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. 

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

ULTIMATE

            This morning, as I write this at 4:26 a.m., I am gratefully receiving, once again, the ultimate truth about life, as well as the ultimate of all gifts. 

            Filling my thoughts right now is the most basic of all truths – that the present moment is all there ever is. No matter how far or how long I look, I am never able to find any other moment than this one, right here and now. If I say, ‘Of course there’s a past and a future’, that past and future always exists only in my thoughts in this present momentright here and now. And, amazingly, if the present moment is all there ever is, then it has no boundaries, and therefore is infinite – no beginning and no ending. The most fundamental of all truths is that I live – always – in the completely boundless realm called ‘presence’. 

            And … in this vast kingdom of presence, I always receive the ultimate gift – eternal newness. Right here and now, as the curtains beside my desk swirl in an early-morning breeze, I am a totally new part of the universeand so is everything else, including this breeze that’s caressing the curtains in an utterly fresh way. Also – astonishingly – this moment, right here and now, is the best of all moments – the supreme and unsurpassed moment in the entire history of the universe. Of course, the wonderful truth is that every moment is unsurpassed – the absolute epitome of moments, the utmost, the pinnacle and peak. Every single moment. 

            I’ve used so many italics in these sentences because I’ve wanted to shout out in wonder so many times as I typed the words. Now, at the end, I’m going to stop typing and simply sit in shock and amazement, and realize, again and again, that 

I live in paradise, right here and right now!

LAUGHING AND LETTING

“Laughter may well be the ultimate act of letting go and letting be.”
-- Matthew Fox

Once 
there was a man who laughed a lot, 
which helped whole flocks of worries 
fly out of him. 
When he was seriously lecturing his students 
about some essential principle of sentence punctuation, 
laughter sometimes burst from him 
like a soft and pleasant explosion,
and all solemnity streamed out of him,
leaving a tranquil mellowness
that allowed his best teaching to begin. 
In situations when 
he was holding on to his personal safety, 
laughter sometimes suddenly shook him, 
and thoughts of personal safety 
loosened and sailed off
into something like a misty sunrise,
and he swayed with the understanding
that safety is always everywhere.  
When he thought he was absolutely right
in an argument, 
laughter often softly fluttered up from inside him 
and helped him see himself 
as simply a star in a sky 
full of sextillions of them, 
and he smiled and shook hands 
with his surprised adversary
,
because she or he was also a star.  

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Monday, August 9, 2021

AWARE

         I hope to stay truly awake – and aware –today. I want to be totally conscious of each arising moment, the way I might be conscious of an amazing sunrise. I want to get quietly acquainted with the sights and sounds of today – the whisper of raindrops, the bubbling of water on the stove, the click of keyboard keys. Today could be a day to begin to get deeply familiar with life, like it’s a newfound, wonderful friend.  I hope to be mindful of the miracle of my breathing, of the graceful flow of my feelings, of the thoughts that will softly throw themselves around in the limitless realm called my mind. I want to stay alive to the gifts I’ll be getting moment after moment today, always aware of the breathtaking life I am lucky to be living.

JIMMY HARVEST

One day
a man named Jimmy Jones
went to the Social Security office 
and said to a person named Nancy 
that he wished to change his name to 
Jimmy Harvest. 
He said he finally saw, 
at 79, 
what a large yield life had produced for him, 
that quite a bountiful crop lay spread around 
and inside him, 
and he needed to start gathering it in. 
There was goodness in great fields, 
he said,
and patience was spread from east to west,
and wisdom lay out as wide 
as winter and summer together - 
and it was time to garner and glean. 

So,  Jimmy said, 
don't you think my name should be 
something like Jimmy Harvest?

Nancy stared at him, 
and then something shined from her eyes, 
and then she stared some more. 

SATISFIED

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

         The word ‘satisfied’ comes from the Latin word ‘satis’, meaning ‘enough’, and today I hope to remember that life provides more than enough for me each and every moment. I should be pleased with whatever happens today, because, in one way or another, it will be a bountiful gift. Just the beauty of breathing in and breathing out should bring me contentment, and simply sitting silently at my desk and clicking the computer keys should keep me smiling with satisfaction. The ability to easily get up out of a chair in my 79th year should bring me gladness today, since it is truly an amazing skill, and each passing scene I see should bring me the good cheer of a child with a new toy. Indeed, life itself is a brand new toy I will receive each moment, a gift of unfathomable value which should fill me, all day, with the sincerest kind of satisfaction. 

Two scenes from our walk on the shore of Long Island Sound yesterday …

Delycia stopping for a picture
a lovely seaside cottage

AMAZED

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 16, 2021

AMAZED

            I sometimes feel like I’m in a befuddling maze, which is why, perhaps, I often feel a-mazed by everything around me. Like many of us, I enjoy pretending that my life is laid out in well-marked roads, and that I know exactly where I’m going and how to get there, but the truth is that I’ve been in an almost daily maze since November of 1941. Honestly, I still have little or no idea who I am or why things happen or where I should be going, and it is in this sense that I feel almost constantly amazed, as though I’ve been endlessly wandering in a maze for 79 years. Perhaps, though, I should say ‘labyrinth’ instead of maze, for in a labyrinth there is no worry of being lost, since all paths in due course lead to the center and back out. A labyrinth is a light-hearted place to be, since all choices are somehow the right ones, and seeming mistakes end up showing you the way. I guess life, for me, has been like a puzzling but relaxing labyrinth. It’s like a mystery made for my pleasure and instruction, a place where patience can turn mistakes into miracles.

JULY 16TH
(July 16, 2021)

July 16th
will silently show you 
how sharing is always happening -
how troubles play a part in joys, 
how happiness has something to do 
with sorrow,
how 'now' has a role in the future. 
This special day knows 
that everything participates 
with everything else, 
that losses and wins 
work together
to make a life to be thankful for.
You'll be deeply involved 
with this day. 
You can't avoid it. 

Bikes, Peaks, and Poems

Friday, May 22, 2020

We took our first real bike ride of the season this morning, a quick 8 miles, and here’s a look at Delycia finishing the second 2-mile stage in a very strong fashion …

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HONEST AMAZEMENT

“Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific – and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise –

Silent upon a peak in Darien.”

— John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

I’m always hoping to more often feel what “stout Cortez” and his men felt on that “peak in Darien”. Keats pictures them standing on a hill above the Pacific Ocean, staggered by the scene, and I would like to foster more of that kind of bewilderment and wonder in my life. Cortez and his men saw a startling sight, and every day – every moment – I am witness to scenes which, in their own special ways, are just as amazing. Hard as it is to remember during the sometimes wearisome routines of the day, the various circumstances that arise around me are as unique and mystifying as the Pacific Ocean, and really, the only suitable response to them is honest amazement. The life I share with Delycia is my “Darien”, and wherever I happen to be is the “peak” where I can look “with a wild surmise” at the inscrutable magnificence of life. A “surmise” is a guess, a supposition, a hunch, and that’s honestly all I have when it comes to understanding the things I see and experience. In the end, they’re all complete conundrums to me. If you ask me to make clear the mystery of even the simplest circumstance – the look of lamplight on a table, the sound of a car coming past the house, the whole sky shining at 7:00 a.m. — all I could do is make a hit-or-miss guess, a “wild surmise”. A better response might be to stay respectfully silent, like the astonished explorer and his men.

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Our current fridge magnetic poem …