Even though I usually don’t realize it, every moment of every day is busy’ fixing’ things for me. I – along with the entire universe – am thoroughly reconditioned each moment, renovated inside and out and made fresh for new escapades in the adventure called life. Even while I’m writing these words, winds are overhauling forests, and my body’s cells are efficiently reconstructing themselves – full refreshening happening with every word that’s written. This doesn’t mean, however, that life is ever damaged and in need of repair. No, the endless refurbishing happens simply because that’s what life loves best – to always make all things new. Yes, these simple, commonplace words have been used countless times before, but never in precisely this way. They sit on my computer screen with trailblazing smiles, because, like everything from mountains to stars to thoughts to words like friends on screens – they are endlessly getting fixed and refreshed and immaculately enhanced, like unsullied newborns – always .
I have always heard it said that life should be taken seriously, but perhaps it would now be better for me to take it playfully. Maybe I should think of life as a hobby that I can enjoy coming back to each morning, just a pleasant pastime that could bring me sometimes smiles and sometimes mystifying but sweet confusion. Maybe I could find more sportiveness in life than drudgery, more lightheartedness than hard labor. It all depends on how I see life – as a battle to be fought, or as a dance to be danced. Now that I am a ripening 80-years-old, perhaps I can have more friskiness in my life, more of the easy horse-play I seem to see among dragonflies and breezes and mischief-making squirrels. I see so much solemnity in human life, so many people with frowns like they’ve fallen into far-down wells, so many instances where seriousness has far surpassed playfulness. Yes, there is work to be done in our lives, tasks that we must undertake each day, but surely these can be undertaken with a feeling of sprightliness and even rascality, rather than boredom and dispiriting duty. Life, maybe, should be a joy rather than a job. At 80, it’s time for me to take some hops and skips and see where they lead.
‘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
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.
Today, I hope to keep in mind that there is no outsideanywhere. All of reality today will be on the inside, because the inside is everywhere. In a universe that truly has no boundaries, everywhere is inside, and everywhere is actually at the center of the inside. I have spent so much of my life trying to cope with what I saw as ‘outside’ situations – events and circumstances that seemed to be separate from me and sometimes threatening me – but now, at the truly awe-inspiring age of 80, I see clearly that everything is on the inside, and that the inside is a boundless and harmonious wonderland. For a large part of my life, I struggled to find peace somewhere outside of me – in people and material things and situations – but now I see there is no outside anywhere, and the inside is endless and everlastingly peaceful (even though I often don’t see the peace anywhere). Today, like all days, the kingdom of serenity is inside everything, including me – and every moment, including me, is inside this quiet kingdom.
Could be a pretty sweet day!
Below, two best friends in their 80’s enjoying a lovely walk on the beach this morning …
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 …
The dictionary defines ‘sacred’ as something ‘regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual’, and, since I am an individual who regards with great respect and reverence the present moment, then I could say that the present moment is sacred to me. For me, here and now is holy and hallowed. Never mind churches and cathedrals. All I need to help me feel truly religious is to be totally present in the inviolable, invulnerable Here and Now. Right now, as I’m typing these words on my computer, is a sanctified moment, full of the endless and always brand-new wonders of life. It’s as if a halo surrounds the keyboard, and my fingers, and my house, and the misty rain and soft songs of birds outside. There’s glory in this moment, right now, and in every moment – a radiance that equals the shine of the finest cathedral.
In Worship, West Virginia, USA,
even the smallest word -
even 'like' or 'love' -
is spoken with special reverence.
Citizens of this serene town
see holy mystery everywhere -
in water flowing from faucets,
in hands that shine after washing,
on the shore of each arising moment.
You'll see expressions of consecration in faces
in the cereal section of grocery stores,
and the prayer-like look of mechanics
making their sacred cars run smoothly.
Just a little silence
can make folks fall into prayer,
and the sound of warm air
flowing from a furnace
is like sacred hymns
in reverential Worship, West Virginia.
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.
I need to relax more often, and it should be easy for me, because the Universe, of which I am a part, is always relaxing. It seems clear to me now that everything around me – and inside me – is always loosening up and easing off. ‘Taking it easy’ is the way the entire Universe lives. Winds and sunrises and shadows and limbs of trees and cells in my body all stay loose – always. If something seems to go wrong, it’s merely the looseness moving in ways I’ve never seen before. The present moment, which sits at the exact center of everything, is always relaxing, precisely because it has no opponents – no enemies to cause resistance or tension. The ‘here and now’, which includes me, is its own boss, and therefore rolls and slacks off and takes its ease, with me inside it.
I hope I can more often enjoy the ‘chilling out’ way the Universe lives.