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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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.

The Varda

The Varda was concerned. It looked out at the scene before it, wasteland, all of it. Stones atop stones atop dry earth. The desolation stretched out as far as The Varda’s eyes could see, and The Varda could see very far – at least on the right side. The left side was nearsighted, but not just in distance.
The Varda had six eyes – two for each head. Each head had different capabilities and most certainly a different personality. The left saw the past, as far back as human history began, but no further. The center saw the present in all its glory and sadness. The right saw the future, shifting and uncertain to human eyes, but solid and sure to The Varda.
The Varda was just that, The Varda. It had no other name. How could it? With three heads and one lion-like body, it was three beings and yet one. This confounded everyone but made perfect sense to it. To name each head was to ignore the very reality of its oneness and unity within itself. It was the very example of cooperation and harmony. World leaders should have studied it, but didn’t. They might have averted this tragedy.
The Varda was always “it” – never he, or she. How could you determine gender? It did not reproduce, so it had no need for the simple distinctions of language. The Varda was simply The Varda, and nothing more.
All around The Varda were the cries of pain and confusion. The earthquake had ruined the centuries-old village with its monuments and temples. Shrines were in shambles. Homes were reduced to the clay that they had been molded from.
Enough earthquakes had happened in the past three hundred years here that the people had stopped building anything higher than a single story for their homes, or out of anything more substantial than packed earth. What was the point? It was easier to rebuild if there was less rubble in the way. Sort out the few meager belongings, set them to the side. Wet the same earth over again, pack it into simple wooden frames, let it set for an hour, pop it out and let it dry. A few days later they could rebuild the house – the same, or different this time. It was like forced redecorating. They had come to accept this as their normal.
It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t normal at all. They couldn’t see this, because of their limited sight. The Varda knew better. With time stretched out before it like a topographic map, it knew the dips and peaks of human history. It knew whether the people it watched were going to have a hard climb up the mountain of difficulty or an easy time of plenty in the valley of content.
Time was flat now, even for The Varda. It didn’t like this, not one bit. In all its eons of life, it had never felt so blind, so lost. It was missing its one way to guide its people, to keep them safe.
There was no way The Varda could let them know how lost it was. Their pain would only be magnified. It had to adapt, to learn how to see just the now, the present. Right now, all three heads saw only what was in front of them and nothing more.
It had started when the volcano erupted. Started? Perhaps stopped was more accurate. The three-part vision had turned off silently and slowly, like day fading into dusk. It was so gradual that The Varda didn’t even realize it until its sight was darkness, all flat and senseless. It could see, certainly, but not with the sharpness or meaning or surety that it had known all of its life. This was different.
Now The Varda was just like the people of this land. Time to rebuild, but this time it would be different. It would have to be.

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.