Just because we’re sentimental about a household object that used to belong to a grandparent, doesn’t mean the dog won’t eat it while left at home alone all day. To him, a coaster with the Notre-Dame cathedral painted on it is – while not the preferred afternoon snack – quite suitable to chew on.
“To think of all the grand plans you once had”, he says, smiling up at me one day as we walked through the park, with an expression indicating that he is at once a wise sage and a mischevious trickster. “You were trying to be more than you are.”
He’s right of course. I am only a wanderer, like the kind you see sketched on a Chinese scroll, small and off to one side. I am the reader in a chair, in the corner of the bookshop with tea and an apple fritter.
There’s just something about a hot cup of tea and a warm apple fritter, when you’re perched on the shore of the Milky Way, fiddling with the margins that exist only in your mind.
You don’t have to rush. You don’t have to be in such a hurry all the time. You don’t have to feel pulled in a hundred different directions. It’s only the energy of the society around you, and has nothing to do with the conversation your life makes with the world.
When you give up the habit of rushing and the need to be in control, it creates space in you for peace.
Notice how any system has rules and limitations, and must operate within its own boundaries in order to control effectively. Notice how weak – or how strong – any single aspect of a system becomes when approached in a non-systematic way, or when it is removed from the system to which it belongs, revealing just how limiting a system can be.
Fear, desire, and the need to be in control are like obstructions in a river, blocking the full potential of the water’s flow. You can always be less rigid and more fluid, less like stone and more like water.
To live less systematically – and let go of the rush – is to allow the space and flexibility for peace to flow more abundantly into your life.
“May I be the tiniest nail
in the house of the universe.
Tiny, but useful.”
(Rasa is a Sanskrit word literally meaning juice, essence, or taste. It also refers to an ancient concept in Indian arts concerning the aesthetic of a composed piece of visual, literary, or musical work. More specifically, Rasas are the feelings evoked in the reader or audience by the artistic work.)
Your life, this life, not separate. Rather, linked to all others. Are you the creator or the creation? Are you the central character or the chief spectator?
You are the witness, the audience, ever in the throes of each Rasa rising up within you. Where is your Vismaya, your wonder – your Adbhuta, astonishment? Ruled by the strange, the sad, the sharp and cold, the soft and warm. Governed by your smile, tears, the metronome of your heart.
You prepare tea, walk dogs, read books, drink water from a clear glass, and none of these things are ordinary, though often mistaken as such.
The world is at once a utopia and wasteland. I have watched bodies become prisons – the bodies of those I have loved. I have watched minds become solitary confinement. I have watched myself twist and turn, bend over backwards, push on and on.
Sometimes I wonder, will we not truly see one another until after we have passed onward and inward? Such is the light of a star upon the brows of the earthbound.
What have we been, in the very ground of our being? What might we become? These questions are of past and future. In trying to answer them, we will not find peace.
Carry the wind of the present in your heart and you will never thirst. You will participate in eternity. You will experience Real Time, not clock time, not practical time, not linear time.
We carry bow and arrow but not much power.
Let us have no use for it.
There is no room left to breathe when we make too much of things, when we are swept into drama. The drama takes up all the space.
The simple things, small things, have the most power to bring us peace. There is space around them. They are not so small after all.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.”
It’s hard to be sure
if you’re climbing.
really going somewhere.
As opposed to
just milling about
as if you were
at a cocktail party.
Who can say
in what direction
you’re actually moving?
Could be sideways,
or some off-the-charts
Perhaps there are
no directions at all,
and we’re just taught
that an absence of direction
would be impossible.
you’re hanging on
for dear life
to the same slippery place
you grabbed hold of,
when you lost your footing –
and almost fell –
so long ago.
Kettle on, I began my chores while the water heated. I don’t mind winter’s darkness being punctual, but arriving too early is plain inconsiderate.
Before long, my cracked fingers smelled of orange peel and smoke from the wood-fire I built, with kindling so fine and fair it swelled my hands to cut it. My tea, too, was smoked – black tea once carried with great difficulty across Mongolia, Siberia.
Still in my work clothing, I stood looking out through glass and viscous gloom, as the cat relieved himself. He inspected his production before covering it with snow, and bounded back to the door, rabbit-like.
I retreated to the lamp-lit heart of the arthritic house to get out of my boots, praise the luxury of soap and hot water, and begin cooking.