Now

Now is all we ever have.

But in this moment,

here,

now,

I can’t help gazing into the future

to see us,

together,

there,

now,

looking back on us,

here,

encouraging us,

“Keep moving forward.”

We hold the keys to that future.

Unlocking that door

is worth the effort.

The day will come when we are together,

there,

now,

looking back at us,

here,

encouraging us

“Move forward.”

“All you have is Now.”

An instrument of peace

“Lord, make me an instrument of peace.”

With that single line St Francis defined a life of mindfulness and loving kindness long before those terms were first used. Long before pop culture turned them into an industry. A t-shirt slogan.

He goes on to describe how that instrument looks. It is one of understanding and giving. A life in service of love.

“Lord make me an instrument of peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, light

And where there is sadness, joy

Oh divine master grant that I may

not so much seek to be consoled as to console

to be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”

This is how I want my life to be yet I often fail in these intentions. Instead, I want to be understood. To be consoled. To wade deeply in my sorrow. To be loved despite my shortcomings.

When I find myself on the needy end of the spectrum that runs from giving to receiving I remember that I can not only offer these gifts to myself, I should.

My efforts to be an instrument of peace must begin with myself because to offer peace to others I must first have it within me. The good news is that inner peace is often gained in the offering of it to others. It is a beautiful, endless, self-sustaining circle.

This was my meditation this morning:

That I forgive myself and not beat myself up for being human.

That I keep strong the faith that brought me here.

That I keep the flame of hope ever burning within me to light both bright days and dark nights.

That I be willing to find and feed my joy, especially when it seems so far away.

That I love myself as I wish to be loved by others and that I share that love regardless of my pain.

That peace isn’t just something we feel, it’s something we practice.

I believe I need more practice.

Peace be upon you.

Giving Thanks

the_man_that_dreams_to_fly_by_Mary.Cimetta.jpg

 

I have so much to grateful for today that I don’t even know where to begin.

My life has gone through some changes over the years, from horrible to not worth mentioning to wanting to shout from rooftops just how good it is. It may sometimes feel like those changes are unique to me, but they are not. We all go through these changes. Our lives are marked by periods of unrest and beautiful pauses. All of us.

So today I am grateful for the knowledge that I have never been alone on this journey. Even when I was most lonely, and those times were plenty, I was progressing through life with an entire caravan of others. People I will never know sharing exactly the same experiences. All of us moving toward some desert oasis where the promise of life draws us. Calls to us.

Not everyone hears that call or can envision such a place. So I am grateful for that as well. The ability to see that the promise is always within view. Always within reach.

Mostly, I am grateful today for the ability to love and be loved. Even when I had neither I always had that ability and it is that ability that has led me to this place where emotions are as sweet as tangerines, the sky as bright and clear as my intentions, and my heart more full than I ever imagined possible yet has unlimited room for growth.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. You are loved!

 


 

Image: “The man that dreams to fly” by Mary Cimetta

Free fallin’

choosing-and-gathering-a-silt-soil

I’m pretty sure no one ever thought of Petty as philosophical or scientific but…

… I’m listening to him sing about a freeway running through his yard as I sip a cup of once hot coffee now going cold and think about that freeway.

It is Life and it is constantly moving at millions of miles per second through the cosmos with no particular destination. It just is.

The yard is my life. A tiny pasture that interacts with the much larger, empirical, Life. It would be easy to think that my tiny corner of Life could not have any impact whatsoever on that mass of energy. It can feel like being a single molecule of water in an ocean and, in a way, it is exactly like that but it is also more than that.

Here comes a quick geology lesson:

Epigenisis is an accumulation of a mineral mass without loess properties, perhaps with a high silt and lime content, which under weathering and soil formation acquires loess properties and is transformed into loess (seriously, I swiped that from some geology site).

Eolian: the winds ability to shape the surface of the earth.

Loess: silt-sized sediment that is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust.

Syngenesis: the accumulation of a mineral mass that is mainly of eolian origin and the acquisition of all loess properties occurs simultaneously, under the influence of soil formation (also swiped because I have no memory for such things).

So what the hell does any of this have to do with Tom Petty? Well, nothing. He just got me to thinking. Free falling, so to speak.

Here’s where I landed: Life’s affect is eolian. That is to say that we are often blasted by it. It throws us this way and that. It wears us down until we are like loess. Tiny silt-sized sediment. Infinitesimal in that ocean.

But we are in syngenesis with that energy. You and I and my dog and the chair I sit on and the trees outside my window and the coffee I drink and the keyboard I type on… all flow in that river of Life. All part of it. One with it. The ocean simply can not exist without all the separate molecules of water. You. Me. The attendant at the gas station. The grass. The air in our lungs and the dust on the street which accumulates and coalesces and one day becomes the stone and soil upon which we walk.

My little yard, that tiny pasture in the great green field that is the Universe, is also the Universe itself. It exists because we exist. We exist because it exists. It is us and we are it.

How cool is that?

Thanks, Tom 🙂

 

Rain Day

 

E75AECAB-2271-41C6-81A7-39E2C08ECF97

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.

Shit Happens

shit.happens

There are basically only two Paths in life: Reactive and Proactive.

The Consequential Life is primarily an Unconscious Path. Shit happens and you instinctualy respond. How you respond dictates where the Path leads you. This is Reactive.

The Intentional Life is a Conscious Path. Shit happens and you choose your response. Other times shit happens because of your choices. Your intention and the choices you make that arise from your intent guide you on the Path. You guessed it, Proactive.

 

Either method is a choice. We either choose to be aware or we choose to go through life with eyes and mind closed.

Most people live a reactionary life. Here’s a few examples of living a reactionary life while on an unconscious path:

  1. A goat shits on your path. Step in in, rub it in your face, sleep in it, don’t wash it off. “Good things come to those who suffer.”
  2. A goat shits on your path. Make a shit sandwich and eat it in silent gratitude. “What good things?”
  3. A goat shits on your path. Its a sign! A goat has been here. Hang around and pray for its return so it can be sacrificed. “Good things come to those who wait.”
  4. A goat shits on your path. Its a sign! The path is unclean because you have sinned. “Sinners don’t get good things…until they die.”

I’ve known many people who suffered to the end and gained nothing. Known people who turn their backs on the good things in their lives because they can’t believe they either deserve them or that they exist at all. And I’ve never met a person who didn’t feed themselves…. something.

Personally, however, I prefer a proactive/conscious way of living:

When a goat shits on your path I say gather it up, mix it with sand and straw, and make bricks to smooth the path. Or mold menagerie from it, bake them in the sun, and give them as gifts. Or use it in a floral arrangement. Or turn it into incense.

There must be a million great things to do with goat shit and none of them have anything to do with moral causality or a reckoning of the scales.

What it comes down to is this; if you can’t find a good use for it, simply walk around it.

In the end, its a goat doing what a goat does. It shits. And shit happens.

Sacrifice to the wind

the.offerings.of.Cain.and.Abel.by.Duncan.Walker

There once was a man who wished to prove his love to his god, the god of wind.

He thought hard for many weeks. How could he, just a man, prove his worth to the mightiest of gods?

The wind doesn’t care if you eat or sleep. It doesn’t care if you cut wood or read books. Doesn’t care if you fast for weeks or pray for months or meditate for years

He sometimes even wished that his god was water. It would be easy to please the god of water, he could simply give up bathing.

But how could he show the wind that he was worthy?

Then it struck him one day as he watched a leaf, played with by his god as it fell to the ground, twist and turn. Lift and drop. Spin. Then finally touch down.

He could give up breathing!

It wouldn’t be easy but he convinced himself that he could do it. Surely the wind god would love him for sharing the limited wind with others. To not take the wind within and corrupt it. To not alter the breeze or the scents of the air with his own breath.

He practiced daily. At first he could hold his breath only seconds. Then minutes. With each day he could go longer and longer. But there was a problem, even though he got to the point where he could hold his breath for record breaking times there always came a point where darkness crept in and he passed out. When he awoke he would be panting. Gulping down the air like it were food.

He cried at the thought of the darkness invading his spirit. Possesing him. Taking him away from his god and making him consume even larger amounts than he normally would.

But he persisted.

Day after day he would hold his breath, pass out, then awaken and start over until, one day, finally, his persistence paid off.

He held his breath until the darkness tempted him with sleep but pushed it away.

He fought with the darkness for what seemed an eternity until, at the verge of giving up, a bright light dispersed the darkness.

He felt warmed by the light. He smiled and he cried. The darkness would not win.

As he moved into the light the first thing he noticed was that he felt the wind differently. Smelled it differently. He moved through it in a different way. And he was saddened by this and found himself wishing he had spent more time in the presence of his god while he had the chance. But the sadness gave way to a slow moving joy and soon the joy consumed him and he was no more.

A friend of the man’s who checked on him from time to time was there at the last moments and witnessed the smile on the man’s face emerge then, silently, fade.

With a deep sigh, he said a short prayer then turned and walked towards home. He felt comfort in the warm night breeze. As he thought of his friend, no longer able to enjoy the presence of the wind, he breathed deep. Deeper than he ever had before. He swung his arms as he walked so he could enjoy the wind even more. He blew at the leaves as they fell in an effort to keep them aloft longer and he sang songs as loudly as he could.

As he did these things a slow moving joy came over him and soon he was consumed by it as if becoming one with the wind and he was happy.

 


 

Image: “The offerings of Cain and Abel” by Duncan Walker