It seems strange, sometimes, that the word ‘indefinite’ is so beautiful to me, since, to most people, it probably carries a somewhat negative flavor. We usually want our lives to be the opposite of indefinite – like understandable, and clear, and user-friendly – but I see, more and more, the beauty of obscurity and uncertainty. For me, at the ripe young age of 80, life has become more and more beautifully limitless, a reality without confining borderlines and constrictive explanations. In my younger years, I found it fun to apply easy labels in order to define and understand various parts of my life, but now I know that labels always overlook the vastness and nebulousness of reality. All of this life I’m part of is as indefinite as mist and smoke, as unfixed as breezes and sunshine. After my wonderful long years of searching and studying, I’ve come – happily – face to face with the immeasurable mystery of everything, and it makes me want to wave my arms in thankfulness. I’m a free-and-easy 80-year-old ripple in an unsearchable ocean, happy to simply appreciate the indefinite, open-ended grandeur of things instead of hopelessly trying to define and understand them.
ONE DAY OF KNOWING NOTHING
no one knew anything,
and this knowing nothing
made a saintly kind of happiness.
Little lights of unknowing
A silky sea called Ignorance crashed
in spectacular surf on the shore,
and thoughts were so light
they lifted off from people's heads
like light-hearted butterflies.
Broken lives were refurbished
simply by this awareness of ignorance,
and a gentle bewilderment
kept everything sheltered and hushed.
You could see something shining
inside you, because artificial
understanding was no longer there.
Thoughts were shining
with the salutary light of simplicity,
and soft, medicinal
explosions of puzzlement
Sometimes, it seems almost fanciful to believe that a power like patience can truly overcome any difficult circumstance and level out the roughest of roads – and that’s when I need some proof. Sometimes, I just sit quietly and try to ‘see’ patience and its powers, and soon it seems clear to me, once again, that it is not a physical, material entity – not a ‘thing’ I can measure and weigh. I can’t ‘study’ patience the way I might study a car engine, seeing how all its parts fit and work together. No, I soon realize that patience is as immeasurable as the wind, as boundless as the sky, and thus is able to easily show hospitality to, and work with, any situation that arises in life. It’s like a shoreless, bottomless ocean that heartily welcomes even enormous stones thrown into it. And it is always present for me – always waiting and willing to show me how to be an easygoing host to whatever arises, be it triumphs or fears, sorrows or wonders.
IN PATIENCE, S.C.
In Patience, South Carolina,
people show tolerance even for raving storms.
Sometimes their self-restraint
when facing problems seems similar
to trees kindly caring for high winds
by waving to them.
People in this uncomplaining town
are almost imperturbable,
particularly when trouble blows through.
Somehow, they effortlessly find a way
to welcome the trouble
as an affable consultant
able to advise on a new trail to take.
You can't believe the calmness
that almost constantly comes over
people in Patience,
as if calmness is a gift
that keeps on giving in this town,
as if serenity always streams through them
like light breezes in trees.
Doggedness doesn't come any tougher
than in Patience,
where even death is endured
with indefatigable kindness.
If you visit Patience,
perseverance and composure
will walk around town with you.