“Thanks” by W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
W.S. Merwin

Easy Does It

Why do you have to try so hard to make sense of the part of you that glows?  Quit trying to find cryptic meanings and just glow because you were made to.  Switch off the machine of your curiosity, your gears are grinding and they need to cool down.

Never mind the unknown ages of starfish and disperse your intricate web of energy.  Glow, and be willing to believe in yourself. 

Funny how we all live so close together we’re practically stitched, but fake separation.  Your country has its wonders, glorious, its atrocities, shameful.    

Maybe you’re a great white shark – you didn’t intend any of this.  How others perceive you does not define who you are.  Maybe you’re a hammerhead, a mermaid, I don’t know.  Maybe you fan the water like a whale’s fluke, sway like seagrass, eat from the smooth prism of an abalone shell.

Maybe you’re a pollinator: without you all life would vanish, humanity owes itself to you.  But the burden doesn’t matter, the concept isn’t even within your field of awareness.

You just rise every morning and do what you were made to do: your work.  What, you may ask yourself, is my work?  Don’t let anyone else answer that question for you.

 

What is Possible

That moment when all the world is before you, vast, undiscovered.  When nothing about you has been decided, identified or known yet, by you or anyone else.  When your capabilities simply tear through the atmosphere, uncontainable, an afterburner of possibility.  When you may as well have been the one who first discovered fire. 

That moment when you come up over the horizon and ride the edge between this realm of forms and the realms of the formless, shedding the cloak of duality to receive the light of Oneness, transcendent of the sphere of human thought.  The energy of your cells burning – individually and collectively – like meteors across the cosmos of you, on a journey toward decomposition, only to be structured again by rebirth, transformed by incineration, alchemized by the whole cycle.        

Where is your sense of adventure, of possibility?  Why do you fear the things you fear?  Civilization is a blip on the radar of timeless eternity, humanity will rise and fall, and every condition existing within it will come and go, but what are we supposed to do with this information?  It borders on the unfathomable.  A meteorite collided with the Earth and formed this crater 60 million years ago.  Okay, well, let’s have dinner and go to bed, I have to get up early and go to work.    

So what might be a worthy use of your energy and focus during the flash of your sweeping microcosm of an arc of a few little decades here?  Do you endeavor to blow the doors off your life, throw open the windows of the heart?  Or do you turn away, forgetting that – beneath the clothing of your identity – you are the Earth, you are an expression of Eternity, you are one with the transcendent.

The challenges of working with fear, what is possible, and the ever-changing shapes of things masquerading as truth, never fail to astound, astonish.  For the love of all things holy, work on it now, because later you will be tired and clarity will not burn so bright.  

 

When Gravity Comes Up To Meet You

Strange though it may seem, when gravity comes up to meet you there is a floating sensation.  There’s a buoyancy in the way one’s bones sink into the support of the ground, floor, earth.  A buoyancy not unlike the one found in water with a high concentration of salt.  There is lightness contained in heaviness.

As in nature’s sanctuary, when gravity comes up to meet you, you return to your center and your actions take root there.  The microcosm of You comes more fully into alignment with the macrocosm of the Cosmic Mystery.

When gravity comes up to meet you, you locate yourself as if by compass.  Where does the needle point?  Which way is true north?  What might it mean to take a particular path in a particular direction? 

You hear the universal orchestra tuning up to play a symphony of eternity, spaciousness, presence, love – always improvised, never rehearsed.

How gently down the stream one might row one’s boat, if allowed to wander.

No Fixed Course

So there is the dog, the cat, the table and chair, books, photographs, keepsakes.  The peel of an onion and a bit of parsley on a wooden cutting board.  There is the hedgehog-like orange studded with cloves, the calendar on the wall, each week’s same seven days named after the planets of our milky galaxy.  There is each day, this day, the only day, ever always and once again setting this task before you: break open your heart.  Do your work, and let it be a work in progress.  Let there be no fixed course.  

There are the organs working their magic inside of you, the longed-for renunciation of all your desires.  There is the routine each day, to some the subject of fervent dedication.  And yet the routine exists within the construct of an erratic life whose days are lived out in a world ruled by impermanence. 

There is Nature, the greatest teacher.  Here are the qualities that show us how to live in this world.  Here is the music to be revered, the architecture to be contemplated.  Let it be softly observed, gently noticed.  Not studied wildly like some mad scientist yearning for discovery.

The Only Number I Still Remember

873-8480 you were an awful lot of eights on a rotary phone.  873-8480 I recite you over and over as if you were a chant, a mantra, a line from the movie Rain Man.

873-8480 I dialed you my whole boyhood to talk to Grandma Ruth.  I loved to talk to Grandma Ruth.  873-8480 restore my heart, deliver me, heal me, save me.

873-8480 you are the only number I still remember in this strange new world of the mind handing over information to technology.  If the global server crashed tomorrow, would we know who we are anymore?  Would our minds begin to strengthen again?  Photo albums, cameras, address books – sales would skyrocket.

873-8480 you lived on the truck route corner, the clatter and grind of jake-brakes vibrating the roof of the double-wide trailer home, moving the blades of the Dutch windmill pumphouse half a degree clockwise.  

873-8480 the covered porch where she taught me how to shoot pool, played the old 45’s, had a martini and talked about Paul Newman.  873-8480 the carport with her little yellow Porsche near her garden with the climbing string beans, the crystal bowl with peanut M and M’s beneath the lid, the little animal figurines along a ledge near the front-room ceiling: duck, whale, llama.  “Isn’t he the darndest thing?”

873-8480 the carved wood shapes of naked girls set into cupboard doors in the bathroom, made for her by a retired Army man, an ex-boyfriend who lived in an RV, Carl I think his name was.

873-8480 do you remember how she always kept Neapolitan ice cream in the freezer?  It explains her way of being in the world, how she lived: “a little bit of everything, kiddo”.    

873-8480 she called the couch a Davenport.  She called bratwurst Oktoberfest Sausage.  She read me Dr. Seuss.  She loved braunschweiger sandwiches with mustard and sliced raw red onion.  She called Richard Dawson the kissing bandit, wished bankruptcy on Wheel of Fortune contestants when they got greedy, went skydiving at age 72, called me on my birthday to tell me she had decided to commit assisted suicide through the Death With Dignity Act.

873-8480 hand me that box of tissue I can’t take it I’m vulnerable my heart might give out.  You’re a seven-number combination key on the lock-box in my memory bank.

 

 

Stephen Levine’s Definition of Death

“It is the ultimate in natural conservation in which the container is discarded but the contents are recycled.”   – Stephen Levine