I've had the habit of hanging words to cultivate myself for as long as I can remember. The world is full of messages that are designed to sculpt our thoughts and desires. I like to counter the capitalist agenda by holding onto touchstones & talismans, of my own choosing for long spells to integrate them deeply into my being.
When I was young, I wrote the Buddha's "Therefore, be ye lamps unto yourselves, be a refuge to yourselves. Hold fast to Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves." on long strips cut from the personal ads at the back of the SF Weekly. I hung it over my bed when I was taking a deliberate break from dating to calibrate myself. Early in our time on Hartford Street, my best friend from college died suddenly. I hung a couple of teachings about life, death, and grief which I was clinging to like a life raft on the inside of the door to the bathroom closet where I would see them each morning. By the end of our dozenish years there, the whole inside of the door was covered with words. (I recorded them all in a Google doc when we moved out; drop me a line if you'd like me to send it to you!)
James and I fell into the habit of discuss the words in the morning, sharing what it was we were chewing over. Once I posted a photo of it online and James said, "Oh my god, I can't believe you put that online, IT'S LIKE THE INSIDE OF OUR BRAIN." I took the photo down, but that was a long time ago, and he's quite fine with sharing today's. Hearing his feeling at the time, I think, helps you sense how intimately and deeply we use these words to orient and grow. This contemplative installation is a lovely part of our shared spiritual life.
Most of the words come from the Zen Page-A-Day Calendar, which my mother-in-love Charley gave me for Christmas over a decade ago; I've purchased every year since. I ordered 2019's after finishing that last sentence, in fact! We discuss the day's quote each morning over breakfast and consider it a little oracle. The wall used to be my creation; now it's one James and I enjoy sharing. Here aboard Rejoice, the words are accumulating on the inside of the bathroom cupboard which one must open to grab the toilet paper.
In case you are reading on a small screen, currently we are grooving on:
- A moon will rise from my darkness. - Mahmoud Darwish
- I live my life based on two principles. One, I live as if today was my last day on earth. Two, I live today as if I am going to live forever. - Osho
- It is very hard to be simple enough to be good. - Realph Waldo Emerson
- Death is a friend of ours, and he that is not ready to entertain him, is not at home. - Francis Bacon
- Sorcerers say that true rebellion, and humanity's only way out as a species, is to stage a revolution against their own stupidity. As you can understand, this is solitary work. - Carlos Castaneda
- My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing. - Marcel Proust
- If we don't turn around now, we just may get where we are going. - Native American Saying
- Time is how you spend your love. - Zadie Smith
- Suddenly you're ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but by God you're alive and it's spectacular. - Joseph Campbell
- Everything you want is on the other side of fear. - Jack Canfield
- How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren't, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
to open ourselves, to be
- Galway Kinnell