“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
― A.A. Milne,
The hover before the in breath,
milk ducts in an empty breast,
the stomach: a hallowed out bruise,
an arm contorted every way to ease a throbbing itch,
slack tide’s final pause,
the coyote hamming to the camera in the air just off the cliff,
my attention’s constant hole never empty yet—
Is it the ohm?
Is it those last shivering atoms releasing the reverberation of the gong,
the hum of what was catching up to the trumpet of what will be,
the sway of the air’s almost embrace of the planet’s constant spin?
Let’s linger here, eyes closed, tongues out to catch the first drops.
Not holding our breath, not rushing it either.
I have a pervasive feeling of discomfort often. I am finally able to identify this sensation as a feeling of something pressing down on me about the tasks that are waiting for completion which directly contrasts to the wonders that are spontaneously arising every moment. This pressing feeling has been so intrinsic to life for me that it is only as it is peeling back that I can feel it in its absence. Whew. How exhausting it is, and yet I continue to have it return as tasks begin to mount, and I become lost to what is unfolding now. Mas y mas, I am committing in holy matrimony to the moment, not the task. I wear white, and you, now, wear white; we walk down the aisle together, you and me. My life partner? Oh my, perhaps I am even in a polygamous commitment, for I am marrying each moment, which is singular, but in the moment, arises all things. Scandelous. Just today I married my scratch pad, my students, my daughters, my cat. I marry the moon as often as I can. Today I joined with a bumblebee in the flowering azaleas as I fretted over the over-pruned camellia sticks, overjoyed to find signs of new growth. We had a tryst, for this bee came on so strong. So ripe is this romancing – the lover is here. Dear missed connections – I apologize for all the overlooked love notes that have ever come my way. I read the writing on your crumbled leaf, peel back your bark; your hum enters my ear, eternal.
the water coming out is pure (sweet even)
no matter what goes in,
you might have started to notice.
such is the goal; even though,
the process is not understood.
filters of fine mesh,
pulses of electricity,
forward momentum and reversing, too,
which can at times be experienced like plumbing problems
-street elbows full of hairy regret, sludged up, huh?, valves corroded with Why Me?–
until it can be felt
deep in a body of an advanced engineering
of nerve pipes dumping
into muscle-sadness storehouses
long ago designed for purification,
yet decommissioned until the managers could awaken
in these Holy Water Manufacturing Plants.
the debris cleared out is not even our own.
is not personal.
the tears the shudder
just working it through
trickling out pure water at times.
thank you and you’re welcome.
Everyday bad things happen, so-
I’ve drawn you a flow chart
to take you from point a to z
with arrows to the short cuts
so roughly won by me.
Let me help you jump over ditches
and avoid the dead-end streets.
Watch my greatest hits of
heartache, thought addiction, faux pas, shame, fear, regret,
so you can save yourself the trouble.
Look, simply, I can help you
avoid the ramifications of not heeding good advice.
I didn’t even know I had it in me, as non-linear as I can be,
to map it out for you, but I did; I’ve a crash course on not crashing.
But I’m being asked another task, much different than what I’ve done.
The night now asks me to have a courage I don’t know how to muster –
I’m now to be the watcher and not the player and not the coach.
I’m now to calm my plotting mind.
I’m instructed not to imagine trains flying off of their tracks
even while I feel the lurch and screech
of the metal momentum – see sparking in the air.
I’m to observe as boats sink, as elevators release and fall,
as villains creep most uncartoon-like in dark shadows when you pass by;
who orchestrates such visions – where are the views of nature walks, of laughter,
of joy? Why the fear, why the wrecks, why the destruction?
Why am I thinking of how my parents must have ached and quaked
sitting in hospital rooms, listening to white coat protocol-
except to release a real-life child to death, to unthinkable death.
I mouthed the words but I didn’t register the meaning –
because I’m still on the simpler fare—
that love is holding the tongue
and squeezing my own trembling body while
I watch and allow.
I am unable to live for another,
unable to undo words,
unable to iron out the wrinkles
of the kinks forming in the plan.
The night brings what the day allows me to hide.
The learning is only ever mine
and it can only be postponed, never avoided altogether;
now or later is the only choice I get to make.
When beautiful Barbara asked if I wanted to participate in A Selection of True Awakening Experiences Part II, I took a few days to think if I could participate because the flow is especially pressing to me right now, and writing at all, let alone reading others, has gone to the side. I am teaching many classes which require lots of grading, so taking time for anything beyond eating, sleeping, and brief, brisk walks is rationed. To have tasks that require my full focus is just what is needed now, because this is what is happening. This squeezing will perhaps bring me awareness that l need to transition to something new that leaves more open spaces for body and mind. Or perhaps I will be able to continue to find the spaciousness of opening as needed within a challenging flow of time. As this post is due today, I wake again at 3 AM, with a desire to write again, just in time.
I thank Barbara, who gives space for words and a place for connecting back during these February days.
Where I find myself now:
All instants are opportunity for returning to me, again and again,
second by second.
Who is this me I am returning to?
Good question. That is the one I ask. Who is the me I am returning to? The non dual teachings are the ones speaking to me now. Who is the one observing the one thinking? The more I return to the presence the less the attention lost in the game feels okay. Returning home becomes a known and effective possibility, even when I think I am drowning or being blown about in this life storm.
What does this observing look like in real life?
An example, one morning, as I was driving and thinking worry thoughts about my daughter, (lost in an idea I had that moment about who I am in relation to my role as “mother”), I got on a bridge that does not lead to my workplace. There was no turning about on the bridge, of course, so I had to carry on the road until I could do a u-turn on the other side. My life choice to get lost in thoughts while driving forces me to WAKE UP! One moment I was lost in worry, the next moment I was back in the present moment, on a road that forced me to return. No curse words were uttered; there was no worry of a late arrival. This wandering girl is loved in her lost moments. The second I missed my turn and realized there was no way but to go forward over the bridge, I was offered many long views of water meeting ocean, the light and fog mixing to a rapturous view that was invisible a moment before. I can, in an instant, return to being bathed in the morning light.
The world says to me “be here;” every road leads back to me.
When I am hurrying, confused, thinking that something is wrong, I am gone for seconds, moments, hours, sometimes. But the returning is becoming more the normal. The space of no thoughts, no agenda, no worry is often steady. Joy. The outer world dances with me – and my flow is as easy as what (and who) appear next.
My thoughts lost are mirrored to me with such compassion. The bridge which takes me far from my destination, brings me back again. My thoughts play back to me on the stage of the world.
The title Life as Improv becomes an ever more real instant to instant thing. I can go about as the perceiver who meets even old friends without an idea of how the moment will unfold.
Who is appearing on my stage right now?
I can see and feel your shifts
as subtle as snow’s first flakes, as dramatic as seizures.
You are me, I see, as you pass by,
your face, your expression, my mirrored image.
I feel your heart squeeze and know not the cause
but it is my heart, too.
Better with no words-
Better quiet now,
but instead it can be still loud, at times — as the thoughts built towers yesterday and now towers fall, regularly.
There is still the demolition, my house is still falling down.
Everyday I get to tear down another idea, closer and closer to the invisible veil.
I’m in the dungeon shining light into the corners
where the hidden dust of old ideas needs sweeping.
But I am happy to report,
the air has lost its smell –
and god willing I will build no more towers.
I will not build new religions for the key that opens my door today.
I am comfortable in huts.
I will ever be a nomad,
even if I stay in one spot.
Beginning again again, each day,
do I see the flawless avocado for my toast?
Do I savor tea as it is sipped;
do I meet you with no yesterday story of me?
My today is frighteningly simple, even in this busy time,
as I’ve lost my yearning for most things. The middle path was not a distant philosophy but a real clearing out and daily practice. Now the subtlety of desire and aversion becomes apparent – the consumptions of body and mind, clear. The addictions of the subtlest nature are rooting out and getting dropped bit by bit.
Awakening is a heavy word – to me it is just the beginning, one dawn at the start of many days.
In vigilance and joy, driving to work, talking to students, juggling chores, buried in all the paperwork that life generates, losing my focus yet gaining it again, with less and less time in between…
who doesn’t need instructions to flow
to the sea.
Up tomorrow: Brian at middle pane
There are spells cast
by whom I do not know
causing hours, sometimes days,
in the world to be annoying.
I suspect a conspiracy of ill will
toward a me who is just trying to get by.
This powerless creature in the corner
fights back, as any small creature does,
nail and tooth – oblivious to any other possibility.
It is a self-created corner, but do not tell that to the rat,
who vaguely recalls the days of cheese and finish lines.
Deus ex machina is in order in this corner –
Bring in the crane and lift her out,
goes out to the stage hands —
for the rat who has forgotten
where to find the elevator button;
she has forgotten the hidden zipper
in her little rat suit.
She is scratching at walls, smelling dead end corners,
biting hands that feed her.
Forgotten has she that she designed the maze
to promptly fall into
in order to be found.
There are hours, and sometimes days,
of maze running
of squinting eyes and cheese hoarding –
clips boards hovering overhead.
What is this course,
this confusing path with walls,
this capacity of ours to exist in so many
places and in so many ways
at once so fully in each?
the rat – the funder – the designer – the observer – ocean
the mind – a sticky note storm – a hurricane the size of Africa – Om – ocean
the body – a straight jacket – a secret word – the breath – ocean
May we all fall into the ocean from every where.
May Jacob’s ladder be thrown from a helicopter
into our wayward dreams.
The only interesting thing is the wonder.
Where does the helicopter fly from here
when questions fall away,
when my scratching pen ceases to mark the trail?
The sky to the maze is the ground just for liftoff –
dropped is the story of chase and chased.
What comes next a mystery lived.