"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry,
Just Eat Curry!

A quiet spot for coffee, tea, curry, rice pudding
and inspiration:
"No. No, we are not satisfied
and we will not be satisfied
until 'justice rolls down like water
and righteousness like a mighty stream.' "
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Fountain & Waterfall
in the lovely Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Last year, when I flew out to San Francisco for the first time, I was stressing about the trip and asked my friend Eileen to send me some anti - worry mantras. She had already shared many; but, of course, when I needed them most -- when I was worrying! -- I couldn't remember them.

She e-mailed back with a simple mantra, easy to keep in mind while traveling or anytime:
"Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry, Just Eat Curry!"

Okay! I could remember that advice and, even better, I could follow it! She added some additional words of wisdom that I continue to find both intriguing and useful: "Just breathe. And remember that anxiety and excitement are in fact the same sensations physiologically speaking, just with either fear stories or looking - forward stories attached. I think that's an oversimplification, but it can help." Yes, it does help! Anxious or excited? Choose your story, determine your mood! The power of narrative! Or, better yet, Nostalgic Narrative Therapy!

At the Samovar Tea Lounge
Unhurried, not worried, ordered curry!

We also discussed worry and perfection. Will we ever be able to stop second guessing that life should be other than it is -- or to accept that, in the words of Toby Maguire's character David, the twin brother in Pleasantville: "It. Is. Not. Supposed. To. Be. Any. Way."

"A great way to feel that comes and goes," Eileen said, supplying the following anecdote: San Francisco Zen Chef "Ed Brown tells a wonderful story about making his first from - scratch biscuits when he began baking at Tassajara. He kept being upset because they didn't taste like or have the same texture as the real biscuits that he remembered from childhood -- 'til he realized that what he was Proustifyin' about were those Pillsbury cartons that you crack and extract the crescents & pop in. He used to do a kickass dharma talk, extrapolating to advertisements, etc., on all the ways we imagine we are not 'measuring up.' Nothing one doesn't already know, intellectually, but to really take it in, receive and accept -- aaahhh!"

We interrupt this blog post
for an unexpected connection!

The best kind, of course! A surprise telephone call from dear Cate, who it certainly seems should know Eileen, although they are each from a different phase of my life (i.e., Cate ~ Philly; Eileen ~ facebook) and have yet to become acquainted. Maybe after this blog post they will!

When I told Cate what I was working on, she jumped right in and told me all about Edward Espe Brown's Tassajara Bread Book and Deborah Madison's Greens Cook Book, and their celebrated San Francisco restaurant Greens. Okay, I know where we're eating next time we visit!

My thanks to Cate
~ talented cook and student of Zen ~
for these cookery eatery references!


And now, back to Eileen for further annotation
and explication of our brief new mantra:
"Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry, Just Eat Curry!"

"I wonder if I even answered the simple question? She tends to leave out the obvious and important. That flurry of 'explain yourself, sir' (it feels more 'sir' than 'ma'am') that can overrun a thoughtful calm, 'Here is what I care about, and here are some ways I have earned a living at it.' So interesting, that wanting to be known for / as who you actually are, whilst resisting naming it; feeling like saying anything will somehow distort what might be 'felt - into' from just exposure over time. I remember when I decided to stop asking people that directly, like at parties, and began experimenting with other indirect probes [as I've heard they do in France]. But especially now, we are curious and wonder how others are putting it together / keeping body and soul together, and making sense and cents (that last word was corny, I just hadda end /stop). Also, facebook tends to just be verbal. I already know I am making a picture of my interests and concerns, in colors and shapes, for someone who wants to pay for my services. Doesn't even feel 'brave,' just feels obvious, easier, more relatable. From two phone calls I am intuiting what this person will enjoy. Quien sabe?"

Another nice lunch ~ this time at Cafe de la Presse

"Maybe it's a self-selection thing (big superego sorts), or maybe it's the scholarly crucible itself, but I can feel the 'military neck' want to happen. I so wanna be / have FUN. & ENUF (ha! I know u c that near - anagram). You know how in the Feldenkrais Method [similar to the Alexander Technique], you can 'visualize' a movement -- even if your body cannot or can no longer execute -- and it will have the same effect, neuro-howeverly? So then, can we not say that metabolizing insights is not doing nothing -- for the greater social organism, I mean. Is that what the Buddha meant by with our thoughts we make the world? All that time spent doubting the value of my natural way of doing my life? And, yes, I'll still do the odd 'motivational discussion,' but it will sound more like quietly coexisting and then 'reporting out to the group.' And inhale. And exhale."
Thanks Eileen!


Try to remember:

1. "Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry, Just Eat Curry!

2. "It. Is. Not. Supposed. To. Be. Any. Way."


Parting Words of Wisdom

from StoryPeople by Brian Andreas

Things to know about the future.
It doesn't have to look any particular way,
but around here, if it doesn't,
a lot of people will never speak to you again
[well, just don't worry about those people!]

deciding everything is falling into place perfectly
as long as you don't get too picky
about what you mean by place.
Or perfectly.


and from the movie Pleasantville, 1998
script by Gary Ross

David, the previously nerdy teen - aged son has returned from "Pleasantville," wiser in his newfound knowledge that there's no such thing as a perfect life, not even over the rainbow. He finds his mother crying and gently asks her what is wrong.

"MOM: Oh, I don't know. It's all so f---ed up. . . .
You know, when your father was here I thought well this is it.
It's always gonna be like this.
I have the right house and the right car and the right life.

DAVID: There is no right house. There is no right car.

MOM: Oh, God. It's not supposed to be like this. . . .

DAVID: It's not supposed to be anything.

MOM: How'd you get so smart all of a sudden?

DAVID: (stops for a second, smiles to himself, shrugs): I had a good day."


Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, September 28th

Between now and then,

feel free to take a look at my
San Francisco Photo Albums: October 2012 & September 2013

and read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading


  1. RE: Nostalgic Narrative Theory, mentioned above, refers to previous conversation with Eileen & Len, when I mis - read nostalgic literary "theory" as "therapy."

    Here's the real thing: "What is interesting, though, is that critics themselves are often nostalgically inclined. In “Irony, Nostalgia, and the Postmodern,” Linda Hutcheon says that Jameson’s “own rhetoric and position can [. . .] at times sound strangely nostalgic” because of his repeated yearning for “‘genuine historicity,’” and his claim that we have lost the “‘lived possibility of experiencing history in some active way’” (5-6). Why do critics fall under the spell of nostalgia? One possible answer is that nobody escapes the long shadow of yearning for a way of thinking. More precisely, Hutcheon answers the question by borrowing Hayden White’s term “transideological” to claim that nostalgia “can be made to ‘happen’ by (and to) anyone of any political persuasion” (5). But there is something else at work here in terms of our critical perspectives of nostalgia. In Present Past: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, Andreas Huyssen says that “history in a certain canonical form may be delegitimized as far as its core pedagogical and philosophical mission is concerned, but the seduction of the archive and its trove of stories of human achievement and suffering has never been stronger”(5). The phrase “the seduction of the archive” deserves a moment of reflection. Does that which was created by memory seduce us? Of course. How else can something be placed into the archive if not through the procedures of memory? Nostalgia is also part of the seducing nature of what things from the past mean. It occupies the liminal ground between history qua history and the procedures of memory."

    source: http://www.uiowa.edu/~ijcs/nostalgia/nostint.htm

  2. Along the same lines, I just came across a Michael Robbins poem in the April 22, 2013 _New Yorker_ entitled "Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen." I'll type it up later, but for now, here's the last line, I think you'll like: "Nostalgia's just another word that starts with No."