Friday, December 23, 2005

Elegba: The gateway

Vodun flag of ElegbaIn order to start, we must make a decision. This decision is a commitment to daily self-cultivation. We must make a strong connection to our inner selves. Outside matters are superfluous. Alone and naked, we negotiate all of life's travails. Therefore, we alone must make something of ourselves, transforming ourselves into the instruments for experiencing the deepest spiritual essence of life. Once we make our decision, all things will come to us.
- Deng Ming-Dao


The image represents the Vodun loa or deity known as Elegba, who oversees crossroads, entrances and decisions. The flag is a ritual object in Haiti where i acquired it some years ago. I had left it behind when i went into exile carrying just two suitcases. It is the single item that i requested to be sent to me. My good friend, John, who had it in safe-keeping along with the rest of my detritus, duly complied, and it now hangs on my otherwise bare wall.

The mytho-poetic significance of Elegba continues to grow on me, as i've had to negotiate the many cross-roads, and make the decisions that govern my life. That the essence/concept of Elegba connotes ambivalence, the tension and synthesis of polarities, divine trickster and messenger, is not lost on me either, as i fulfill the roles that have fallen to me, and re-invent myself further into yet more manifestations.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Winter Solstice

Objects are defined subjectively. Since objects are defined arbitrarily, this gives rise to your arbitrary subjectivity.
- Fuyan Qingyuan, 1067-1120

You must see the infinite, i.e., the universal in your particular or it is only gossip.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1841-1935

A minor cyclical adjustment within the solar system has exercised the minds of humankind for millennia, giving rise to beliefs, myths and religions. When the earth in its heliocentric orbit changes the angle of its axis to begin tilting the North pole once more inward towards the sun, marks the beginning of a new cycle. The hours of daylight begin once more to increase in the Northern hemisphere giving rise to observances variously to do with the rebirth of the sun, the return of the light, and the overcoming of the darkness.

From a global perspective, this does not make a whole lot of sense to inhabitants of the Southern hemisphere who are broiling under the zenith of the solar body. It marks the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, reflecting the historical accident of the northern origins of the calendar most of us live by. So the Southerners have to adjust to the end and beginning of their year occurring in Summer, an imposition of a single world-view for all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Evanescence

Dalai LamaYou must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.
- Dalai Lama, 1935-



A couple weeks ago i was having chest pains and was whisked off to the ER and admitted to the hospital (a first for me) for observation. Turns out my heart is fine so the docs' conclusion was that it was reflux. I suspect it was due to stress, no more, no less, from trying to meet a print deadline for holiday sales. I had more than enough time languishing supine, hooked up to the EKG, to have more than intimations of my mortality. Then four people i know, one of whom i recently met, have died in the last two weeks, one violently and the others from medical conditions, all fairly suddenly.

Which brings me to a point of trying to achieve a delicate balance between forging ahead with my work publishing wisdom quotations, which i consider my opus vitae, but which work has been the cause of my stress, and maintaining my vital equilibrium. I've been forced to conclude it's just as important use of my time to be able to relax and breathe deeply. So the publication has been set back some, the work has become fun again, and finally at proofreading stage.

Defer no more

Think of all the years passed by in which you said to yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and how the gods have again and again granted you periods of grace of which you have not availed yourself. It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe, that you are born of Nature itself, and to know that a limit has been set to your time. Use every moment wisely, to perceive your inner refulgence, or ‘twill be gone and nevermore within your reach.
- Marcus Aurelius
For some time now, i've been putting off starting this blog. After all, i have the minimal skills necessary to do it, like to write, and think i have something to say. I also happen to be editing an anthology of quotations and just finished proofing the section on Deferment/Delay. The quotations speak to me in no uncertain terms, and as i removed extra spaces, corrected spelling and punctuation, and adjusted formatting, i was prompted to shift gears, and begin.