March 16, 2020

From Toby–

We are entering into a crisis that is unknowable. There are so many difficulties in this moment– it feels easy to get lost in the anxiety and uncertainty. My go-to coping mechanism is to DO SOMETHING– and not just hoard toilet paper (though I understand that strange temptation). I celebrate how local groups are reaching out to connect with the most vulnerable, I am finding the balance between social distancing and offering kindness in interactions. Meanwhile, I think it is important that we find ways to continue the rich and connecting work of the Salons.

For the current on-going studies (three Prousts and one Finnegans Wake): we will take it on-line this week. This is something I have always meant to do– and now is the perfect moment. This also opens up the possibilities for other on-line studies: once I have played with he technology this week, I will post some other studies that will be on-line at a reduced cost for those who would like a focused reading experience while at home in the coming weeks.

For the coming travelling studies: We are making decisions about these as we go forward. The coming Proust trip scheduled for mid-April, for example, will be re-scheduled for the fall. I will do everything possible to go forward with he trips as planned, but recognise that for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, several will need to be re-scheduled and that is going to present challenges for everyone. I really appreciate the patience and flexibility participants have shown thus far.

The middle-of-the-night thoughts are not about scheduling nor refunds, logistics –but about loss. Loss of loved ones, loss of friends, loss of certainty. In our last in-person meeting, one of the many wise souls I have come to know in the Salon community framed the time as a wrenching– and an opening. Perhaps we will get through this time with a different, healthier sense of ourselves and our connections to each other and the earth.

I hope for ease for all.


In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.