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.
For many long years, sleep did not come. Now it is here, a sanctuary, an unremembered temple of well-fed lions.
Summer comes, undeniable as the needs of body and soul. We peel away her nightdress, and when she goes we go with her.
There will still be times we do not feel supported by the earth, and contact with it will need to be reestablished. There will still be times when pain holds us in its mouth like a whale, and we struggle to light our way so we might see better in the darkness of its belly.
The sun is rising, now, again. The earth tilts on its axis, and that star is still there, incomprehensible fire of all fires at its center, and the fire moves ever outward, cooling equally, creating a roundness.
We owe our lives to the circumstances of the earth and the sun, to the distance between them.
It is morning and you are held in sleep. I am held in my usual early wakefulness. Calm water has eased my burning. There is soreness in my body, and insect bites on my skin.
I eat up the world, and am eaten by the world. A humble warrior does not forget to bow to all of it.
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.
A dream of desire, awake and alive, of a sanctuary of sleep like a temple of wed-fed lions, of a heart containing both fire and calm understanding.
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 lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the songs of birds, the pulse of stillness, the rise and fall of tides, of breath, of energy.
And then the inevitable return. For after the dream, I enter myself again.
How small are we, how fortunate to see with eyes the dolphin, the stallion, the bee, being what they are and doing what they do.
To hear with ears the wind across the palisades of mountains and the song of the ocean.
To know with flesh the pleasure and pain of the body, lust and hunger, bleeding and burning.
To thirst with spirit for the very earth we walk on, for an open dome of sky or dense canopy of rainforest.
To sacrifice with courage all that we are, and send an invitation to what we might become.
How small are we, how fortunate.
Celebrating life’s riddles as blessings in disguise requires a willingness to be open and flexible.
Rather than questioning everything, you just watch closely, wait patiently, and listen deeply.
It’s kind of like lying down on the ground and letting it support you.
First, I dreamed that I wandered from room to room in a glass house at the edge of the sea, working with my fears and my desires the way a sculptor works with clay, the way a fly-fisherman works his line.
Then I dreamed of women, of all the sisters I have known. They made a great circle around me and chanted Om three times. My heart became a bird of many colors. My rib cage opened and the bird flew up into the sky. My tear-ducts ran themselves dry and the muscles of my eyes ached. I knew I was alive.
Finally, I dreamed of bloodlines and of men, the many brothers I have known. I dreamed that my father, my grandfather and my son all sat with me at a round table of thick dark wood. At the center of the table was an elk heart with stones and feathers and seashells on it. We each ate some of the heart. I saw them all from a place of peace, a place where all my emotions and thoughts had become transparent. A place where love runs freely without refrain, a river whose dam has been lifted, flowing with its natural movement restored to it.
Love, you are the answer. Love, you are the way. Love, you are the force that opens me.
I woke early to a lone bird whose song split across the darkness, as if repeating something I had yet to discover. I had the feeling he knew it was spring. Whatever he knew, or didn’t know, he was joined shortly thereafter by his own sisters and brothers to usher in the sun.
Why do I wake while morning is still night?
I grope along endless caverns, it seems, descending many fathoms deep into memories of the past, and dreams of the future, my hand outstretched, a flickering candle in the curl of my fingers.
Journeys that – in the present light of day – I struggle to recall. And I am a tourist there, though I carry no passport and leave no footprints.
People whisper, muttering: “Oh, he looks tired. Something wrong with him?”
Yet I just smile because I know my pockets were sewn with fortune-thread. And I know I am the ragged onward-goer, the ever-forward marcher.