When I Am Old

When I am old, I’ll have had my fill of beds, couches, chairs, the underwater hibernation of cavernous sleep. I’ll have had enough of the body’s honesty and the mind’s betrayals.

When I am old I will leap up unexpectedly, so fully rested that the last shooting star of vitality will pass over my face, the memory of youth searing my eyes with its virile flame, scorching my solar plexus. I’ll escape my caretaker (if I’m lucky enough to have one), and slip off to Florida where I can soak in the warm saltwater and hear southern girls talk. I’ll hop a flight to Barcelona and see the masquerade-mask balconies, sit at a sidewalk café in Rome with my ten-mile stare, stop in Vietnam and stand in the emerald brilliance of a rice field. In Africa, the treetops will sway differently than what I’m accustomed to. In Tahiti, the sand grains will pepper my thighs. In Egypt, thousands of mosquitoes will be feasted upon by swarms of bats as I sit and savor rich golden couscous and sticky dates from Morocco.

When I am old, I’ll lay down on a grassy slope as the summer evening comes on, and long for the warm familiarity of you, thinking of the way you entered all the cells of my body and stayed there. Venus will be there, and the North Star, and the Moon of course, and the fireflies with their luminous silence.

When I am old, I’ll be wondering why I’m still here when everyone else has gone.  I’ll avoid mirrors and my reflection in shop windows, too weary of my appearance to steal a glance. I’ll inspect my food as if it were an alien substance. I’ll recall the world I grew up in as a lost one, and I’ll be a castaway in this new and different world.

When I am old, a gentle breeze will pick up and the light in me will go out. It will be my turn to discover whether or not you get to see everyone again, my turn to find out what happens next, after a lifetime of wondering.

 

Stones On The Shore

Like stones on the seashore, we too are fragments of something larger, something greater.

We too are individual yet connected. We too are washed up here from another realm, only to return to it. We are moved back out of the sphere of gravity and oxygen, back out of a place that owes everything to its proximity to a burning star.

Our time in this dimension will cease to be, as we are returned to the same waves that washed us up, in earth-time, only a moment before. Strands of consciousness, we return to our transcendent source, no We, no You, no I.

In the one hand, Time. In the other, Eternity.  In both hands, Love.

 

 

We Cannot Wait

We cannot wait for things to be different, for things to be perfect, for things to meet our requirements.  We cannot wait for everyone’s approval.  We cannot wait for the certainty that everyone will like what we have to say.

We cannot wait for ourselves to feel less afraid.  We cannot wait for the road to be clear before we cross it.  We have to step out into the traffic, we have to take the risk.  We will be criticized, misunderstood.  Still, we cannot wait.

Transformation means loosening our grip, letting go, letting the light come through the cracks.

 

On Working With The Creative Powers

This is a wonderful excerpt from the book Blue Pastures by Mary Oliver.  It is not about an artist’s discipline, that is an entirely different subject.  Rather, it’s about making oneself available at all times to one’s ideas and creative powers.

“I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations.  It is as it must be.  The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard.  The poem gets written.  I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame.  Neither do I have guilt.  My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely.  It does not include mustard, or teeth.  It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot.  My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive.  If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late.  Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.”  -Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures

 

 

Let Me Become

Let me become a master of listening, a student of surrender. May a strong and blossoming tree grow from the root of all my fears, a tree with the innate knowledge of how to bend with the wind.

I have much to learn from the ferryman who spends his life taking people across the river, but there is even more to learn from the river itself: how to swell with a flood, how to narrow with a drought, how to be tossed about in a wild current or move with a gentle one, how to be in a place of stillness, how to be at the bottom, the middle, the surface.

May I forget all names, all naming, in order to better contemplate the nameless. May my judgments be altogether cast aside. Let me not torment myself with endless desires. Let me learn how to be with them, so that I can say “Good Morning, My Brothers” and “Good Evening, My Sisters” with compassion, and a simple tenderness.

Let me love hugely and endlessly. Let me become.

Dream Catcher

A dream of bamboo groves and flickering candles.  A dream of sitting in meditation, of the alchemy of bees bringing about the reality of honey, of the heart lifting, of a tormented heart and eyes grown world-weary.

A dream of desire stirring below the navel, of a starry sky like a great milk-swelled breast, of crushing loneliness.  A dream of crouching down at the edge of water, of the sound of a bullroarer, of the coyote crossing my path and looking back, and he this night twitching as he dreams of the human crossing his path.

Dreams of the language of rivers, the lessons of mountains, the teachings of trees, the lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the voices of birds, the pulse of stillness, the rise and fall of tides, of breath, of prana.

And then the inevitable return.  For after the dream, I enter myself again.

 

Stacking Firewood

How unexpected of you, mother-in-law, to step outside onto the unwoven tapestry of fallen pine needles and ask me if I wanted you to make me a meatloaf sandwich.

Even as you recovered from walking pneumonia, even as you had yet to regain the energy to once again flour the counter and prepare the dough for your substantial bread, even as you had yet to carry out the annual reading of your Christmas book collection, or sound again the bright chime of your laugh.

I almost dropped my armload of cherry wood right then and there, as I carried it up stone steps from the top of the driveway to the little shed near the door where the axe is kept.

I was being given a second chance at having a mother, or at least the old long-lost feeling of it.  For the moment I was a boy again, walking over a field in cutoff jeans, chewing on a stalk of wheat.

You never know where, or when, your life might be touched by the phenomenon of another human heart.  You only know that you must fall onto your knees, raise your arms to the sky, and give thanks.