Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Archive for the ‘Pursuit of identity’ Category

Old Bear

The old bear limped the last few yards along this ancient and intimately familiar path, until he burst from the thicket on the banks of his own private, secret pond. He gently eased himself into the placid pool. One step, two steps, paws sinking ankle-deep in the mucky bottom. A third step, and he was immersed to his neck. He let the chilly bath fold over him.

Washing away the mud and blood, the cool water easing the dull pains of his injuries. He drew a deep breath and let himself sink. A brief and mild stinging in the eyes, then total silence as his ears submerged. He hung there, buoyed by the water, lifted and embraced, the cold a tonic to aching muscles and fresh flesh wounds. If only he could stay here. Right here, beneath the soft, sheltering water. He drank in another moment of stillness before his lungs began to burn and pull at his instincts. He burst from the water, exhaling, and drawing a deep breath of the piney forest air. He shook his head violently to throw off the water, only to be reminded, cringing, of the pain at the base of his neck.

Directly above him, a black crow alighted on a dead elm branch.

“Gwak.” he called out as he eyed the bear.

“You’re early, Crow.” came the reply. “I am not yet dead. You cannot peck my eyes out. Not yet.” He heaved a sigh, rolled onto his back as he floated out from the shore.

He had had no intention of fighting that golden autumn day. There were far too many plump, ripe blackberries to be eaten, their canes, top-heavy with fruit, bowing to bear browsing height. He hadn’t even seen the interloper. A bear reaching maturity. Venturing forth from the safety and security of mother’s watchful eye. Time now to find his own home, establish his own territory. To begin that lifelong and never-ending process of defending one’s ground and fighting for mating rights. Old Bear had paid no attention to the sow scarfing down blueberries at the distant hedgerow. Hadn’t seen the strapping Romeo until he charged from the brush.

His countenance was immediately recognizable. After so many years, so many mating seasons, past is prologue. And here now was the latest model, the newest offering. Young and powerful, eager and energetic, bold and fearless. In his rippling muscles could be seen an impressive beast in the peak of condition. Hormones and youthful energy fueled the charge, eyes fixed and gleaming, nostrils flaring, grunting growls warning of the imminent collision.

What was one to do? There is no place in bear ethic for acquiescence, peaceful withdrawal, surrender. Almost without control he turned, planted his feet, put on his war face and prepared for the onslaught. There was no backing down or backing out. This had been his meadow, his dominion, for more seasons than he could remember. This very scene replayed year after year. Going all the way back to the day when he was the challenger on the battlefield. It was his rippling muscles, bone-crushing jaws and eight-inch claws dominating the competition that day. Not one or two, but three contenders sent running off to the safety of the wood. It would be the last day of the last Old Bear to be the Old Bear here. He would amble slowly into the forest, one long, last melancholy look over his shoulder, never to be seen again.

The first blow seemed the hardest. It shook him so, his eyes lost focus for a second, and he was shoved back onto a hindquarter, indicating the challenger topped his own weight by several hundred pounds. For his size, however, he was not slow, and took advantage of the old bear’s semi-reclining position, reaching in with huge jaws, lined with sparkling white, sharp young teeth. The first blood spilled.

Adrenaline and endorphins flooding both brains, the defender was quick to his feet. Smaller and older was he, yet to his advantage were the many battles he’d fought and won. The newcomer charged again, but the old-timer went low, nearly rolled himself at the rear legs of the upright youngster, who toppled in a cloud of dust. The old man was on him now, gnashing teeth and plunging his snout toward the neck of his opponent. A good bite and a twist, a patch of fur rent from its moorings. With surprise and shock at the pain, the younger bear scrambled to gain an upper hand. As the old bull came around for another mouthful, the younger swung his heavy foreleg equipped with razor-sharp claws. If not for a last-second dodge, the defender would have lost more than a piece of ear.

On the battle raged. Youth and strength and stamina slowly overtaking skills, maturity and aging sinew. Bound by instinct and without alternative, the aged bruin came around again and again. A third round, a fourth, a fifth. Dust and flying fur and spatters of blood surrounded the warriors. Now the young bear began to doubt himself. An anxiety deep in his gut told him there was perhaps good reason why this was, before him, the reigning Lord of the Glen, the King of this hill. Blow after blow met with resilience and tenacity and a seeming total lack of fear. He began to wonder if this was indeed worth it. Surely there were other sows, other fields, other hills, where success could be had without such exertions and pain.

The old man was tiring. Winded now, he began to rely more on wit than might. Used all of his best tricks; dodging and weaving, placing the sun behind him, throwing dirt, running circles around his foe. One by one the newcomer worked through the oppositions, continued to stand and charge as strong and fast as at the first.

“If I turn my back, he will have me.” Dozens of such back-turnings were recalled. The years he watched the rumps of the vanquished racing off to shelter and safety.

One misstep, and the blow landed squarely at his temple, almost knocking him unconscious, his vision went black. He felt himself fall to his side and roll. His sight slowly returning, all he could do was strain to see the next attack, look for the death-blow that would end this battle. The last battle. His last day to be the Old Bear here.

Suddenly, he felt the Earth drop away beneath him, as in his partial blindness he rolled off the edge of a precipice. Down into the gaping maw of the river gorge. Free falling twenty feet, he slammed onto the solid ledge of shale on his side, cracking ribs, his head bouncing off the rock before he slid off the edge of this shelf. Another twenty-foot drop and he landed on his opposite side, crashing down through Juneberry and Thistles, twisted tangles of grapevines and willow saplings, and coming to rest on the river bank. Stones and dirt and dust followed his descent and settled on and around him.

He laid there quite a while, assuming the New Bear would track him down to insure his demise and retreat. Near silence reigned over the sunny fall day. No wind stirred the leaves in the trees. No birds could be heard calling. The only sound the tinkling water a foot away. He wondered for a moment if he was dead. He rolled to his feet and was immediately convinced otherwise. Death could never be this painful. His eyes closed against their will.

When finally he awoke, the full moon was watching over him. Its soft light illuminating the trickling water, the banks of the gorge, the shrubs and trees, now devoid of color in the light of darkness. Fevered days and nights passed and merged and blended until the moon set three-quarters full, nearing the end of this odyssey.

It seemed so long ago, now in the light of day, floating in his own secluded reservoir. His secret, sacred place. Here no ill could best him. There was no sickness or injury, nor malady of the heart or spirit that could not be cured by this magical place. This is where he would choose to die. Where no fear could invade. No challengers would arrive to try to commandeer this for themselves. There would remain only the crows. Welcome friends and shareholders in this sanctuary.

And when he would finally heave his last breath, the crows would gather and mourn his passing. Perched wing to wing in silent reverie, the funeral would last from the first red light of the dawn, to the last rays of the golden sunset.

And then they would peck his eyes out.

And this would be agreeable to him, as he wouldn’t need them any more. They were welcome to them. They and the Coyotes and the Skunks and the Fishers. All the flying, hopping, running and crawling things that might regard his passing as something of a bonanza.

They were welcome to his hide and his flesh, his aged bones and cartilage, the entrails of his very core. He would need none of these. Nor the challenger or the sow, nor the meadow or the blackberries. There would be no need for sharp claws and rippling muscles, no need for the efforts of the hunt. No hunger. No pain.

There would be just this, forever.

Floating in peaceful solitude on his dear old friend, this most familiar and beloved patch of water. This wild, wet Heaven.

Suddenly, snapping branches and crunching humus invaded his dream-like thoughts. Snapped open his resting eyes, sharpened the focus of his ears, now one-quarter smaller overall since the assault. He was finally coming to finish the job, one could presume.

Coming to insist that even this distant and once-welcoming, sheltered and secure vestige was no longer refuge from all that there is in this great wide world from which to seek it.

Old Bear lay floating on his back, unmoved. Let him swim out here and drag me to shore. Or drown me.

Or pace impatiently on the banks of the pond, in a hurry to grow old faster, and be the New Old Bear on his last day to be the Old Bear here.

Cracking limbs and padding footfalls of the largest predator on the continent grew nearer, until the raspberry canes and hoosiers parted.

Old Bear would give no satisfaction if the intruder expected any sign of panic, any look of fear.

He looked up to the crow in the elm.

“Fare thee well, Crow.” he bade, as he slowly and deliberately directed his gaze to the commotion at the shore.

It was the sow.

Learned

As I learn more

I realize

Just how little

I know.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Welcome the New Year!

Here we are again. The shortest day of the year draws to a close.

With the Solstice my new year begins.

Sure, we’ll have a party in 10 days and we’ll turn that paper hanging in the kitchen.

(Or rather, we’ll hang a new calendar for the “paper new year”.)

 

My celebration began yesterday. A kind of New Year’s Eve feeling filled me as the 20th expired.

Today the Big Blue ball on which we ride crosses imaginary lines that would be measured in the millions of miles.

As we conserve our angular momentum on our course around the gravity anchor of our solar system, the tilt of our wobbling globe begins to be exposed to increasing amounts of daylight. Starting tomorrow.

Each year, the time lapsed between my longest day and my shortest seems to pass more quickly.

This cannot be, of course, in a system that has had 14 billion years to find its rhythm.

For me, each day is a page in The Book of A Thousand Seasons that makes up my life.

I clearly recall standing under a warm, June sky, setting my sights on this next milepost.

In the past three hundred sixty-five and one-quarter days I have filled my countless hours with more beauty than can be related in a single volume.

From the sky to the water, from the valleys to the mountains.

With family and friends. With my speechless canine companion.

With children and grandchildren and siblings and nieces and nephews.

I have exchanged correspondences with some of the finest people I have ever known.

I have felt kindred.

I have spent silent hours in nature’s lap.

Watched the moon and stars transit the sky.

Waved hello to the Robins of Spring, and goodbye to the Geese of Autumn.

I have taken down from the shelves of the past the warmest memories of my dearest friends.

Lingered over them. Let them fill my spirit.

I have cried.

For my people. For the people of the world.

For my planet, and the delicate living things that inhabit it.

I have laughed.

With the snow. With the sparrows.

With the sun and moon.

I have loved.

All that is laid before me.

All that which my wondering eyes behold.

 

And the Great Cosmos has lived and loved and laughed and cried with me.

For another year.

 

And, starting tomorrow, I shall do it all again.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

Helpless

The real world is a constant distraction.

I can’t pass a window or go out to the dumpster or drive to lunch without tracing the patterns of clouds in the sky, the passing sparrows, the shape of the spider’s web in the grass.

She calls to me on the wind, sweet fragrances dousing me, the gentle breeze embracing me, “You come, too.”.

She is the brilliant sun, she is the pale moon, she is the soft pillow of stars on which I lay my head to sleep.

I am deeply, helplessly, hopelessly in love with her.

She commands my senses always.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Librarian

A reply to a young person’s post, looking ahead at their life. The idea is postulated that “age is in one’s mind”, and drew a reply including the statement “Age is simply not a significant number.”

 

Age is, indeed, a significant number.

It would be folly to deny this.

Can a newborn walk?

Can the eldest elder run like a child?

We must recognize and enjoy each year that comes to us. We must celebrate our energy and wonder and unbounded future of our youths.

We must stop and smell each and every rose during those wonder-filled years if one is blessed with children. Drink in every moment, tuck these memories into your heart.

We must be willing to relish the maturity of our age. To have a wondrous well of experiences and memories that add hue and tone to our every living moment.

To cherish those days remaining, knowing we are closer to the end of the trail than the beginning.

Age is a name for each book and chapter of your life. “Me, age 10”, “I go to School”, “Learning to Drive a Car”, “College Days”, “Time In Service”, “Marriage”, “My Children”, “Saying Goodbye to Mom”, “Life Filled with Wonder”, “Joy and Tears”, “Me, age 40”, “Me, age 50”.

Each volume is neatly stacked in the library of your mind.

What a fine and joyous thing it is to peruse my library.

To carefully select a volume, hold it in my hands, linger over the stories and illustrations.

One day, I shall fall off to sleep, reading…

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Three Q’s

Wedding Dancers

 

Could I really be this happy?

Or am I crazy?

Does it matter?

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Lost Somewhere In The Arctic

Thought I’d drop a line for anyone that might have wondered “Where’s Pazlo?” Though it’s not really that unusual for me to hiatus from the blog for periods of time, it seems like forever since I properly managed my main blogroll.

Many folks I’ve met through the blog are writers. (Of course there are a lot of other talents shared, but we’re talking specifically writing now).

As described in the past, I myself was drawn to blogging as an outlet for my writing Jones. I love to write, and have penned poems and radio scripts, songs and philosophical ramblings among other things, and done a lot of journaling.

An inspiration caught up with me. What was once a vague spark. One of those “someday, I’m going to write a book” things. The first idea for Armchair Zen was that it would be a scratchpad and testbed for my modern zen interpretations, a practice pad and a work in progress, that in some fantasy world would end up as something of a book. Herein, it is referred to as a “blook”. A blog that reads like a book. I think this kind of inspiration and concept is not unusual in the blogosphere.

Way back in the last century, my best human friend Jeff and I would sit at typewriters all night, all weekend, composing a variety of creative oddities. We “published” a newspaper (though I can’t quite remember the name). We wrote a long commentary-narrative about a league playing a bizarre game called “Destructoball”, in which teams tried to hand off to the other team an explosive device before it went off. (Totally inappropriate these days)

We wrote scripts for our radio series “The Adventures of Mr. Pazlo”, a sort of The Pink Panther meets Monty Python show, heavily influenced by a group called Firesign Theater. Pazlo and his partner Mr. Butto were private detectives, and the scripts loosely chased after a case which was really just fodder for a lot of one-liners. After completing the scripts, we’d spend a long, sleepless weekend recording the show, doing all the voices and sound effects and even mock commercials on our mock radio station KOMA.

For sheer volume, I think most of my writing was journaling the decade spent with my son-in-law Matt, discovering the thrills and agonies of radio-controlled aircraft flight. We taught ourselves to fly machines with 5-foot wingspans and real (glow) motors. We strapped cameras to airplanes long before Go-Pro, and created an entire world of L & B Aviation, daring bush pilots, and even named the little plastic pilots in our little balsa airplanes.

Fast forward to this post. I’ve neglected writing herein, as well as on Chowdogzen and Life In Engleville. Nor have I done much posting on my photo site Crescent Moon Studio. I started to write something, just a story, totally fiction. Not really sure what I was to do with it, but that’s pretty much my life. I have songs and poems and a story about two guys learning to fly called “Sun Dogs”, I have oil paintings and water paintings I’ve done, and all these things occupy my own little space, my homestead. An unshared creative bonanza!

Well, I’ll tell you a curious thing that has happened to me. Maybe this happens with other authors of fiction. I’m writing more or less “for myself”, for more things to add to my secreted “body of work” in my house (and on my blogs). Well, the story started slow and was a bit clunky and it didn’t matter ’cause it was “just for myself”, and I decided I would not concern myself too much with rules of writing, including story boarding. (That’s when you sketch out the whole theme or plot, to give yourself a roadmap to follow as you write). I started writing, and characters were born and developed. I kept adding and thought “maybe I’ll just treat it as a serial for now.” I’d write each chapter as I pleased, following some continuity, but with no ideas really where the story (and its characters) would go. (Actually, this is also the way the screenplay was written for that famous film Casablanca. The writers themselves were eager to find out how the story ends!)

And that’s what happened to me. Like the writers on Casablanca, I found myself wondering what would happen next. I’ve been pinned down, somewhere in Siberia, with my characters as their lives unfold before me. Whenever I finish a chapter I find myself eager to hear the next episode! I’ve been unable to put time into anything else because I desperately need to find out what happens.

In fact, right now, there’s a young man and a sled dog team that are about to be trapped many miles from home by a blizzard, so I need to wrap this up and get back to them. This is a unique and wonder-filled experience for me, and I’m having the time of my life. So, I hadn’t planned on really publicizing it much or promoting it ’cause as I said, it’s just ramble-writing for myself.

I must admit, however, that the story and the characters have grown on me. I almost miss them and worry about them when I’m gone!

So if you want to entertain yourself a bit, or discover that what I find fascinating is actually quite boring to other people, scroll down the right side of the home page to the Blogroll, and join me in the frozen lands of the Arctic, for Sasha of The Chukchi Sea.

Presently, it’s a serial without an end, so I hope you’re good at hanging patiently if you start reading the story.

More another time, on the ways some fictional characters in a fictional place have stolen my heart, and all my attention and time!

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Bursting

 

By some, the event may have been called

A loss,

A tragedy.

My heart

Burst open

And love spilled out.

It flows as it never has.

Easier with

Each

Passing

Day.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Moon and Star

 

Capricious Moon

Moon and Star, my guideposts, my lifelong journey-mates.

Each evening I look into the vast Cosmos, and there stands my Star.

Constant. Vigilant. Unmoving, unwavering. True and final as fate.

This giant fireball, just a speck from here, is my lighthouse. No matter what life brings to me on this tiny blue ball, Star remains steadfast. It is comfort and security. All else not in my control, all things that may seek and befall me, fall away before the great, silent, faithful friend.

One day, Star will carry me home.

My Moon is capricious. One day she’s up, and another she is not. Her gamesmanship at hide and seek is second to none. Trickster and magician and muse. Today she is a big, round ball, bringing “the luster of mid-day to objects below”. Tomorrow she will be a sliver, rising in the morning, setting in the afternoon. As upside down as she can be. Each day is a challenge, as the seeker, to find Moon, “Tag!”.

Star is my anchor, reassuring me always that this little life, this tiny speck, is but a part of The Great Wonder. Never to die, but to return to the Cosmos from which I came.

And Moon? Moon is much younger, spritely, lively. Moon is on the move, and she always reminds me that I am, too.

Star and Moon and Earth ever constant in motion, I follow their leads wherever they may take me.

Always Home.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

Welcome the New Year!

Solstice Sun

A circle is one of the most common shapes in our Great Cosmos (silica-based crystal chain structures right behind), and it is today our New Circle begins. In my view, today begins the new year. As our almost-perfect circle planet revolves around its perfect-circle sun in a far-from-perfect ellipse of an orbit, the Winter Solstice marks the top of the curve. Now days begin to lengthen incrementally for the next six moons until we reach the opposite end of our rolling year, and the longest day of Summer Solstice.

This marks a point on my journey. Like returning to home port, or passing the same old oak on a favorite trail. It is an ending and beginning in a single stroke. It is a benchmark, a touchstone, a point along a very long line when I make a hash mark as I hurtle past. There’s a slight thrill seeing the 57 past hash marks, and a certain excitement as I reach out, take a swing, and hang on for another orbit, another grand circle in the concentric and overlapping circles that make up the life of an old Armchair Zen master.

Not only is the New Year commenced, but also the “official” season of winter. Life in a Northern Town takes winter in stride. Not only passively, but in tangible and active ways. The Yankee winter is an integral part of our lives. It serves a great purpose for those of us that will undertake the understanding of it. It’s a trial and a test and a testament to our spirits. Not just surviving winter, bit thriving within and through it.

Each year, our Earth sort of throws down a gauntlet. Each year, we rise to the challenge and pick it up. It’s not all about active young people oblivious to cold and snow, skiing the High Peaks and snowmobiling 27 miles up the frozen Sacandaga Lake. It’s about the everyday and the mundane. Firing furnaces, sealing up drafts, shoveling the steps. Getting out the “Let It Snow” box filled with hats and gloves and scarves and mittens. It’s about getting to work when it’s 18 degrees and there’s four inches of snow on the road and it’s forecast to fall all day. It’s about walking the dog and fetching the mail from the box, checking the car’s oil and unloading the wood pellets while frigid air tries to sneak in around your collar, while your fingers grow numb with cold.

And when winter is done, there’s more reward than the flowers of spring and the return of American Robins. Even for those that may be unaware, surviving and thriving through a Yankee winter reminds us of just how strong we are. A reminder that gives us the strength to carry on for another year, another wonder-filled lap around our atomic anchor.

I have a covenant with winter. A vow to honor and cherish and forsake all other seasons when she comes to call, all gleaming and silver. I welcome and embrace her with open arms. Revere her. Laud her beauty. In return, she brings me gifts.

A quadrillion snowflakes. Vast tracts of ice-covered ponds and lakes.

Glazed hoarfrost dawns and golden ice-ringed sunsets.

Birds, the color of summer flowers, blue and red, black and white and yellow.

Like the migrations of fall or tulips of spring, she returns faithfully each year to me. She covers me with her downy quilt and beckons me to slumber.

Yet within each hour are wonders, joys and beauties to behold. Adventures to seek as only Dear Winter can oblige.

She calls me forth from my den, to drink it all in.

Before it is gone.

 

Happy New Year, and Merry Christmas to those that observe it.

May the peace of the Cosmos find you and keep you throughout the year.

 

Paz

%d bloggers like this: