(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.
It can be difficult to take stock of what’s on hand, when things have been allowed to slip into disarray. Hard to stay on task as our attention wanders so far away from itself. If only we expected ourselves to be less sensible, more improvisational.
How to maintain checks and balances, how to keep oneself in the counting house while there is so much to learn, such an infinite multitude of things to be amazed by?
We are surrounded by teachers.
Take, for instance, the Norway maple. Not only does it flourish in central Europe, but also east of France and on into Russia. Not only does it grace southwest Asia with its presence, but also my back yard here at the western edge of New England.
Shallow grooves intersect, all along her greyish bark. She has the rounded crown one would expect from such an emerald queen whose hair yellows in autumn. She starves other plants of moisture, and forgivably so.
I say forgivably, because a little unintended cruelty – such as the self-imposed kind that comes with attempting to take an inventory of one’s life – appears to me to be the way of the world: animal, plant, human, or otherwise.
If I didn’t have to go to work today, I’d write a clever turn-of-phrase or a cryptic suggestion only you would understand the meaning of. I’d spend my time among the dead, paying my respects with a few well-put-together lines destined to become a classic. I’d write a poem for you because you’ve been on my mind lately, maybe even work on the novel that’s been sitting in a shoebox on the floor in the corner behind the desk for half as long as it takes children to grow up and finish school.
I’d write about the sideways snow going on and on, the unexpected cruelty of someone who was once a dear friend, the weaving and un-weaving of music leaving an indentation where it makes contact. I’d consider how writing, women, and weather can all be fickle and tough to predict. I’d consider how, of all the woodpiles I’ve seen, the German beehive requires the most patience and is a thing of beauty.
I’d mull over all my fears and desires, go for a walk, stare out a window, hope I might be of use to someone by the time my head meets a pillow, contemplate my dream about Paul Simon where I attended the opening night of a play he wrote, and afterward we sat and quietly drank pint-glasses of beer, me telling him how much his music meant to me that time I rode the bus in the rain. He understood and – of course – will be coming for Christmas.
Whether I have to go to work today or not, I’ll remember nothing has ever been mine to claim – all is given, even my name. I’ll not forget I’m blessed, palms pressing together in front of my heart. I’ll take a look at all the circles in which I’ve lived, gain some perspective, as if seeing them from the tiny window of a passenger plane with my forehead pressed against the glass. And, pulling the sword of my life from the stone of the world, my heart might recall how to make the much larger circle of a thank-you spoken in the wordless language of peace.