Today I want to work on being always alert for the unfolding marvels of each moment. I am so often inattentive during the course of a day, daydreaming and distracted by swirling thoughts and befuddling events, but today I’m hoping to stay steadily observant as the moments pass. Luckily, this doesn’t haven’t to be seen as hard work. Actually, it only requires that I keep the doors and windows of my life wide open, welcoming with interest and attentiveness whatever happens. It doesn’t mean I have to like everything that happens, but just that I carefully care-for and study each moment as it presents its matchless miracle. If I were on the summit of a spectacular mountain, I’m sure I would be wide awake with wonder and appreciation for the sights and sounds, and today – and every day – I’ll be constantly on the peaks of brand-new moments as their wonders are unveiled. Just coffee warming in the microwave is worthy of my total attention as I stand beside the stove, as is the look in Delycia’s eyes as she shares her thoughts with me now and then, as are the pecans in a small bowl beside me now as I sit at my desk. Life today will be a sight worth seeing and appreciating, so I’d best keep my old eyes – and heart – peeled.
ALWAYS WAKING UP
(about Bernice D., 61, Blessings CT)
on a sleepy, sultry day
she saw, for the first time,
that each moment is made new,
and that she, too, is always new --
a fresh, stirred up assembly of cells
every single second.
She saw that, in a sense,
she was always waking up,
and she realized
that she can’t help it,
that rousing and rising
was just what the universe always does,
constantly and endlessly
spurring itself on.
She realized that even
the airless languor of the day
was continually awakening
into new and unspoiled airless languor,
and that even her fears and sorrows
were unceasingly bestirring themselves
into unprecedented designs
so she could better see and understand them
in every respect
in this always newly-alert world.
I hope I can learn to be a better watcher. Miracles are made each moment of every day, and I want to be a more steadfast and serious observer of them. Most days, I’m lost on side-trips in my head, following the flow of my roving, fitful thoughts, but I hope I can learn to stay alert, and truly watch. Each present moment is a marvel – a never-before-seen performance, a new and limitless wonder – and how better can I spend a day than feasting my eyes on these unfolding phenomena? Of course, I’ll be doing things every day, but at the same time I can be watching – carefully scanning the wondrous spectacle of each moment. Maybe I can learn how to do and watch at the same time, how to be both a meticulous do-er and a vigilant watcher.
Below, scenes from our 3-mile walk this morning at the Coogan Farm Preserve…
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Today I hope to be watchful. I’d like to live each moment like I’m a bird sitting on a branch in the high mountains, quietly and carefully observing a small swirl of life far below – his life. Like a bird, I want to notice things in my life from a distance – thoughts coming and going, feelings surfacing and perhaps sometimes swerving and swaying, events rising and then dissolving. If I could see myself from a distance, I could be forever at peace today. Like a bird on a distant branch, I would know that I can always find peace by just carefully observing my life. Countless crazy and wondrous things will happen to me today – brand new thoughts and feelings, events unfolding in fresh ways – and I look forward to being an active participant, but also an observant spectator. I want to get a bird’s eye view of things, be a watchful witness of the wonders blossoming in the life of a dear friend named Hamilton.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Sunday, September 12, 2021
I am usually a doer and a thinker, but I realize more clearly now that I can also be an observer, and that observing can bring me more peace than I have ever known. As an observer, I can quietly watch, as if from a vast distance, whatever my thoughts are doing. I’ll feel like I’m sitting atop a sky-scraping mountain and simply witnessing these small, frisky thoughts as they fly around in their crazy ways. As an observer, I won’t judge or manipulate the thoughts; I’ll just watch and realize and learn – and what I will love learning most of all is that all these thoughts are absolutely harmless. They are not ‘things’ that can hurt me. They are infinitesimal, harmless wisps of energy with no more power than the smallest housefly, and the more carefully I observe them, the better I understand their innocuousness, and the more peaceful I feel.
Today I hope will be a day of observing. I want to spend hours and hours on the mountaintop inside me, just peacefully watching the wondrous – and harmless – workings of my thoughts. I’ll probably grow calmer by the minute.
WATCHING - AND LETTING GO
Jimmy Lee H., 38, Blessings, CT
He loves considering the look of skies,
the way they stay so soft and yet so vast.
He watches all the ways of bees and flies
as they enjoy their little lives and pass
his windows with the sounds of songs and hums.
Considering the work of winds is fun
for him, the way they sometimes sound like drums
and sometimes sing to comfort everyone.
When he sits back and sees the way things flow,
he marvels at each moment’s mysteries.
The whole of life appears to be aglow,
and all things work in partnership with ease.
This life, to him, is something to be loved,
not ruled, or fought, or made just right for him.
He loves to see himself be softly shoved
by life till glory fills him to the brim.
Just letting go is what he does for fun,
which makes life almost dazzle like the sun.
Today, I hope to be a beholder. The life I am part of is amazing in every way, and today I want to truly see it – to catch a good glimpse, each moment, of the grand mystery of this everyday existence I was given 79 years ago. I want to be a serious watcher today. When Delycia and I are riding our bikes on the Kingston rail trail, I want to spot and study things as I pedal along. I want to pay attention to the flourishing trees along the trail, to the remarkable mesh of shrubs and bushes, to the spread-out, always shifting sky. In a true and wonderful way, each moment today can be a time of meditation for me – a moment in which to carefully consider the gift I’ve been given of being alive and aware. Even a tree branch bending slightly can be seen for what it is – a miracle as marvelous as the rising of the sun. Today, I hope to be a serious and successful observer, a devoted student of the always astounding present moment.
WORDS THAT AWAKEN
June 20, 2021, 4:40 a.m.
My goal for today is to be totally attentive. The word derives from the Latin word for ‘stretch’, which reminds me that I will need to stretch – to reach out and expand beyond my self-centered likes and dislikes, so I can see – and pay close attention to – the majesty that will be all around me today. I want to pay a serious visit to each present moment. I want to take careful note of what’s happening – my fingers smoothly moving across the computer keyboard, the soapy water sliding with ease across plates in the sink, my shoes softly brushing the floors as I walk through the house. Today, I want to truly notice what’s happening – not just see it, but actually become totally aware of it – scrutinize it, inspect it, study it. One branch bending in a breeze today is worthy of my total attention, as is each word someone speaks, each flutter of light and shadow, each smile or frown on a face. I want to be a watchful friend today – someone who loves life and stays alert to its marvels. I want to be on guard, ready to greet the goodness that will be breaking forth on all sides all day.
June 20, 2021
It's just like you.
It stands where it's supposed to stand.
It sighs when things go wrong -
a wild wind that wasn't expected,
a thousand footprints of sparrows,
a shirt of blistering sunlight.
Just like you,
the little things are pleasing to grass -
a golden scarf of sunshine,
the adventures of a youthful breeze,
the music of shoes walking.
You learn lessons every day,
and so does the grass -
to grow when it can,
to relax and lean away
when a wind comes,
to share its life
with sticks and blossoms and castaway things.
There's silence in your life,
as in the grass's -
the peace of your pleasant thoughts,
the serenity of standing
with brother and sister grass blades
in the starlight.