balance balance


The swaths of sky above crisscross in a babble of breathy scars

I see more than chemtrails though…

I try to imagine the people up there in the winged bullet

making its way across the sky

their feet dangling in mid air

save for a foot or so of wires and baggage and metal.

From this perspective, looking up, it’s barely comprehensible

that people are really up there at all.


When I think about it,

anxiousness and excitement both feel the same

The same pit of my stomach startled wings

 A choice of persuasion then?

My choice what to make of it?


Perhaps ‘being lost’ and ‘being free’ are similar

the same choice of persuasion of this or that.

I’m not talking about real loss

The punch in the stomach that takes my breath away,

but the weightless existential can’t find my shoes

want to sleep all day being lost

translating into the realms of flesh.


Aren’t both ‘being lost’ and ‘being free’

a casting off from the perceived familiar?

Being pushed off or pushing off

from a finely honed routine of nomenclature

that causes a shift in my internal gravity?

Are they so different?

I stand in the middle of either …. lost or found


Even while recognizing the breath of this feeling though,

my feet want to touch the ground

whether covered by moss, or sidewalk, or water.

Pragmatic, I want intimacy to have a face, a hand, a leaf, a claw

and be swayed by ideas or feelings

that have grown from some shared fertile ground.

It’s simpler to pick them up and put them to use

to make something, to hold, to do.

Even if it is simply making dinner, holding my grandson’s hand,

or doing nothing at all.


Painting and poem by j.h.white

44 responses

  1. This is great Jana. I find myself getting lost in the ideas and questions you pose here. And I love the analogy of the passengers in the plane above and you below, feet on the ground holding your grandsons hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Really like this painting….like a vision of otherness or the olden ways…those curving branches just feel like they pulse with ancient energies… these lines really sum it up for me: my feet want to touch the ground
    whether covered by moss, or sidewalk, or water.

    Beautiful work. Invigorating.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such a haunting image; and your central question which, for me, becomes most poignant hiding between these lines:

    “I try to imagine the people up there in the winged bullet

    making its way across the sky

    their feet dangling in mid air”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Now I can thank you appropriately for your thoughtful comments today! Yes…that standing in the middle. Sometimes it’s the best place to gain perspective, no? Blink…. and the weather shifts. Welcome!


    • Ha ha…yes, my little chubby guy. Concentrating so internally on arriving at an element of gracefulness. I’d like to think it’s just that he’s had a shot or two of tequila. Thank you Richard. I enjoyed stretching into that “sense of scale”.


    • Oh my, you honor me Bonnie. I assure you, it is mutual. Come to think of it, the learning curve here in poetry land is just my speed. Wouldn’t it be great if learning was imparted poetically, when this is your natural language! Or with numbers if you are a math head? And the rest of the day is spent outside!


  4. Oh Jana, such emotions, wonderfully expressed in your poem. I often wonder – does life really exist outside my head. Cast off from the familiar, who are we, who is pulling our strings, are we lost or free. Oh such questions, and always children, grandchildren, asking the awkward, unanswerable questions, and we are lost and found in the present moment, grounded and safe, in our own familiar. Sometimes, that is enough.
    Your chubby guy is cuddly and colourful, his pose a question, his face serene, but the eyes hold a far-away expression, what is he remembering, where has he come from with leaves in his hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I often wonder – does life really exist outside my head.” Your own poetry, Teri, so often attempts to answer this question in the most affirming and sensitive way. This sensitivity poses its own questions though, doesn’t it? I guess this is what I’m addressing here. When we refuse to inure ourselves, we literally become physical tuning forks or instruments needing fine tuning. Ha! That delicate balancing!

      I’m glad you like my chubby guy. I’ve had him a long time and painting him was an intuitive adventure. Still is!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Both works here are quite superb Jana, and I somehow recognise the figure in the painting, yet cannot place him in my memory – perhaps I merely imagined him in the past. Wonderful textures and colours anyway, and his look seems to betray that he’s not of this world, yet nonetheless in it – rather like the idea you appear to be expressing in the text. That reminded me somewhat of Thomas Nagel’s The View From Nowhere, and the notion that just like your garlanded man, we can indeed ‘touch ground’ and be rooted in the senses still, yet also be absent as a point centrality, as what we previously assumed ourselves to be as a reference point in selfhood. Many congratulations on both pieces of work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder Hariod if there is an entirely different way to approach this besides subjective and objective experience because they both seem to come from the position of a separate self. Aren’t they simply arguing which side is a more relevant position? I’m over my head here as usual dear Hariod since I’m not versed in either argument but if we come from the premise that we can not be separate from that which we are an integral part of (whether we recognize this or not) …aren’t we asking the wrong questions?

      LOL you make my heart stop when you comment Hariod. I have to run off and query Google, look up definitions and authors. Whew! That last sentence is a loo-loo. I love it!

      I painted the little guy awhile ago. To me he’s looking inside taking clues…listening, arms flung wide embracing it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “subjective and objective experience . . . both seem to come from the position of a separate self.” Well, they come from an individual’s particular mind, and we individuals do exist – let’s hope we do! I’m not a Transcendental Idealist who believes that all there is, is consciousness. Still, one can disabuse oneself of the myth of an enduringly instantiated self – as well you know in your own direct experience. For most, this realisation comes and goes, but the knowledge that inheres from the insight, if it’s powerful enough, sticks – it can’t be unlearned. All the while, the mind chunters on as before in any case, referencing ‘me’ as subject ‘here’ and ‘tree’ or ‘Jana’ as objects ‘there’. So, it continues to take the very real spatial referencing that occurs in representational awareness as accurate reflections of the actual world. This means it treats phenomena in terms of subject and object from within a point of centrality otherwise known as selfhood. The big difference is that the mind now knows these are its own creations. It knows that Jana is a separate thing (sorry!) to Hariod and the tree, but equally it, or rather awareness, knows that this just does not apply to awareness itself, which is unified and non-localised. Awareness has no ‘point of centrality’, which previously was presumed to be a quality or attribute of a subject (‘me’), and there is no ‘here’ or ‘there’ with regard to itself. You are ‘here’ and I and the tree are ‘there’ in the physical sense, of course, but in pure awareness – which is just the totality of apprehended life itself – there are no such distinctions. Where is awareness right now as you look at that screen in front of you? The question is not ‘where is your attention placed?’, but ‘where is awareness?’ It’s an interesting question, and needs time to answer, mainly because there is no answer. So, you are perfectly correct in stating that “we can not be separate from that which we are an integral part of (whether we recognize this or not.)” There either is a unicity, or there is not. We cannot live in a world of duality then be magically transported to a world of non-duality in some mystical/spiritual/intellectual realisation. The realisation is that the non-duality (unicity) always had prevailed. Good grief Jana, what on earth am I prattling on about? I do that sometimes, it just comes out of the blue and there it is – no one gives a flying damn! Hahahahaha. Please forgive the gross indulgence and whatever you do, don’t give yourself a headache responding to it. *wanders off chuckling crazily at whatever just happened* You’re right, there must be an easier way than asking all these unanswerable questions.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Okay…I think I’m following you. Thank you for the tutorial. Let me just wing it here…..

          “There either is a unicity, or there is not. We cannot live in a world of duality then be magically transported to a world of non-duality in some mystical/spiritual/intellectual realisation. The realisation is that the non-duality (unicity) always had prevailed.”

          Well… that about sums it up. Now we have to allow that it really is this simple. Perception or awareness, through all of our senses, is the physical activity of “being” in relationship in the perpetual now of each new moment, rather than a mental or emotional state of applied measuring of observation. Instead of concentrating our questions on one objects relativity to another object (including ourselves) the relevant factor concerns the activity, the action, the resonance of the relationship itself. What is transpiring between them. Verbs Hariod. It’s all about verbs. Why can’t awareness simply be this acknowledgement?

          You are a treasure Hariod. No doubt about it.


          • Yes, it really is that simple, both conceptually and in actuality, but of course thinking tries to arrive at the complete understanding of that in all of its many and clever periphrastic convolutions, which it never can – not in a deep-in-your-bones understanding anyway; it can arrive at an intellectual (conceptual) understanding, but that’s no good in isolation, because it’s just another object in the mind.

            Everyone couches these things differently don’t they, but I personally avoid all this stuff about ‘being in the now’ Jana. We can never not be that. Same with ‘being present’ – how can we ever be absent? I feel we again tend to complicate things in thinking that the work of the mind (mentation) is somehow an obstacle. It is whilst we get to grips with some essential insights, and stop identifying with the mind’s workings egoically, but the deepest insights – people tend to say, and I agree – come just in ordinary moments when the mind is relaxed but not forcing anything; it may just be idling in mentation. That doesn’t prevent major insights into nonduality happening. In fact, my experience is that if the mind is too concentrated and attentive, not much happens. I’ll go further, if the mind is perfectly concentrated and attentive, nothing happens. Nothing happening is maybe very nice as an experience, but it’s a dead-end. So yes, verbs, life in action, beingness and vitality, relationship. If we remove vitality and relationship from awareness then we’re not going to even glimpse how the mind has been getting it all about face with its creations and imaginings of centrality, subject and object – that’s all mind-stuff, but it needs to be seen in-play (your resonance?) against pure lucidity in awareness. Then awareness has the chance to see the totality – all its dimensionless, silent serenity, and nested within lie all the fabrications of mind which constitute the phenomenal world.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I enjoy our dialogues Hariod. They fill gaps in my approach to translating my own experiences. My own life experiences though, have been less about deciphering mental constructs than about the response to and assimilation of traumatic experience in both myself and family members. Be this as it may….we seem to have come to the same perceptual insights.

              “I personally avoid all this stuff about ‘being in the now’ Jana. We can never not be that. Same with ‘being present’ – how can we ever be absent?”

              As it turns out, this can be a physical conundrum for someone experiencing PTSD. From this perspective “being in the moment” transforms eventually from a necessary mantra to the graceful understanding of its implicit truth.

              I look at the chubby guy now and his focus is softened but his eyes are still open…gazing. He’s listening. He’s listening to the humming. It’s everywhere. Ancient, he already embodies all memory. It just exists. His microbes are humming. The tree is humming. He hums along…

              Thank you dearest Hariod….

              Liked by 1 person

            • I totally respect that Jana – believe me, I do. Any observations I’ve made relate to the so-called neurotypical, and it can be quite dangerous exploring the mind introspectively in any atypical condition. Your chubby guy knows everything, and is merely smiling inwardly, verbing as he does so, at all these useless words. H ❤

              Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, I think of you. You may have noticed. The other day, I decided okay I am going to write my own music, I couldn’t find anyone else’s to do. So I got on the drumset, hit record. Then laid piano, then guitar, then bass. Being there reacting to all the other tracks in a trance, like jazz. So I think of friends of mine passing away, wrote down a stream of consciousness, hit record and free falled it, trying to channel to be a conduit..then it came out… I realized the song was about what we had talked about, how these human bodies are just vessels, Book Ends. I saw that you liked the song.. So thank!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very cool Ted. It was immediately noticeable how your music’s tempo changed with using the drum set. Like you are sitting in the middle of the music now rather than herding all the components around.

          I think the “vessel” thing works when I’m all in one piece. When my thoughts, my feelings, my body are all lining up…balancing in that crazy relationship with everything else. I can hear what’s relevant knowing I’m part of it. Think I’ll go back and have another listen….Thanks Ted!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sheldon….it’s all a work in progress, huh? My grandmother and her sister had this crazy ability to feel a pill traveling through their bodies. They both refused to take any medication at all for anything. Aunt Frances lived til she was 94. Gram til she was 87. I was prompted from an early age to listen to what’s going on inside of me. Ha!


  6. I feel very close to this painting, he is the dance of spring, he has the gentle, peaceful face of total acceptance, total caring, total love.
    Your poem takes me on many journies. I’ve still not clearly traveled them all. You shape shift from Romantic to Philosopher, to Zen Roshi, to Magician…but always the Poet.
    Comments to and from, always delightful on your site, this time erupted in so much brilliance it blinded me before i could finish, part of me still lost there.
    Thank you Jana, I enjoyed this visit…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. The poem was inspired by a walk in the neighborhood… down the alley, through the parking lots where a view of the sky opens up, past the shops. All so familiar it left room for random contemplating. 🙂


  7. Your words are clear, apposite and beautifully modulated, instantly formulating thoughts that I know but haven’t said. What wonderful intelligent followers you have, such thoughtful comments. My first attraction was your painting, its the eyes that got me in, then the words added to it. I am so glad to have found you!

    Liked by 1 person

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