Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Archive for the ‘Pursuit of identity’ Category

Sharing Nin’s Joy

I think it started at the coffee maker.

“Joy in the task of coffee…” Nin’s words rushed into my morning mind.

 

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun.
A bird settled on the fire escape.

Joy in the task of coffee; joy accompanied me as I walked.
– Anais Nin

 

I recalled the last line, before referring to the written quote, as “joy followed me as I walked.”

Joy followed me through my morning ritual. The soap brought a lovely fragrance.

The cat loves me even if I’m not giving her snacks. Joy found me again.

Sassy June is a beautiful and happy animal. She looks me in the eye, wags her tail.
I am warmed within by these simple things. Joy in the love of a dog.

 

Joyful Wood

 

The commute today was through a perfect example of a September 25th morning.
Joy shined on me as the sun rose.
Colorful trees and wispy remnants of silvery clouds cast with the slightest pinks and yellows.

Joy sat on my shoulder and reminded me to look out the window. To not stare at the roads or the cars ahead.
To drop the UV-tinted glass and see the real glory of Mother Nature. Joy in color.

At work, my sparrows gathered around the Fun Bus, and starlings joined us for the morning breaking-of-bread.
Joy in the lives of delicate creatures. Joy in sharing.

Small V’s of geese transit the sky. On the road, we can smell the ripe corn standing tall and golden and tanned.
Joy in the honking birds, joy in the smells of autumn.

Sweeping the floor. Looks so good when it is done.
I kid you not, the simple task of cleaning the toilet brought joy.
How shiny and clean the bathroom is. The porcelain sink, the antique mirror.
The soap is red and smells of apples.
Joy in the simplest tasks. Doing.

Once I found joy in writing a little thing titled “Three Q’s”.

Can I really be this happy?
Or am I crazy?
Does it matter?

 

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is joy in the heart of the joyful.
We can choose to be joyful. We can choose to see the beauty and the joy.
It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s free.

Joy brought me to my journal. Joy in expression.

“…joy accompanied me as I walked.”

 

Slainte,

Paz

 

The Speed Of Zen

Frost’s Road

 

I have no problem moving over,
And letting the
Younginahurry people race past me.

Let them dash off to their
Younginahurry lives.

Despite their velocity,
They will never catch up to me.

I’m not in the slow lane or the fast lane,
But the now lane.
Traveling at the speed of zen.

Let them speed past me in the 
Younginahurry lane.

And I’m not talking about the highway.

Slainte,

Paz

Destination

 

On The Ridge

 

I raced after my life for a long time, trying to reach it, without realizing I was in it.

 

 

Barn At Sunrise

 

I have vague recollections of the transitory whats and wheres I thought I was trying to get to. 

 

Thistle Down Shower

 

Alas, I’m glad I didn’t make it.

 

Wonderstop

 

This destiny, this destination, this here and now is more spectacular than ever I could have dreamed, 
and has come to me in ways I never would have imagined.

 

Chuy’s Trail

 

Slainte,

Paz

Why Ask Why?

 

I rise,
Unsure just why
But here am I
Awake and alive.

Breathe and step
And step again.
To where? Ahead.
Beyond where I have been.

Look and see.
What is there and 
What is not.
Past, future, time forgot.

Moving still.
A back to break,
An iron will,
Dreams to forsake.

Sun and rain
Clouds to love.
Floods below
Storms above.

Feed the machine
Because we must,
Over and again
Until I am dust.

A sparrow lights
To share my bread.
What’s mine is yours
Until I am dead.

A fleeting glimpse,
A parting glance?
For who knows how long
We shall dance?

Sun is setting,
Darkness falls,
Yet light persists
In hallowed halls.

Rest and sleep.
To dreams awake.
A dream of dreaming
For its own sake.

The day dawns,
Wipe sleep from eyes.
Once again
And who knows why,
I rise.

 

 

Seek peace,

Paz

New World Order

It was not the governments of the world that tore down the Berlin Wall.

It was not soldiers in uniforms, nor officials or dignitaries.

The Wall was brought down by ordinary people. Millhands and plumbers and taxi drivers and waitresses.

People who would no longer tolerate the isolation and separatism practiced by their native countries.

The Earth is our homeland.

We are one people.

 

Slainte,

Paz

Current Affairs

 

Shallow Draft

 

 

Our fates entwined, I am carried along her wandering course.

Only the river has changed.

Here, within my canoe, I remain the same.

Now looking out at a different landscape.

 

 

Slainte,

Paz

Earth Day 2020

Sassy Afield

 

Legacy and Learning in 50 years of Earth Day

 

A note from Natalie Dawson, Executive Director at Audubon Alaska

Earth Day 1970, Fairbanks, Alaska: Secretary of Interior Wally Hickel canoes on the Chena River to talk about water pollution. He gives a speech about “shifting man’s thinking from military defense toward the environment” at the University of Alaska Fairbanks alongside the mayor of Fairbanks who quotes Tennyson, and Dr. Donald Aitken, who started the now-famous conservation group Friends of the Earth. It was an apolitical showing of art-politics-activism for a celebration of our home, our “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Sometimes it is difficult to remember what we are able to accomplish when we come together.

Bipartisanship reigned on the first Earth Day. We put aside our sharply divided society in the midst of the Vietnam War to address our impacts to water, air, farm fields, bald eagles, songbirds, marine mammals, and civil rights. We passed legislation to protect clear air, clean water, endangered species, labor unions, and healthy foods. We made steps forward. We slid backward. We learned from mistakes. Progress.

Earth Day 2020, Anchorage, Alaska: A global pandemic reminds us we are part of, not apart from, the world around us. It tells us that we can take collective action and make immediate impacts. Whales return to Southeast Alaska and cruise ships are not there to photograph them. The water is cleaner. Earth is quieterWe breathe cleaner air right now and so does the planet. A friend writes, “I wonder if the bears notice the lack of visitors at the Mendenhall Glacier.” We realize we have so much to learn because it turns out there is so much we do not understand.

And in this way, we find ourselves sitting in this united classroom that is Planet Earth. Like the first Earth Day, which was originally organized as a teach-in across college campuses in the U.S., we are once again students. We are learning about suffering, destruction, and the chance for renewal. We hear birdsongs for the first time. We learn about what we can and cannot afford to lose, and what we need to build. We have an incredible moment to create a new world built on shared experience because none of us have been here before, and we must move forward together.

 

Thistle Down Shower

 

Everyone can do something.

Seek peace and stay well,

 

Paz

Solace For Solitude

Peaceful Evening

 

 

“I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed, rather than what I wanted: and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot comfortably enjoy what God has given them, because they see and covet something he has not given them. All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

– Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

 

   “There is something sacred about stillness. The world has not changed outside our bounds, we just realize peace and tranquility are possible, if we make space for it.”

– Ed Lehming, From Where I Stand

 

   “If your environment is poor, blame yourself. Tell yourself you are not poet enough to call forth its richness.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

 

   Horas non numero nisi serenas.

“I count only the happy hours.”

 

Slainte,

 

Paz

A Conspicuous Absence

 

Crocuses are blooming now, and Canada geese migrate northward. The air each day hints more of spring. The song of the red-winged blackbird fills the yard. Sunsets are lavender then orange. Mornings sport foggy patches, and the deer have come down out of their winter yards.

The beautiful world has been busy being beautiful for a long, long time. Make that a very, very, very long time. Nothing to date has affected her all that much. The sky is still aquamarine blue, and clouds in the sun will reveal rainbow colors if you look closely.

The grass is greening as green as any year, and dandelions have wasted no time getting started. The trail greets Sassy and me with the same joyous embrace we have come to know, and the air smells as sweet as any spring I can remember.

Mankind has always sought out and marveled at beauty. Nature and the arts. Throughout recorded history we have breathlessly described new frontiers. We have written ballets devoted to the seasons, composed and choreographed the essences of life’s beauty to be displayed upon the stage. We have written books of adventure, love, poetry. Songs that embrace light and love, devotion and bravery. We have painted and drawn and sculpted masterpieces attempting to convey our overwhelming joy to be witnesses to this marvelous world.

These things have never tired, never faded: the world’s beauty and humankind’s appreciation of it.

Humans have observed and recorded beauty at all times. All times throughout history.

During bountiful years and seasons of drought.

During times of enlightenment and growth as well as times of darkness and evil.

During plentiful times, and times of starvation and death.

We can hope and dream with all our might, yet we must bow to the unwavering truth that there will be some dark days for most of us during the courses of our lifetimes. That there will be dark times for our world.

Humankind has harnessed the power of light. It began long ago with a fire in a cave. It continued as gaslights recorded in the stories of O. Henry and Charles Dickens. It entered modern times with Mr. Edison’s curious invention. It has followed us into the future with lasers carrying our telecommunications, and solar farms gathering the power of the sun for our use.

And so it is the power of beauty and light that I will embrace now.

There will be lilacs in May.

There will be peonies in June.

There will be raspberries in July.

There will be morning glories in August.

You have plenty of places elsewhere to read about the darkness.

 

Sure As Spring

 

Let’s keep our eye on the lighthouse, and keep the lamp lit.

Let’s marvel at the sweep of the beacon through the fog.

Until the storm has passed.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Something For Myself

My Beautiful Boy

 

I don’t remember exactly how long ago it happened, but I remember the moment quite clearly. I was opening the cupboard door, probably browsing for a snack, and Chuy sat down and looked up at me. His snacks come from the same cupboard.

Likely I had reasons for my intention to skip the dog snack. We go through plenty, as they are given generously. There is a regular wholesome meal at supper time, so there’s that appetite thing. Also, we can just get carried away sometimes and overdo it.

Then my imagination leaped ahead 12 seconds, to the moment I would retrieve something for myself and close the door. Chuy’s dog voice said, to himself or perhaps the cat beside him, “Oh.” a disappointed frown, “He’s only getting something for himself.

You go ahead and call it guilt, or call it spoiling or call it Shirley or call it awakening. Call it what you will, it made my stomach sink and my heart skipped a beat to imagine being seen this way. To imagine being a creature without the means to get up there and open the door and grab a snack, as I can do without second thought.

In an instant I was changed. If I have no intention of giving the dog a snack, I will not have one for myself in front of her. If she skips it, so do I. (Yes, you are reading that correctly, above was the past, and Chuy was a he, but it’s she-girl Sassy now).

That was just the dog and the pantry. Sure enough, didn’t I come to see shortly how this applied to a thousand places in my life and my day.

It has helped me develop a total immunity to marketing of goods. That $20 for a shiny gadget will pay for half a corrective surgery on a Mercy Ship. The $35 for the other thing I really don’t need will go to my kids in Memphis. Maybe research or maybe treatment or maybe Band-Aids with colorful characters on them for children fighting cancer at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Even the half of a peanut butter sandwich on the console of the FunBus, saved for later. How do I explain “later” or “mine” to these sparrows and starlings that alight before me, and look up at me the same way Chuy did?

Sparrow Boy

I went to lunch and drove past the old guy who is always walking on the sidewalk, winter and summer, and looking homeless and about 70 years old. It was cold and windy that day. I got a hot meatball sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate and I stopped and gave it to him. I could have wasted my time wondering if he liked meatball sandwiches, or if he was diabetic and couldn’t drink hot chocolate. I don’t know if he has a perfectly nice apartment and Meals On Wheels brings him lunch every day. What difference would that make anyway?

The Great Cosmos smiled on me. He looked at me with the sweetest face, with blue eyes as beautiful as my daughter’s. He spoke softly and kindly and smiled, and then he uttered the very words I’d heard my sainted mother say, so many times, to so many people.

“God bless you.”, he said.

In retrospect, perhaps I have failed in my Armchair zen Mission. Perhaps I am still studying Chuy’s lesson.

For after all was said and done, in the end, didn’t I end up getting something for myself anyway.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

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