Posted by: luzb | July 23, 2012

Work with Love by Kahlil Gibran

Painting works around the house for three weeks now and been forced to sort out old stuff.  One is bound to find some real treasures worth preserving.  These words from Kahlil Gibran must have helped me during the years of toil in the past and should still keep me going until the end.  “Which of you woud be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?”

WORK WITH LOVE

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of work, And he answered, saying:

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth,

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.

Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labor a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,

And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary,

And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge.

And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,

And all work is empty save when there is love;

And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another and to God.

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things your fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.

“And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.

But I say, not in sleep, but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass.

Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

– Kahlil Gibran

Posted by: luzb | September 25, 2009

Squinting and Blurring

“There’s more to see than can be seen, more said than what is heard. The day is brighter, softer, lighter when it’s slightly blurred.”

Lyrics from a beautiful 1979 song by Rupert Holmes, Nearsighted, which just came to me one morning as I am walking to do some errands.  What beautiful lyrics and what a nice thought:  seeing more when things are blurred, to see clearly when things are not so clear, to see the sun even on a cloudy day.

 An artist uses a trick called “squinting” in order to see better the gradations in tonal values of lights and shadows, where darkness or lightness may be added in his painting, the overall goal is to enhance the art work.  The eye is made to defocus which brings certain details of the subject into sharper focus, reducing it close to black and white.  Seeing the subject without the benefit of color, the artist can more readily see which areas of his work needs to be improved on.  A photographer also deliberately uses a technique “blurring” to direct the viewers’ attention to what he or she wants them to see.  In a portrait, the background may be blurred to focus attention on the subject.  If he is photographing several objects, he may sharpen only one object and blur the others, to direct the viewer’s eye on the sharpened object, to provide more interest in the photo and at times to make a statement.

Defocusing in order to focus.  Blurring and squinting in order to see.  In life, we all have the tendency to over-analyze at times.  Everything should be clearly explained and clearly understood for us to be comfortable.  We ask questions.  We seek answers and if we could not find them, we feel unhappy and incomplete.  But then, there is happiness in the gloom, there is clarity in the unexplained, there is light in the clouds, there is joy in the rain.  Sometimes we need to squint and blur certain parts of our lives to be able to see what’s really important and the things that really matter.  We just need to know how to look. 🙂

***************

(If you want to read more about the song, read on.)

As I was looking for the lyrics of “Nearsighted”, I came across the following citation from a 1985 book by Sheila Davis, “The Craft of Lyric Writing”.  It was described as a song with a “wry charm” and goes on to say how “above the ordinary” the lyric writing was.  To quote Ms. Davis:

““Nearsighted”, with its wry charm, has made a life for itself outside its original album, “Partners in Crime,” as a favorite with sophisticated supper-club audiences. Rupert Holmes, who topped the charts with fundamental verse/ chorus formats in “Escape” and “Him”, proves again that when you understand a basic structure — its assets and liabilities — you can then reinvent it to suit a lyric’s special requirements. (It’s also worth noting that Holmes certainly knows how to parlay the one-word title!)

“Nearsighted” exemplifies Ira Gershwin’s advice to “prove” your title, and like all well-written lyrics it can serve as a minicourse in writing principles. For example, consider “reserving your title,” mentioned a few pages back. See how well the concept works: what Holmes did was show the effects of nearsightedness in the verse, strike an attitude about in the climb, and identify the condition by name in the chorus. Imagine, if we had heard the word nearsighted in the verse or climb, how uninterested we would be when the chorus finally struck.

Holmes keeps the tension line of the story pulled tight. Not until the second half of the (double) chorus do we learn of a love interest — “and it pleases me to see you…” What the song achieves is a fresh way to say I love you without saying “I love you” — an accomplishment that raises the rating of a lyric many notches above the ordinary.”

NEARSIGHTED

 

Verse: (8 bars)

If you take these glasses from my face

I think that you will find

I’m undeniably, certifiably

Just this shade of blind.

But I don’t envy those of you

With 20-20 vision

Who see the world for all it’s worth

With crystal-clear precision.

Climb: (4 bars)

There’s more to see than can be seen

More said than what is heard;

The day is brighter, softer, lighter

When it’s slightly blurred.

Chorus: (16 bars)

Nearsighted.  It’s another lovely day.

Nearsighted.  So I stumble on my way.

I don’t judge a friend or lover

By a first or second look,

Nor a book just by its cover —

Hell, I can’t even see the book.

Nearsighted.  Loving life is such a breeze.

Nearsighted.  Cause I see just what I please

And it pleases me to see you

I won’t change my point of view.

Nearsighted, all I need to see is you.

Half-chorus (8 bars)

Though I’m slightly out of focus,

I can see my dreams come true

Clear sighted, Nearsighted

Nearsighted, all I need to see is you.

 

Words and music by Rupert Holmes, copyright 1979 WB Music Corp. and The Holmes Line of Music Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Posted by: luzb | August 13, 2009

Words: Auguste Rodin

These are some of my favorite excerpts from an Auguste Rodin (a French sculptor, considered to be the most popular figure sculptor since Michelangelo) exhibit from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. Each quote accompanied a piece of sculpture. Words have power and to me, Rodin’s words not only explained his works and his art but also displayed his depth and his genius. Now, I am a fan. Oh, words!

On “The Thinker”, 1880

“Nature gives me my model, life and thought; the nostrils breathe, the heart beats, the lungs inhale, the being thinks, and feels, has pains and joys, ambitions, passions and emotions. These I must express. What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.” –Auguste Rodin

From the publication Saturday Night, Toronto, December 1, 1917. (As quoted in The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin by John Tancock, 1976.)

On “The Head Of Balzac”, 1892-1897

“I tried in the Balzac … to find an art that is not photography in sculpture. My principle is to imitate not only form but life. I look for that life in nature, but in amplifying it, exaggerating the holes and the bumps so as to give them more light; then I look for a synthesis of the whole. “ – Auguste Rodin

From the publication Le Journal, Paris, May 12, 1898. (As quoted in The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin by John Tancock, 1976.)

“You read Balzac, this man who should have had a woman who cared for him and loved him. But men like him do not have the qualities that appeal to women. Their constant preoccupation with their art hinders them from being sociable, and denies them even a simple elegance. In spite of their intelligence, they are often rude. For one does well only that which one does daily. There are the mechanics of living, lacking in those who live in great loneliness.” – Auguste Rodin

From a letter quoted in Dialogues with Rodin by Helene von Nostitz Hindenburg, translated by H.L. Ripperger, 1931.

On “Venus”, 1888

“In short, Beauty is everywhere. It is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her. Beauty is character and expression. Well, there is nothing in nature which has more character than the human body. In its strength and its grace it evokes the most varied images. One moment it resembles a flower: the bending torso is the stalk; the breasts, the head, and the splendor of the hair answer to the blossoming of the corolla. The next moment it recalls the pliant creeper, or the proud and upright sapling.” – Auguste Rodin

Paul Gsell , Art by Auguste Rodin, originally published in 1912. Translated by Mrs. Romilly Fedden.

Posted by: luzb | June 16, 2009

Getting To Know

It is such an irony that when confronted with the thing we want the most, when it is very well within our reach, we stop, we hesitate and turn our backs. If it is what we really want, why do we hesitate? Why do we stop? I know of a couple who for years, have wanted to have a baby. Inspite of all their efforts, they have not been blessed with their own child. They have been considering for the last couple of years adoption as a possible option. For the last couple of years, they have also been dilly-dallying and cannot bring this plan to action as they considered the baby’s impact in their lifestyle as a couple and the big change it will bring to their lives. “Do we really want this?,” they ask themselves.

Why is it that when we come to that point of realizing what we desire, do we ask ourselves do we really want it? Let me hazard a few guesses. I think it is because we fear that once we have that something we thought we really wanted, it would still not make us happy and we would realize that it is not what we really wanted. Or perhaps because there is more thrill in dreaming, in desiring and in wanting rather than in realizing, possessing and acquiring the object of our desire. Once you get what you wanted, what is next? There is no more excitement.

No wonder we are sad. That is the title of a recent blog I read which somehow inspired certain parts of this writing. The writer talks of man’s desire for company. He writes with humor but his message is so profound. He says, “The thought of someone knowing us well threatens us. We yearn for closeness and opt for detachment… No wonder we are sad.”

We, people are social beings. We are made to be that way. Even God recognized this by saying, “It is not good that man should be alone” and made “a helper fit for him” (Gn 2:18,21). We all yearn for company, for closeness and intimacy. Yet we are afraid of people coming too close. Why? Perhaps because they might get to know the real us and not like what they see. Or even perhaps “we” might get to know the real us and not like what “we” see. So we tell people, I want you to be my friend but stay at least 3 meters away from me. I will only allow you to get close up to this point.

To get to know a person also means to allow yourself to be known by the other person. As you allow yourself to be known by the other, you also allow yourself to be known by yourself. It is a scary thought, to be exposed, most of all, to one’s self. If it is company that we really yearn for, then should we not let go of our fear? No wonder we are sad.

To take it a step further, we people are meant to desire, to want things. We desired and wanted things from the time we were born, and it was so simple then. As adults, what is it that we really want — the thing that we desire or the act of desiring? Desiring connotes anticipation. It is an action, a chasing of the ideal and of dreams and therefore it means excitement. For some, it is better to remain in the chasing, for in the state of anticipating, there is excitement. But when will the chasing end? The thing that is the object of our desiring is something that is real. We are unsure whether it will lead to our happiness or not. In the action, we are sure of the excitement. In the object, we do not know. The uncertainty scares us. BUT unless we take “THE” step and grab hold of the thing, the object of our desiring, we will never know.

Posted by: luzb | May 10, 2009

All for me to see!

Still can’t get over it. Great weekend it was, May 1-2. Goes to show sometimes you get rewarded when you take risks. Ignoring Pag-asa’s warning of 3 low pressure areas and a five rainy-day CNN forecast, I am so glad Gigi and I proceeded to Anilao for a long-ago planned, twice-moved, dive weekend. Still expecting bad weather, we brought our props prepared to just read a book or work on our computers (at least we’re still near the beach and our efforts at packing our bags still useful).

Surprise of surprises, our courage was rewarded with 2 days of no rain, calm waters, 4 perfectly wonderful relaxing dives with very good visibility. On the first day, we were with two other divers and our divemaster Alfie. We went to Sombrero island and Dari Laut. Both dives were perfectly relaxing. I so enjoyed Dari Laut — no currents, perfect visibility — and had fun exploring on my own and following all the fishes around the boat wreck.

On our second day, I was reunited with my dive classmate, Phoebe, and our divemaster was Dencio, our dive guru himself (feels like checkout dive once again). Along with Gigi, Boni and four other divers, we went to Pani’s and Mainit points. Expecting strong currents, surprisingly there weren’t any, very slight if there is at all, and it was just heaven for me. Being a new diver and my last dive about 2 months ago, I am still uncomfortable, imagining myself being drifted so far away from my group, fishermen may have to go looking for me with a banca to fetch me in the middle of the ocean (that is, if I have not been eaten by large sea creatures yet). I dread currents and how much effort I would exert to beat them. Luckily, there were none, another encouragement for me to continue in this sports. I had a bit of trouble equalizing at Pani’s in the beginning, but it was still a perfect dive.

Our rewards for both days: a school of pink fusiliers (dalagang-bukid) “spreading out like a blanket over us” (to borrow Gigi’s words), a puffer fish hiding under a stone on the seabed, a school of barracudas (juveniles, of course), sting rays resting inside the crevices we had to point our lights to see them, pawikan (the size of a tabletop according to gigi), a grouper the size of a piglet (again according to gigi), anemones and anemone fishes, too many clown fishes, a snapping eel, lion fish, scorpion fish, a mushroom coral worm, and oh lots, lots more.

All these… for me to see!

I’m so looking forward to our next one, hopefully in June 🙂

Posted by: luzb | May 9, 2009

Birthdays vs. Wakes

Why do people hesitate on going to someone’s birthday or anniversary? They come up with so many excuses — too busy, too far, have something else to do. However, when it is the wake of someone, they would try very hard to come and will try to fit a visit to the wake in their schedule. Why? Is it because it’s their last chance to see you? Is it to make up for those times when they have not come when you invited them? Or is it because they feel obliged to go? For me, if you have not seen me for years, have forgotten me for a long time, have not seen me nor greeted me on any of my birthdays or special occasions, then don’t go crashing in on my wake. You are not obliged, I assure you. What for? You won’t be able to talk to me and tell me who you are and how I knew you. I will neither be able to confirm nor deny your claims. I’d rather see in my wake people who have made time for me when I was alive. If you were my friend, I’d rather you remember me when i was living and blood was coloring my cheeks than remember me all crinkled and pale behind a glass.

I think it’s the same when a member of the family dies. All those people whom you have not seen all your life introducing themselves as family or as friends — it is so confusing for the family of the deceased. It is so difficult to grieve while meeting strangers, remembering new names and hearing all sorts of claims. People want to pay their respects? —— my foot! Why did they not do it when the person was still alive?

Why, oh why, do we make time for the dead and not for the living?

Posted by: luzb | May 5, 2009

Pacquiao Win, A Taste of Paradise?

Pacquiao win, a taste of paradise?  Read…

http://junjeesj.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/pacquiao-moment/

For me, another way of seeing… 🙂

Posted by: luzb | April 21, 2009

Memories

lawnThere are places you go to for adventure, to see nature and beautiful sceneries. There are places you go to for their culture, for their cuisine, for their uniqueness and other attractions. All those experiences one treasures and upon leaving, I’d always wonder when I can go back. There’s a place I always come back to not only because of its beauty but because of its memories — the most heartful laughter with friends; the most heartfelt sorrows; the deepest sense of gratitude and knowing you are one with every living thing on earth and that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. These treasured memories indeed need to be captured. I’ve visited this place several times for the last 10 years and took pictures of the place only now. Just like in other places I’ve visited, I wonder when again can I go back.

Posted by: luzb | April 12, 2009

Fear

Fear
by Heidi Lahti

Like an underground river
deep beneath the surface,
silent,
cold,
unnoticed by others,
Fear is rushing, never resting
. . . never still.

No way to stop its flow,
No way to weaken its power,
not even with sacred prayers
uttered in desperation . . .
moment by moment
. . . endlessly.
It is not life ‘s uncertainty,
nor death awaiting.
It is not the lack of one thing
nor too much of another
which stifles my greatness
and dims my light.
It is this porcupine emotion
that pricks
and needles its way
through my inner world.
It is Fear . . . and only Fear.

In my silence,
it fills me with loneliness.
In my work,
it fills me with strain.
In my love,
it fills me with doubt.
In my soul,
it fills me with despair.
Of the Angels who share my space,
I ask,
“Take it from me, I beg you please.
Take this Fear and in its place,
leave with me sweet, enduring peace.”

(Just got back from another wonderful weekend getaway to find this beautiful poem in my inbox.   Thanks, Gladz!  I think this reflects my experience of this weekend having encountered someone who’s too scared — too scared to accept her gifts, too scared to face herself, too scared to find peace.   Fear is something we all experience in one way or another and at different intensity levels.  It is indeed fear that takes away our joy and our experience of life’s beauty.  But then, we should never cease looking and finding, sometimes begging for peace, as the poet did.    🙂

Posted by: luzb | March 28, 2009

Mga Batang Hawak-Kamay

Hawak-kamay KidsTakip-silim.  Habang unti-unting sumusuko sa dilim ang sinag ng araw, nagtatago sa likod ng kabundukan.  Sa gitna ng mga puno ng mais na sumasayaw sa banayad na ihip ng hangin.  Sakay ng “kurung-kurung” (isang behikulong parang traysikel na hila-hila ng motorsiklo, na ang kadalasang gamit ay hindi para isakay ang mga tao kundi para isakay ang mga alagang baboy patungo sa palengke o sa pagkakatayan).  Para sa okasyong ito, sapat na sa  mga bata ang lumulan dito mula sa paliligo sa ilog kaysa sa batahin ang paglalakad ng 15 minuto sa mga pilapil.  Nasa likod ako ng aking pinsan na nagmamaneho ng motorsiklo, isang pribelihiyo dahil sa bumigay ang aking mumurahing gomang tsinelas sa paglalakad sa batuhan ng ilog pati na rin sa malambot na buhangin ng kabukiran.

Marahil dahil na rin sa matinding kasiyahan sa piling ng mga kaibigan, matapos maglaro at maligo sa maligamgam na tubig ng “karayan”, nagbibigay ng matinding ginhawa sa matinding alinsangan ng tag-init, nag-awitang sabay-sabay ang mga bata.  “Hawak-kamay, di kita iiwan sa paglalakbay dito sa mundo na walang katiyakan.”  Hindi pag-awit kundi mistulang pagsigaw mula sa kanilang puso ng paulit-ulit.  Walang katapusan.  Sa kabila ng malakas nilang pagsigaw na ibinabalik ng kabukiran, maririnig ang isang tahimik at matamis na tinig na klarong inaawit ang magandang melodiya ng awit.  Parang ibinubulong ang makahulugang liriko.  Ang lahat ng ito sa saliw ng unti-unting paglabas ng buwan at isa-isang pagsilip ng mga bituin, sa simula’y kukurap-kurap hanggang  mawala ang animo’y hiya ng mga ito at ipagyabang ang taglay na liwanag.

Isang napakagandang sandali, para bagang tumigil ang oras at ang lahat ng bagay sa paggalaw.   (Nais kong hulihin ang sandali ngunit hindi ito kayang gawin ng aking kamera.)  Isang sandali ng katahimikan, ng pag-sangayon at pagtanggap.   Sa kabila ng kagulumihinan at kawalang-katiyakan ng hinaharap, hindi ako nag-iisa, hindi kailanman.

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