I’ve been doing this Armchair Zen blog a bit over a year-and-a-half now, and it’s been a great experience so far. As so many on WordPress, Blogspot and other blogsites, my approach to blogging was that it was a way to practice writing. Organizing the actual content for an inspirational book was the lofty goal of those heady times. This has served as more of a compositional scratchpad and journal, and has helped usher along the idea and concept.
In other ways, it’s also been a great Armchair Zen lesson of its own. Trying to live and preach a detachment from the overloaded overconnectedness of our modern world is a difficult premise to present via mass media. Also, as noted in a post, there comes with blogging a certain scent, an attraction, a quality to covet that can become something of an “intellectual intoxication”, and that is, essentially, an “audience”. While the whole idea of blogging is to share your piece with “the world”, it can be titillating to find someone liking your work and responding to it. It’s a long way from the old days, when a snail-mail submission would take months to appear in print, and anyone the least bit interested in contacting the author would have to undergo a search worthy of Livingstone to find your name and address to send you a note.
That brings us to now. ACZ has developed a little character of its own. A certain tone and language we can recognize as familiar. A propensity to make posts worthwhile and hopefully helpful to someone seeking the famous “path”, as well as being standalone entries that address a subject without need for the context of chronology. (That’s some sweet phrasing and I’m proud of it. Of course it just means you don’t have to read all the posts in order.)
So, I’ve been working on a secret project. Okay, I guess it’s not really secret, it just exists in a different blogosphere for purposes of trying to keep ACZ true to its roots. It’s called “Rural Zen” and is self-described as existing to “share the experiences of a life lived simply and appreciated fully.” which are credited with providing “Much of my sense of peace…drawn from living in one of the prettiest places I know.”
Two main differences between ACZ and Rural Zen. The first is that Rural Zen is a journal, and therefore chronological. In fact, the sights, sounds and smells of the changing seasons are often the highlights of entries, as that’s how the “rural” part intersects with the “zen” part. Secondly, Rural Zen is peppered with illustrations showing the places, events and characters described in the text.
So the new challenge is to combine the best of both. Here we have a portrait of Chuy, my tireless companion, and in Circle of Seasons we see a photo of my granddaughter Elizabeth, as well as a photo from a day of ice fishing with grandson Max. The intent, as stated, is to share the experiences of a life that supports the pursuit of the path of peace.
It just seemed that previous posts talk about the path but never show any pictures! Maybe, in a vicarious way, others can also benefit from this life “lived simply and appreciated fully”. Sort of a modern Walden only without the isolation or the pond. And with illustrations.
The fall season is a sensory overload, especially for someone chasing a child-like sense of wonder. In many ways it’s the prettiest season of the temperate zone, and really the shortest. It’s also the “biggest” in a way. Changes are drastic, on a daily basis. A tree that’s green one day is orange and red and yellow the next. A tree that was orange and red and green yesterday is naked today, just sticks reaching in vain toward the sky.
The “flowers” are from a dinosaur age. A big, yellow blossom thirty feet wide and sixty feet tall! A wall of orange stretching a tenth of a mile down a treeline carpeted with green grass, their glowing golden leaves in the millions, piled two feet deep at their feet. You can look across a valley and pick out a brilliant fire-red oak, as if it was a candle on the mantle across the room.
Everywhere, the landscape changes. Tree-covered slopes now reveal rock ledges and hidden streams. There’s a pond where two weeks ago only a forest of maples could be seen.
Vast, ordered rows of corn stood seven feet tall, gold hair adorning their fruits, tassels waving in the wind, where now there are vacant fields with a lone cornstalk appearing here and there, a brown, stubbled wasteland.
And so, on to the next phase of this adventure, seeking the path of peace, and seeking to share the path with others. Here’s hoping the narrative and photos of a simple and beautiful world will help to inspire, or keep you grounded, or simply bring you a little snapshot of the peaceful path.
Ultimately, the peace and beauty brought to us in this world are in the eye of the beholder. The vast cosmos is filled with wonderments of all kinds, and one of the most fascinating is the human being. They’re also often overly-complicated, and tend to over-worry about things that are far from important.
Take time to relax, take time to wonder, and take time to drop me a line. Share your own observations, or the things that help you to pursue the path to peace in your life. Or just say hi! Let me know if you have any thoughts on the formats, old or new!
Be at peace,