SUPPLY

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

June 17, 2022

         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 …

… and two videos …

PARTNERS

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

            I am surrounded by partners.  I have my wife and family as loving and loyal comrades, and I’m also encircled by countless unseen, silent colleagues. For instance, I have my reliable lungs, those small, gossamer co-workers that lift and fall in fidelity as my life flows along. There’s my heart, too, a teammate as sure and steady as they come, faithfully performing its good service, no matter what worries and fears I may be feeling. And then, of course, there’s the air around me, extending out for endless miles, and entering my life through my breath, moment after moment, day and night, in the steadiest and calmest way possible. Even if I’m swept away by the worst of worries, the vast universe of air, my loyal companion, keeps sending me its gift of breath. 

            I hope I can always be grateful for these trusty companions.

Patience

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, March 11, 2022

         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. 


…the Mystic River on our 3-mile walk this morning…

our chalkboard poem for today

Star

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

STAR

            This morning I’m thinking of the wise men of the Christmas story, who saw a special star in the sky and decided to study it and follow its movements, which led to an astonishing discovery for them in a barn in the small town of Bethlehem. In a sense, I see stars every day, all day long. These stars are the thoughts that endlessly rise and shine inside me, and then set and disappear. I’m like a traveler in a vast universe of thoughts that shimmer marvelously as they come and go in the boundless sky of life.  What’s truly astounding is that I don’t have to do any ‘work’ in order to enjoy these star-like thoughts. All I have to do is carefully observe the thought-filled sky inside me, and choose and follow the brightest and the best thoughts, and let the others – the less reliable ones springing from fears and worries and self-centeredness – slip away into the darkness. Like the wise men of the Christmas story, I must trust, each moment, something besides my own small and separate mind. I must get the wider, higher view, see the limitless vastness of existence itself , and then simply follow, each moment, the brightest star, the thought that shines with the most inspiring brilliance. There’s always a lit-up barn in Bethlehem waiting for me, if I just yield to the light and follow.  

SPECIAL PLACES
(about Philip M., 89, Blessings, CT, USA)

Most days, 
Philip seeks harmony
by setting his sight on starry thoughts 
and then studying and following them, 
and sometimes he finds himself 
standing in places of powerful light, 
and just looking and listening in wonder, 
and he always names the places 'Wonderful'
and rejoices with exceeding joy, 
and sets gifts down in these special places, 
and worships them,

and knows they are everywhere. 


Here’s a sunrise scene on the Mystic River during our morning walk today …

… and here’s my best-of-all friends reading the essays of the classic American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Friday, August 13, 2021

ASTONISH

         The word ‘astonish’ comes from the Latin word for thunder, so it could literally mean being thunder-struck, shocked like sudden thunder and lightning can shock. I’ve been astonished like this – ‘stopped dead in my tracks’ – countless times in my long life, but much more so in the last few years. In fact, it’s truly a daily, sometimes hourly, experience now. Life, more and more, seems like almost constant ‘lightning and thunder’, but in the best and happiest of ways. I am now, at the age of 79, truly amazed, stunned, and startled by almost everything. I know now that I have absolutely no answers, but only awe-struck questions, and I am loving the questions (as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke advised a young poet to do). “Why did this just happen? Where did this thought come from? How did I get here? Who the heck am I?” In these elder days, I walk around in an almost constant daze, but it’s a happy daze, a bewilderment that brings me grateful joy. I feel like I’ve reached the summit of a mountain where the view is both striking and mystifying, both beautiful and utterly baffling. And strangely enough, I am totally at peace with this astonishment I’m feeling in my 79th year. In fact, I am grateful for it, for I feel like I’ve entered a land of both constant surprise and absolute safety. Somehow, my bewilderment brings with it quietness and contentment. There’s lightning and thunder, yes, but it’s the kind that carries illumination and instruction and a smile. 

IN MAZE

In Maze, Mississippi, USA, 
the residents seem always thunderstruck, 
as if astounding thoughts 
are constantly ascending 
like stars inside them. 
They seem almost speechless,
like words couldn’t possibly describe 
the miraculousness of their lives. 
They see their lives as shoreless rivers 
flowing in a poised and imperishable way. 
As with all of us, 
they sometimes must take a trip
with sorrow, 
but they’re astonished that its hard road 
always leads to new kinds of light. 
They’re staggered by the freshness
of every single moment, 
as if life is always
starting over with a sparkle. 
They’re flabbergasted by the simplest sights – 
leaves moving in winds, 
a single bird sitting in grass. 
These folks of Maze often look totally lost, 
but somehow in a lovely, lucky way.





And here are some scenes from our recent walks, and roses outside our dining room window, and Queen Anne’s lace beside our patio, and two loving friends named Hammy and Delycia …

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

MASTERFUL

         Today I hope to remember, all day, that I am not in command of my life, but that a much greater and higher power is the true ruler of everything. I’m not talking here about the power traditionally called ‘God’ – a supposedly superhuman being who sits somewhere above us and runs the show, both the tragedies and the triumphs. No, the imperious power I’m speaking of is more like an infinite wind than a super-person. Throughout our limitless universe, this non-material, highly skillful ‘wind’ flows and drifts and controls all things, including the infinitesimal but indispensable ‘breeze’ called Hamilton Salsich.  I often laugh to think of my endless efforts to control my life, to be the boss and master of everything, like a wisp of a  breeze trying to supervise the limitless wind. I can imagine the big wind saying to the little breeze, “Hey, relax and let go. I am the captain. I can take you on wondrous adventures today. Just relax and let go and let me do the work.”  I hope to do that today. A masterly force will be always at work, moving me through thoughts and feelings and events the way the boundless wind moves its countless gusts and drafts. A grand adventure awaits me today. I just have to release my hold on the reins and let the immeasurable spiritual ‘wind’ of the universe do its wondrous work. 

ALL IT TAKES  

He saw some branches shaking in a breeze,
and then he understood: the force that frees

the branches isn't in the branches, but in
the breeze itself. The trees receive the spin

and whirl of a wind, and it remakes
their lives. For patient branches, all it takes

is letting breezes do their swirling dance
with them, and soon the branches start to prance.

He saw, like in a dazzling light, that he
could do the same, could be a patient sea

that rolls or sleeps as wisdom blows across
it in the storms of life or in the gentle toss

of daily living.  He saw that he is not the one
who does the work of life, but that the fun

of living comes from letting go and letting
endless spirit do the work. The art of getting

free involves allowing forces larger than
the universe itself to swirl and roll and fan

his life. Like branches in a breeze, he's in
the best of hands, and cannot help but win.

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. 

ENORMOUS

WORDS LIKE LIGHT

 

Sunday, August 8, 2021

ENORMOUS

         For so many years, I thought of ‘my life’ as something small and separate and fairly defenseless, just a wee speck in a senselessly swirling universe, but now, in my 79th year, I see how completely wrong I was. Now, I  understand that ‘my life’ is actually not mine at all, but is simply an infinitesimal ripple in the stupendous and boundless life called the universe. And ‘infinitesimal’ is not the right word, because in a truly boundless universe, there are no boundaries at all, and so there are no boundaries to what is called ‘me’. I am truly as immeasurable as the starry sky. My thoughts come from infinity, and my feelings flow from the one limitless and universal ocean of feelings. Like the universe, I – Hamilton Salsich – am cosmic, king-sized, and colossal, and so is every person, petunia, and bumblebee. Reality itself is unbounded and unfathomable, and I am a vital part of that reality – and always will be. My material body – my brain and bones and blood – will someday disappear, but only because it will all shift and transform within the always reshaping universe. In a measureless universe, nothing – including ‘me’ – truly dies, but just swaps and switches and always stays the course on the incalculable journey called life.  

         How did ‘I’ get so lucky to be a part of this vast adventure?  

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 9, 2021

FISHING

            In the gospel of John, after some friends of Jesus have spent an entire night fishing from one side of their boat and catching nothing,  Jesus simply tells them to throw their net on the ‘right’ side, and when they do it, they catch an overwhelming number of fish, so many that they can’t pull the net into the boat. Today, I can also make a similar easy choice. Moment after moment, I can consciously choose to cast the ‘net’ of my awareness on the ‘right’ side – the side where the inestimable, measureless gifts of the present moment are always waiting to be ‘caught’. It’s really as simple as that. I only have to turn away from the side of the boat where nothing but empty materialistic hopes and illusory fears seem to be thrashing around, and turn toward the side where the boundless power of patience and kindness and peace is always ready to be welcomed aboard. I hope to be a wise, observant fisherman today.

WORDS LIKE LIGHT 

July 8, 2021

WHIRLPOOL

            On our kayak float yesterday on the Wood River, I occasionally watched the small whirlpools started by Delycia’s paddles just ahead of me, and it got me thinking about the mysterious whirlpool I call ‘my life’. This life I’m living is not the solid, separate ‘event’ it so often seems to be.  As I watched a whirlpool swirling around beside my kayak, it seemed like the perfect symbol of the endlessly revolving movement of what I call ‘my life’. What is labeled ‘Hamilton Salsich’ is actually a continuously transforming swirl in the shoreless river of life. I seem to be a separate and self-governing individual, but in truth, I am a fluidly spinning twirl in a universe that knows precisely what it’s doing and where it’s going.  I need to simply slacken and loosen and learn to appreciate the marvelous  circles and spins life does with me as I swivel around in a river that’s infinitely more amazing than the scenic Wood River.

WHENEVER

Whenever you see a dish 
with crackers and cheese,
listen for a robin's voice. 
Whenever you hear an airplane
looking for its home, 
listen for the songs 
your heart sings. 
Whenever you hear the highway
saying its prayers in the distance,
look up 
and see your life arriving 
like a new friend. 

 

And here are some scenes from yesterday’s kayak float …