Category Archives: Uncategorized

Emerson’s Good Hours

“Emerson’s dominant passion was not to know but to grow. ‘Expression is all we want,’ he wrote in his journals. ‘Not knowledge, but vent: we know enough;'”

Emerson’s idea of “Good Hours” grows out of his realization that we can only really hold our consciousness for an hour at a time; so the proper unit of living is an hour.

How was your last hour? How are you inspired to grow in your next?

Just a snippet, but worth reading what’s free or buying the entire article.

The Bookless Library?

No longer an oxymoron at one New England private school.

See the debate in the New York Times here.

The Head of School says that the school is simply ahead of the curve in meeting student’s new research and reading habits.

Are those habits serving the students well?  Is learning simply about collecting information efficiently?  Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress (Yeah Matt!), finds that he reads more with a digital reader than he did with print books.  Read his views and those of other media luminaries here.

I, as you may have guessed, side with those who believe that the long focus, the peaceful contemplation, that the reading of a real book allows can lead to  deeper thinking.

I think of reading as having a long conversation with a mind from another time and place, and probably a much higher IQ level, than mine.  If I hurry through this conversation with a TV on in the background (links, tools, maybe even ads around digital content) what are the chances I’ll get all I could out of the exchange?

Actually, for me, the reading is only the first step.  I think the digital life-style, with it’s self-created quick-cut editing, is the real issue because of its focus on quantity and speed.  Time to reflect, to sift, store, and record your understanding of what you’ve read and it’s implications for your life are where the real work of learning takes place.

If anything, we probably read too much of the wrong stuff these days… scarfing down intellectual potato chips, while the nutritious foods and the slow chewing and  digestion they require remain untouched and undone.

With all the media we consume these days, it seems to me that we need to ask ourselves one question before taking on any reading:

Is there a good chance that I will change the way I work and live from what I learn here?

If the chances are slim, put down the media and walk outside.  If you’re looking at media, ancient or au courant, that stands a good chance of refining or elevating your personal philosophy or understanding of yourself or others in a way that will lead you to make different choices and take different actions tomorrow, read on!

Photography Class Testimonials

“This is so fun!  I feel like I am seeing everything with new eyes!”

Anne, Bainbridge Island

“I just completed a series of 6 semi-private photography lessons with Stephen, and eagerly look forward to another series in the fall.

Although I believe I have been relatively successful in shooting interesting and appealing photos, my lack of knowledge about my Nikon D50 has definitely limited my range of possibilities.

Stephen did the unimaginable – he taught me how to shoot photos in ‘manual’ mode! His personalized approach to my learning style, depth of knowledge, and contagious love for photography made the lessons productive, effective, and outright fun.

Over the summer, I look forward to practicing lessons learned in lighting, composition, and the technical features of my camera; and then taking it all to the next level in the Fall.”

Melody, Bainbridge Island

Teilhard de Chardin on the West Coast Trail

Over the last week, we’ve spent time hiking the West Coast Trail with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Hymn to Matter in our minds.West Coast Trail

Here are the words (images and videos below):

HYMN TO MATTER

Blessed be you, harsh matter, barren soil, stubborn rock: you who yield only to violence, you who force us to work if we would eat.

Blessed be you, perilous matter, violent sea, untameable passion: you who unless we fetter you will devour us.

Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth.

Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.

Blessed be you, impenetrable matter: you who, interposed between our minds and the world of essences, cause us to languish with the desire to pierce through the seamless veil of phenomena.

Blessed be you, mortal matter: you who one day will undergo the process of dissolution within us and will thereby take us forcibly into the very heart of that which exists.

Without you, without your onslaughts, without your uprootings of us, we should remain all our lives inert, stagnant, puerile, ignorant both of ourselves and of God. You who batter us and then dress our wounds, you who resist us and yield to us, you who wreck and build, you who shackle and liberate, the sap of our souls, the hand of God, the flesh of Christ: it is you, matter, that I bless.

I bless you, matter, and you I acclaim: not as the pontiffs of science or the moralizing preachers depict you, debased, disfigured — a mass of brute forces and base appetites — but as you reveal yourself to me today, in your totality and your true nature.

You I acclaim as the inexhaustible potentiality for existence and transformation wherein the predestined substance germinates and grows.

I acclaim you as the universal power which brings together and unites, through which the multitudinous monads are bound together and in which they all converge on the way of the spirit.

I acclaim you as the melodious fountain of water whence spring the souls of men and as the limpid crystal whereof is fashioned the new Jerusalem.

I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay moulded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.

Sometimes, thinking they are responding to your irresistible appeal, men will hurl themselves for love of you into the exterior abyss of selfish pleasure-seeking: they are deceived by a reflection or by an echo.

This I now understand.

If we are ever to reach you, matter, we must, having first established contact with the totality of all that lives and moves here below, come little by little to feel that the individual shapes of all we have laid hold on are melting away in our hands, until finally we are at grips with the single essence of all subsistencies and all unions.

If we are ever to possess you, having taken you rapturously in our arms, we must then go on to sublimate you through sorrow.

Your realm comprises those serene heights where saints think to avoid you — but where your flesh is so transparent and so agile as to be no longer distinguishable from spirit.

Raise me up then, matter, to those heights, through struggle and separation and death; raise me up until, at long last, it becomes possible for me in perfect chastity to embrace the universe.

Down below on the desert sands, now tranquil again, someone was weeping and calling out: ‘My Father, my Father! What wild wind can this be that has borne him away?’

And on the ground there lay a cloak.

Jersey, 8th August 1919

What an honor it was to spend this time with my dad and Chip (my sister Joyanne’s SO) and such powerful thoughts in such a lovely place. We started in Port Renfrew, crossed the Gordon River by boat, hiked through the caves of Point Owen, followed the twisting, rooting, muddy trail over logs, ladders, and cable cars to the amazing beaches and sandstone shelves of the west side of Vancouver Island.

The hiking was challenging, but to end it all at Nitinat Narrows with a surprise (to us all) 72nd birthday dinner of barbecued salmon, baked potatoes and cold beer was magical.

Happy birthday Dad!

And thank you to Teilhard de Chardin and the West Coast Trail for giving us this opportunity to experience the trinity of spirit, animate and inanimate matter.

Videos:

Slow hiking

Camper Creek Cable Car

Logan Creek Bridge

West Coast Trail Bus