Puzzles

Today, I’m feeling puzzled, as I am on most days in my 78th year – but, luckily, it’s a light-hearted kind of puzzlement, the kind people often feel when pondering hundreds of small pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, like this one …

which I just finished this afternoon. There were times when I felt lost and bewildered among these tiny pieces, but it was a happy lost because I knew that I would be ‘found’ before long – as I finally was this afternoon.

I also felt puzzled this morning, in an easy and marvelous way, as Delycia and I were walking along a trail in the Denison Coogan Nature Preserve in Mystic. Who wouldn’t be happily baffled by these astonishing colors …

and by the stunning pleasures of this kind of walking?

(Oops. A mistake by a very puzzled guy: It was October 17, NOT September 18th!)

A Life Like the Sky

In these elder years, it has slowly become clear to me that my life, which I’ve usually thought of as being separate, isolated, and fragile, and which I’ve been carefully protecting for 7+ decades, is not separate or isolated, and does not need ‘my’ protection. Long ago, as a boy, I somehow became convinced that what I called ‘my’ life was a small, separate, and at-risk entity, but now I see how mistaken I was. I see that ‘my’ life is not mine at all, but is part of, and belongs to, the endless universe, the way a drop of water belongs to the ocean or a wisp of a breeze belongs to the everlasting wind. I now see that I no more need protection than does a drop of ocean water. The drop drifts with its vast ocean, a breeze works within the infinite winds, and I move as the universe moves, swirling along with the currents of life the way a star streams along in the immensity of the sky. I do still sometimes like to pretend that I, by myself, perform and produce, but I know, now, that it’s the endless universe (some people call it ‘God’) that always does the work. I see that I am part of something so large it makes ‘my’ small, artificial, isolated life, the one I invented in boyhood and have been caring for ever since, seem utterly fictitious and silly.  When I look up at the sky, I get a much better sense of the true vastness of life, or Life, of which Hamilton Salsich is one of innumerable freely flowing and inseparable elements.   

Here’s a quick video from my walk this morning …

October 11

Our sunrise walk this morning was another charmer. I think both of us, as we usually do, felt full of gratitude as we easily strode beside the river and up and down some of the mild – but not easy – hills. The morning light softly shined up the old, colorful leaves of the trees along the streets, and every so often we saw sunshine spreading through branches and leaves. Here’s a quick slide show ….

And here are some of the lovely autumn flowers in Delycia’s garden.

And here’s St. Francis, so happy to be among chrysanthemums!

A Ceremony of Walking

I took my morning walk in a lovely nearby cemetery, amid hundreds of solemn gravestones and groups of distinguished trees with sunlight shining among the colorful leaves, and the majestic Mystic River close by. It almost seemed like a ceremonious walk to me, like I was participating in the autumn morning’s grandeur.

A short slide show of scenes from my walk …

And here are some scenes from yesterday’s walk with Delycia along the river …

Setting Happiness Free

  Strange as it may sound, I want to release happiness more often than grasp it, and it will be a satisfying shift for me. I’ve spent far too much time trying to grasp and hold onto happiness, and it’s been a wearying kind of work. I’m tired of struggling to seize peace and well-being, to grab this bit of gladness or that bit of pleasure, as if happiness is something tangible that can be caught and kept. I want to live in a different way. I want to set my good fortune free instead of seizing and clutching it. I’ve had sadness in my life, for sure, but I’ve also been blessed with a bounteous supply of happiness, and instead of trying to hold onto it, I want to give it its natural freedom. I want to release my cheerfulness so it can cheer up other lives. I want to liberate the delight I’ve been lucky enough to receive so it can loosen and free up others. I’m tired of clutching and clinging to happiness. I want to allow it to leave so it can spread its gifts around. (Surprisingly, that’s the only way I can be sure it will stay with me.)

Inventions

         When I began thinking about inventions I love, I checked the origin of the word, and found that the word ‘invent’ comes from the Latin word which means ‘come to’ or ‘come upon’. So, I began thinking … what inventions have I ‘come to’ or ‘come upon’ in my life that have really made a difference for me? 

         Well, very lately, in these quite illuminating elder years, I discovered several ‘inventions’: 

         Silence is the first invention I came upon, just in the last 20 years or so – this amazing presence that has always been hovering around me, but that I only discovered – bumped into – in its fullness and glory, right in the midst of my typically hectic life. Ta-da! There it was, directly in front of me at about the age of 50 – silence with all its mightiness and majesty. The power of silence had been with me for all my years, but only in my elder years did I stumble upon it. Now, I truly love the invention called silence. I try to use it at least as often as my cellphone! 

         Listening is another invention that I only recently ‘came upon’. The power to listen was ‘invented’ in me at my birth, and it’s been standing faithfully inside me for all my years, waiting for me to truly discover it and start actually using and enjoying it.  Unfortunately, I failed to appreciate this marvelous invention for many decades, until it finally dawned on me that the ability to listen is a skill of boundless beauty and sublimity. So, in these attention-grabbing senior years, I have finally been able to actually use the invention of listening – to listen with appreciation to words people say, to songs sung by birds and crickets and cars on highways, even to the endlessly diversified barks of dogs, even to the soft sounds as I stroke my beard. 

         I can’t wait to ‘come upon’ the other wondrous inventions I have overlooked for 78 years!