Patience, Old Man

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In a field at the edge of nowhere, where endless sky meets infinite horizon, a man troubled by indecision and doubt sits in a borrowed chair inside a borrowed home that is little more than shelter from the freezing wind.

Sometimes he cries. Other times he rages. Most often he berates himself for not reaching his potential all the while aware that judgment and anger are but symptoms and road markers, way signs on his path, that his brain recycles over and over, directing him to the questions that need answering.

He attempts to call up, intellectually, spiritually, mystically, the wisdom that exists all around him. Always there. Always just out of reach. He stretches to touch it, to grasp it as it flits by him, a leaf on the wind, a snowflake, smoke from the incense he burns, a sound from outside, and agonizes with its fleeting nature.

It is in the reach, in the stretch, in the agony that he exists.

It is where he finds his answers.

Sometimes those answers take time to discover, to uncover because, in truth, the answers are always there, waiting to be revealed.

Sometimes I get impatient about those revelations.

Sometimes they never come.

Sometimes.

Some time.

And just like that, there’s my answer: Patience, old man. As long as I continue looking, stretching myself, reaching for the ungraspable, all will be revealed in its own time.

Yes, it’s difficult to maintain balance between actively searching and patiently waiting, but that is the balance. Not to overreach nor to expect the answers to questions I haven’t even formed, but to continue moving forward knowing that all will be revealed in its own time as long as I continue searching.

So I sit in this borrowed chair, in this borrowed home, and reach.

 

 


 

Image by Photo by Thong Vo.

 

 

 

Viewpoint

I’m at a roadside park just off I-94 overlooking a part of the Badlands called Painted Canyon.

The sun is setting to my left. It highlights the layered colors of the sprawling valley below me in intense blues, fiery reds, bruised purpled, living greens and a hundred shades of grey and brown.

The clouds are lit from within on a background that slowly shifts from pale blue to a deep violet capturing all the colors of my imagination.

Just past the edge of this vantage is an ancient juniper with dark berries. Balancing on the edge of its sparse limbs a meadowlark sings. In the distance a red tailed hawk circles.

At my feet are perfect yellow flowers that iridescent green bees suckle at. Ants clamber in the deep grass, carrying supplies to stock their underground metropolis.

A child’s balloon floats by me. A red island drifting on a cool breeze. Dancing with the invisible.

In the distance a child cries. Another laughs. The incessant sounds of man, the murmuring chatterous monotony of high and low and hushed and shouted tones and nearby traffic and all their smells, sweet and masked and dirty, are all broken, drowned in a profound silence that has no name.

Standing at the fence that keeps humanity at bay, separate from the world we were born into, is a young couple, giddy with love, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, content, joyous. Their love shines so brightly that it adds to the glow of the setting sun. A stranger takes their picture, hands the camera back to them with a “You’re welcome” and with no more than a quick glance into eternity and a shrug, walks quickly back to their car. They have someplace to be. An itinerary. A plan. They will miss so much. Too much.

I take in the sight and am filled with a deep peace, with the miracle of this moment. It is captured within me and I am captured within it and it lives forever.

Not in the past. Not as a memory, now, because Now is all that ever exists.


Image by J M Greff

Seasons Gratings!

Christmas is over. Thank the gods!

I have something to admit: I have a problem with Christmas. Not an objection, I like the idea of families gathering and sharing, I just don’t have that, not for many years. and it’s become a problem. An issue.

I don’t know when it started, a long time ago, but every year now for a few weeks leading up to the day and building exponentially like a nuclear reactor going offline unexpectedly (except far more predictable), I deal with a pretty severe depression. By the time the day arrives I want to lock my doors, block the windows, turn off all the lights, and disappear silently into a bottle.

It’s a battle. One I usually lose. This year was no different. I tried. I really did. I meditated and read only optimistic news and reached out to family, but the meditations only made me aware of the underlying self pity, the good news made me feel left out, and family stayed out of reach.

How about that? Me. The Bohemian that spends his spare time learning, practicing, and writing about mindfulness and acceptance and gratitude and love. Depressed.

The thing about problems, problems like seasonal depression, or loneliness, or loss of self worth, or whatever, is that absolutely no one is immune. No one. The Christ faced his demons in the desert, Buddha constantly battled with Mara, and I deal with depression that lights up like a Roman candle with the first Christmas song played over crappy speakers in some back road gas station Santa will surely pass by and grows into a raging forest fire that chokes the life out of me and leaves me in ashes.

Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but also probably not so far from the truth of how it feels, but it’s also not my point.

My point is that everyone, absolutely everyone, deals with something and while I am neither the Christ or the Bhudda I have been given the very same tools to deal with those “somethings” that they were.

And one day I will learn how to use them.

Wait for it…

Today I’m grateful it’s passed and accept that I still have things to learn.

Depressed Bohemian, indeed.

There’s something funny about that image. I’ll throw it in the fodder file to use later. A gift to myself.

Be still

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Be still now
Let your breath slow
Listen to your heart
It knows you
Knows your needs
Fears
Desires
Listen closely
And you will hear it whisper
Be still now
Let the fire within you glow
Listen to your soul
It speaks to with love
Compassion
Tender care
It wants only the best for you
Only ever the best
Be still now
Let the world you know
Pass by without you
Just for now
Just for this moment
Here
Now
Be still
And let Love in

 


Winter

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I was not dead then
I gathered life
Like wheat at harvest
I shed the seeds
That flourished and bloomed
I breathed the sweet air we all share
Bathed in the life giving glow of the Moon
Swam in the endless sea of light
Traveled months of darkness without fear
Sensing all I was a part of
With awe and gratitude
No, I was not dead then
But I am so much more alive
Now

Released

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Too long ago
A lifetime
Millennia it seems
I sheltered my heart
And bound my flesh
In hopeful anticipation
I wore the numb pain
Of isolation
Like a badge of honor
I learned acceptance
Became aware of something greater
Than I ever imagined
My Self
A connection to All
I learned to navigate the path of Life
With gratitude
Even for suffering
To live with intention
Compassion
Patience
Still
I was alone
My limbs
Once coiled springs
Memorized their routines
My nerves
Quieted by the absence of touch
Slept
My mind
Made up for what I did not have
With story and song
But neuron and synapse can not replace passion or union
I filled my soul
With all that I desired
Until it became a blazing beacon
That lit the way and carried my call
Across empty miles
To you
You heard my song
Flew to my arms
In a moment my world changed
The chains of solitude evaporated
In a single perfect kiss
My eyes fell upon a world made new
A world with you
How joyful
The pain of awakened nerves and patient flesh released
How perfect
The song resonating in spaces reaerved for Us
How sweet
The memory

Dreams – 10/26/2016

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So long
So long ago now
So long ago I hardly remember
I stood in the tall grass
For the first time
With disbelief
That the world was so large
So large that I could barely see my toes above the sharp blades
That housed the hopping
Chirping
Crawling
Flying
Life
So large that it could encompass my every dream
Dreams that altered space and time
Dreams that excited me
Thrilled me
Scared me
Now the world is small
Infinitesimal in comparison
And nearly meaningless
Except for those dreams
Of so long ago

 


 

Note: I think I will rewrite the end. I was probably not feeling terribly optimistic at that time. If written now it might end something like:

The world is smaller now

Almost infitesimal

Yet filled with meaning

The dreams of so long ago

Only began to reach

 

Or something like that 🙂

 

Why I rewrote the narrative of my life

The following excerpt is from my latest contribution to Elephant Journal.

When I decided to change my life, the goal was not only to change who I am today but to change who I was yesterday.

I know that sounds a little sketchy, but follow me for a minute.

One of my brothers and I once had an argument about what color a particular car my dad owned was. I said red, he said blue.

That’s a pretty big difference and yet…


You’d be doing me a favor if you finished reading the article HERE.

A good heart

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My vehicle
Wasn’t always taken care of
Old as it is
It shows the scars
Of its rough history
It’s paint
Lacks the luster of its early days
The interior
Is cracked and stained and torn
Sometimes it requires repair
I have the tools
The ability
Patience
I do what I can
But some of the work
Is too little too late
And it breaks down
If I could do it again
Start from the beginning
With the skills and knowledge
I have today
I would take better care of it
So it would last longer
It would shine
Be clean
It would have fewer dents and scars
A better life
But I’d keep the engine from this one
Because I run good

 


 

Image: “A Good Find” by J M Greff

 

 

 

Home

I left Mobile with a smile late in the afternoon yesterday after a last reshuffling of plans and unpacking/repacking of the car.

The original plan, based entirely on cautious habits acquired over the years, was to bring everything with me in case things didn’t work out.

I’ve gotten very good at eliminating all but the essentials. When I left ND to come here I left a fully furnished, down to silverware, toilet paper, and made bed house behind.

This time something had changed. I found myself wanting to load up everything and that wasn’t going to happen because it seems that when the wiring harness in my SUV melted down a few months ago it took out my trailer lights and I wasn’t about to risk another meltdown by attempting to repair them, which meant I couldn’t rent a U-Haul.

There was no way I was going to take everything with and that bothered me.

It wasn’t until a friend stopped by to send me off with a hug and a smoothie (Thank you, Professor!) and began pointing out things that I shouldn’t bother bringing with that it all began to make sense.

I was attempting to pack up something that is impossible to get into a box or a bag and I could spend the rest of my life trying to squeeze it into every available space I could find and never get it all in because its is larger than a $20 blanket or a rug I picked up from the curb:

Home.

I’ve spent so many years without a home that I forgot what it felt like. I even developed this inner philosophy that said wherever I go I’m always going home because the only sense of home I had for so long was the one I carried with me.

Over the last dozen years every time I’ve headed off to a job in the oilfield it eventually lead to another. Then another. And another. Until I ended up alone and isolated.

These things I’ve felt over the last week, the things that have kept me up at night, that frustrated and irritated, aren’t there because I feel alone.

I am not alone.

I have made strong friendships and have the support of people who love me as much as I love them.

The feeling isn’t that of being alone but of becoming alone, again, which is something that scares the crap out of me and keeps me up at night.

I had forgotten what it feels like to belong somewhere. I never would have guessed that place would be Mobile, Alabama and maybe it won’t be forever, but there it is, home.

So I unpacked everything and moved it all to the attic of the mansion I rent rooms in, much to the delight of the owners who were so honestly relieved and happy to know I would be coming back that they hurried to help me.

I left later in the day than I wanted but made it to Missouri around midnight.

When I looked in the back of my little Rodeo I saw that I brought so few things I had room to arrange a makeshift bed. I walked Brown Dog, the best traveling partner I could ever ask for, offered gratitude to the powers that be, shifted a few things to make enough room to stretch out in, then lay down and slept better than I have in days.