Poem – Message

Now is the time of lightness,
of leanness. Teardown.
Travel simply.
Take little with you.
Consider what you carry
(and this isn’t just about supplies)
Life is a journey
even if
you never leave your own town.

Don’t plan far ahead.
Don’t scatter your resources.
Read one book at a time,
do one craft at a time.
Finish one thing
before starting another.
Simplify.

This is the time of winnowing.
Those who carry too much,
are spread too thin,
will not survive.
Only those who can
conserve their resources
mental emotional physical
will make it through.

Become childlike again
or for the first time.
Try without expectation.
Color without lines.
Create without a need to be perfect.
Trust the process to work out
without your direct input.

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Journey to the center (story picture poem)

Let us go on a journey, you and I.

We begin at the entrance to a Japanese tea garden.
It is springtime. The cool moss welcomes us.
p1

We walk along the path, admiring the views.
We meet our guide,
who tells us that
the path is the purpose
of the journey.
The goal is not the tea.
The goal is a state of inner calm
and centeredness
that we attain
from walking the path.

We walk past the house.
We are leaving the known behind. Our journey is far longer than this.

Garden detail, Kyoto, Honshu, Japan

Garden detail, Kyoto, Honshu, Japan

The stepping stones continue,
leading us further onwards
and inwards.
p1b2

They continue over water. It has gotten warmer. Is it summer now?
p1b3

Will the water ever end? And another surprise – the glory of fall leaves.
p1b4

It is so awkward to cross using these stones.
We have a hard time admiring the scenery
because we have to watch our feet.

And then we think
– who set these stones?
Who had to get wet
so that we could be dry?

Even though it seems we are alone,
there are many signs
that there were others
before us.

The path leaves the lake and takes us to a forest.
p1b5

The air is cool on our bare arms.
We smell the crisp green pines,
hear the distant songs
of unseen birds.

We see stone stairs,
dense, imposing.
They are leading us to a large red gate.
p1c

Our guide tells us this is a Torii gate,
to mark the difference between
there, and here.
To mark sacred space.
This is no barrier,
it keeps no one out.
It simply alerts you to a shift,
a change.
Is it the land,
or you,
that is different now?

We see other gates shortly after this one.
p1d

The gates continue,
p1d2

wave after wave of them.
p1e

They are like immense bells,
ringing over and over,
reminding us to be here,
that we are here,
be present in this moment,
notice this.

And yet we are still not at our destination.
The path continues over more water,
but thankfully there is a bridge this time.
p1h

We are still stunned by all those gates.
Where are we being led to?
Who has prepared this way for us?

The path continues into another forest.
p2

While the path goes upwards,
the air gets misty
and the trees grow closer together.
p3

They are so close together
that they arch overhead,
making a cathedral.
p5

And now there is snow.
Will wonders never cease?
Wasn’t it spring just a moment ago?
How long have we been walking?
Look, ahead – there is a house. The path leads right to it.
p5b

Our guide leads us to it,
telling us that this is our destination,
yet it is not the end of the journey.
We push open the unlocked door
and walk inside.
We continue upwards,
ever upwards.
p5e

Now the stairs twist and curl,
like ribbons on a birthday present,
like snakes,
like a double helix,
like the beginning and the end.
p5f

We reach a landing.
Further stairs are ahead.
Someone has lit candles for us.
p5h

What is at the top?
The same that was at the beginning.

We have brought our
selves
here.
We have found our
selves
here, too.

(all pictures are from Pinterest)

The erasure

They finally came. After months of broadcasts on all known media (radio, television, Internet, newspaper, shortwave, telegraph, TTY, dolphins, psychics) saying it was coming, that they were coming, it had finally happened.

Nobody knew who was sending the broadcasts, or where they were from. Agencies and detectives and amateur sleuths all over the world tried to answer those questions, to no avail. Séances were held. Runes were consulted. Wires were tapped. Still the messages came, and still no one knew the source or the author. Television anchors were told to say nothing that might frighten the public more than they already were. Talk show hosts were, as usual, under no authority or ethical standard, so they said whatever they felt, regardless of truth or concern for how their prattlings would harm.

The beings, or spirits, or aliens, or whatever they were had tried to communicate with our earth for far longer than people realized. They had subtly influenced moods and desires since before 2000, like a silent alarm, like an odorless poison. They were the reason for the Y2K panic. They were the reason preppers stocked up on ammunition and canned ham. They were the reason people began to mis-trust the authorities and began to take matters into their own hands. Urban farms, homeschooling, anti-vaccine? These were their doing. Layer by layer they had painted a picture of paranoia in our brains to divide us, keep us off balance.

Everyone was affected to some degree. It was only those who didn’t consume mass media that maintained some semblance of control over their actions. All those who watched TV or movies or listened to the radio got multiple doses of the message, and it was cumulative, just like any other poison. A single bee sting is annoying, but not fatal. A thousand stings is another matter.

When they finally came it was almost a relief.

It was a cool day in August, one of those days that was not too hot or humid with a few clouds in the azure sky. The morning had gone peacefully for everyone for a change. The disturbing dreams have finally stopped. Even the news reports were calm for a change, with the latest plastic surgery of one celebrity being the lead instead of the usual threats of war from petty tyrants trying to get the world to notice them. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, until the skies scissored open with the dimension-melting sight/sound/smell of their ships at 11:11 AM.

People started to see sounds and hear colors.
Time ran backwards and sideways and stopped.
Everything suddenly made sense
but there were no words
anymore to explain it.

And then there was nothing.

The silence was thicker than the darkest night, a crushing subterranean weight, more alienating than being trapped in the Marianas Trench in a powerless submarine.

Then, just as suddenly, there was only now. The past wasn’t even a memory. It was just a word. All mistakes, all forgotten grocery lists, all insults, all arguments, gone in a blink of the eye. Gone too were first kisses. baby’s first laugh, that perfect day in October when the sky is the blue of watery dreams and crisp like a Gala apple.

All of it.
Gone.

Somehow they knew, whoever they were. They knew that what was holding us back was our near-pathological need to catalog the past into neat (and not so neat) piles, holding onto memories and snapshots and train tickets and receipts for ice skates and ice cream. Somehow they knew that our need to separate those piles into “good” and “bad” was our secret un-doing, our un-humaning, our un-being. Somehow they knew that our “bad” pile held us down, became a pattern for our future, made us think we would always be cheated, be robbed, be abandoned. Somehow too, they knew that our “good” pile equally enslaved us, making us feel that we could never feel that exhilarated or proud or delighted ever again.

Our collective and individual past being erased was as great a blessing to us as a tornado or a house fire. It forced us to stop holding onto the dried husks of what it means to be truly alive. For too long we thought that the artificial joy of our memories was what made us human.

Overnight, the scrapbooking industry was rendered irrelevant. No one could even imagine why they had spent so much of their lives (and money) gluing memorabilia into organized books, accented with metallic rickrack and die-cut stickers. No one took photographs either, choosing to see their lives through their own eyes rather than through a viewfinder.

Why save the past anymore?
It was meaningless.
Only the present moment,
a moment eternally composed
of beginnings,
was valid.
In that moment
anything
could happen.

Poem – snow day

snow day

Remember that feeling you have
when you look outside
and everything
is covered by snow?

It was forecasted
but they didn’t know exactly
when it would happen –
what time of day,
or even if this day or the next.
But it was coming,
that was certain.

And while you were asleep
the snow appeared,
silently
making everything white,
everything new,
covering the world
with a silent calm,
a soft pure light.

Every prayer,
every reconciliation,
every bridge mended,
every addiction cured,
every honest conversation,
every deep listening

is a snowflake.

The world will change
because we will change it
because we were changed
one
by
one
by
one
a light comes on
and we share it, we shine it.

A new day is coming.
A new day is here.

Poem – afterlife

Nobody can tell you
where the flame goes
after it is
blown out,
so how do we know
where the soul goes
after
we die?
How do we know
there is more,
there is life after life?

Is it a bedtime story we tell
(our children, ourselves)
to keep away the boogeyman,
the things that go bump in the night?

Now is all we have.
Why worry about
the afterlife
and waste the life you have?

Live before you die.

If there is an afterlife,
let it be a bonus,
an extra.
Don’t let it be your only,
because it might not be.
Don’t worry
about whether
it is
or is not,
because that steals away
time
from the life you have,
now.

Poem – now is not the time

Odd how
on my lunch break,
my own time,
I always worry about
what I’m going to do next
always
check my schedule
always
think I’m missing something

meaning that
I’m missing
the most important thing
which is
my time
right then.

Trying to multitask
means I’m not doing
the task
at hand.

While worrying about
saving time
I end up
losing it.

Now is good

The trick is learning how to adapt to what actually is happening. Too many of us live in the past or live in the future. Too many people wish that things were like they used to be or dream of how things are going to be. Meanwhile they are miserable and they don’t realize that they will continue living in the now. So they will always think about how things used to be awesome when they weren’t that awesome. And they will think about how they would like things to be but they never become that. So they will always stay miserable.

We need to recalibrate our brains to accept that what we have right now is what we have right now and stop trying to force it to be something else. We are trying to force a round peg into a square hole. It just isn’t going to work. We are trying to pour a gallon of milk into a pint glass. We will always be miserable this way. We need to change our assumptions and our perceptions. We need to start seeing things the way they are instead of the way we wish they were. This way, life won’t surprise us and confound us all the time.

One way I’ve found to stay in the now is to be constantly thankful. Whatever I have, I give thanks for. It can be something like having hot running water or wireless internet. These are commonplace things where I live, but not everywhere. The danger of them being common is that I start to take them for granted. When they don’t work, I miss them a lot. So I’ve learned to be thankful for them every day. It is the practice of “counting my blessings” rather than cursing my losses. This way, when something does break or go wrong, it isn’t the center of my world. It is softened by all the many other things that work well and have gone right. This practice ripples out into everything else. Being thankful in a little means that I start to become thankful in a lot.