All the present alone


I believe that, for him [Plotinus], if philosophical life in fact prepares one for an eventual mystical experience, this philosophical life has value in itself. All things considered, Plotinus’ mystical experiences were extremely rare. Poryphyry [Plotinus’s student] tells us that the rest of the time–that is, almost all the time–he tried “to be present to himself and to others,” which ultimately is an excellent definition of what every philosophical life should be.

–Pierre Hadot, The Present Alone Is Our Happiness

The sun rises and I wake.

The hawk glides, the tips of its wings glinting with sun. The younger one wobbles, a kite. Trying to get his sea legs, I say, laugh.

The tomato tastes of sunshine.

The golden hour. She says, The spring is full of water bugs. She says, The spring is full of sparklers.

The air bites, is crisp: morning. The air is soft and warm: afternoon. The air is full of roar, of rumble and roar: late afternoon. The air is pained, painful: evening, nearing nightfall.

Her head aches. She closes her eyes, puts a finger or two above her eye, below the socket, presses gently. I rest two fingers on her temple, rest there.


I have always conceived of philosophy as a transformation of one’s perception of the world.

Since then, I have been strongly impressed by the radical opposition between everyday life–which is lived in semiconsciousness and in which we are guided by automatisms and habits without being aware of our existence in the world–and of the privileged states in which we live intensely and are aware of our being in the world.

–Pierre Hadot, The Present Alone Is Our Happiness

They stomp their feet up the hillside.

They stomp their poles: grabbing, seizing, cutting.

They stomp their bodies into, onto, up the aisles.

Their voices stomp, clamorous, unholy, stomping the earth.

They are in a hurry, always, stomping.


You write, The sythe is gentle. It’s the automation of the cutting, the lawnmower, that is brutal and unnatural. I thought of Catlin. And again, this morning, a red cardinal made me think of her.

You write, It’s dark outside, velvety. My living room a block of light, round lamps reflecting on the windows like moons. Found my thoughts leading to Catlin, to you. Dear one.


I pray: We are walking up to the temple, breathless amid the steepness. Our bodies and mouths are agape. We catch our breaths, yours and mine, then smile, fagged, wide-eyed, brother and sister.

You hold a feather up to me. It is striated, ribbed, largely heather, touched in one quadrant by red.

A feathered heart.

You write: Good morning.