IX

I go by a field where once I cultivated a few poor crops. It is now covered with young trees, for the forest that belongs here has come back and reclaimed its own. And I think of all the effort I have wasted and all the time, and of how much joy I took in that failed work and how much it taught me. For in so failing I learned something of my place, something of myself, and now I welcome back the trees. IX by Wendell Berry (from  

The Smile

There is a smile of love, And there is a smile of deceit; And there is a smile of smiles, In which these two smiles meet. (And there is a frown of hate, And there is a frown of disdain; And there is a frown of frowns Which you strive to forget in vain, For it sticks in the heart’s deep core, And it sticks in the deep backbone.) And no smile that ever was smiled, But only one smile alone. That betwixt the cradle and grave It only once smiled can be. But when it once is smiled There’s an end to all misery. – William Blake   From Wikipedia: Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of both the Romantic movement and “Pre-Romantic”,[6] for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions,[7] as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg.[8] Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a “glorious luminary,”[9] and as “a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable  

Creative Genius

Are you a repressed creative genius? My friend Carl’s new book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, has just been released by Michael Wiese Publishing, the #1 resource for filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and directors.The book is a fast-read, with a steady stream of useful, concise ideas to unleash your latent creativity. Buy  

John Hunter’s Classroom

One of my favorite speakers from TED2011 is John Hunter. The night before his talk, at the TED party, I randomly sat down to dinner next to him and shared some of our family wine. I was fascinated as he described his unique work as an elementary school teacher. It wasn’t until later that I found out he was giving a main-stage TED Talk the next day. And what a talk he gave. Standing ovations weren’t as plentiful this year, but after John’s talk, the entire auditorium immediately jumped to their feet, many in tears. Take 18 minutes and be inspired by this man’s unique and remarkable teaching methods. I’m convinced that student engagement is the key to deep and lasting scholastic success, and John is proving it  

Where Do Dreams Come From?

A girl slams the door of her little room under the eaves where marauding squirrels scamper overhead like herds of ideas. She has forgotten to be grateful she has finally a room with a door that shuts. She is furious her parents don’t comprehend why she wants to go to college, that place of musical comedy fantasies and weekend football her father watches, beer can in hand. It is as if she announced I want to journey to Iceland or Machu Picchu. Nobody in their family goes to college. Where do dreams come from? Do they sneak in through torn screens at night to light on the arm like mosquitoes? Are they passed from mouth to ear like gossip or dirty jokes? Do they sprout from underground on damp mornings like toadstools that form fairy rings on dewtipped grasses? No, they slink out of books, they lurk in the stacks of libraries. Out of pages turned they rise like the scent of peonies and infect the brain with their promise. I want, I will, says the girl and already she is halfway out the door and down the street from this neighborhood, this mortgaged house, this family tight and constricting as the collar on the next door dog who howls on his chain all night. – Marge  

Blessed Are The Thieves

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen ” the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives ” I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.” Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. – Kahlil Gibran, Prelude to The  

Back From TED

Just back from the TED Conference in Long Beach. I went with an agenda this time – to find professional filmmakers who could be my mentors. We’re producing a film on the Ethiopian tribal practice of child sacrifice called mingi. Did I find mentors? Hey, it’s TED. When you put out a little energy, an enormous amount of similar energy comes back to you. In years past, I seem to have helped a number of people with their dreams and ventures. This year, the TED community rallied around our fledgling film project. Thanks to everyone for joining us on this journey. A lady I met at TED blogged about her experience. I love the way she expresses this. It captures what many have expressed about our annual gathering: “Being at Ted was like sitting on the edge of the coast and out of nowhere “ a whale jumps out of the water right in front of you. The encounter takes your breath away. Everything about that animal is magnificent. And then two minutes later a hawk flies close enough that you hear its wings flap and then a pack of pelicans and life just keeps happening – one breathtaking sight, sound, movement and essence after another… The encounters at Ted were like seeing human beings at their most beautiful and free. I’m not a jaded person. The experience of being there went in deep. Their eye contact, thoughts and presence forced growth in me and like much growth “ it was painful. My heart, my lungs, my eyes, my ears and even the inside of my head felt swollen and tender. At the end of five days I was demolished. I also realized there are lots of brilliant people everywhere.” Demolished!! Veteran TED’sters describe something called the “TED Crash” which is a mildly depressive state that sets in about 24 hours after returning home, and lasts for a few days. I’m just coming out of the crash myself. See, when you’re there time is frozen, thoughts and senses are profoundly energized, exceptional ideas are the norm and fly around the conference at light speed. There is almost no way you will be standing or sitting next to someone without striking up what invariably becomes a life-altering conversation. A TED gathering releases the equivalent of intellectual and spiritual adrenaline. From early in the morning to late into the wee hours, there is nothing like a TED Conference. I stay across the harbor at the Marriott, so every morning I can take the 1.5 mi walk to the conference. On my walk, I cross over the Queens Bridge and pass the Long Beach Aquarium. One day, as I approached a pigeon perched at the bridge’s apex, it swooped down gracefully, almost to the water below, and then flew back up over my head. Five minutes later, I passed a field trip of mentally challenged children outside the aquarium. They were cleaning up papers and debris – all of them grinning from ear to ear and having the time of their life, in the moment. Normally, I wouldn’t feel too strongly about the bird, or the kids. But that day, the moment went very deep and caused me to weep with joy and gratitude. Within 10 minutes, I had typed a poem into my Blackberry (I’ve never written a poem in my life!). It’s a little embarrassing, but I’ll share it: Soaring bird. They are speaking to you. The challenged children, Happy to be, Soaring, swooping. In language you may not understand. They will help you to listen. to hear. with their Wings fully extended Soaring. in the moment you have forgotten Both old and new Together, in the ageless dance, conspire and subvert. As a reminder, of timeless harmony and symmetry as certain as old must become New Until both arise, soaring in the sacred unknowing of their  

To Find Forgiveness in Everything

It’s easy to love through a cold spring when the poles of the willows turn green pollen falls like a yellow curtain and the scent of Paper Whites clots the air but to love for a lifetime takes talent you have to mix yourself with the strange beauty of someone else wake each morning for 72,000 mornings in a row so breathed and bound and tangled that you can hardly sort out your arms and legs you have to find forgiveness in everything even ink stains and broken cups you have to be willing to move through life together the way the long grasses move in a field when you careen blindly toward the other side there’s never going to be anything straight or predictable about your path except the flattening and the springing back you just go on walking for years hand in hand waist deep in the weeds bent slightly forward like two question marks and all the while it burns my dear it burns beautifully above you and goes on burning like a relentless sun – Mary