At night, before bed, I meditate for 15 or 20 minutes. I took a mindfulness class some years ago, I have the tapes, I still use them. The voice calms me. I probably know the text by heart, but it crowds out the other voices, somewhat. But an empty mind? No, I don't really know how to stop the voices which, depending on day-to-day circumstances, are quieter or more vehement. People worry about becoming forgetful...sometimes I think it would be great to be able to forget things, selectively, of course. 

There are techniques to stop obsessing about stuff. I'm learning, but it's not always easy.

In Palo Alto I meditate in front of a window that looks over a tree-lined creek, at the sky, the stars (that shine most evenings in California). Lots of houses on the other side of the creek, but the trees hide them. The stars put things in proportion, things like time and the importance of my little worries and ambitions in the vast scheme of things, if there is a vast scheme of things. Here in Paris I meditate on a cushion on a bathmat on the floor of the bedroom in front of a window that looks straight across the street at a church--a very big church--with a complicated roof line and stained glass on several levels. I'm looking at something human beings made, quite a different experience, I think, from looking at treetops, sky and stars. Or maybe not so different, because, I suppose, as Larkin wrote in his poem "Church-going" (I think it's that one), even if you don't think you are religious, you can still respect the fact that churches are places with a serious human purpose.


Yesterday, coming back from a bike ride along the quais of the Seine, after we turned our bikes into a bike-share station on the Quai Voltaire, we walked up the rue Bonaparte and stopped in to the church of St Germain des Pres, which is being restored. The first stage, the choir, has been completed and is open to visitors. It is very ornate, very beautiful (though I also love the very plain vestiges of an old church to the right of the entry). The vaulted ceiling is a deep blue-black like a night sky with stars.