INSPIRATION

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

When I feel like I need some inspiration, the greatest gift of all is that it’s everywhere. I can get instant encouragement just by feeling my lungs rise and fall as my body does its amazingly graceful – though elderly – breathing, or by seeing new light laying its freshness across the land each morning. There’s newness everywhere – always – and that by itself can be a stimulant to a seemingly discouraged 80-year-old fellow. Just watching my old legs move fluidly as I walk through the house is quiet encouragement that life is still amazing. Seeing raindrops sitting with ease and elegance on the leaves of a holly bush can be an inducement to stand up and smile and even sing a little song, and listening to our clothes dryer doing its skillful work can boost my incentive to keep my eyes on life itself as it works its daily, delightful miracles. Discouragement comes only when I can’t see the simple but inspiring wisdom that’s always waiting for me to open my mental door and say a sincere and appreciative welcome. 


GUIDED WITH GLORY
(about Harrison P., 61, Blessings, CT)

He's often guided with glory,
as if he's a king who's cared for
by servants. Some days, seeing leaves
loosening in a breeze brings him
inspiration about what to do next
and how to do it. Some days,
the sky suddenly darkening
guides him to hold the light
of his life up higher. He can't help
being guided, because goodness
always gathers near him
to show him how to go.  You feel
victorious when you have
that kind of guidance, the leadership
of leaves and darkness, and of course
the flow of kindness,
the river that cares and steers.
* a very lucky grandfather with my son James and two of my grandchildren, Ava and Noah *

ATTENTION

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

(written on 11/22/02, when I was still teaching)

Paying attention to something always makes that thing clearer and deeper. This is a truth with magical powers. If I am attentive to a book as I read, the book invariably becomes better, richer, more powerful. If I am attentive, really attentive, to my students, they grow stronger and more capable before my eyes. If I am attentive to the present moment, that moment – any moment – grows stronger, more intense, and more exhilarating. Attention is to anything what sunlight and rain is to plants. Attention feeds and energizes whatever it is focused on. Today, I will try to be attentive to each moment, and therefore I will have the pleasure of watching each of them sprout and spread and blossom.

Below, a scene from this lucky morning …

… our very tall shadows on the beach …

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
(Sharon Z.,82, Blessings, CT) 

At her age, she says she has 
more scraping-the-heavens kinds of days 
than she ever had in younger years. 
She has little money, 
so she’s always surprised 
by the grand scale of her life, 
the way, over 8 decades of years
she seems to have slowly
come from a cave into sunshine,
and finds herself now 
on the spectacular summit
of old age, 
with a trove of young talents inside her,
and all her worries fallen 
into a silent and bottomless hole. 
It happened, she says, 
when life, not she,
became the center of attention
and this galloping good life 
took her for a ride
and shouted 
This is what it’s all about!



WAITING

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

         ‘Waiting’ is a wonderful word. It implies so many things. If we are waiting for something, then we are expecting it to happen, to come to us. We don’t have to do anything ourselves; we just have to ease up and wait, because we know it will come. If we are waiting, then, in a sense, we are relaxing, because we are totally confident that what we are waiting for will arrive. Waiting does not imply worrying and fearing. Rather, it implies being patient, because we know that what we wait for is definitely coming. Today I want to wait patiently for the power of the infinite universe to exert itself and to control my life. Of course, I don’t really have to wait for that, because it’s already happening at every moment today. What I have to do is resist the temptation to start doing things to bring happiness into my life. The happiness is already in my life, because I am an inseparable part of the peacefulness of this vast and marvelous universe. What I have to do is simply realize that, and wait to see this peacefulness effortlessly disclose itself each and every moment.

WAITING ON THE PHONE

She enjoys waiting 
on the phone 
for a human being’s voice,
because for her, 
nothing is better 
than waiting.  
She loves waiting  
for her breath 
to bring a rise to her lungs
and then a comfortable fall,
and she feels fortunate 
to wait faithfully for thoughts 
to flow into and through 
and then out of her,
like an always helpful river. 
She waits for wonder 
to arrive for her, 
as it always does, 
and she delights 
in waiting for fear 
to shrivel up 
and float away, 
waving and smiling 
like a friend.
“Waiting for Mom”, oil on canvas, by Ty Livingston

HUM

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

Saturday,  July 16, 2022

During the winter months, as my wife and I sleep in our bedroom, a humidifier quietly does its work by softly humming, and every night and every day the dependable universe does its special work with a steady stream of ‘hums’. These are hums that always stay secret and silent, softly behind the scenes, sounds made by work that discreetly does what must be done to keep things always spinning and expanding and advancing. It’s the work my body, for instance, calmly carries out moment by moment – the balanced moving of blood, the falling and lifting of the lungs, the constant re-creation of cells. It’s the silent work the surrounding air always does, sending me humming winds and pulsating oxygen and always a subtle kind of freshness. And then there are the endless ‘hums’ of the wide world I live in – the sounds of the rolling along of rivers, the constant whisper of winds that work their way without ceasing across thousands of miles, and of course the noiseless, steadfast spinning of the stars. It’s reassuring to me to stay aware of this humming, bustling labor – to realize, while I’m working my way through the minutes of a day, that so much silent work is always being done inside and around me, that so much steady and tender effort is being quietly applied to make my 80-year-old life the marvelous thing that it is.

HER WORKERS
(about Patricia F., 46, Blessings, CT, USA)

She knows 
it is peace that works inside her, 
always steadying her in its graceful way, 
and she sometimes feels friendship 
performing its good work 
in her grateful heart. 
She understands that life leads her
in the way that it wants to, 
and does the duties it is given 
by the stars and winds. 
She sees life laboring 
in its loving way to help her,
and she holds out her hands 
in thankfulness.

Worker and Soak

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

WORKER

         I am fortunate to always be able to watch and appreciate the countless workers in the carefree factory of this universe of ours. All day long, my lungs labor with ease and pleasure to bring me fresh breaths, and my eyes, like true craftsmen, constantly bring sights into my consciousness in the most creative and comfortable ways.  The amazing artisan called Thinking is always hard at work, mysteriously making and sending thoughts by the thousands swinging through my mind, and each Moment, in fact, is an artistic toiler in the making of brand-new miracles.  

Strangely, the seemingly separate person called ‘me’ is more of a watcher than a worker. My job is to watch and welcome and understand and love what the workers of the universe are quietly accomplishing, moment after moment. How lucky can an 80-year-old dude get?   

SOAK

         Today, all day long, I will be soaking in the splendid peacefulness of life, even though I may be totally unaware of it. I may be faraway in my head that’s often full of worries and wonderings and what-ifs, but the boundless life that I’m part of will always be bathing me in the undisturbed endlessness of the present moment. Whether I realize it or not, I’ll be immersed in restfulness all day, because that’s where the universe always is, and I am one of its lucky partners. Hopefully, I can occasionally come out of my reveries and feel the marvelous soaking and rinsing in serenity that is always – always – happening. 

+ our chalkboard poem earlier this week +

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, October 22, 2021

SUPERIOR

         This will be a superior day. Each moment will be a first-class one, ready to give me the finest gifts possible. It’s like, right now at 5:10 a.m., I’m setting off on the finest adventure of my life, a unique escapade called “October 22, 2021”. From one point of view, it may be just an ordinary, average day, but from another, wider perspective, it will be a day of the highest quality, when each moment will be like a choice plum chosen just for me. My thoughts and feelings, whatever they might be, will be of vintage quality. Sad thoughts will be perfectly sad, and worries will be as if carefully chosen. When I’m sitting in a chair, even the sitting will be of the first order, and my wobbly walking from room to room at home will be wobbly in a flawless way. I simply can’t avoid greatness today. It’s built-in to each moment. Mastery is what this autumn day is made of, and I am part of it. How lucky can a 79-year-old dude get?


AN UPSCALE DAY

One Wednesday, 
all the ball fields in town looked exalted,
and the stylish trees beside his house 
seemed pleased to be stylish. 
Lofty feelings came to him
side by side with prestigious thoughts. 
Even the dust on his desk 
was distinguished 
in the way it sat so silently and imposingly, 
and the streets near his house 
seemed superior to all others. 
On this day, 
he did a higher-level kind 
of sitting in his lazy-boy
and looking out the window.  


Three cairns on our sunroom windowsill …

… and sunset from our patio last night …

Appreciate

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, September 24, 2021

            Today, I want to appreciate what life gives me moment by moment. The word ‘appreciate’ derives from the Latin word for ‘price’, and so to appreciate means to understand the price, or value, of something. Since we’re planning to sell our house sometime fairly soon, Delycia and I often talk about its value – what price we can set on it -, but what about the value of the precious daily occurrences in my life?  Do I fully appreciate the value of each breath that comes to my lungs? of each thought that arises inside me? of feelings that flow through me moment by moment? of the swirl of our soft curtains as I sit at my desk on this warm September morning? Indeed, there is no way to set a price on these occurrences, because they are priceless. Their value is absolutely inestimable, as is the value of the friendship Delycia and I enjoy, and the value of sunshine, and September rain, and books on an old man’s bookshelf. It’s impossible to set a price on these miracles in my life, but at least I should make an attempt – at least do my best to appreciate them. After all, I’m surrounded, and filled, each moment, by wonders worth more than many millions of dollars. 

BEING PROSPEROUS

One day 
a man suddenly understood 
how prosperous he was. 
His thoughts, for instance, were thriving, 
throwing themselves around like lightning bolts
from faraway, and his feelings 
were flourishing inside him,
where they were as numerous and as spirited
 as stars in the sky. 
He saw that his heart was very successful, 
producing profitable results through his body, 
and that his old lungs were more lucrative than ever, 
yielding profit-making freshness moment by moment. 
He understood, 
on this burgeoning day, 
that he was wealthy beyond belief. 
He was beyond well-off 
in his ability to wonder and welcome and appreciate, 
and was opulent in his capacity to say please and thanks. 
Oh, and he also saw 
that he had substantial wealth 
in smiles.  



.

Here are two best friends pausing yesterday on a lovely bike ride on the Kingston (RI) rail trail …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

TRUSTING

            In these days of apparent worldwide disorder and skepticism, my goal is to be trusting. After all, I am part of an infinite universe that has been unfolding beautiful miracles for billions of years, so why shouldn’t I step back, set aside my personal wishes and preferences, and trust this miraculous universe to proceed with its plans? I guess I need to be more childlike – more willing to simply stare in wonder at the amazing mysteries that disclose themselves each moment. I want to be an ingenuous 79-year-old guy who gives his complete trust to whatever happens. This doesn’t mean I will always like what happens, or that I will weakly stand aside and let hardship have its day. On the contrary, trusting the universe means standing – and staying – right in the center of whatever’s happening, thereby finding the cease-fire and victory that is always available in every situation, no matter how grim. The truth is that ‘I’ don’t really have to do anything today, since this inestimable universe of ours will be doing everything that needs to be done – giving me new breath each moment, new feelings and thoughts, new and spectacular scenes to see, new adventures to share in. I should be wide-eyed with wonder all day as the shoreless and imperious river of the universe tirelessly moves me along. 

BE AND LET AND TRUST
(Andy H., 70, Blessings, CT)

He knows
the universe works well 
without his help. 
The trees in winds can work their waves 
and bends with no input from him, 
and clouds float soft and light 
without his crackerjack advice. 
Good breath lifts up his lungs 
with ease and poise, 
and he’s amazed 
to feel them rise and fall. 
He knows 
he never has to take control, 
since life does all the work. 
He only has to be, 
and let, 
and trust.


WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, September 20, 2021

TALENTED

            This day – like all days – will be talented beyond measure. Indeed, I might want to simply stare in astonishment, all day long, at the brilliant accomplishments of each moment. Take the skillfulness of my eyes, for instance. In some miraculous ways, they are able to reveal marvelous scenes to me moment by moment. Right now, at 4:27 a.m., my old but somehow always newly gifted eyes are allowing me to see my small desk and yellow notes and one blue-and-white pen and one yellow pencil and scattered specks of dust – a scene that blind people would fall on their knees to praise if they could suddenly see it. And then there’s the masterly work of my ears. How can I even begin to appreciate the first-rate work they do in bringing beautiful sounds into my life each moment. Today – all day – I will hear the simple but sensational sounds of everyday life – gurgles and bubbles and wheezes and clicks and rattles and hisses – and I hope I can give them the attentiveness and thankfulness they deserve.  Even as semi-deaf as I seem to be at 79, my still artistic ears will give me gifts of sound all day today. Even now, as I sit at my desk and type, I am blessed by the smooth rolling and tumbling and swishing sounds of the clothes washer performing its early-morning services. How did a grizzled old guy get so lucky?

LISTEN UP

Listen up, this light-hearted day says, 
and you'll hear the harmonies
of thoughts as they sing inside you,
and the songs of water from faucets, 
and the winsome sounds
of soft shoes on carpets.  
Listen up, this daring day says,
and let the blessed sounds 
of the melodies of cars passing 
and praising the streets 
prepare you for steady celebration. 
Listen up, this gracious day says, 
for your lovely lungs 
are welcoming the music of breathing 
into your lucky life. 
 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

CHILDLIKE

            In my youth, I was taught that it is important to ‘grow up’ and gradually learn how to ‘act like an adult’, but now, in my 79th year, I understand a different truth – that ‘growing down’ is actually the best way, the way of wisdom. It’s good to get younger as you get older. If I was advising fellow elderly folks, I would encourage them to grow down, and to truly live, as best they can, like a child. In one of his most shocking – and wisest – statements,  Jesus told his followers that, if they want to enter ‘the kingdom of heaven’ – to feel the pure joy of life – they must become like little children. I now think that what he meant was that they must accept the fact that they actually are little children – actually are innocent, inexperienced, and naive  – and that they should rejoice in that fact. Perhaps that’s what I mean when I say that we elders must learn to ‘grow down’. We need to realize that we actually know very little – that life is a constantly astonishing and mysterious miracle, and we should gaze at it – as a toddler does – in absolute amazement.  Like a 3-year-old, I should live today in a state of continuous wonder and surprise. I should understand, at all times, that I truly understand almost nothing – that life is a non-stop, wondrous, and pleasurable puzzle, and that I should simply revel in it instead of trying to ‘figure it out’. Like a child, I should trust this miracle called life, instead of – like most adults – trying to grasp and control it. And, like a child, perhaps, today, I should leap and skip sometimes, and chase seagulls at the beach, and stare in astonishment at the simplest things – ants on our patio, toast on my breakfast plate, a pen beside me now as I type like a lucky little boy at my desk.

WHAT SHE LOVES
(about Sharon Z., 82, Blessings, CT, USA) 

Sharon loves to sit just about anywhere.
There is a grassy space beside 
the sidewalk where she sits and sees 
the stores rising up at sunrise. 
She sits on the steps of the library 
because ideas reside inside 
and she listens
for their whispers and disputes. 
She sits on the childlike earth 
as it slowly rolls, 
as the sunshine brushes away worries,
as the rain runs kindly along. 
Feeling the fullness of life,
she sits on the floor at the nursing home, 
in silence, as her skin 
stretches with satisfaction.