Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘introspection’

Tales Of Ten Men

The Hermit’s Tale

I went to see the hermit on the mountain.

“It must be time to work that garden. It’s past mid-April.”

“April?” he looked at me quizzically.

It was then I realized he had no calendar.
In searching the walls and nooks I saw he also had no clock.

“Do you want a clock?” I asked casually as he sat oiling a tarpaulin.
“I have a lot of them.” I continued, “And maybe a calendar?”

He looked at me again, in utter consternation.

As if, like at Babel, our languages were suddenly one different from the other.

“No thanks.” he finally answered. He tapped his breast bone.
“This is my clock.”

He looked out through the open doorway by which he labored and said “This is my calendar.”

Slainte,

Paz

Home

Is it this house?
Is it these walls?
Is it these old familiar rooms and airy halls?

The Sparrow nigh?
This Mourning Dove?
Each day some new treasure here to love?

No. It’s not of timber.
No. It’s not of stone.
It’s a warm and whole belonging.
I’m Home.

Did I choose?
Has it been known
By all the stars forever I’d call this my own?

How can it be
These ancient trees
And fragrant lawns could be all the world to me?

Here, this simple man,
In this humble glen I can
Feel Home.

Snow will fall.
Winds will blow.
I don’t claim it’s always Paradise, y’know.

Through chilling cold,
Each tempest thrown,
Through everything that cuts me to the bone,

Here, the storms may test me.
Here, no ill can best me.
The surest place I’ve ever known
Is Home.

If you’re adrift
Out on the sea
Amidst the raging storms of this mortality,

Or slashed and burned,
Or beat to hell,
Or lost to us at the bottom of your well,

If you need a rescue,
A place where you can run to,
I have a place for you,
There’s always room
At Home.

Pray for peace.

Paz

Roads – #1

You can do all the planning and decision-making in the best interests.

You can be raised well, educated properly; you can pursue your career and lay foundations, maximizing opportunities, weathering storms and holding course.

Each day you wake, however,
each decision you make
takes you down the road to your destination.

There are, mind you, tens of thousands of possible routes you may take.
Bear in mind, too, that the destination itself may not exist by the time you get there.

Sometimes, along the way, if fortunate, we find our destinations changing.

Newfound clarities, shifting sands, the grace of years to digest or dispel.

We may end up bound for places we never would have dreamed of,
and our destinations have become
our destiny.

Paz

This Christmas

This post first appeared in 2013. Since that time, my dad has passed. My wife, too. The baby in the photo is now an effervescent 9-year-old with a 7-year-old brother. The son is living with me while the parties of the wedding in the photo sort out their divorce. Last year, Christmas came just 11 days after my wife died.

This Christmas, I am supremely grateful for every day I live, and every day I have lived prior. I feel I’ve had an easy time of it, these 62 years, and have been blessed with something of a charmed life. Perhaps it’s just an average one, or maybe below average.
It is the only life I have ever known.
Simply knowing a life puts me ahead of some people already.

“When you wake in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.”

  • Chief Tecumseh

Joy to the world. Joy to you, my friends.
-Paz

Four Generations

Four Generations

I had in mind to write a post called “Last Christmas”, and (not unlike some previous posts) talk about how we’d feel if we found that this had been our last Christmas.  If we got the news in January or February or May, that we would not be likely to see another Christmas. Would we be pleased at the way we spent our days?

The post, however, is about This Christmas. Really, this philosophy is always about “this”. This day, this month, this anniversary, this birthday, this autumn, this season. It’s not so much the old “living-in-the-now” as much as it’s carpe diem, seize the day, make your life, in this moment and the next, the life you imagined for yourself.

This Christmas bears the most special and wonderful gifts for me. More than I deserve, I am humbled.

The photo above is taken at my son’s wedding in October. That’s Ryan at the left. Next is me, beside my Dad, and this year’s Christmas gift, my new granddaughter Ellie.

It’s a rare fortune for families to be able to gather four generations together. Turning 83 in January, every Christmas with my Dad is precious, invaluable.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So, about this “Last Christmas” thing.

I’m not trying to be particularly Dickensian or dramatic, but must reveal something I usually keep to myself.

Whenever I am recounting joys and fortunes, sadnesses and hardships, there is a bar, a benchmark, that is never out of my consciousness.

For me, no matter what occurs I compare the situation. We don’t like to talk about it, but we are patrons, “Partners In Hope” they’re called, of St.Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Here, children stricken with life-threatening cancers are cared for, and research is ongoing to combat this deadly foe. Families of these children are never asked for a penny in payment. Don’t we think they have enough to deal with without monstrous medical bills?

My heart and spirit are tied with strings of tears to these children, and their families. Some of them are just babies.

I can’t single-handedly save the whole world so I searched for a place I could do my best work. What could be more important than helping to save the lives of children?

I will listen to your troubles and woes. I will console, cajole and support anyone that comes to me. I will offer opinions colored as advice if you ask.

I will feed you, I will offer you a bed in my home. I will sit silently and hold your hand.

When it comes to an assessment of our troubles—yours, mine, the next guy’s—you will be given perspective.

You see, in Memphis, I have a lot of kids. We’re not hoping they get “what they want” for Christmas.

Every day, throughout this rolling year, our hope for them is simple.

We hope they live to see This Christmas.

May the peace of the season reign in hearts everywhere, and last throughout the year.

Paz

Spirit Of Frosty

This post originally appeared in 2015. -Paz

Our Holiday Greetings

Our Holiday Greetings

It occurred to me just how much I admire Frosty The Snowman, and his philosophy on life. Well, life as it is to an inanimate object, or in this case a fictional character who is also an inanimate object. This is personification at it’s best, I suppose.

If you’re not familiar with the children’s tale, here are the Cliff’s notes:

Kids build a snowman and find a silk top hat to put on his head. The top hat has some magic in it, and this animates the Snowman, whom the kids have named Frosty. He springs to life exclaiming “Happy Birthday!”. Yes, it’s a Christmas-season tale, but it is Frosty’s birthday, after all.

Frosty plays and has fun with the kids until he begins to melt. The story is based on the song, I think, and the animated cartoon special picks up the story where the lyrics left off.

In the song, Frosty waves goodbye as he melts, says “Don’t you cry!” to the kids, and “I’ll be back again someday.”.

In the TV special, one of the children is heartbroken at the thought of Frosty’s departure, and adventure ensues as the little girl tries to get a six-foot snowman to the North Pole before he melts.

In the song, the lyrics state “Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day. So he said ‘Let’s run and have some fun now, before I melt away.'”

Now there’s the spirit I admire. Frosty has this little window of life, knows he’s terminal, and instead of spending all his time worrying about how he can be cured and prolong his life, he decides to enjoy it before it’s gone.

 

The cartoon special takes it further, as the little girl becomes obsessed with “rescuing” the snowman from his natural demise. He’s fine until the human tries to “save him”. Only when pitted against or seen from the human girl’s perspective does Frosty’s limited existence become viewed as problematic. They spend their last days together in agony. Problems getting transportation, a magician trailing them, trying to steal the hat, the girl starts suffering from hypothermia following the snowman into the arctic. Ultimately, circumstances conspire and the girl is forced to watch Frosty’s destruction before her very eyes. *

I’m adopting Frosty’s original spirit. Life will come and go whether it’s on a snowman’s timeline or a human man’s time line.

I say let’s run and have some fun!

Before I melt away.

Seek Peace,

 

Paz

 

* Calm down. The girl isn’t real, she’s in a cartoon. And Frosty is magic. Before the kid stops crying, a freezing wind blows Frosty back together and he comes back to life, exclaiming “Happy Birthday!” once again. Happy ending, although it does prove the fruitlessness of the child’s work and worry.

Roads – #26

Choose something, consciously and early on, to be notoriously incapable of.

Something, despite your great agility and impressive strength and massive brainpower, your positive outlook and can-do attitude, that you are just bad at. Just cannot get the hang of. Inexplicable.

If you get that out of the way then you can excel at everything else.

Slainte,

Paz

Compose Yourself

Every day becomes part of your story.

Compose wisely.

You needn’t write about your cares and woes.

You needn’t write about your disappointments or regrets.

Every morning is a blank page.

Write about the best you, living the best life you’ve imagined for yourself.

Keep re-writing until the story comes out just the way you want it to.

Slainte,

Paz

On Writing

The act of composition forces my ever-whirring mind to slow to the speed of the pen.

This time warp allows me to see and focus on thoughts, which otherwise streak past like the blurry motion of a speeding commuter train.

Composition is the station and platform from which I can read the placards on the locomotives, and correlate them to the great galactic schedule on the wall.

I slow long enough to realize how, if anyone, I am positioned squarely for such life-changing events as those currently being navigated. I have prepared for many decades a heart and spirit that look to see beyond the occasional storms, grounded in the celestial and terrestrial. At once embracing the limitless cosmos and holding the delicate sparrow in my hand.

Such things are the farthest from transitory, and will carry me home.

Slainte,

Paz

Moving Water

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Mazbo’t

In the past I had likened life and time, a lifespan, my journey, to a trail.
Many are the poets and songsmiths that have called it The Road.
The Path it’s called in real Zen (i.e. not Armchair zen).
So too, a voyage on a ship, charting one’s course, to set sail, all have found there proper places in the prosaic. These things rang true to me for my first few lives.

Similes to ships seem fitting in so many ways. One is the captain of one’s own ship, and one needs to set one’s heading and plan a destination. The boat can represent a physical body or a spiritual vessel in or on which you transit cradle to grave. It can be used to illustrate tremendous responsibility, and demonstrate what it means to let it run aground or to be asleep at the wheel. It can exemplify perspective, delineating the perimeters which should never be surrendered, simultaneously reminding us that a great wide world exists just on the other side of that thin hull. A world considerably larger and more powerful than you and your little boat. One does not sail through a hurricane. One prays through the tempest, and lives or dies at the mercy of Mother Earth and the ancient oceans from which we emerged.
The sea is so large, and my boat is so small.”
There are a few other useful lessons available under the boat-driving brand of philosophy, not the least of which is (depending on what kind of boat) that under some circumstances, it is difficult or impossible to run the boat alone.
(And under almost all circumstances, sailing is better with a mate or two.)

Most of the boat-speak still suits my taste. Particularly the part about the sea being several million or billion or trillion times your size. A tiny iceberg sank the infamous Titanic. I mean, it was as big as the Empire State Building, but for icebergs it was a bantamweight, and if you calculated its size as a percentage of all the glacial masses on Earth it would be a hundred zeroes followed by a one.

Now here’s where my divergence lies within these philosophical premises. The ideas about being the captain and responsible for your boat and your crew and setting your course and all that. Well, the Titanic had aboard a well-trained and skilled crew, and a seasoned captain. No knock on them. It was an accident, and that’s why we have the word. But even a full and skilled crew cannot ensure protection against every threat the world might send your way. And sailing a ship on the high seas or the great lakes or the reservoir is a deliberate act within your control. You can set a course, turn the tiller, raise the sails. You can monitor the compass and the wind. There are forces like Trade Winds and ocean currents with which you must deal, but pretty much you sail across the pond, large or small.

As my philosophies aged like cheeses and fermented like wines, I began to understand that life is much more a river than a sea. (I did sneak in a couple of good similes there.) And we don’t so much pilot a powerboat on this river, but rather sort of raft down it. Personally, I prefer to think of myself as something of a Tom Sawyer, poling my way to adventure. There are, of course, responsible adult ways to ply the river in canoes and kayaks. The point is: the river is always moving.

Yes, you can argue that there are currents in the oceans, or that there are tidal rivers which flow back and forth in opposite directions following the tides. But if you go around with that kind of attitude I bet you won’t get invited to a lot of parties at my house.

My metaphoric river carries me. If I stop paddling, I keep moving. I can zig-zag across the river. I can paddle with the current and move at twice the speed of the water’s flow. I can fall asleep, or daydream, or faint or even die I suppose and that river is just going to keep on flowing isn’t it?
Now you’re not ever going to get that from a path, road, trail or anything else that you are required to follow and physically pursue.

I can rest. I can heal. I can be sick for days or go on a drunken binge and that river is going to keep right on carrying me. And whether I paddle with zeal or sprawl in a stupor, I will be brought to the places where the river chooses to flow.
Brought to the places the river needs to bring me.
Buoyed and wrapped in her caress, the moving water will bring me to where I need to be.

Captain’s Log

Since clearing the ice pack, we’ve had fairly good sailing to the south. Inspections revealed some considerable damage caused by being iced in, but nothing that will sink us. Moored several months for repairs, the crew was eager to be underway and have benefitted greatly from the warmer air and sunshine. Still encountering a lot of fog this far north, but currents bear us for now toward more favorable climes.
It is in the hearts of the crew the greatest changes have occurred.
Frozen in, there was nothing to do but pass the time, and soon they fell into their own doldrums, making the motions of the living, but with the eyes of zombies.
For a considerable time after we were first underway, they were compelled to keep looking back at the sheet as if it were stalking them. It was out of sight more than a full day before the light returned to their eyes and they could finally believe that one of the longest and most arduous times of our sojourn was truly over.
The following day they lingered in the galley and drank too much, and sang.
It is the first in many, many months that I have heard voices lifted in song, merriment and celebration. I was moved to tears to hear their joy.
What were they celebrating?”, you may ask.
Life.

Take care and keep in touch,

Paz

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

 

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