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.
March 11, 2014 § 24 Comments
What you don’t have, what you didn’t do, what you did do, what you broke, what you hurt, what you lost, what you gained.
All the pain, all the joy, all the longing, all the intimacy, all the fear and the worry, the cold and the warmth, the isolation and connection.
That angry exchange, that exquisite feeling, that ride down the mountain, that moment of sorrow.
Every single thing. Each past moment.
All of that- done and gone.
We sometimes dream of the power to go back; we imagine that we might change what we have done or failed to do. Make things right.
But to have such power would be our greatest curse. Just adding cascading, infinite layers of second-guessing and regret.
The inescapable reality- and our great gift- is that each and every moment that passes- with all its pain or joy- is now over and gone.
And thus we are blessed to begin again.
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.
March 5, 2013 § 43 Comments
Strength feeds strength, as weakness feeds weakness.
Weeks of drifting. A ghost of myself, neither truly alive nor fully present.
A malaise to match the gray, damp, chill that has hovered over my city. Shuffling through the grimy streets with my devoted companions- doubt, fear, and evasion.
Even as I got things done, I performed rather than existed. Not committed. Not engaged. Thinking, thinking, thinking. Busy, busy, busy.
This morning different. Meditation. A walk in the woods. Being present with those I love. Strength. The flesh and bones of true being shattering that pale, ghostly shell.
And then the sun came out. I bathed in its warmth, adored the way it lit up the snow and ice, lost myself in the blue sky.
But those were just extra things.
The light of my true self had already broken through. All I needed.
February 5, 2013 § 43 Comments
Wandering through the museum, appraising the creations scattered along the walls, I found myself before the Rothko and everything stopped. Anchored in place, rooted in the moment. That breathtaking moment.
Taking a different path that morning, I walked into the woods in the crisp morning air. I stopped, stood dead still, hearing only my breath and the faint rustle of the wind. I saw the trees arching into the infinite blue sky. I took a breath and everything fell away.
I remember seeing her standing in my office doorway, so many years ago. The way she stood, her dark hair and luminous brown eyes. Her arresting and vulnerable beauty. I knew we would be together, I knew.
In the intervening years, I have often returned to the Rothko, walked those woods countless times, and lived my life with the woman who stood that day in my doorway. All familiar to me now.
But when I return to that painting, when I step into those woods, it is like the first time. Filled with wonder, overcome with gratitude- undiminished.
We often think that these feelings- the feelings of the new- in time must leave us. We imagine we must settle for the faint shadow of those intense first moments. But those feelings don’t leave us- we walk away from them.
If we are open and ready, if we stop striving to recover something we think we lost, if we simply exist in our moment- before the art, amidst the woods, in the arms of our lover- the familiar is anew.
And so when she leaves me, I still watch her walk away, all these years later, hoping that she might turn around so that I could see her face once more- knowing I will feel again and again what I have always felt- from the beginning.
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 18, 2012 § 29 Comments
Be like the forces of nature:
When it blows, there is only wind.
Tao te Ching, Chap. 23
It’s early evening. The cold air moves in. Storms approaching. Staring into the woods, feeling the wind as it dances across my body. Surprising in its shifts and gusts. Speaking to me, a portent of the storm.
The wind comes in infinite variety. I have tasted the salty wind coming off the ocean, stood against its force as it swept up and over a snowy mountain ridge, felt its faintest breeze across my moist skin on a steamy summer day.
God’s breath, Buddha’s touch.
Our existence is also infinitely varied. Sometimes in solitude, sometimes in the multitude. In motion or at rest. Speaking or silent. In one place or another.
But in all things, and in each moment, we should be like the wind. Present, always. Swirling around what stands in our way. Occupying our space in a strong and natural way.
And letting everything else simply fall into place.
November 15, 2012 § 25 Comments
Busy day, again. If I start to catalog my tasks and responsibilities, if I allow my busy mind full rein, it all comes crashing in. Too much to do, too little time.
I can feel it starting to hum. That anxiety machine up there.
So here’s what I’m doing.
First, I’m turning the stereo to full throttle. Driving pop music.
And then I’m taking my dog for a long, long walk in the woods.
After that, we’ll see.
That’s what I’m doing.
November 13, 2012 § 46 Comments
I used to believe that love was a form of relationship. I love you; you love me. That’s our deal.
I would diligently monitor my love relationships. Feeling hurt or wronged, I would ask- was that an act of someone who loves me? If she loves me, how can she not see my needs?
Or I would turn this judgment on myself. Why have I been filled with anger towards her? Why have I been so cold and distant?
When the ledger got out of balance- and it always did- I called the deal into question. Does she really love me? Enough? Or, looking inward, I’d ask whether my conduct suggested the absence of love? And in either case, I doubted my commitment. Perhaps time to back out of the deal, I’d think.
All, all, wrong.
Love, as I now seek to live it, is not a relationship or a deal. There is no ledger. Love is not earned or maintained. Love exists in my simple, full, and caring acceptance of the other person. It resides within me. It doesn’t depend on what you do, or fail to do.
If she is angry, I love her in her anger. If she is depressed, I love her in her depression. If she hurts me, I love her in her very assault.
This is the love that I seek to embody. I often, maybe most always, fall short. Sometimes hideously short. But now I know.
Seeking to love others in this way, I also know that I must begin with myself. Suspend self-judgment. Never wish to have done this or that. Cherish who I am. Only from that foundation can this sacred and abiding love for others come.
Just love. Only love.
September 28, 2012 § 25 Comments
I sit in the diner waiting for my good friend, Dan. I look down at my wrist and see the watch. It’s a vintage Omega, from the 1960’s. Susan, my treasured friend, gave it to me. It was her father’s watch.
I look at the watch and think of Susan, and her father. I think of my children, imagining that someday one of them will wear the watch. I recall my father who, like the man who wore this watch before me, was a fisherman. I imagine the early mornings on the water with my father, picturing the way his wrist snapped as he cast his line. And my imagining just spins out from there.
In Buddhism we say that we die, and we don’t die. That which exists cannot become non-existent, we are taught.
Like all great wisdom, it’s simple, enduring, and true. In the things that we do, in the way that we exist in the world, we set in motion ripples of feeling and thought that collide and connect with other ripples and become part of the same cosmic field that Buddha walked.
We change the world, each of us, by our presence. And when we die, when our bodies return to dust, even that dust may enrich the soil, feed a living thing.
On and on.
We cannot possibly trace all the interconnected ripples that bring us to where we are. But we surely feel the presence of those who are with us now- and those who came before.
A half century ago a man walked into a store and bought himself a brand new Omega. And here I am, in this diner, waiting for my friend.
The magic of life.