Today, like all days, will hold me carefully in its friendly arms. I may sometimes feel adrift in a sea of concerns, but all the while this day – part of the life that started cradling me 80 years ago – will be safely enfolding me. Throughout the day, the present moment will always be with me, embracing me within its everlastingness, spreading itself out to its infinite distances so that I can feel the fun of having no boundaries at all. There will probably be moments when confusion may seem to be clasping me tightly, or when fear may appear to be following me, but always – always – the dependable present moment – life itself – will be enveloping me in its vast and trustworthy way. I may even sometimes feel the gracious squeeze of life as it holds me in its welcoming, inescapable arms.
I often feel weighted-down by life, as if I’m carrying heavy piles of worries and duties and fears, as if life itself is a load that I have to lift up again each morning. Today, however, I hope I can feel, once again, the absolute buoyancy of life, as though my heart is an easygoing feather floating freely along in a universe that sincerely loves it. I’m sure I will, as usual, have problems to deal with and worries to work around, but my hope is that I can treat them like playful friends rather than cumbersome burdens. It probably seems strange than I can speak of problems as being playful, but when I approach them in an almost jovial way – as in “Hey, here’s a brand-new problem, another opportunity to see an amazing solution work itself out!” – the winds of patience and open-mindedness do eventually float the problems away. I guess ‘easygoing’ is another way I might describe this approach to life, not because life is always easy – far from it – but because walking with life and all of its problems in a relaxed and even-tempered way can often make the burdens slowly become almost like feathers.
Today, I hope I can let my life float free, the way it always wants to, and then I can just do my small but important part in the lighthearted – though sometimes strenuous – dance of all of life.
This morning, I am hoping I will be able to recognize and appreciate the magnitude of the coming day – of each moment of the coming day. There will be immensity in everything that happens today. Even every breath I take will have greatness within it, and all the flashes of sunlight in the forest as we’re bike-riding on the rail trail will be brilliant beyond belief. There will be a marvelous radiance inside every thought, and all the feelings that flow through me will have a hugeness that I hope I can be aware of. Every turn of my head and all the ways papers and books and notes sit on my desk will be of serious significance. The soft, sheer curtains that hang beside our windows will have a special kind of importance, and my hand will occasionally rest on the top of my desk with dignity and prominence. Like all days, this will be a day of grand magnitude. Historic events will occur – someone in New Zealand suddenly understanding something, a small child in Tennessee taking its first steps, my hands and fingers coming together in friendship. How lucky I will be to be present at so many momentous proceedings on such a prominent and illustrious day!
Below, a quiet scene at the start of our 22-mile bike ride this morning with two friends on the Kingston (RI) rail trail …
I have always tried to be a law-abiding citizen, but, in this very instructive eighty-first year of my life, I’m finally realizing that, in one sense, I have no choice in the matter. There is one law that I must obey – the most important law of all, the only eternal and shatterproof law. This is the law that says the present moment must be obeyed, because it is the only moment that exists, is without boundaries, and has all the power in the universe. In moments of clear thinking (which, I’m afraid, are still fairly rare for me), I realize that this law is indeed unbreakable. Each day, each moment, I actually have no choice but to obey this law – and why should I ever resist obeying it? This law surrounds me with comfort and fearlessness, reminding me that all is always well inside its reassuring certainty. It says that whatever is happening, be it scary or soothing, can be successfully dealt with because it is happening within the limitless present moment, where I also am ‘happening’, and therefore the situation and I can smoothly work together to unfold the wisdom it is bringing. As has always been the case in the history of human civilization, frightening events and situations – for nations and families and individuals – are occurring across the globe these days, and the only way to weather these storms is to meet them in the boundless present and roll with them through the troubles and toward wisdom and healing. It’s an unbreakable law: every present moment is large enough to contain both distress and restoration, both sorrow and understanding. I just need to recognize and appreciate this unassailable principle of reality.
Below are some of Delycia’s beautiful early summer flowers …
and here are two healthy breakfasts ready on the patio table this morning …
One dictionary defines ‘panorama’ as an unbroken view of the whole region surrounding an observer, and my daily wish is to constantly enjoy a wonderful panorama of life. I am so often lost in the stagnant cave of my own thoughts, seeing only the mist and fogginess of fears and self-centeredness, and what I need is to get up to the high mountains of awareness and see the scenic view it affords. When seen from the peaks of true wakefulness, life is boundless and breathtaking, far too multifaceted and mysterious to be captured by my little and helpless ego-mind. Each moment and every moment, I can be witness to a view of life – the true view – that is picturesque and limitless and simply astounding, if I step up to the high peaks of awareness. They’re right here, right now, always – these beautiful bird’s eye views of reality. All I have to do is stop, stay still, and look – and be astonished.
Sometimes my good luck seems unbelievable. I’m neither wealthy nor well-known nor uncommonly gifted, but good fortune seems to follow me everywhere. I often, for instance, can’t believe the simple fact that I’m alive on an astonishing planet in an implausibly beautiful universe – that somehow this person called “Ham’ has been given hundreds of millions of minutes of this thing called life. The whole mystery of my life seems totally improbable, as if a magician somewhere in the everlasting cosmos made some swirls with her wand and, presto, here’s Hamilton Salsich. And my incredible good fortune continues to follow me in a round-the-clock way – my heart somehow holding its rhythm 100,000 times each day, my blood reliably rolling through my body hour after hour, my lungs lifting and falling in a steadfast way. All this, to me, seems so far-fetched – so deserving of awe – that it almost requires a down-on-my-knees, lost-for-words reverence.
Below, scenes from our walk this morning on the Beebe Pond trail …
In these days of my retirement, I still have a somewhat busy life, and do a fair amount of ‘racing around’, but I guess I’m racing around more slowly and patiently — more willing, you might say, to good-naturedly participate in the race while letting the race actually run itself. On a given day, I’m going here and there and back and forth, checking off my list of to-do’s and to-get’s, but now I’m running a gentler, more warmhearted race. You might say I’m slowly racing from task to task, and with more composure, perhaps the way sparrows seem to collect their seeds at the feeder with both quickness and calmness. I’ve noticed that the wind sometimes blows on our street in a similar way – rushing among the houses, but in a somehow stress-free manner, doing its to-do’s with both enthusiasm and restfulness. As a senior now, I’m seeing the benefits in that kind of racing around. With my white beard and bald head, I’m breaking new records for getting things done with a cozy and patient kind of speed.
I sometimes wonder if I’m missing certain special signals sent to me occasionally from here and there. Yesterday I was watching a tree as it turned and bent and bowed in the wind, its limbs and leaves lifting and falling, and, as silly as it might sound, it seemed like the tree was sending me signals. It was like small messages made just for me: “Are you there, Hamilton? Are you truly alert and listening to the sounds I’m making with this wind?” Then I saw a seagull sailing in circles above the tree, and I wondered if there were signals there also. Perhaps the bird was sending from the sky the news that nothing is better than right now: “Hammy, happiness is inside you, right there where you’re sitting in the shade with a glass of ice water at 3:37 on a sweltering afternoon.” Then, in the next instant, I found myself listening to the sounds of cars on the distant interstate, and they sent – in soft, almost whispery sounds – the message that I’m an amazing mystery. “You’re astounding,” they said, “and so is this afternoon and everyone and everything.” It seems strange, I know, but I’ll be searching for signals tomorrow, as well.
The sky stood up one morning
and made a signal to him,
like people might make
when happiness is molding them
into something thankful and fresh.
It was a September sky
with blueness so bright
it brought him permission
as he sipped his coffee,
and he signaled back
to the sky that he too
was happy and hoped
the sky and he
would stay that way.
Delycia and I welcome people into our home every so often for tea or dinner, and I am realizing that I should be more welcoming to the thoughts that move through the home of my mind. A steady line of thoughts constantly passes through my life, and I want to learn to welcome them all, even those filled with fear or dismay or discouragement. What I am slowly understanding is that my thoughts are not me, but fairly frail and short-lived whispers that will slip smoothly away if I just stand aside, observe them in a welcoming way, and then let them quietly leave. I could welcome thoughts of fear, for instance – politely listen to them, let them take their time passing through, and then see them to the door and down the road. I’m learning that thoughts are as harmless as I allow them to be – simply evanescent voices that will soon disappear if I stand by with something like a smile.
Below are scenes from our wonderful walk on Sunday with Aaron on Mt. Ascutney (NH) …
This morning, a strange question came to mind: Is there an adequate supply of stars in the sky? I don’t know why I thought of that, but it brought to mind the large and wonderful topic of ‘supply’, and I began to realize how truly vast life’s supply is. For instance, every moment is made by the same boundless forces that formed the cosmos eons ago. There’s an endless reservoir of immaculate moments and pristine feelings awaiting me, and all of us, today, and we have, in a sense, as many thoughts available to us as there are stars in the universe. Powers like kindness and patience and acceptance are piled up in limitless repositories, ready to be dispensed for our use and pleasure today. Somehow, miraculously, I, and all of us, will be outfitted with shining newness each and every moment. Sadly, though, based on past experience, I’ll probably seldom be aware of it.
But … perhaps today will be different. Perhaps I will see and understand the prodigious storehouse of life that is far more vast than the stars in the sky – and always stands ready to benefit me, and all of us.
Here are two happy 80-year-old bike riders on the Kingston (RI) rail trail this morning …
This simple but special day, like all of them, will be what I would call an ‘introducer ‘, and a very good one, too. If I keep my eyes and heart open, this day will propose brand-new plans and strategies for me, and suggest the freshest and best ways to appreciate life. All day long, astonishing activities will be formally presented: my fingers dancing with elderly flair across the computer keyboard, water freely running from the faucet when I turn the handle, my old, happy hand stroking my unshaven cheek. Everything will get going every moment. Brightness will seem to begin wherever I look. A new miracle will be formally presented when I sip my coffee, or take a taste of a plum, or let my head effortlessly turn. This day will put forward a new type of friendliness, even in the way my two legs love working together as I walk.
Please, dear day, set in motion your marvels. I am ready.
Below are some scenes from our walk yesterday on the Beebe Pond trail …
… and, two photos from the top of the Coogan Preserve trail today, where I was resting after a tough climb on my bike …
… and, our friendship poem for yesterday, and some of Delycia’s lovely flowers, inside and outside …