Monthly Archives: February 2013

Letters to A Young Poet By Rainer Maria Rilke

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A decade ago, my first voice teacher, Beth McGuire told me to read this book, “Letters to a Young Poet”. If I were to embark on being an actor, then these were the questions to ask. I look to the next phase of my life as if I was looking over a cliff into an black abyss, but the cliff is too comfortable and so it is to find only solace in Rilke and get ready to jump.

“You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sound – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

     But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn’t write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

     What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.”

Searching for yoga and coffee in Chiang Mai

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And thai massages. And mango sticky rice.

On a daily basis.

At the end of the first week my exploration have been successful.

Day # 1: After studying Thai Massage seriously in the States for three-four years, I received my first massage in Thailand in the common area of a temple (1.5 hours 200 bhat/$7 USD). It was quite an experience, and different from what I expected, not as relaxing, not for the tender or feint of heart. The practitioner really worked me and I was sore for a few days afterward.

Wandered until I found a cafe down a side street. The owner made me a yellow curry and sat down with her dog to talk to me while I ate. Spicy (nose-watering) and flavorful in all sorts of ways. Out of courtesy I sipped the water with ice that she gave me. Then I remembered maybe I shouldn’t. I finished both the curry and the water in the end and hoped for the best. (60 bhat/$2 USD)

Day #2. After a day of working in my poolside “office” at The Eco Resort I found my way to Wild Rose Yoga. The atmosphere is exquisite, sacred, magical. I have heard about this place for years from nomadic friends. It is a can’t miss for the traveling yogi. Helen was the teacher for this first class, I have learned she specializes in yoga for bodyworkers which is apparent in her focus on the subtle energetics and importance of breath, coupled with creative vinyasa and some strong core work. She was attentive, so present and inspiring.

Dada Cafe: I met a friend for a late night dinner, this place is owned by a German man. I was a little hesitant to try my friends’ salad, but it was full of sprouts and avocado and delicious. The frothed coconut was amazing.

Day #3. Mosaic Cafe: excellent coffee down the road from Eco Resort.

Blue Diamond: Another fantastic salad with amazing dressing. I didn’t think I would be eating a salad for months and have been surprised and delighted a second time! I can only hope to replicate the gluten free cookies in the deli one day (a mix of seeds, coconut and yum), for now I keep a stash on me at all times for snacking. Down the street from a tourist friendly market.

Namo Yoga: the website was confusing and a little off-setting, couldn’t quite tell what the address was, or if there is a physical space. There is! And it is a refreshing blend of yoga and massage, great setting. I am looking forward to taking a class.

Day # 4 Nice Kitchen (I am tickled by some of the names here): the best panang green curry (lunch) and most delightful yogurt fruit (breakfast) I have experienced. Amazing coffee.

Found Pranam on a friend’s recommendation and received a 1 hour full foot massage (150 bhat). I will return for a full body massage today.

Day #5. Yoga Tree: an absolutely gorgeous space, so open and surrounded by greenery. I attended a kirtan and experienced the ex-pat/international hippie community in full force and the sweet tunes of the yoga version of a jolly James Taylor- Steve Gold. The event was facilitated by Wild Rose, but held at Yoga Tree– which reveals a really lovely synchronistic, non-competitive relationship that is inspiring.

Day #6. Weekend Night Market. I was intimidated at the thought of such masses of people, but it was amazing. I only purchased food– but tasted and tried many things (all gluten and vegetarian, my stomach can confirm today!). Taro, potato crisp stick, grilled sticky rice, mango sticky rice, rice ginger curry (will return for this dish next week), juices and so many things to look at! Hope to enjoy a grilled banana one day…

Now for week #2!

RDM to CNX = Chasing the Sun

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I woke amidst the black, cold starry night in Central Oregon and spent a day chasing the sun halfway around the world. My body is still not sure if it is today or tomorrow, neither really does my mind. It has become apparent I am in the land of ganesha, venerated for the elephants known to the area in more ways than one.Image

I arrived to a monk-like room at a jungle resort in the middle of the city and realized I could spend the next month drinking pineapple smoothies, writing and hardly speaking to anyone, if I so choose. Such are my simple joys of complete independence. Image

Yesterday, I woke up, my body so grateful for however long I slept in a real bed, rather than the seat of a plane. Two temple visits, a self-guided walking tour, one superb home-made curry and a Thai Massage later my day was complete.

Delicious.

I forgot about bugs in Oregon, or that I can use insect repellent. Besides this minor issue, I wonder if I will ever want to leave?

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