Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘Life’

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

Hurrah

I’m not a Buddhist, but read about it quite a bit.

There are terms used in Buddhism such as darma and samsara. I invented my own term, “Hurrah”.

There are the tiniest things in this world that warm my heart and to which I cleave. Every cloud and every leaf, every bird and dog and drop of rain has inherent beauty in it. I see these things glowing, leaping out from the background, and I am thrilled by them. This is my “hurrah”.
Any time I am down, distracted, off my mark, feeling directionless, I tell myself “Your hurrah will find you.”
And it does. No matter where, no matter what, if I am patient for the tiniest slice of time, something beautiful in this world will find me, speak to me, get me back on track.

The Path

Hurrah can exist anywhere, even inside one’s mind.

I am practicing and preparing for the days ahead, as my physical being wears out.
I’ll paint until arthritis locks up my hands. I’ll play the guitar until my muscles can no longer press the strings to the fretboard. I’ll read until my eyes can no longer see, then I will listen to audiobooks until my ears can no longer hear.
I will walk through this beautiful world until my legs can no longer carry me.
And I will carefully place these experiences in the gallery of my mind’s eye.

Someday, when I lie in a bed with no visible signs of life, in my mind I will be walking and painting and writing and singing, and enjoying all the other things my Hurrah will bring me.

 

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

 

Somedays

Over The Rainbow

 

“Someday” is an essential part of a long, healthy life that ends peacefully.

Always working, the mind must always have a dream. It’s not natural to live only in the “now”, but also in the “next” at every waking moment. Where to take the next step. Where to find the next meal. What comes next after the shadow passes overhead, or the footfalls rapidly approach?

Who says delusion and denial are anything but good for you?

Fantasy, imagination, fiction, dreams, books, the stage and screen, pretend and play.

Every amazing invention we know of (including this written language) began as an unseen image inside a mind.

How could we choose at what point we stop thinking of, imagining, dreaming our “somedays”?

After my last child is born? After they are grown? After I achieve “success”?

When I reach XX age? When I retire? When I check off the bucket list?

 

I myself have many irons in the fire as I cross the crest of 60 years of age.

I imagine for myself a billion someday things I want to do; finishing this novel and starting the next, publishing something. There are a dozen ideas for oil paintings, a hundred ideas for poems to be written, a thousand ideas for blog posts, a million opportunities to shoot that contest-winning photo.

There are grandchildren that need to be shown how to properly tie an improved cinch knot in monofilament line, how to Texas-rig a rubber worm, how to fillet a bass. How to tie off to a cleat, how not to trailer a boat. There are holes that need to be drilled through the ice to set tip-ups. Hot chocolate to be poured from the green thermos. Stands to occupy during dear season, streams to wade for trout in the spring.

There are a thousand miles of trails to be walked, billions and billions of autumn leaves to view in awe, wet dog kisses to be received.

There are philosophies to be shared, great books to be read, a whole planet to save…

Thirteen billion prayers to be said.

There are grown children that need to witness lifelong commitment, unwavering loyalty, unconditional love, unbreakable will.

I must always be filling my heart to overflowing, and seeking out vessels to fill with the excess.

 

 

The last thing I want is for a single day to be boring and unfulfilled.

I’m glad to know my list of someday things will not run out before I do.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

Inspired by a reply to “Someday Is A Disease” on TheEnlightenedMind622 – http://www.theenlightenedmind622.wordpress.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

Galleries

If I could teach you anything, if I could wish for you to grasp one concept, it would be this:

During those fleeting and routine moments that occupy our every day, as our subconscious drives us to keep moving like a moth around the flame, take time to notice. To notice just this. This now. These seemingly innocuous surroundings. These most common and ordinary things.

Spirit

You must expend no effort for the greatest memories of your lifetime to be retained in your mind’s eye.

Graduation.

Weddings.

The birth of your children.

The passing of dear ones.

These events shine like diamonds on the beach. You could not forget them if you tried.

Add now, to that gallery.

Trail Time

 

A moment on a trail as the rain falls on Chuy and me.

A silent night on an isolated island, as peace fell on the moon and me.

The Harrier hanging suspended over the hay field on a summer breeze.

 

Moonrise

 

You must stop and look and record these snapshot memories.

 

Daughter’s face in the rear view mirror, which I mistook for her mother.

That quiet summer morning, coffee in the cabana with my dearest friend, waiting for the sun.

The dark, sacred night, lovers locked in embrace.

 

Mists of morning

 

These pictures will be meaningless to others, so I shan’t go on.

They are not major events, accomplishments, achievements, setbacks or tragedies.

All can relate to those.

 

These are just for me (as yours will be just for you).

I am filling the walls of the gallery of my mind, so as to be surrounded by the simple beauty of my life.

 

The patter of rain on my slicker.

The sting of wind-driven snow.

This warm sun on my face.

 

Sumac Sunrise

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

 

 

Empty Nest

Bald Eagle

Decorah North is the given name of this eagles’ nest and the streaming nest camera I’ve been watching since early spring. As snow and freezing rain fell on Mother and Father eagle, two eggs were sheltered deep in the nest, and guarded always by one or the other. Explore.org and The Raptor Resource Project supplies the cameras, and mans them from time to time to zoom in or pan the treetops.

The streaming site would remain open on my computer at work. Folks arriving in the morning and passing my desk were greeted with the view. The computer window minimized during the day (in case I needed to actually work), the sound would come to us from Decorah, Iowa. This was fun in the shop, when someone would look all around trying to locate the source of birdsongs, raindrops, wind, and the occasional chainsaw. As I worked, it often provided a comforting backdrop to my day. I listened, checking the video from time to time, as the sound of chickadees and jays welcomed the songs of robins and the arrival of red-winged blackbirds.

Finally, somewhere at the end of March or early April, the first of two eggs hatched. Within two days, the second egg hatched. A day later, the second chick was discovered in the morning to be lifeless. Who can know the reasons why? Such a delicate and helpless stage of their lives. One false move will do them in. A snowy night, just too cold to survive, perhaps. Nature is not scripted.

We mourn the passing, yet are transfixed by the only child, designated DN9. Each day, I looked in on the little family. Eagle parents share equally in the duties. He would sit the nest while she went to hunt and eat, and vice versa. They would bring fresh trout and small mammals, tear pieces off and patiently feed them bit by bit to their charge. With the computer window minimized, I could tell when the lunch delivery arrived by the screeching of Junior, growing quickly and eager to be fed.

I watched the nearly-naked fur ball immobilized by his out sized feet. At one point I began to wonder if he wasn’t deformed, unable to walk at four or five weeks of age. Then I read that their clownish feet are much too big for newborns, and it was normal to take a while to grow into them. I was delighted when DN9 took his first plodding, stumbling steps. It was almost like seeing a child at that same remarkable, fascinating stage of development. Weeks passed, and “Superchicken”, as I’ve nicknamed him, continued to grow from a fuzzy blob into a real bird. Feathers grew larger and more plentiful, and DN9 hopped and reached right in for the scraps of fish and meat offered.

This past week or two, along came the mayflies. Swarms clouded the nest, and poor little DN9 could only scratch with his giant foot, and shake his head constantly in self-defense. I was wishing for him, no doubt speaking aloud to the computer screen, that his day of fledging and flight would be soon. He’s a big bird now, probably as big as a chicken. He’s started “branching”. Leaving the nest to walk out on its supporting limbs, stretching and testing newly-formed wings. This morning, there he sat, harassed by the mayflies in the nest. It looked maddening, and I again wished the freedom of flight for him. “You’ll see,” I encouraged, “you can fly away from these bugs. Take a nice bath in the creek.”

Twenty minutes later, I walked past my desk and saw the nest, empty.

Such a strange feeling that evoked. Here this nest, family and particularly “Superchicken” DN9 have been part of my daily life for several months. Now, in an instant, fledging season ends at Decorah North. I miss him already, yet in my heart I am simultaneously overjoyed. This was the goal! This is the whole purpose of what’s happening. I’m reminded of the sort of hippie, sort of corny thing about “If you love something, let it go.” 

I rewound the video to the time he was last seen. I watched as he stepped out, branching, onto a large limb that supported the nest. He looked down. He looked outward. He was getting ready. He took another step onto a flimsier branch, and in his inexperience, lost grip with his newly-acquired talons. One flip of a wing, and he dropped out of sight. So it was not the glorious Hollywood-style leap into the crisp air, broad wings soaring above the open field. The folks at the Raptor Resource Project started scanning with the cameras, up and down, all around the base of the nest tree, out into the field adjacent, filled with dairy cows and home to a rushing stream during spring melt. No sign of the little guy.

I had every confidence in DN9’s parents. Certainly all this is normal in the context of nature. He’ll be fine. I checked the other nest cam in the area. Decorah, was fortunate to have three big, healthy fledglings. Wouldn’t you know? That nest was empty, too. And this brought me some comfort. Being about the same age, this meant DN9 was old enough to make that big leap, that first giant step, to leave the nest. Had this been a sparrow or robin, a grackle or starling, I would have worried for its survival, yet unable to fully fly, making short hops and bursts of uncoordinated flight. As big as a crow already, and with two adult bald eagles keeping tabs on the youngster, threats would be few.

By afternoon, the camera operator for the Raptor Resource Project had located DN9 in the open field between the nest tree and the creek! He was on the ground, standing, and remaining still. The curious dairy cows would stop and take a second look as they ambled by. “What’s this big bird doing here on the ground? Just sitting here staring at us?” A short time later I saw the camera pointed up into a nearby tree, where one of the parents perched, keeping an eye on junior.

Immersion in nature and close association with her offspring bears many wonderful gifts. Aside from the joy of life itself, and seeing beautiful things, a clearer perspective of real life in the real world may be had. I would be inclined to disagree with you if you claimed animals did not share the breadth, depth and range of emotions accredited to that most highly developed species, humans.

Most don’t have a brow to furrow with worry, nor lips to part in smiles or turn down in frowns. No eyebrows to raise in fear or consternation. No tear ducts to produce evidence of great sadness or supreme joy.

But aren’t eagles and robins and starlings and weasels and possums and field mice and beavers still parents? Clearly they are driven to protect and nurture their offspring until they can venture out to lives of their own. Will you tell me the eagles were not saddened or heartbroken or disappointed at the loss of their own issue? Would you expect me to believe they were not startled or scared or worried when the little one fell from its perch to the Earth below? An Earth with predators; coyotes, dogs, bobcats.

Yet there is a balance in the natural world. These fragile things live daily with apprehension and fear. Starvation, predation, drought and hurricanes. Falling from a nest just a week too early. Still, it seems, their lives are not ruled by emotions, fueled and driven by feelings as their primary motivation. That would be humans. Every act a reaction to emotion. Joy, sadness, pride, regret, love, hatred, jealousy, envy, admiration, jubilation. Human hearts fling their emotions in every direction like sailors in the tempest. Nature takes a more centered and humble view. What seems the greatest of emotional extremes for humans are but the limits of the pendulum daily for so many beings.

The next day, DN9 was nowhere to be seen. The camera pilot (no doubt driven by emotions, including scientific curiosity), panned and zoomed the terrain repeatedly. This is the simple rule in nature. We do the best we can, and keep our hopes high for the best outcomes. The rest is really out of our control. And now I, too, swing through the pendulum’s arc.

I am sad that DN10 died before his second day in life, and I am overjoyed that DN9 prospered. I feel a sense of loss, loneliness, as I gaze upon the empty nest, and simultaneously I trust that DN9 has more than a sporting chance, and two doting parents. I feel compassion and sympathy for the eagle parents. The work and worry of it all. To keep those babies warm and safe and fed in the nest as long as necessary, and no longer. To flood every waking and sleeping minute with a vigilance worthy of a palace guard. To return one day to an empty nest, and, with just a little melancholy perhaps, celebrate this grand miracle. There is a powerful, silent beauty to the empty nest.

Hence we are kindred. Akin to the eagle and robin, the badger and rat, the polar bear and skunk, I, too, look proudly ( and not without a little twinge of nostalgia) on the silent beauty, the power, and the glory of an empty nest of my own.

Seek peace,

Paz

Knowledge

The learned Bruno

How much greater would you know the tiny seed,

the quaking grass, if it were all the world?

Consider the sparrow,

and how much greater is his knowledge than your own.

Only then will you go forth

with a true appreciation for this world, this life.

All of its fragile beings.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Hawk And Starling

It began with an untimely death. I turned to find, lying on the floor of the warehouse, a European Starling, still and lifeless. It had been the holiday weekend, where in the United States we celebrate the life and mourn the tragic loss of one of America’s greatest heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The evidence was everywhere, on the floor. Telling the tale in clues that could be read easily by the most amateur sleuth. She’d probably entered on Friday, when crews were unloading trucks after a long week. Doing so in the brutal, bitter cold of a January day that would see temperatures below zero. In and out through the overhead doors, then a quick walk-through locking up. Set the alarm and they were bound for the long weekend, Monday a holiday. Unbeknownst to them, the Starling would be locked in.

Here the signs showed where she flew to the transom windows out front and perched. Looking out on a world that, perhaps, she was glad to be spared from. Single digit temperatures and double-digit winds conspired to drive temperatures, with wind chill, to twenty-five below zero over the weekend.

Here she perched on the iron I-beam as she peered out through the windows of the rear overhead door of the loading dock.  Here she flew into the paint room, landed atop a piece of pipework, and looked out the six-light of the huge antique door. Out onto the stacks of pallets at the back of our building. This is our meeting place. Where I call with a whistle for my following of sparrows, and remind them that “Everyone is welcome!”. I call out to the crows, watch the Juncos now in winter, the mockingbird, the blue jays, as I shred and share a couple of slices of bread each morning and noon.

This is no doubt where Starling and I had met before. Where for the last decade, I have come to love their comical movement, their social graces, sharing with one another, with other birds. While the polite sparrows sit and nibble with elegant manners, starlings run about, stacking bits of bread in their beaks before flying off. Starlings are beautiful birds. Striking plumage in streaks and stripes, iridescent black echoing every color of the rainbow.

She was not in danger of slamming herself against the glass, as last year I went to each window in the place and added translucent stripes to make it visible to birds. Collide-Escape is the product I used, after watching, of all things, a starling knock itself nearly unconscious trying to fly through the sparkling clean portal. Dazed, he stood there on the warehouse floor as humans walked past. I brought him outside and set him down on his tiny feet on the front dock, in the shade. Twenty minutes later, he would fly off, hopefully good as ever.

Now, Tuesday morning, she lay dead on the floor. Three days locked within. I felt responsible for the death. In odd, gripping moments this would wash over me, as I reminded the child within of all those grownup things that are said at a time like this. Everything must die one day. It was an accident. It’s not your fault. One of so many starlings, how could she be missed? Nothing relieved my childish mourning for the tiny helpless creature. A creature that would now be alive if not for me, and mankind’s intrusion on her natural world.

I walked solemnly outside with the little corpse. Carried her, slowly and gently, to the brush line out back. The closest thing to natural and nature I could find for her. I placed her on a limb. A practice we call (pardon the outdated phrase) an “Indian Burial”. Here now she would return to the Earth from which her life sprang to begin with. She may become a welcome meal for a hungry scavenger, or perhaps decay and decompose there, mingling with the grass and the dust of terra firma.

I could not stop myself from returning to the back window. I consciously avoided looking directly at the place where she was enshrined. If still there, the little body would sadden me. If she was gone…somehow it seemed that would sadden me, too. As I looked out the window, the sky dimmed. Shooting over my head and then in front of my window, a dark cloud of a thousand starlings swarmed. A swiftly moving organic overcast. Darting this way and that in one gigantic choreographed ball of birds. They lighted in a tree at the edge of the back lot. I thought of a crow’s funeral. How crows will gather quietly at a place where one of theirs has fallen. They would not act like the gregarious, cackling mobs of their reputation, but would perch in reverence, one by one flying off in silence.

It was then I saw the Cooper’s Hawk, perched in an adjacent tree. On the hunt, looking for a meal. Another swirling flock transited the sky, and behind it, the hawk leaped into the air. With zig-zagging aerobatics, he charged into the black mass. A twist, a turn, a swoop, a dive, the incredibly agile bird flew through the frigid air. The hawk returned to the tree empty-handed, awaited the next opportunity. It was so cold outside, I thought, to fly so quickly through the air. It must be uncomfortable, to say the least, yet there was no choice if a hawk wanted to survive. To live. To thrive in this natural state. Conflicting thoughts slapped at me from either side of my brain. Oh, the poor starlings. I didn’t want to witness another killed today. Yet, there is the hawk, an equally admirable and well-liked avian friend. I did not want to hasten his demise either.

The thoughts would swirl around my aged and feeble brain for days. Perhaps I would find a place to leave a dish of water, in the event this scenario were repeated. Perhaps I could make some kind of hatch that would open to allow a trapped bird to escape. I still can’t stop thinking of the Starling, looking out the window at freedom. So close, and yet denied. The vertical Collide-Escape stripes on the windows looking like prison bars.

Another flock of starlings headed for the Gathering Tree. The hawk was airborne again.

“Everyone is welcome.” My heartfelt mantra seemed simplistic and shallow. I’m feeding the feral cat with a small dish, situated just thirty feet from the pallet pile that serves as dining table for the sparrows. How do those things reconcile?

There are no rules for such things. Cats will eat the sparrows. Hawks will eat the starlings. The cat lives and the hawk lives and the starlings live with this knowledge. I am trying to bring myself closer to their world. A world not bound by emotional ramblings and Disneyesque fantasy. Then I realize that I can be this me, and feel these things, and mourn for the starlings while cheering for the hawk. Really quite simple, if you don’t overthink it.

Everyone is welcome.

I guess that includes the sentimental, childish man who will give Indian burials to dead birds, feed feral cats, and feel sorry for the hawk in the cold.

We are, truly, all in this together.

Bath Time For Starlings

Seek peace,

 

Paz

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