunes up the mind and spirit. Exercise is an essential aid to feeling better. Walking at least a mile a day. Or in very confined conditions, climbing stairs for ten minutes a day makes a huge difference.
Both discipline and exercise are generalities and belong in every program, although they can be practiced at different times of day, and conducted under different conditions. Space should be allocated in each daily schedule for both. But human interchange is essential and available. Now that we can enjoy zoom technology it cannot be taken away from us by disease or the ravings of madmen. We can actually see each other unmasked! Even trading the time of day with strangers in the street, even that is a human interchange and generates joy.
Good breathing is not just a part of regular exercising. In my case, it’s a part of Buddhist practice. I meditate, and I offer up the merits of my daily practice. Other people have what they call prayer. Buddhists remember ancestors who have practiced great compassion, and who have absorbed some of the suffering of the world. By remembering them, I teach myself compassion, and I learn to recognize the signs of suffering, which although they may be happening to bodies OTHER than my own, become and are very much mine in the sense that all life is connected.
Good thinking. The idea that all life is connected reaches very very far back in geological time, It’s the foundational idea behind quantum mechanics, one of the great principles that governs the physical life of the universe, namely that nothing exists alone, but only and always in relation to other realities.
Constant reminding oneself of the place of human life on planet Earth in relation to the vast universe restores ones perspective. Isn’t it nice to contemplate there may be billions of other planets that have intelligent species living on them, which have not made a mess of things? And speaking of intelligent species, although the word nature itself is suspect because it separates the viewer (namely us human types) from what we observe, in fact what we refer to as nature might better be called
Creation which includes both viewers and objects in One Great Whole. Once you attune the mind to seeing Creation–as-One-Great-Whole, you begin to allow its weight to live within as well as without you, and your sense of wonder and beauty intensifies. But good thinking must always exist (like the law of quantum mechanics) in dialogue with other good thought. Which leads us to practice
Good reading. Right now I am reading Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. Written for people (many like me) barely capable of passing Physics 101 and unlike most books written by scientifically inclined men, this one comes in at a scant 86 pages including the index. Not only; one senses reading it, that somehow it is embodied by the expansive, exuberant nature of its writer who brings vitality to its pages. I will recommend it to others for just the very purpose of restoring a sense of the minuscule human place in a limitless universe. And will exchange my book list with others for theirs. When the Pulitzer can be awarded to a book even writing programs would know to dismiss as ”unearned,” it’s time to hunt for much bigger and much more elusive fish such as Philippe Claudel (Brodeck) or Coetzee (Waiting for the Barbarians) or Rulfo (Pedro Paramo) to name only 3 titles out of hundreds.
Art. And if you must, catching up with that performing artist one somehow managed to miss over and over during a long lifetime, go to youtube to watch Sha Sha Higby, and listen to Shivkumar Sharma in concert with Pandit Haraprasad Chaurasia playing Kirwani.
but also READ
SHUT DOWN SENATE and stop Barrett’s confirmation.
READ D.C.. Handmaid’s report.
DONATE to Isaiah Project to help defray court costs for KIngsbay Plowshires.
In judicial turn around, federal judge passed down a significantly lower prison sentence to Patrick O’Neill, one of the King Bay Plowshares.
Putin proposes Russia, U.S. extend new START arms control treaty for one year.
After 400 court sessions with over 100 witnesses and five years of prosecution, the Greek fascist Golden Dawn political party was convicted of being run as a criminal enterprise. If the Greeks can do it, why can’t we?
Tuvalu ratified Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Pacific Island nations turn to an ecological way of valuing national economies.
#45-appointed judge rules against #45 campaign efforts to suppress the PA vote.
Among best climate solutions: giving indigenous people their land back to better manage it according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Karuk tribe of northern California leads effort to fight racism and climate change with indigenous-managed fire
Wet’suwet’en women occupy pipeline drill site to protect sacred headwaters.
Members of Secwépemc Unity Camp shut down Trans-Mountain Pipeline.
Four protesters lock themselves to controversial National Grid fracked gas pipeline construction site in Williamsburg.
Dozens of Barrett’s Notre Dame colleagues ask her to call a halt to her nomination.
Greta Thunberg rebukes Barrett for her anti-science views on climate change.
Demand Justice calls for Feinstein removal as lead Dem on senate Judicial Committee after disgusting pussy footing over the Barrett illegal nomination.
The tide may be turning: Ethics group demands Congress impeach AG Barr as “vehicle for advancing #45 re-election. (Full disclosure: Barr attended same Parochial school as this writer.)
Squad grows as new crew of left challengers brings movement politics to Congress.
AOC and other top progressives urge Biden if elected to deny K Street, Wall Street Execs top cabinet posts.
California poised to pilot postal banking solution.
Sunrise Movement makes pitch to fossil fuel workers with ad for U.S. House candidate Make Siegel.
Public Citizen lawsuit demands HHS must release billion-dollar virus vaccine contracts.
In major loss for ICE and private prison profiteer GEO Group, a Federal judge upholds California law banning private prisons, including those jailing immigrants for federal government.
Twitter flags #45 post about COVID immunity for rule violation.
In Philly, activists team up with District 5 to petition city for a street name change to Mumia Abu-Jamal Way.
Campaign to save MEC from being sold to a U.S. private equity firm hopes to save a worker owned coop.
Dems have plan to boost inadequate SS COLA with an increase of 3% in 2021 for a lifetime of work while 8 million are now cast into extreme poverty.
Proctor and Gamble investors challenge CEO over forest destruction with 2/3 vote backing forest sourcing and impacts, and call for diversity disclosure.
Missing and murdered indigenous women crisis finally recognized in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress.
In the wake of mega hurricanes and infernal Western States wildfires, climate litigation spreads across U.S.
US. PIRG, Environment America and other advocacy groups file federal lawsuit over new process to determine stringency of energy efficiency standards.
Western conservation group sues #45 administration over secretive coal council.
Court rules #45 border wall delusion’s funding plan illegal.
StudySmart Youth free tutoring Services, initiated at Irvine Portola High School and modeled on Chinese student study gangs, has organized from Seattle to Toronto.
California Repuglicrats finally agree to remove their fake postal drop boxes.
In San Francisco, body-worn camera measures pass after 2.5 years of negotiation with police union.
Gabbard gains GOP supporters for her push for U.S. to drop charges against Assange and Snowden.
People’s Action blows past 25 million calls and texts to voters in key battleground states.
Town of Great Barrington joins health experts condemning herd immunity death cult that bears its name.