February 2, 2014 § 29 Comments
Ever tried. Ever failed.
Try Again. Fail again.
Some writing comes easy, especially the exposition of the critical- the writing that comes from the head. But what is the worth?
Most writing now painful and difficult. Hours spent at the computer staring at the screen without a single keystroke. And so many passages, fragile and aborning, killed off with a slashing delete.
You seek to capture a feeling or a thought that it true and important, or you inhabit a world of your imagination, and then you take that precious and evanescent wisp and try to reify it in the form of words.
But it all falls apart like a clump of moist sand coming undone in your hands. You reach down and try to gather the sand but it’s now scattered across an endless beach. And so you go back, seeking again that place where the feeling lived but you stagger through a maze of spaces, lost.
And so you begin again.
The exquisitely painful work beckons, as irresistible as it is impossible.
Words piled on words. A lifetime of writing.
Yearning only to fail better.
December 31, 2013 § 17 Comments
Just before dawn the black night lingers. The light from within transforms my windows into a set of hazy mirrors.
The last day of the year. An ending that promises a beginning. Resolutions to make the new year different from the old.
All a crippling illusion.
Resolutions are our pretense that we shall soon bring forth change. Shuttling between imaginations of the old and the new, judgments of the bad and the good. Living for the shimmering portent of a change that never comes.
If we say that we resolve to live differently in the coming year, we are already lost. Such resolution is existence deferred.
Our life is here and now. Each precious and unique moment.
I lift my head and in the time it has taken to write these words, the dawn’s glimmer reveals the natural world beyond the still mirroring windows. I see fresh snow blanketing the ground and dusting the bushes. Tree trunks etched against a gray sky.
This is all there is- yet more than enough.
November 17, 2013 § 12 Comments
I feel the anger rise up- and I breathe.
I sense my busy head at work, slamming one thought into another, spinning, spinning, spinning- and I breathe.
Hard things, tough, gut-wrenching things rise into my consciousness- and I breathe.
If we use our practice only to evade the fear, to dance away, to push down the thoughts, we gain nothing spiritually, only perhaps a temporary physical reprieve from the symptoms of our fear. This is a false and brittle sense of peace, the illusion of peace.
To be truly at peace is to be beyond the reach of anger, anxiety, or fear. It is to be at the center. Strong, open, and ready.
Right now, as I look out my window, I see the cold rain falling. I want to step out into that rain. I don’t want to stay inside or wear a raincoat. I don’t want to avoid or pretend to manage the rain.
I want the rain to fall upon me.
I want to exist in this way.
October 14, 2013 § 8 Comments
The sea is nearly flat this evening, rhythmic undulations moving slowly to shore, small waves peeling across in a soft roar. I take the ocean kayak out, paddling to the horizon. Along the way, a massive sea turtle pops it head up to see the intruder. A bird dives into the sea ahead of me, emerging with its glistening dinner.
When it feels right, I stop paddling. Allowing myself to receive what is all around. I dip my hand into the cold, clear water. Hear the muffled roar of the break now far away.
As the kayak drifts, my vistas evolve. The endless sea stretching to the horizon becomes the shore and the final brilliant display of the setting sun.
Isolated and connected, alone but in harmony with all. The bone deep sense of wonder and peace sets in.
After a time, I paddle in, pausing at the break, not wanting it to end right then. When it’s time, I push into the small but perfectly formed wave and ride to shore. I imagine that my kayak especially likes this part.
Splendor. From standing on the shore preparing to launch to standing in the same spot preparing to leave, and each moment in between.
I want to exist like this, in each moment, in every place, for all of my life.
October 7, 2013 § 29 Comments
It is dark, long before the dawn. I move through the house, not needing the light to navigate this familiar space.
A steady nourishing rain is falling. I hear its hum. And then the wind comes up- the rain hits the house with its strong staccato beat. I open the window for a moment and feel the cold, wet air on my face.
And right then- in that moment- all the punishing duality disappears. There is no me and the rain, no me and the house, no me and the many things that I must do.
A moment of just being.
I am home.
July 23, 2013 § 7 Comments
When I was young, I wasn’t a great athlete but one thing I could do- I could run. Fast.
As a young boy, I remember summer nights dashing across the lawns of our neighborhood, the darkness accentuating my super-human speed. Later, I remember running the curve on the cinder track, leaning into the turn, feeling as though the air was holding me up. And then long runs through the hills of Vermont, feeling stronger as the miles unspooled.
Running has always felt natural to me.
I haven’t had that feeling since an injury eight months ago put running out of my life. It’s not clear that it will ever be resolved in a way that will bring me back.
I tell myself, and those around me- no worries. I can always bike and swim and so on. But somehow those consolations wear out and the sense of loss returns.
So last evening I went to the ocean and felt the cool and foamy surf surge over and around my damaged ankle. I watched the neighbor boys body surf with a naturalness and abandon familiar to me. Then Sammie, our dog, joined in- bounding along and through the waves. I looked to the horizon, felt the offshore breeze that was standing the waves up, smelled the salty air, and heard the roaring surf as it pounded to shore.
And standing there, I understood.
When I try to think my way to some form of calculated consolation for loss, I will always come up short. But when I am just in my moment, as I was last evening, there is no need for consolation, no sense of loss, no worry about what’s to come. I’m just there.
Although looking back, and for just the slightest moment, I was somewhere else- a boy flying across the yard on a dark summer night.
July 20, 2013 § 14 Comments