Words To Bring Back: “Terrible”

– Definition: adj. Of a nature to excite terror; appaling

– Used in a sentence: “That’s the most terrible Hallowe’en costume I’ve ever seen.”

– Why: The current connotation of “terrible” as slipshod, sub-par, etc. really grinds my gears. Time to get back to roots and enjoy it as Webster and Funk & Wagnalls intended.

Why I Love: Geology

IT’S THE SMELL OF THE rocks. It’s knowing what everything on the surface is sitting on. It’s the finding of hand-samples. (It’s also the finding of fossils.) It’s the divisions of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It’s the appreciation of Deep Time. It’s the walking-about in nature. It’s that every rocky layer is a page in a vast book. It’s the feel of obsidian and chert and soapstone. It’s knowing the Mohs scale. It’s using the Mohs scale. It’s that the raw ingredients are made out of stardust. It’s literally seeing the connection-to-everything-else.

“Return to the Breath”

SOMETHING ANN AND I SAY to each other when life seems fretful and jagged is “Return to the Breath.”

It’s a compact admonition against spiraling out of control with what-ifs and oh-my-gods. Return to the Breath means sit (or stand, or walk) and pay attention to your breathing.

If you center your attention on breathing, you can’t help but connect to the moment you’re in — and know that The Moment is all you’ll ever have or exist in.

There are many schools and methods of breath control. One of my favorites, which I learned in the law-enforcement chaplaincy academy, is called “triangle breathing:” Inhale for a count of five. Hold for a count of five. Exhale for a count of five. Repeat until calm.

365 Names: Providence

PROVIDENCE literally means “that which/one Who provides.” It’s a comfortable and comforting image: G?d as Supplier of Necessities. For some reason, it pops up a lot in 18th- and 19th-Century literature and life, including as a proper name. Perhaps it’s an Industrial Age thing.

First Graf: The Jewish Catalog

Fig. 1

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE COUNTER-CULTURAL agents of the 1960s (re)discovered their Yiddishkeit (Jewishness)? A trio of them (and many others) produced the now-classic The Jewish Catalog: a do-it-yourself kit.

As the subtitle implies, the book is chock-full of homemade ways to “do Jewish,” from making your own challah, tying and laying tefillin, navigating a siddur (prayerbook) or the Torah, burying someone with dignity, mystically understanding Shabbat, navigating the “Jewish Establishment” and much much more. Published in 1973 (and serially reprinted since then), it spoke to the nascent anti-authoritarian paradigm of “ethnic pride” and “finding your roots” that was then sweeping the United States. It features articles from such luminaries as Rabbi Zalman Schachter (founder of the Jewish Renewal movement) to Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt, and sparked a communal yearning for authenticity and connectedness that still resonates today. The lavishly illustrated book spawned two sequels and is still relevant to anyone seeking to jump into the sea of Judaism:

5 Thoughts: Blogging Life

1. THINK OF IT AS TRAINING. If you’re blogging the equivalent of a perzine, don’t expect a lot of readers, at least at the beginning. During the first decade of The Metaphorager‘s existence, my maximum readership was about 30 people; due to circumstances beyond my control, I let it lapse for five or six years, and am slowly rebuilding. Thus, the chief use of this blog is to hone my lapsed writing skills. Readers would be nice, but as a compulsive writer, I can’t not do this. So I may as well do it in public.

2. I write, I post to Facebook the article’s link, I check my access logs. Such is the modern literary life. It’s not so bad; on the other hand, it is a bit discouraging to discover that WordPress‘ spell-check recognizes neither “blog” nor “blogging.” (Come to think of it, it doesn’t recognize “WordPress” either.)

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well-supported in logic and argument than others.”
~ Douglas Adams