Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Archive for the ‘Pursuit of identity’ Category

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

 

Fledgling

Evan Defies Gravity

 

When you were just a wee thing, I tossed you into the sky.

You smiled, you laughed, you squealed.

You were never afraid, never doubted that I would catch you.

Grown now, with your own wee ones, you are too big for me to throw in the air.

Fear not, however, for as long as there is breath in this body

I will always catch you.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Accountant

Sky Sailors

 

 

I stopped my compulsive counting of the geese in the flocks that fly above me,

and instead admired their beauty.

I stopped foretelling the weather in these clouds that pass over me,

and instead enjoyed watching them sail.

I stopped thinking of those places where we don’t meet eye-to-eye,

and instead embraced those where we do.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

All The World A Stage

Color Of Winter

 

“How can we enact our Devine Comedy without the proverbial Village Idiot?

Who will play The Fool?”

“I will! I will!” I heard myself exclaim without hesitation. I jumped for joy to be working again.

To have a clearly defined roll within this cast of characters that is my life.

This grandiose and grand production.

This particularly ponderous performance.

This perfect play.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Here I Linger

Chuy’s Trail

 

There is something sacred in the deep, quiet wood.

There is an escape from this modern world.

Here, time is allowed to lapse at its own, unhurried pace.

“Act Now!” Order Today” “Don’t Miss Out!” ”While Supplies Last” “Limited Quantities Available”

 

The Open Wonder Woods

 

Here are the same things that have been here for a thousand years, five thousand, who knows, a hundred thousand? Bedrock and stone. Moving waters. The same trees grow each hundred years, and the same nuts fall every autumn. The inchworm climbs over the moss the same way he has since the last glacial recession opened new inchworm territory.

“New!” “Improved” “The Latest!” “Just Released” “Grand Opening” “Coming Soon”

 

Fungus Season

 

Looking down I see earth and dirt and sticks and humus and lichens and bugs and mushrooms.

The track of the White-tailed Deer, giant comic prints of the Wild Turkey, tiny footprints left by the passing field mice. Tracings of wings in the snow where a Barred Owl invited the mouse to lunch.

There is no concrete, no blacktop, no glass, no stainless steel, no copper wiring, no asphalt shingles.

“Whole-house Vinyl Siding Sale!” “Road Closed For Paving” “Custom Replacement Windows”

 

 

Morning Frost

 

There is a ringing in the trees. It is the four billion year old wind, transiting my wood for the four billionth time, each passing as sweet as the last. There is a ringing in the air. It is the caw of the crow, the screech of the jay, the honking of Canada Geese waving goodbye for the ten thousandth year in a row. There is a ringing in my spirit, giving birth to the song in my heart.

Four Lines Just $100” “New I-phone Model X Available Now!” “Download The App” ‘Unlimited Data”

 

Glorious Blue

 

 

A dog chases a squirrel. An autumn leaf falls to the forest floor. A Catbird calls.

A man walks.

 

South Loop, January

 

 

And we are timeless in our serenity. We have loosed the bonds of modernity, however briefly.

Here, I linger.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Morning Light

Sumac Sunrise

 

Every morning when I step out the door, I speak aloud a greeting to my dearest departed friend, my faithful canine companion of over 15 years.
It is a warm moment of remembrance, our bond as strong- or stronger- since parting.

As Chuy says, “The Circle must close. It is true for us all. It is simply so.”

This reminds me that every moment of every wonderous day is a gift to be opened and shared with the world.
That even after passing, the meaningful things in our earthbound life can remain meaningful.

It is not my inner light that illuminates my path.
It is the light I see in each and every individual and creature on this planet.
It is bright as the sun.

May peace find you always,

 

Paz

 

 

 

Inspired by posts at Thriving Under Pressure – www. drandreadinardo.com

 

One World

I had a vision within a dream.

 

All the people of the world were gathered and placed on a giant, flat disk. It is incomprehensibly large, perfectly round, and entirely devoid of features.

Like a huge Frisbee, the disk floated in space, filled with the population of Earth.

The disk faced away from the sun, and like the dark side of the moon, we were all in total darkness.

In the vacuum of space, no sound carried. There was no speech. There were no languages. No language barriers. We could not know if the one beside us was from our own homeland, or some place entirely foreign to us.

We were naked in the silent darkness. There were no well-earned three-piece suits strolling past an undeserved and unearned raiment of rags, uniform of the destitute. We could not know if the one beside us was rich or poor.

There were no features on the disk. There was no higher ground. There was no Knob Hill. There were no gutters. We were all on even ground. There was no hill to take or line to hold, and no armies to do so.

Without an inch of room, there could be no separation, no segregation. No slums or ghettos or prisons.

We stood, shoulder to shoulder, beside one another. And all we could know was that some were shorter and some taller. Some seemed younger, and others seemed older. Some were quite plump, and some skinny as rails. In the darkness, there was no white or brown or yellow or red. Just people.

Looking outward, from darkness into darkness, we were stricken with fear. Our fears could not be shared. No voices to cry out. No light to see the anguish in faces. Bit by bit, we began to feel it. We could feel the trembling of all the world, shaking in terror.

Then we could feel a shift, as some fell to their knees and began to pray. Others prostrated themselves, and others stood and nodded as they prayed. Others stretched their arms outward and looked into the unknown as they sought peace with the universe.

From distant space, a meteor struck the disk and rocked it. The violent collision turned the disk ever-so-slightly, just enough to illuminate a single child, just a baby, wrapped in swaddling, as it fell from the edge of the disk. Out into the vastness of the Cosmos. Alone.

Without hesitation, all the world shifted to move the disk back into place. The strongest worked the hardest, and the weakest expended their last ounce of strength. Clasping hands, a human chain formed. Without regard for their own safety, the chain stretched and reached for the drifting lost child. In a single, silent thrust the chain grasped the child and held mightily, and with the greatest of efforts the child was drawn in, back to the fold, and the population of the world was one again.

And then a hand grasped a hand. Then that grasped another. Then another and another and another until all the world was hand in hand.

Then, like magic, we all knew. We knew we were all of different colors and languages and religions and walks of life. Yet in the silent darkness we were all the same. In the fear-filled void, we were all equal.

There were no lands to fight for. No fields to farm or factories to fill. There was absolutely nothing else to be done.

And so, we held one another.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Courtesies

Liberty is at the core, the very founding of this nation.

We failed, as a species, for many years in this area.

Enslaving humans, treating women as second-class citizens that could not own property or vote.

Segregating children by the color of their skin, not seeing the content of their character, as Dr. King admonished.

Mistreating and abusing people because of their religious affiliation or gender orientation.

 

Times changed. No more slavery. No more second-class genders. Free to be me.

Somewhere in the fight for “me”, it seems we forgot about “you”.

In our quests to be our best and truest selves, focus turned inward. I can do this, and no one can stop me. I can believe this. I can say that.

Hip-hooray for all this embracing liberty, but can’t we bring civility along?

 

There was a time when people took pride in their appearance. They didn’t come to work looking like they are ready to go to the rodeo, the gym, or the beach. We dress down, “because I can”. But how about dressing nicely just ’cause it’s…well, nice?

There was a time when people kept their opinions to themselves sometimes. To avoid offense. To show respect. I will be the first in line to defend your right to free speech. But can’t we sometimes exercise our right to be quiet?

There was a time when rudeness was considered rude. When apologies were in vogue. There was a time when an apology was so serious it took on the words “I beg your pardon.“.

There was a time when people could see beyond their own skin. When people realized we are all cut from the same cloth. We are kindred. We are the same inside. We all feel and wish and dream the same. We can all be hurt and insulted. We all wish for happiness and comfort.

 

“Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”

 

Let the other guy go ahead of you in the checkout or on the on ramp.

Hold the door for someone.

How about “May I have a cheeseburger, please?” instead of “Gimme a cheeseburger and a super-sized Coke.”

How about waiting patiently, like your mother taught you, when the person in line counts change or buys lottery tickets or does whatever else they do while we wait in line behind them?

Suppose young people treated adults with respect? Suppose adults showed the same respect for young people?

Suppose, instead of tolerance, we could teach the generations to come to move beyond that?

Beyond “mainstreaming” and “inclusion”. Beyond mandates that command us to treat one another with respect.

 

A long time ago, a wise man gave us this entire lesson wrapped in a single sentence.

“So as you do unto these, the least of my brethren, you do unto me.”

 

So here’s to liberty. Here’s to freedom. Here’s to celebrating your own uniqueness in the world. You celebrate you, and I will celebrate you.

I ask only that you don’t forget about him and her and the other one and me. We’re out here. Outside your skin.

Wouldn’t you love to celebrate being the most courteous person you know? I sure would!

One last thing. There are instructions for this respect and consideration stuff. Write it down if you need to.

 

Love one another.”.

Evan Defies Gravity

Seek peace (and manners),

 

Paz

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