June 10, 2016 § 17 Comments
Standing before the ocean, I felt the rhythm of the natural world.
The waves relentlessly marched towards shore. Forming their swells, then peaking and crashing. All the movement seemed forward and aggressive.
But I looked again as the waves broke. When the frothy wave reached its furthest purchase, it began its return, gently sliding back to the sea. Back to its source.
Crashing forward, sliding back. Forward, back. Repeated endlessly.
Opposed motion, each existing apart from the other, each dependent on the other. The advancing waves would cease if the retreating water did not return, just as the receding movement could not arise without the crashing wave that gives it birth.
This rhythm, this pattern, recurs across the sweep of our endless natural world. It is in the wind and the tide, the trajectory of the sun, the garden out back. It is embodied in our breath and in the coil of life’s journey.
I often lose this sense of connection and oneness. Falling away, I am lost and adrift.
But when I take and hold this communion, when the truth of this lives in my bones, I feel safe and at peace. As I did this day, surrounded by the natural world and the others I love.
April 6, 2014 § 21 Comments
I am alone in this moment.
Empty house. Solitude.
Not lonely, not disconnected or isolated. Just alone.
I have been in crowded rooms, surrounded by familiar faces, and yet nearly undone by a sense of loneliness and disconnection.
Solitude helps me to settle, to center. From that place I can feel the connection to all things- the woods just outside the window, the cloudy evening sky, the bird sailing on.
And the connection with all those who have been truly with me, those who share this sense of unity, those who allow themselves to be open and vulnerable. The tender filaments of true human connection.
Feeling connected can come in solitude and it can come in company. Not a matter of physical presence. Spiritual presence.
When I am here, really here, fully and spiritually, I am never isolated, never apart.
Alone, yet never alone.
December 31, 2013 § 17 Comments
Just before dawn the black night lingers. The light from within transforms my windows into a set of hazy mirrors.
The last day of the year. An ending that promises a beginning. Resolutions to make the new year different from the old.
All a crippling illusion.
Resolutions are our pretense that we shall soon bring forth change. Shuttling between imaginations of the old and the new, judgments of the bad and the good. Living for the shimmering portent of a change that never comes.
If we say that we resolve to live differently in the coming year, we are already lost. Such resolution is existence deferred.
Our life is here and now. Each precious and unique moment.
I lift my head and in the time it has taken to write these words, the dawn’s glimmer reveals the natural world beyond the still mirroring windows. I see fresh snow blanketing the ground and dusting the bushes. Tree trunks etched against a gray sky.
This is all there is- yet more than enough.
October 14, 2013 § 8 Comments
The sea is nearly flat this evening, rhythmic undulations moving slowly to shore, small waves peeling across in a soft roar. I take the ocean kayak out, paddling to the horizon. Along the way, a massive sea turtle pops it head up to see the intruder. A bird dives into the sea ahead of me, emerging with its glistening dinner.
When it feels right, I stop paddling. Allowing myself to receive what is all around. I dip my hand into the cold, clear water. Hear the muffled roar of the break now far away.
As the kayak drifts, my vistas evolve. The endless sea stretching to the horizon becomes the shore and the final brilliant display of the setting sun.
Isolated and connected, alone but in harmony with all. The bone deep sense of wonder and peace sets in.
After a time, I paddle in, pausing at the break, not wanting it to end right then. When it’s time, I push into the small but perfectly formed wave and ride to shore. I imagine that my kayak especially likes this part.
Splendor. From standing on the shore preparing to launch to standing in the same spot preparing to leave, and each moment in between.
I want to exist like this, in each moment, in every place, for all of my life.
October 7, 2013 § 29 Comments
It is dark, long before the dawn. I move through the house, not needing the light to navigate this familiar space.
A steady nourishing rain is falling. I hear its hum. And then the wind comes up- the rain hits the house with its strong staccato beat. I open the window for a moment and feel the cold, wet air on my face.
And right then- in that moment- all the punishing duality disappears. There is no me and the rain, no me and the house, no me and the many things that I must do.
A moment of just being.
I am home.
July 17, 2013 § 25 Comments
The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.
Tao te Ching
I spent much of my life in rage at the unredeemed world. And I tried in countless ways to control those around me, to shape their lives and choices. I could not simply accept things as they were. I could not accept that others needed to choose for themselves.
But the world spun on. And those I cared about made choices that sometimes came crashing in on them. I failed, I thought. Failed to bring forth meaningful change. Failed to protect my family and those I loved.
To accept things as they are sounds weak and passive. Giving up without a fight.
But acceptance is the simple recognition that you cannot control others and you cannot control what will come. This recognition frees us to focus all our will and all our energy, all of our being, on the one thing that truly belongs to us. Ourselves.
And with that focus you become strength embodied. You exist and move through the world with the boundless power of presence. You reside at the center of the circle.
Acceptance is the first stone on our path.
June 4, 2013 § 29 Comments
To see the grandeur of the forest, to witness the grace of the soaring bird, to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of the stone wall- these are all great gifts that have come to me, again and again. An exquisite blessing.
But I have also felt something else, something more.
When I am at one with the natural world, when I lose my sense of separation and duality, everything that is false and fearful drops away.
I know what the tree knows.
I see what the soaring bird sees.
I feel the warmth of the rock in the sun.
I am as alive, as strong, as present, as I can be.
No longer simply possessing a sense of self, I am myself.
April 2, 2013 § 11 Comments
Nearly a year ago I began writing this blog. For most of that time, I have been blessed by a connection with Susan Cooper- a brilliant writer and artist- a generous soul who always seeks to shine a light on the work of others.
Susan paid me the great compliment of proposing a collaboration- her art and my words. Please go to Susan’s pages and see our entwined work. http://findingourwaynow.com/2013/04/reflections-by-thomas-ross-story-podcast.html
December 23, 2012 § 15 Comments
I step out into the early morning chill. Air crisp and pure. First snow of winter. Fields of scattered sparkling diamonds.
These moments. What words could really capture them?
Someday I will die and these moments will end. But now and here, I am present, aware, alive in the fullest sense. Here there is no ticking clock. No plans. No regrets.
Nothing but a communion with the cold air and the sparkling snow.
Immortal in the moment.
December 11, 2012 § 19 Comments
A. A violent order is a disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)
Wallace Stevens, “Connoisseur of Chaos “
My expectations explode against hard reality.
I end up not where I am supposed to be.
Nothing unfolds according to plan.
Just once, could things happen as they are supposed to happen? Just once, could what I seek come my way as I imagined?
In Zen we say that all things exist in disorder but against a background of perfect harmony. I have tried in so many ways to see and feel that harmony. I have even pretended to grasp it. But I don’t. I feel no order or harmony- just swirling and cruel chaos.
Where is this harmony? How can it be mine?
All this grief and questioning and doubt, I now understand, arise from one simple mistake. I keep supposing that I can control what will come. I imagine that when I do X today, then Y will happen tomorrow. I seek to impose order upon the disorder. And when I fail, as I must, I rage against it all.
The harmony, I know, is right there. Waiting for me. The key to that ecstatic existence is right here. Simple acceptance. Undiluted, sure, steady acceptance of all that is and all that I am.
I know these things. And I know that I am moving closer and closer to that way of being. Substituting that simple truth for that simple mistake. To be purged of rage, filled with gratitude and acceptance.
Closer and closer.