Observation haikus

May 25, 2007

 Its been a good while since I’ve tried my hand at haiku but the challenge offered by One Deep Breath is too irresistible on this bright day.

1

Blending with background

a moth hidden in shadow

sunshine trickling through

2

 A squirrel descends

robbing my feeder again

sighing, birds scatter

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Simple

May 25, 2007

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How does one move towards simplicity?  In our ever complicated lives how do we distinguish that which is essential, stripped-down and pure?

I have let go of the television and foods from the flesh of animals.  I try to find quiet places and take walks on shaded sidewalks.  I wash the dishes by hand and let them dry on the rack.  I’ve got veggies planted on the sides of the house with hopes for luscious tomatoes and peppers.  Are these behaviors symptoms of simplicity?

I am unsure.  These things feel right to me and are always apt to change.  They give my life a deeper sense of meaning, a resonation that lifts me out of the robotive workings of a mind chained to its veils.  When I set out to be simple that striving moves me away from that which is simple.

Which leads me to beingness.  Simplicity itself.  Contrivances put away for another day, ease of motion found in fluidity.  Magic when it just clicks and you are no longer there, the observer and the observed as one.  A reuniting only separated by that glance away from what is always here. 

Those times when we want to move away from all of the clutter and confusion are the heart calls yearning for home.  A return to the familiar, a reduction to those life elements that are dear and close.  We call a good friend, write a poem, wake before the morning light to witness dawn’s grace.  Thankfully these are moments that are always accessible as long as the lungs take in air and this magical consciousness witnesses life’s play upon the earth.

virginia tech library

This past weekend I returned to Blacksburg to meet a friend (John) and spend time walking in nature and hanging about town.  I brought a newer friend (Michael) to share in the experience since he is for the time unfettered.  When I made the plans for this trip there were no memorials set up for fallen students and teachers.  Blacksburg was still the idyllic setting I knew from undergraduate days, a vibrant college town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

virginia tech drillfield

If I didn’t have the memories of that horrible day and the unfolding aftermath, Blacksburg would not appear much different to my casual glance.  There are many ribbons tied on trees, a makeshift memorial near the center of the campus and an academic building fenced off from prying eyes.  If you had not known that this was the place of the incident then you could have easily walked on by these changes. 

virginia tech memorial

And I must admit that besides the hour or so I spent walking around the campus thoughts of that day did not enter my head.  I found it very difficult to fuse the knowledge from April 16th learned via different media to my prior memories of Blacksburg and present experience walking around town.  The tragedy for me occurred while I was at work in Virginia Beach and home later on the Internet and the radio.  I felt the sadness in my living room with my wife close by.   

virginia tech burress hall

So to be in Blacksburg it felt like I needed to superimpose those emotions felt in Virginia Beach to the place where it actually happened.  Strange indeed.  I couldn’t be sad anymore.  I felt stillness and a lightness associated with the healing power of time.  I can see that the town and the students will be indelibly affected.  But I also can sense the peace of acceptance that is taking place if only because there is no other road for me to walk.

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I’m still here–just been a time of transition.

And I’m very excited to have just figured out how to link my pictures from Flickr into this here blog.  My HTML is nonexistent but if I just need to copy and paste then all is well.

Expect to see some cool photos!

A strange thing happened on Mother’s Day.  Rather a string of events occurred that upon reflection may or may not have significance.  Let me set the stage:

Georgiana and I out to brunch with her mom, sister and our good friend.  The No Frill Grille is a popular spot and especially so on the day for going out to eat.  We are there early before the doors open and nudge our way into the restaurant for a table on the outside covered patio.  Its been awhile since I’ve eaten there and am looking forward to the variety of veggie selections available to tempt my palate.  We order (Super Veggie pita for me, Veggie Quesadilla for G), eat the grub and chat about whatever.  As the plates are taken away and the talk continues I feel a bit restless.  After a few more minutes I get up to go telling everyone that I’ll just be outside, take their time, etc.

Now here’s where the strangeness comes in.

Ten minutes later G and the gang pop out of the restaurant (I walked down a couple of blocks and returned as they were exiting).  They have a story to tell.  A few minutes after I left the table a waiter tripped and fell spilling a complete Bloody Mary in the seat I was previously occupying.  Had I still been there I would have been covered in a salty red bath.

But I wasn’t.

And I wonder if the urge that brought me to my feet to leave the restaurant prevented my dowsing.  Trying to dissect those moments now is difficult.  At the time my life experience was flowing along in its usual direction and I was sharing food with people like I have on so many other occasions.  Before I stood I was already wanting to leave the restaurant.  But if I would have stayed with the rest of the group then my day would have involved a public bath.

So was that my intuition speaking?  I didn’t hear a voice in my head but I definitely had to get up and leave the restaurant at that moment.  I acted and at the time it seemed of my own volition but now I wonder if I wasn’t guided out of Bloody Mary’s way.  Which leads me to muse upon all of the urgings that encourage me to act in a moment and the possible other consequences if I had not heeded the call, the ones I ignored that led me down a darker alleyway.

Is my life already scripted but without the script it seems that I have free choice?  Am I in control?  Was I not fated to receive the spill but only to reflect upon it in this blog?

Some say serendipity other’s say chance or a guardian angel.  I believe there is a mystery that binds the flow of reality and works in ways outside of our understanding.  Perhaps in this instance I was given a glimpse backstage of the everyday play of life.

Does second chance exist?  If we are given the opportunity to repeat something is it the second time or the first all over again?  Let me clarify.

You are on a baseball team.  In the first inning you come to bat and strike out.  In the fourth  you come up again and we say, “a second chance to bat.”  And in the context of the game this may be true but really it is a new opportunity, a new first time.

So with a relationship.  She says, “I’m going to give him a second chance.” In the context of the relationship this may appear to be so but taken as a whole this is a new first chance at friendship or love.  Or it may be a continuation of the first meeting, that first contact that allowed strings to form  and a way back to each other.

Perhaps I’m just being picky about word choice.  In my life second, third and fourth chances have appeared beckoning me to action.  If I don’t label them or chronologize them then it is always opportunity presenting itself.  Always new even if appearing in the same guise.

Is creativity giving me a second chance in the form of these words?  Am I just imagining this procession of opportunities when the doors are ever-present, waiting to be opened?

More second chances here.

Meditation.  I just consulted dictionary.com to look for a proper definition and found one I like via wordnet.

~continuous and profound contemplation or musing on a subject or series of subjects of a deep or abstruse nature; “the habit of meditation is the basis for all real knowledge”

Yeah, that’s nice.  Especially the last part.  I used to be a great reader of spiritual texts from Krishnamurti to Papaji with sprinklings of Buddhism and Zen mixed in.  Coming from a Catholic background I was interested in different worldviews that stepped out of the narrow confines of Christianity.  I’ve even read channelled texts that speak to the greater purposes of the human race.  Throughout my readings I kept coming back to meditation and the need to experience reality directly.  After all reading can only get you so far in pointing the direction–eventually you must put down the book and walk through the door.

Of course reading about all of these different ways up the mountain I became confused as to what you were actually supposed to do when you meditate.  Sit quietly on the ground? Cross-legged or in a chair?  Does it have to be the lotus position to get close to god?  I can’t stop thinking..what am I doing just sitting here!

My ever-changing conclusion is that meditation can look like anything at all and manifests differently in every individual.  Watching a tree sway in the summer breeze, sitting quietly as the morning light moves across the earth, listening to that piece of music that uplifts and calms, walking through shady streets in the heat of the day, observing life abundant and letting the mind unravel.

Learning a style of meditation can be beneficial for a time but after a while constricts the window of experience when the meditator is more involved with the rules than what they allude to.  I practiced the Vipassana style for some time and found a way through my wall of thought to a stillness of mind I didn’t think possible.  For that I am grateful.  The total immersion approach practiced by the participants (10 days of silence) helps to slough away years of mind garbage.  The problem?  Well there are rules to follow if you want to get to the deeper levels of awareness.  And that is when my questions start.

If its as simple as being aware then why must there be rules to enforce this natural state?  Do levels of achievement actually exist when we are considering the pervasiveness of reality?  Wouldn’t it just be fine to take what I have learned, throw away the parts I don’t find useful and do my own thing?

That’s where I am now.  Writing these words as a meditation, going for walks, occasionally sitting cross-legged and sensing the energy within and without.  Perhaps all that we witness can be fodder for our own spiritual understanding.