It’s only 5:41 a.m., but I am already awestruck today. I am totally astounded by what has already happened, and what will happen in the coming hours. Just a few moments ago, I remembered that, when Delycia and I go out for breakfast this morning, we will simply get into a car (which is – amazingly – ours) and be smoothly transported to the cafe. While we’re driving, breath will be effortlessly coming and going in our bodies, our bodies’ 30 trillion cells will be efficiently functioning in their multifaceted ways, and the 300 billion stars in our galaxy will be gracefully circulating through the universe. What’s equally a cause for awe is the fact that thoughts will be constantly bringing their freshness to my mind all day long, like suns rising nonstop over and over, and innumerable rivers of feelings of all kinds will be flowing through my life. Yes, there may be fears and sorrows waiting for me in the hours ahead, but even they will be amazing in their history and eminence.
Just thinking about this, I feel stunned right now, at 6:01 a.m. No doubt it’s going to be a wonderstruck kind of day for at least one 80-year-old dude!
I often live inside a seemingly real daydream, where everything is solid and separate and easily distinguishable. In this fantasy, there’s me and the rest of the unconnected universe, all maneuvering in meticulous ways to stay safe and separate. It’s a life of separation and positioning and constant concern for my individual welfare. However, sometimes it does seem obvious to me that this notion of solidity and separation is truly just a dream, a way of looking at life that’s no more real than a fanciful fable. At those times, life presents itself as what it truly is – a nonstop dance where nothing is separate or solid, and everything is interlaced in endlessly supportive ways. The dream of solidity easily disintegrates, and reality is revealed as a totally mysterious but unified and helpful adventure. Today, I’m again setting off, with anticipation and appreciation, on another path in this wondrous, interwoven forest called life.
I have spent a good part of my 80 years ‘preferring’ – liking one thing better than another. I prefer sunny days over cloudy, scrambled eggs over fried, summer over winter. I would much rather have a healthy-feeling head than a headache, and I definitely favor money in the bank over being broke. This is perfectly normal – and perfectly appropriate – but there’s another way to live that’s also appealing, and I’m enjoying it in these very likable elder years. It’s called ‘accepting’, or maybe ‘whatever-ing’. I’m loving, more and more, being able to say ‘whatever’ when faced with the possibility of sunshine or rain, success or failure, pain or pleasure. I guess I’m learning from trees and squirrels and chickadees as they casually accept winds and storms and sunbeams, and – no matter what – carry on their lives with liveliness. Come what may, I’m better able, now, to patiently say ‘whatever’. I think it has actually made me more capable of doing what needs to be done in dire circumstances. Instead of resisting and swearing and pouting when I don’t get ‘my way’ – when life doesn’t do what I would prefer it to do – I’m able to hold out my hands and greet the next moment and ask, “What would you prefer?” Trees bend when strong breezes blow, and I’m better, now, at bending, with an easygoing senior-citizen smile, when undesirable winds pass through my days.
In a world that sometimes seems utterly unstable, it’s good to realize that there is, in fact, a power that is always secure and steady, always here for me to take quiet comfort in – the invincible and reliable present. It’s true. The present – right here and right now – is always with me. It’s not sometimes here, and sometimes not here. No matter what is happening, no matter how shaky and worrisome things might seem, there is a place of absolute security close at hand – as near as right here and right now. What’s wonderful to consider is that the kingdom of the present knows no boundaries. It’s a sovereignty that extends everywhere and forever. If I try to discover where the present ends, I always find only the present again and again, stretching out into boundless space. It’s spread out farther than stars and planets, and it’s also right next to me, and inside me – always a steadfast friend. In times of turmoil, all I need to do is pause and once again feel the security of being present with the present – being right here and now, completely secure in a reality that is always just itself, always boundaryless, always just what it must be, and therefore always perfect.
The word ‘workable’ means able to be worked, fashioned, or manipulated, and, at my wonderful age of 80, all of life now seems quite workable. Of course, what I realize now is that it’s not ‘I’ that does the fashioning or manipulating, but life – the present moment, the boundless universe itself. In fact, what this ‘I’ must do is step aside and allow life to do its marvelous artistic work. Sometimes, life’s shaping and sculpting may seem strange and disagreeable, like an ocean in a storm, but the waves and currents of life all serve a purpose beyond my understanding, and soon the storm always proves workable, and life can fashion it – if I let it – into a reality with a new kind of quietness and magnificence. I need to work on stepping back and simply observing the storms of life as they seethe, and eventually settle, into newness and insight. To boundless life, everything is workable in a wonderful way … if I can patiently watch and wait.
Below are some scenes from our very happy sunrise walk yesterday on Napatree Beach …
I hope I can learn to be a better watcher. Miracles are made each moment of every day, and I want to be a more steadfast and serious observer of them. Most days, I’m lost on side-trips in my head, following the flow of my roving, fitful thoughts, but I hope I can learn to stay alert, and truly watch. Each present moment is a marvel – a never-before-seen performance, a new and limitless wonder – and how better can I spend a day than feasting my eyes on these unfolding phenomena? Of course, I’ll be doing things every day, but at the same time I can be watching – carefully scanning the wondrous spectacle of each moment. Maybe I can learn how to do and watch at the same time, how to be both a meticulous do-er and a vigilant watcher.
Below, scenes from our 3-mile walk this morning at the Coogan Farm Preserve…
Although I won’t always realize it, my life will be controlled by a set of beautiful laws today – specific rules and regulations that will require me to live in a very orderly way. For instance, it has been decreed, this morning, that fresh breath will come into my lungs on a regular schedule, a certain number of times every hour, and that my heart will rise and fall in a measured manner, moment after moment. Perhaps the most important law today is that only the present moment will exist. Yes, the past and future will seem to be present and important, but truly, and by law, only this moment, right here and now, will be real and have power. And … this leads to today’s next unbreakable law, that the present moment will always be completely new. My life, at certain times, may seem timeworn and shabby today, but the law states that each moment will be totally fresh and unprecedented. It’s as if a pronouncement will be made over and over again: THIS MOMENT IS A BRAND-NEW MIRACLE. APPRECIATE IT.I guess I should feel lucky, today, to be living under such a helpful set of laws. Since they will be constantly supervising me, and since it will be impossible to disobey them, I might as well give them my support – and some smiles!
Below, some scenes from our 4-mile walk today on beautiful Barn Island …
…. and here’s an old dude sitting in a lovely nearby cemetery after a terrific bike ride …
These days, pain is pouring over the country of Ukraine from outside, but inside the besieged country, courage is coursing along like a free-flowing river. The citizens of Ukraine are being lashed with hardship, but they’re also stubbornly surging ahead in the full force of friendship and resolve. They’re pouring their bravery into homes and streets and countrysides, and it’s easily sweeping past the phony gallantry of Russian tanks and troops. Yes, Russia may eventually conquer the country, but they surely will not conquer the valor of the people of Ukraine. Heroism like theirs is a flood that always streams over and past the artificial boldness of oppressors. No matter who ‘wins’ this war, the Ukrainian people have poured out the boundless power of their courage for the world to see – and to learn from.
Life is always igniting, though I usually miss the fun of watching it. Today, each moment will ignite with the soft flames of newness, and thoughts will burst into various kinds of flares, again and again. Kindness will kindle all day long, giving me and everyone a chance for some soft light and warm-heartedness, and sparks of words will shoot up as people talk and old, bald men make paragraphs and poems. Explosions of freshness will occur all day long, like life set alight over and over. One second of silence might inflame me, the way a sunrise arouses the sky. Come on, young March 16. I am ready. Fuel me with your fire!
Below, some scenes from our 3-mile walk this morning on the Beebe Pond Trail…
Yesterday, I surprised myself by making pizza using a homemade crust. It was actually an easy process – just some flour, baking powder, milk, and olive oil mixed together, rolled into a ball, left to settle, kneaded, flattened out into a 12-inch circle, baked for 10 minutes, then loaded with toppings and baked for another 20 minutes. A homespun pizza crust – so much simpler than driving up to the grocery store and buying a frozen, salt-loaded one! It’s fun, too, looking back, to notice how ‘homemade’ all my experiences seemed throughout the day – homespun thoughts appearing inside me with ease, makeshift feelings straightforwardly flowing along, and scenes and situations effortlessly emerging from life’s old-fashioned oven. I fashioned a small pizza crust for dinner, and life cooked up handmade miracles moment after moment. A rustic, folksy day all around!
In March, the sky can bring
a feeling that will make you sing,
and warmth can show you days
all full of love and praise
for gifts that life will always give,
and peace that will forever live.
It’s strange for me to realize, again this morning, that I often worship idols. No, I don’t literally bow down before an object, but I worship nonetheless, and my biggest, most important idol is matter. I worship things. Right now, for instance, as I’m writing, I have beside me my sacred cup of coffee, which, in a sense, I bow down to. It’s as if coffee has precious powers that I truly need, and therefore is worthy of worship. I venerate countless other idols, as well – my body, for instance. I seem to believe that my physical body has some of the highest powers in the universe – that slight pain in the stomach can start a turmoil in my life, that a headache can turn happiness into adversity. It’s as if I bow down to my body each morning and beg it to bring me ease and wellbeing.
Today, I hope I can worship the only truly worthy idol – the supreme and blessed present moment. All the power in the universe exists and asserts itself right here and now, always.Isn’t that deserving of worship? Each moment makes a brand new miracle. Isn’t that worthy of my absolute reverence? Maybe I should do some bowing today as the moments present their amazing wonders.
In Hammer, HI, USA,
people pound their problems
with silence and friendliness,
and all difficulties are hammered
with the softest patience
until they spread out
like smooth and restful gifts.
any meanness is clobbered
and a quiet summer sky
can always bash discouragement
so it softly disappears.
carry clubs made of gentleness.
If you visit Hammer,
be ready to be beaten.