Storm


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There was I time I thought of myself as “Stormchaser”. It was a label I assigned to offset the difficult times that seemed to follow me as a way of reversing the odds.

I saw myself as not only actively engaging those hard times but as pursuing them in a “if life is suffering and suffering brings enlightenment then, for fucks sack, bring it on” mentality.

I was wrong.

Man, was I wrong.

The hard times pursued like a predator on blood scent and I, tough as the wind, really was bleeding, profusely.

I’ve said before how I’m only now rubbing the sleep from my eyes, but I look back with these blurry eyes and see that young man and rather than think “whaddadouche”, my favorite quote when it comes to ignorance, I can say “good start.”

It really was.

Since then I’ve learned that Life is more often concerned with giving lessons than with leading me to them and that the path of life is much more flexible than I thought.

She is the train
I am the rail
Or more like the spike
Or the ground it’s driven into
Or maybe just a house it passes by
Sleeping

That’s my attempt at Zen poetry, which I’m okay with, in a Zen sort of way.

My point is this:

I have felt the storm.
I feel it now inside me.
I’m not sure it ever goes away.
I’m okay with that.

That, by the way, has nothing at all to do with either Zen philosophy or poetry, it’s who I am.

So right about now you’re probably asking yourself what the hell this post is about so I’ll sum it up in six words …

 

We find what we are looking for.

 

… okay, seven words.

 


 

Audio: “Stormchaser” by J M Greff

 

Captured

misty.veil

Arms out touching phantom limbs and ephemeral vine.
Closed eyes focused on aery chimera that plays like
faded film, enshrouding me in palpable memory like a mist.
August oaks and resurrection fern and aged buildings
replaced by towering cypress, snow wreath,
rhododendron tall as the homes lining these neglected streets
broken by root allowing the very least of natures
determination to reclaim, one minuscule stem, one straggling stalk,
one unnoticed flower at a time, its verdant refuge,
once sanctuary to boundless existence long since
consumed by distressed homes, distressed economies,
distressed people.

Not now. Not in this moment. In this moment I am alone in
ancient woods making my way along a secret trail
winding through prehistoric marsh fed by countless miles of
free flowing rivers giving life to this lush alluvium filled with
musky smells of decayed wood and stale water and something
sweetly familiar I can’t put a name to.

If you saw me there, on that canted sidewalk, you might think
I was mad or lost or wandering under the influence of
something other than my imagination. If you looked
closer you would see a smile. If you noticed me at all.

More likely you would pass by without second glance
accelerating to whatever urgent appointment or function or task you
scurry to. “Nevermind the crazy man”, mother says to
daughter, ears stopped with buds to obstruct the uninvited,
eyes adjusted to the screen of the tiny world she holds in her
hands while thumbs impulsively tap out affirmations or declarations or
insinuations with inherent indifference to a faceless complicant
selected as benefant, marginally amused at mother’s dumb
mouth, assigning words consistent with expectations in place
of those overridden by disapproved music. “Are you listening to me?”

Mother chatters voicelessly. A silent movie. A mime.
Daughter sneers. Fires a message of discontent into the void.
Co-conspirators.

You have missed far too much.
Where are you going
that you have no time to look?
To see.
What horizon are you fixed upon
that blinds you to miracles?
To live.
How can you occupy the same space
without sharing it?
To love.

I see you drive by as in a dream, intruder, trespasser to my vision.
Out of place and time. The vision is disrupted.
The winding path is replaced by
fractured concrete.
Smells of sacred land replaced by
exhaust fumes and humanity.
Rhododendron to azalea.
Snow wreath to palm.
Cypress to oak.
Marsh to asphalt.
The veil lifts.

The image remains.

Captured.


Image: “Misty Veil” by JMGreff

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Sacred Human

Every cell in your body, every muscle, bone, tendon, artery, vein, capillary, and the blood the flows through them, every neuron that fires thought both pleasant and unpleasant, every memory triggered, every emotion that accompany those memories whether they bring ecstatic joy or mind numbing, incapacitating, suffering, every breath and beat of your heart, has been written by the Divine who has designed your life specifically for you.

You are Sacred.

———–

Image: “Omniscience” by Carlos Quevedo

A Brown Dogs life

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What if people were more like dogs? Happy on tap. Ready to protect on a moments notice. Always there when you need them. Always ready to love and be loved.

Want to meet someone new? Walk up to them, offer them your butt, sniff at theirs a little, and you’re either friends for life or mortal enemies. There’s no real in between for a dog and they figure out in seconds what can take us years to figure out. Genius!

Dogs don’t age either. Not really. Not if they’re taken care of. Mine, a chow/coyote mix by the name of Brown Dog (because “Reddish Coydog” is just too much to say), will be 16 this year and he looks and acts like he’s still 5. I imagine I’ll just come home one day and he’ll be laying on the couch like a stuffed animal with a smile on his face in one final act of defiance.

I hope I go like that. On the couch. Smiling. Or out for a walk. Smiling. Or making love. Smiling. I don’t really care where it is as long as I’m smiling when it happens. I’m sure Brown will be. He smiles a lot.

Dogs are a happy lot. Give them a stick or a ball to chase or chew on or a stuffed animal playmate and they’ll frolic and roll and tug and hump the stuffing out of their fluffy girlfriend all the while swaggering and smiling.

Yeah. It would be nice if we were a little more like dogs. So easy to please. So ready to please.

But then he did take a dump in the middle of the street before we got to the dog park where I wrote this, and he does have apretty short attention span, so maybe not exactly like dogs, but a roll in the grass does look nice. I’ll be back in a minute.

 

——————-

Image of Brown Dog in the Badlands of ND.

Two of a Kind

green.haze

How often
I wonder
do I see the world
distorted by the lens of my past
in colors of jade
edges dulled
contrast fuzzy
like looking through
a dusty kaleidoscope
my mind fitting the broken pieces
in ways that suit
interpretation
or expectation

Too often
I would guess

Too often


cloudy-vision

I close my eyes
and see from within
my vain attempts
to correlate the data of my past
with cloudy visions of the future
based on incomplete analysis of the present
influenced by experience
interpreted through illusion
borne from misunderstanding
and think to myself
“No wonder I stumble”

Note to Self

Recently, I was introduced to the term “imposter syndrome” which is defined as “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

Since I don’t feel like I’ve actually accomplished anything yet I argued that it really doesn’t apply to me (“that’s the point” she replied in silence). I am, however, quite intimate with the “fraud” part.

There’s so much I want to say. So many things I want to write about. I have a passion in me that has been ignited in a way that is impossible to extinguish. Nor would I want to extinguish it.

But the words won’t come.

Instead all I hear is:

“Fraud!”

“Charlatan!”

“Liar!”

“Pretender!”

How can I write about those things I feel and the lessons I have to share if I am unable to create and maintain them in my own life? Why should anyone listen to me? Why do the people I know continue to come to me for advice? I have had no success in love (or in life, really) to point at as an example and what I have learned I have learned painfully.

Rather than expose myself as that fraud I have written nothing but in doing so I prove that sense of failure because what I write about most often is hope and gratitude.

Some time back I read an article in the Buddhist review “Tricycle” by the Zen monk, Shozan Jack Haubner, who says:

“The only thing worse than trying to look younger than you are is trying to look wiser than you are.”

So I remind myself that my only failure is in thinking I’d be wiser by now and forgetting that I am only as wise as I allow my experiences to make me.

It is the suffering that has taught me the things I write about and though I don’t write about them in a “woe is me” manner does not mean I am pretending, it simply means I am learning.

Today I recommit myself to sharing what I have learned and to expressing the fire that burns in my soul because to hide it, or to hide from it, would truly make me a fraud.

As Shozan says, “…we all must commit wholeheartedly, moment after moment, to the life we have…”

This is my life. I will live it to the fullest. Even if that means pretending a little.

December 3

The last full moon of the year, which rises in Gemini, also happens to be this years only super moon and, since it is ruled by Neptune, it is a tricky one.

It is likely you may feel an altered sense of reality in the coming days. Emotional sensitivity will be increased. Perceptions will be decreased. This creates opportunity for deceivers and susceptibility to psychological and health issues. We may feel insecure, guilty, apologetic.

Good fun.

Here’s the good news: It is a very polar time. Increases in emotion sensitivity mean that we have the opportunity to grow closer to those we love and decreased perceptions mean we have the opportunity to rely on them to help us discern our reality and for us to help them. And while deceivers and thieves are likely to attempt to use this time to gain from the confusion they are likely to fail.

It is also a time of truths. Truths will be revealed and so long as they are viewed simply as truths, without interpreting them as good or bad, we will benefit from them.

Advice: Avoid criticism and blame both of yourself and of others (always good advice but more so right now). Count on your intuition which will be strong and clear and not your emotions which may be negative or taken advantage of. Use the heightened sensitivity to grow closer to those you love. Don’t read too much into dreams which may be unsettling and misleading. Recall only the lessons of our experiences and be grateful for them. Use the natural flow of energy to overcome negative influences and encourage hope, generosity, and a sense of community.

Yes, its a tricky one, but if we go into this next phase with open eyes and a loving heart we will benefit, as we always do, from the effort. Only those who go blindly through such times will suffer.

Remember, it is a time both of fear and of of truth. That includes the truth of your self. Who you are; a spark of the divine. Truly sacred. A spiritual being having a human experience. When these truths and more reveal themselves to you, and they will, be careful not to judge them, take the time to embrace them and, remember that fears are not truths, they are only fears, and, as always, be grateful.

And don’t forget to dance.

There is a place

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There is a place
Where feelings
are as solid as a tangerine
and just as sweet
Where the warm breeze
on an autumn noon
cools salty skin
with the whispered voice of nymphs
Where the sound of the owl
blends with the melody of trees
and crickets
and laughing children
like a chorus
Where the scent of wild lavender
and citrus
and ancient oaks
that stretch beyond the endless horizon
can be tasted on the air
Where the senses are so keen
that the march of an ant
is heard above the roar of a plane
the breath of a bird
becomes a song
the beating hearts
and working legs
of a caterpillar
tap out staccato beats
as it crunches on a leaf

Where the passing of time
is controlled by will
to keep the sun and moon
close

It is a place
where the touch of my lover
is like the hand of God herself
and her kisses
are each a blessing

I am in that place

 


 

Image: “Lucid” by Ozan Vural

Melancholia

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Still as my breath
Slow as my step
Yet I wander
Lost in thoughts
That invade

A silent army
Of recollection
That tramples my peace
Despite the calm

I turn 54 today. My body turns 54, I’m not sure, cant be certain, how old my soul is. Surely, it is far older.

Today I feel the age.

I have pushed myself
Let myself go
Gave in to the ways
I put to the side
In favor of ways
Better

I thought they were better. Maybe they were just different. I do that sometimes; change ways simply because I know the way I was traveling was somehow wrong. Which doesn’t necessarily mean the new way is right. Just different.

My eyes in a glaze
Peer through the haze
Of what i thought was wrong to see right

Here I am. Full and alive. Willing. Capable. I see where I am going. Know each step. Know where they lead. Know.

Nothing
Not whether I will breathe another breath
Take another step
Type another word

I’m okay with that. Really, I am. I think it might be worse if I did know. I commit to the path I chose with faith.

Today I am 54. My body is, anyway.

My soul
Ripe fruit
Flowering vine
Thicket
Bramble
Branch
Leaf
That reaches for the light of the Divine
And breathes
Every second with joy
Ignites the heart
That lives within this withering shell
And maybe burns it a little
Like fragile paper
Left too long in the sun
Still
I breath
And still as my breath
My step
Slowed
My mind
Gathered
i look only to a future
Of my making
And smile

 

Happy birthday, James.

Rain Day

 

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It’s raining outside. Pouring, actually. Flash floods. The fan in my truck has stopped working. I bought a little 12 volt fan to plug into the outlet but it is nearly useless. The windows fog so much that I can nearly wring out the towel I use to keep them clear.

I find a place to park. A little coffee shop downtown called Serda’s. It’s your typical hipster café though maybe a little more uptown. Leather couches barely a year old instead of the usual second hand store leftovers. Tile floors. High ceilings. Urban music, the same you hear in coffee shops from coast to coast, plays softly. The place is non-descript. Middle of the road. Harmless.

The wi-if is fast. The coffee is good.

There is a middle aged business couple to my left. Happy to not be drinking alcohol as they get to know each other. They are obviously trying to get to know each other. She is dressed in business clothes. Has a nice rain coat. He is wearing khaki shorts and a polo. His day off. Not hers. His foot rests on the crossbar of the high barstool she sits on. He speaks with his hands just enough to touch her often. She smiles when he does. They will each go home alone but with hope.

The couple to my right, young and enthusiastic about a business venture, collaborate on a web page. They focus on the logo. She plays with her hair. He absent mindedly puts his stylus in his mouth. She is holding back. Left leg over right. His feet are both planted firmly on the ground. He plays with his long beard. They laugh.

The woman at the window, a massive textbook open in front of her, does her homework. Stares out the window. Dreams of how her life might be when she graduates. Wonders if it will be worth it. It will be.

A young man across the room has EarPods jammed into his head which rocks gently as he plays on his phone. Another taps away one-handed while he texts. Another, more engrossed, furiously stabs with the thumbs of both hands.

I sit and drink a double cappuccino vanilla (dry, of course, there is no better way to enjoy cappuccino) and witness this small grouping of humanity. Safe from the rain. Out of the humidity. I watch their hands. Their eyes. Mouths. Their movements. Their silence. And I wonder.

What do these people have in common aside from a taste for expensive coffee in a trendy cafe?

I close my eyes for a second and look back in time, If I look back far enough I can see connected relatives. The woman and man to my left come from the same ancestor as the young man to my right. If I look farther back I see that those people came from the same family of amphibian that first crawled from the sea. The same bacteria that, through some bizarre molecular hiccup, became something more than bacteria. If I look back even further I can see that everyone here, everything here, the chairs, walls, coffee, even the air, all came from a singularity. The entire universe compressed to the point that it could no longer support its condensed self and explodes into trillions of trillions of trillions of tiny pieces that hurtle through an ever expanding void of darkness. We are literally star stuff.

How could I ever feel alone, ever feel singled out, ever wonder if there was something more to life, knowing this?

The thumb tapper is gone. The head rocker remains as does the daydreaming student.

The young couple to my right finish their business. Hug uncomfortably at the door. Go opposite directions when they step outside.

The middle aged couple will be here long after I’m gone. I silently wish them luck.

I will stay long enough to post this and then drive home.

Home. What a beautiful word.