Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Different

This morning, as I sat in my spot, I noticed something different. It was to the North East, out in the Pine Grove. The silver shine of pine exposed to the weather for a long time shone bright in the morning sun. Something had flown in front of it, and this registered to me as “different.” I was struck by how, after sitting in the same place at roughly the same time every day for some time now, I can see slight shifts in the view and register things as different. What is striking to me is that I can't tell why it's different, but simply that it is different. It comes as something less than a thought. More like a, “Hum,” then I know. Something has changed.


Today, I will be noticing when I notice, in things that are familiar, that something is different. I will be letting go of trying to figure out why it's different, and just noticing that it is different.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pain

The strength of the summer sun always seems to take me be surprise. I got a sunburn picking the Strawberries on Saturday. It got worse yesterday, so sleeping last night wasn't easy.

I appreciate pain. I find it centering. It reminds me to be grateful for the times when it is absent. It reminds me that, like all things, it will pass. It reminds me that everything is always changing. Sometimes the sunburn pain is really bad, sometimes I don't even feel it. It reminds me about acceptance. Acceptance disconnects me from what might be or what might have been and brings me back to what is happening right here, right now. I can't make the pain go away, but I only have to experience it in the moment I am in.

Today, I am paying attention to pain,
And experiencing it,
As it is,
In the moment I am in,
Right here,
Right now.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Catbird Medicine

This morning, my path to my sitting spot took me out around the South side of the cabin. I was approaching the grape arbor when a bird flew out. I was struck by it because it flew as gentile as rain. It didn't chirp as it flew, nor did its feathers unsettle the air enough to make a sound. It was not a bird I was familiar with.

It flew out ahead of me then banked East. It had the same coloration as Catbird, but its tail feathers were much shorter. It bonked into the deck railing, righted itself then flew down into some tall grass. I went ahead and sat down in my spot. That's when Catbird showed up. She sat on the deck rail looking, in turns at me, then toward the tall grass. Catbird squawking, but quietly. Catbird squawks at me a lot, but not quietly. Catbird is a generous squawker. This squawk was very different. Somewhere in the midst of all this I figured it out. I had spooked Baby Catbird.

A second adult showed up. This one swooped under a Ceder tree and hopped around, looking for something. I noticed one of the pair appeared on the grape arbor, squawked a bit, then disappeared. I saw the two adults fly up to the Maple tree and chase each other around, than soar North. One of them appeared again on the deck rail, looking at me, then flew off.

I could discern no pattern in the adult's actions, just a simple centeredness around the apparent location of Baby Catbird. They appeared to be doing what they would do anyway; eating and hunting, soaring and perching, chasing and following, flying away and returning, squawking and feather flipping.

It got me thinking about how I teach my children. I imagined that Baby Catbird was watching everything the adults did, taking it all in. Learning, not from instructions, but from actions. Learning how to be. Seeing what adults did and learning what was possible. There were no requirements, only possibilities.

And the tests were built in. When Baby Catbird evaded me, it was an opportunity to try out some skills, but the stakes were real. Baby could not know whether I was walking, or hunting. And Baby's parents could not protect her. Baby was taking what had been taught and putting it into action.


Today I will be thinking about how I teach my children through my actions. Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. I think of this as Snake Medicine. Snake Medicine is instruction. Stories are Snake Medicine. This writing is Snake Medicine. Catbird is reminding me that my actions are powerful teachers. Catbird can't tell stories or give instructions with human words. Catbirds teaches by living in the presence of Baby Catbird. Today, I will be practicing Catbird Medicine.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Valerian

I woke this morning and my wife had already gone downstairs to feed the animals. I had missed the dog nudging her with a quiet whimper. I had missed her getting out of bed. I had missed the squeaky stairs. These things usually wake me up. It's the Valerian. Not that I used any last night, or chewed it, to be more accurate. It is in bloom., however.

Valerian is a great sleep aid. Better, in my opinion, than home grown Chamomile. Some of the Valerian plants that grow around the cabin are five feet high, with flowers ten inches around. The sweet and somewhat off putting smell wafts around the land this time of year, replacing the scent of Wild Rose that has just gone by.

There are lots of studies about how many people experience the effects of medicinal and mind altering substances before they enter the body. It is well documented how people begin to relax and unwind upon ordering their first drink. Is it possible that simply having the Valerian at our disposal is what gave my such deep and restful sleep?

This gets me thinking about how I come to believe that I need some form of aid in order to accomplish something. I used to think that, in order to really be free, I had to take a shower before singing. I still wear the same tee shirt when I work out, even though I don't believe it does anything but keep me from sticking to the bench. I am wondering if there are any other hurdles that I put between me and whatever it is I have come to believe I need “x” to be able to do. It seems there is so much that we are capable of that we doubt because of some prerequisite we have been told has to come first. I am obviously not sleeping well because I am chewing Valerian. Is it just reminding me that I am capable of good sleep? Am I giving myself permission to sleep because it is in bloom?


Today, I will be looking out for roadblocks I don't even know I have put up that get in my way. And I will be asking myself, “What are you waiting for?”

Friday, June 23, 2017

Strawberries

A couple of days ago I got to do the first big Strawberry harvest. I picked a lot of berries. I also ate a lot of berries. Thing is, there are times when you pick a berry and it is just this side of begin over ripe. It's not rotten, yet. But it also isn't quite hard enough to survive in the bowl under all the rest of the berries you are about to pick. The only option is to eat it. That's about as fresh as you can get. But it occurred to me that it is also a sublime wonder. Coming onto that berry just as it is about to cross the line toward rotting. The perfect juncture of time and sunlight and, well everything.

And sometimes they are amazing. Like, the best berry I have ever eaten. Like no other berry. And unshareable.

Thing is, there's no telling if the berry you are about to eat is going to be one of those amazing berries. It's not until you've eaten it that you know. So you can't say to someone, “Here. Taste this. It's going to be amazing.” Because it might not be. Sometimes these just this side of mush berries taste terrible, or bitter, or bland. You just have to pop it in your mouth and hope for the best. Even describing it to someone is impossible. It's one of those things you just have to experience yourself.


It got me thinking about other types of experiences that are the culmination of so many seemingly disparate events that come together to make something amazing. And how they can't be described. To say that a berry was amazing doesn't really get across what it was like to find and eat that berry. What it was really like. You just had to be me in that moment. Me, in the patch, finding that berry, then. It defies description, because a description is about now, not about then. Seems like the best way to honor that moment is to head out to the berry patch and see what happens next.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Abundance

As I sit on the back deck, I see an old Apple Tree to the East surrounded by Maple and Oak trees. To the North, there is a woodland meadow of Enchanters Nightshade, Jewel Weed, and Wild Raspberry. To the South the Grape leaves flow out from the arbor below the Peach trees. Here, in the woods of Maine, we are at the beginning of months of abundance, but to recognize the true measure of what is available, I have to be able to see it. One of the most striking things that happened to me when I started to learn about edible plants was when I began to actually see them. Once I knew what they looked like, I couldn't not see them. Dandelion greens, Lambs quarters, Violets, Queen Ann's lace, we are surrounded by wild edible plats in such numbers that it would be difficult to harvest them all. But if you don't know what to look for, it can look like nothing more than a carpet of green.


This gets me thinking about how there are always months, or weeks, or days, or moments of abundance in my life. Times when I can relax, and know that there is so much available to me, even if I miss something, there will be more around the corner. The abundance is there, but, like edible plants, I have know what it looks like to be able to see it. One of the biggest challenges I faced in my foragers journey was breaking from the supermarket culture that taught me that something edible and safe couldn't possibly be growing next to my driveway. And how could something nourishing possibly be free? I receive so many invitations from our culture to be “saving for the rainy day,” or “being prepared for the next shoe to drop.” It can be hard to recognize the times when, even if it does rain, there will be more than enough to get me through; Even if I don't prepare. Our 24/7 culture invites me to think I have to always be on guard in anticipation of the bad times, but today I am remembering that sometimes there is so much good, it will outweigh the bad anyway. The real danger is in missing these times and the rejuvenation they offer. Today, I will be keeping my head up and my eyes open, looking for those possible but perhaps unfamiliar moments of abundance. And I will be taking the time to stop and fully relax into their warm embrace, trusting that in this time of plenty, there will be enough. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bittersweet

As late spring roles into early summer here at the cabin, emerald green unfurls all around us cued by the warming sun. As it happens, my attention keeps being drawn to the Bittersweet. Bittersweet is a viny climber, but it can't climb alone. It requires the assistance of partner plants to reach upwards. This partnership is, however, one sided. The Bittersweet doesn't give back to these partner plants. In fact Bittersweet will grow and grow, clinging tighter and tighter to the partner plants as they, too, attempt to grow. Eventually, the partner plant will die, strangled by Bittersweet's grasp. Curiously, when this happens the partner plats collapse, and Bittersweet falls back to the ground.


I wondered, is Bittersweet teaching me about relationships where there is not true partnership? Where one person grows at the expense of another? Or perhaps about the choices I can make about who I choose to spend my time with, that sometimes I am taking or giving in ways that aren't reciprocal? Or is she teaching me about a balance of Nature that exists beyond my ability to perceive; a balance that has a larger arch than I am conscious of? Then it occurs to me. Maybe Bittersweet is reminding me that sometimes the most import lessons aren't in the answers I get, but the questions I begin to ask. Today, I will be paying attention to the questions that arise from the teachers I encounter. Thank you Bittersweet.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wren

Wren lives in the bird house that hangs from the dogwood tree above the Western Strawberry patch. It's picking season, and she is not happy when I show up in the morning. She is about twice the size of my thumb, but she doesn't hesitate to let me know how unwelcome I am. She perches not three feet from me and calls the alarm. I don't know if she would call it courage, but I have a deep sense of respect for her willingness to place herself in harms way to protect her babies.


Wren gets me thinking about how when she is faced with what might seem like insurmountable odds, she stands up anyway. I could spend a lot of time thinking about why she does it, but I won't. In stead, I'll just remember her getting in my face because that's what she's doing. She does it because she does it. What difficult action might I take, not because I have weighed the odds, but because it is the next right step in my path?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dad

My father was, above all else, a sailor. As a result, most of the lessons I learned from him, I learned on a boat. The one that returns to me most often has to do with steering. He taught me that a in the flow of wind and water, gentle change is the way to go.
There are two parts to the steering mechanism of any sail boat; The rudder and the tiller. The rudder is the part of the system that you see in the water behind the boat. The tiller is the part you hold on to. Through the tiller you can feel the interaction between the boat and the sea. What you give is what you get back, and sudden movements telegraph though the craft rattling you out of the natural flow. I learned that I might want my heading to suddenly be different, but I wasn't in charge, the sea and the wind and the craft were.
Today I am thinking about my father and the lessons he taught me. I am remembering that as much as I might want things to be different in any given moment, change happens slowly and in its time. The best I can do is hang onto the tiller, feel the ocean and its intentions, and allow the flow to show me what to do next.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mosquito

Mosquito bounced off the wire mesh not five inches from the opening left by the screens I had taken to the hardware store for repairs. I watched her bounce and retreat, move North, bounce again, now South, bounce, up, down, bounce, retreat, over and over. I wondered what it must be like for the little creature. Limitless open space just the other side of what probably looked like prison bars or a vast chain link fence. What she wanted was so close, yet unreachable through the seemingly infinite barrier.

Then I noticed something new. As she approached the two inch piece of frame supporting the screen, moving south toward the gap and freedom, she changed direction and headed north again, returning to where she had already searched for an opening. Even though the solution to her dilemma was just past the frame section, there was apparently something about it that kept her away.

Mosquito got me thinking about how sometimes, even though an answer or a goal seems within my grasp, in order to reach it I have to follow a path that is harder. To reach freedom, Mosquito has to let go of what she could see through the screen and traverse the hard darkness of the wooden frame. If she did, she would find the vastness of possibilities she could sense but couldn't quite reach. I wonder how often I am doing this myself; so seduced by an almost answer, that I don't muster the courage to face the uncertainty of the unfamiliar to get what I really wanted in the first place.


Grateful to Mosquito for all she had taught me, I got up and approached her from the North, hoping my presence would push her South, toward the opening the the screen wall. Sensing my presence, she did. She moved South bouncing and searching even faster, but, still, she refused to cross the wooden barrier. Reaching my hand out toward her was what finally pushed her to traverse the frame and escape. Could it be that the threat of real parallel my hand manifest was what motivated her to fly through the unknown and find her freedom? Was she so focused on me that she forgot her fears and did it anyway? That is something Mosquito left behind for me to ponder.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rhubarb

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and noticed that the Rhubarb isn't flourishing like it has in the past. I'm guessing that's because I haven't been watering that section of the garden. We've had enough rain, so it's growing, but usually the Rhubarb seems to expand exponentially as soon as the weather warms. So much, in fact, that I end up putting most of it in the compost. (There is a limit to how much I can dump on my neighbors front porches.) This year we have a manageable amount. Enough to use. Enough to share.

This got me thinking about what else I water in my life, what grows exponentially, and what stays manageable. If I water worries and concerns, they grow. If I don't, they tend to stay manageable. It's not that I don't have them, it's about what I do when I do. Can I do something about them right here right now, or am I caught up in a lot of could'a, should'a, would'as?


Some Rhubarb is manageable, but piles and piles of it is overwhelming. Today, I'm paying attention to what I water.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shoes

When our kid's friends come over to the cabin, they generally leave there shoes on the hearth, or under the coat rack. As a result, when I get home, I can usually figure out who's there by figuring out who's shoes are who's. All of the shoes are emblematic of what they stand for. Whether it's my daughters adult size jellies, my son's Van's, or a friend's knee high Doc Martens, each says something about the wearer's intentions. In this way their shoes become tracks of what they stand for (And what they stand in.).


This gets me thinking about the tracks I leave behind. It is my intention that my tracks reflect my intentions. I want my tracks to remind those who come across them that there is always hope and that there are always possibilities. Today, I will be thinking about the tracks I leave and what they say about what I stand for.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Zoom Out

Two of the screen panels in the screen house had been damaged by the heavy winter snow. Last week I removed them and they are now at the hardware store being repaired. This morning I noticed that a small wasp had died just five inches from the opening one of the screens left in the wall. Five more inches South, and the wasp would have flown free. This reminded me that possibilities can go unnoticed if my field of view is too limited.

I once saw a book called Zoom. The title refers to the act of Zooming in and out, and the effect that has on the images in the book. We zoom out from a picture of a person to reveal a street. We zoom out from the picture of a street to reveal a town, and so on. A friend of mine calls this widening the frame. The idea that an unnoticed possibility can exist outside the frame I am limited by reminds me that I can make the choice to zoom out and see what is just beyond the bounds of my current perspective. Doing this can keep me from being trapped like the wasp.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reminders

This morning I find my thoughts captured by many things. I am distracted, and am missing many things. Then I remember that what distracts me is emblematic of what I stand for and what matters to me. Now I am grateful for these reminders of what I hold dear.

Monday, June 12, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Present and Explicit-Part VI

Change

This morning I wake with the profound sense that something has shifted. Cultural mythologies that suggest change is always bad invite me to worry. I am breathing and awake, so I will decline those invitations. I remember the worry energy and excitement energy are the same, so I return my awareness to this moment. With butterflies in my stomach, I am open to what comes next.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Judgement

When I find myself judging someone else's choices or actions, I take up the same ideas with them that I would take up for myself. They are doing the best they can and making choices with all the information they have access to. Also, when I see someone struggling with the choices they have made or the consequences of other people's choices, I can take up a position of gratitude, and be thankful I am not in that place of struggle. This brings me back to the moment I am in, and the consequences of the choices I have made. With my head up and my eyes open, I can figure out what to do next.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Spider's Strand

A single strand of Spider silk shone like a golden thread attached to the rail of the Eastern deck. Illuminated by the raising morning Sun, at first I thought it was only connected on one end. I have witnessed baby Spiders, leaving their brothers and sisters by sailing off on strands of silk. Once they reach their destination, they disconnect from the strand and it floats in the wind like a thread from a frayed flag.

I noticed it was attached on the other end, to the roof of the screen house. The sun's illumination was so brilliant that I could make out many details. Where it was anchored to the rail, it was thick. I imagined that the spider had some process of connection that required more filaments. Further up, it was also thicker. Having learned how spiders unfurl silk to create bridges for travel, I considered the possibilities that might have lead to this thickness. Had there been a momentary strong wind that had caused Spider to make that section thicker, or perhaps a lapse in focus?

The strand waved in the light morning breezes, still strong, still functional, but abandon. I wondered if the spider might return to travel across its length once again, but thought that to traverse it again would only bring it back to where it started. In the hunt for food, traveling backward to a place where you know there is none is a waste. Then I was brought to stories I have heard about the Aboriginal people of Australia. On Walkabout, they will fashion Didgeridoos from wood they find along the way. They will play them until it is time to move on, then they leave them behind, like the Spider's strand. This got me thinking about the seduction of attachment and the wisdom of the Aboriginal people, and beauty of Spider's strand.


Today, I hope to have the courage to make something beautiful and leave it behind, creating space for me to do it again.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Noticing Birds

I was sitting in the kitchen, when I noticed a small bird outside on the back deck railing. The bird was about 15 yards from me, so my 50 something eyes could only make out a brown shape. The impulse to get up and get the binoculars was met with the realization that by the time I got my visual aids and got back to my spot, the bird would probably be gone. In stead, I sat and watched. It bobbed its head as if it was following something with its eyes. Then another similarly colored and sized bird swooped around it, and the two were gone. 

I was reminded of the importance of not always getting caught up in the details. Because I couldn't see clearly, I became more aware of the bird's movements. I got to connect to a different, less specific kind of seeing. I'll keep my head up and my eyes open and see what happens next.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Expectations

Yesterday, when I arrived at my favorite busking spot it was, well, under construction. The exact spot where I usually play was roped off, and construction vehicles and personnel took up the rest of the space. In fact it was a challenge even to make a left hand turn and head up to the center of town. Eventually I found my way, and walked up to my old spot in front of the North church. I got set up and started singing. Many songs and cool encounters later, I packed up and went home. I was reminded that getting caught up in expectations about what should happen limits my ability to see what is possible just on the other side of what I can imagine.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rain Drops

Last night's rain drops hang on the Scotch Broom glistening like diamonds as the morning sun brakes through the clouds. I am reminded that without the rain, sunlight can not sparkle.

Monday, June 5, 2017

https://youtu.be/IoVfNZVBaqM

The Morning After

I love to sing, and I sing every day. It starts at about six in the morning with my vocal warm up. Luckily the cabin is far enough out in the woods that no one (Except my family. They are all singers to, so they understand.) can really hear it. I was struck by how it felt to sing today, the day after the spring recital of the voice studio where I study. All of the tension that had built up in anticipation of my performance was gone. It was like I had been pulling back the string of a bow and finally let the arrow soar. It seemed like I could do anything. My freedom was a manifestation of the struggle leading up to the recital. Had I not gone through all that worry, I wouldn't have had the release on the other end. The night before the recital, I was questioning why I do them in the first place. I thought the reason was what happens when I eventually sing the song. Now it seems that that isn't the reason after all. The real reason to do the recital is because of what I get after its all over.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Singing

Today is the spring recital for the voice studio where I take lessons. My teacher, Amanda Munton, is a great teacher, and that is one of the reasons why her recitals are always so hard for me. I don't want to let her down. I sing and play music a lot, but these recitals are the most challenging performances I do. Trying to figure out exactly why they are so hard, (last night while I was staring at the sealing trying to go to sleep) my thoughts turned to my favorite question, “In order to achieve what?”

My angst about these recitals is linked to something I stand for, something that matters to me. Not wanting to screw up is part of it, but I pushed myself to get back to the reason why I perform in the first place. One of my rules about the “in order to achieve what” question is that the answer has to be something that is in my control. So, what am I trying to achieve? It's not just getting the song right. If that was all it was, I could just choose and easy song. But I wanted to do this song. Why this song? Because it is about hope and possibilities.


And so the answer to the question is, “To sing this song.” That's all. It's not about getting the song right. It's about the song. I need to pay attention to the song, not my singing. Whether anyone else does isn't in my control. Nor is whether I let Amanda down. These thoughts will help me stay in what I'm doing in the moment; singing the song, not what might happen; screwing up the notes. That way I make it more likely that I will achieve what I set out to in the first place. Come to think of it, that's all Amanda would want me to do anyway.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Death

There are several reasons why my thoughts this morning are drawn to what my culture calls death. Though I have been taught to think of death as something to be avoided, I choose to think of death as a teacher. Death has taught me how to cherish this moment, since the next one is not guaranteed. Death has also taught me not to wait to tell people that I love them. “Someday” is not in my hand. Now is when I have the opportunity to do, to take action, to be. Today, I am grateful for the lessons death has taught me. I look froward to what comes next.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Feeling Good

I feel really good today. This reminds me of the importance of letting go. Getting hung up on any experience, including this one, would leave me stuck in the past, and missing what is happening in the moment. My letting go practice is always difficult, but especially at times like this. Feeling good is hard to let go of, but I remember that as happiness can turn into sadness, sadness can turn into happiness. Everything is a cycle intersecting with everything else. 

As seductive as it is to try to stay in feeling good, I know that keeping my head up and my eyes open will allow me to see what is possible, but just beyond my current experience. That's where I found “feeling good” in the first place.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Distractions

This morning I find myself distracted by many things, and it gets me thinking about distractions. I heard an old friend's voice on the radio a couple days ago, and I immediately started thinking about writing him. I hadn't though about this particular person for years, but hearing his voice brought him back to my attention. I was reminded of how I get most distracted by what is in front of me, in my local awareness. I see many intersecting spider webs on the dew soaked screen and I wonder what Spider was thinking or following when it made the web. A bird lights on a rose bush and I wonder what kind of bird it is. It happens all the time. I remember that I can make choices about many of the things that show up in the territory of my attention. Not the birds or the spiders, but I can choose to be outside where the birds are likely to show up. I can also choose to stair at my computer screen and wait to see what shows up. Without evaluating these options as better or worse, today I am simple remembering that I can make choices, and see where that leads me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rain

It is an other rainy day in New England. I could remind myself of all the platitudes about what spring rain brings and how the clouds allow the water to recharge the aquifers, but I have a different idea. Rather then try to convince myself I am happy about the rain, I can work on my acceptance practice. 

Accepting the rain as what is doesn't require me thinking I am happy about it. I simply accept that rain is what is happening right now. It is something I can't control, and I can recognize it as such. If I don't, I can't be where I am right here, right now. 

Today, I am working on accepting what is, so I can be where I am. Right here. Right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mayfly

This morning there was a Mayfly resting on one of the screens in the screen house. The light shone faintly through its wings. A Mayfly leg is as thin as a strand of hair, and it seems implausible that something so fine can endure, but it does. It got me thinking about the specific balance between air pressure and mater that makes it possible for anything to exist. 

The scientific vocabulary now includes the idea that a unit of life is better understood as a network, rather than an individual. I would extend this idea and say that a network is better understood as a relationship between things. In saying this, am not so much referring to the “things” but the “between” that is the relationship. 

For me, existence is only in this moment and in the space between. Mayfly reminds me of the culmination of perfection that is this moment and this space in between, this singular unit of life.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Questions

I love asking questions. Not any questions, though. I love to ask questions that illuminate people's purposes, passions, and callings. The Phoebes are nesting under the peak of the Eastern end of the cabin. I can watch them flying in and out of their nest from our bedroom window. This morning I opened my eyes and saw one hover briefly outside the window before flying to the nest. I wanted to ask the bird why it stopped to hover. Then it occurred to me that if I wanted to know, I could sit and watch them for a while. It would eventually become clear. That's the thing about birds and such. If you want to know why they do what they do, all you have to do is watch. Their intentions are manifest in what they do. These Phoebes are obviously committed to feeding their babies. I don't have to ask them. They are telling me by doing what they do. It strikes me that there is a deep honesty in this. The Phoebes are doing what matters to them. They are living their purposes in their actions. In the moments of their lives they embody what they are committed to. 

I am committed to illuminating the unique importance of every person by asking questions that manifest their purpose for being. The Phoebes remind me that my commitment should be obvious enough for someone watching me to understand what it is.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bird Song

This morning, as I listened to the bird song, it occurred to me that bird song is honest. Then I wondered if the birds were telling the truth. Then it occurred to me that honesty and truth are not the same thing. Honesty asks that I do something. Truth asks that I know something. Perhaps the intersection of doing and knowing is far more simple with Bird. I hear the essence of Bird when they sing. Today I will strive to be honest. If there is truth on that, all the better.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Circles

Early this morning the Cat circled the room twice before settling down on our bed for a nap. The Dog turned on her cushion several time before finding the perfect orientation to lay down and go back to sleep. Even in the squareness of the cabin, they find circles. They reminded me that circles are everywhere. In the cycles of the seasons, the seasons of life, the orbits of the planets, circles dominate our existence and remind me that everything is connected. 

In the June Scientific American magazine I read that “the unit of life may not be an individual, but a network.” I am grateful for the privilege of being a part of everything including the Cat's circle and the Dog's cushion.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hard Work

This morning it is raining. The phoebes have to work hard. They are fly catchers. That means they catch bugs on the wing. When it rains, most of the bugs take cover, and wait for the rain to subside. But the Phoebe babies cant wait. They need to eat. So their parents work harder.


I watch and remember that sometimes I have to work harder to get past my thoughts. So the Phoebe parents fly out into the rain, and the tel tail flip in the air that happens when they catch something shows me that that babies will be fed. And I come back to now.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As I sat on the deck this morning, I watched what the Phoebes were doing. This brought me back to what I was doing. I was sitting. I came back to my senses; the weight of my body on the deck, the breeze on my skin, the color of the trees, my breath. Then I heard the high squeak of the baby Phoebes, as their parents returned to the nest with food.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today I am wondering what I can do to be of service. A family of Phoebes lives on the East side of the cabin. I sit and watch them going to the nest to feed their young over and over again, stopping only to look at me. They remind me of the importance of giving without concern for myself. They serve a larger purpose than themselves. Their work is in service of all Phoebes. Their personal needs are secondary to the survival of their species. They remind me how I can become distracted by my individual needs and forget about those around. We together are more than each of us alone. Today I will work in service of Us.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

For me the hardest part about being here and now, is remembering not to get seduced by distractions. Could'a, Should'a, Would'a, the future, the past, and my imagination are the biggest culprits. Catching myself in any of these territories is the first step. Once I remember to catch myself, I am back.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This morning I woke up with a song.

Until those clouds disappear
I will be waiting for you


The song is about a specific kind of patience. The kind that has no agenda. The kind that knows that I have to go through what I have go to through to get where I need to be. And the kind that does not dictate that place. Today I am reminded of the importance of this kind of patience.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This morning the crescent moon will make its journey through blue sky. This reminds me that the cycles of day and night represent nothing more than my position in relation to something far greater.

I am reminded that the possibilities for my life exist in this infinite frame, unbound by my terrestrial perspective.

Friday, May 19, 2017

This morning I woke to a cacophony of Birdsong. I listened, and realized that there were moments of silence. That brought me to the time I spend outside at night. Even on a cloudy moonless night, there is light. I can't see it right away. I have to wait; Wait for my eyes to adjust. They have to make the transition from what was, the inside of a well lit room, to what is, the outside. Slowly, my eyes begin to recognize the light. The light that was there all the time. 

This reminds me that in times of personal darkness or when the din of noise can seem overwhelming, there is always silence, there is always light. I just have to take the time to slow down, breath, and notice.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This morning, I found Paper Wasp inside the screen house. She was searching and searching for a way out, but couldn't find any. Heavy snow this winter had frozen to one of the screen sections and ripped it almost entirely from the frame. The opening was gaping, but the Wasp didn't see it. She was looking up, when the hole was toward the bottom of the frame. 

She reminded me that there are always possibilities in my life. Sometimes, however, I am not looking in the right places because my expectations and habits are getting in my way. 

Thank you Paper Wasp.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I have heard it said that the Willow tree is known for it's ability to bend with the wind, teaching us to be flexible in response to what life brings us. My experience is that all trees possess this talent for flexibility, even when the wind knocks them down.

When a Redwood tree falls, it becomes the beginning of more Redwood trees. Its very wood becomes the seed and the soil for the next generation of trees.

This reminds me that sometimes flexibility isn't always about surviving the storm in tact. Sometimes flexibility is about figuring out what to do with the pieces the storm has left behind.

Monday, May 15, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses- The Present and Expicit-Part II

When I find myself shut down or stuck, I check in with my breathing. Usually my abdomen is tight. I'm not breathing. 

So, I settle in and let my gut go. 

Then, slowly, one breath at a time, I get back to now.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We started planning a week ago. We were going to take my mom out for dinner for Mother's day. I told her last week, and she was very excited. She lives in a nursing home now. Her memory isn't what it used to be. When we arrived at the home to take her to dinner, her face lit up with a light I hadn't seen in a long time. She was very excited. “What a surprise,” she said. She didn't remember that we had made plans. She didn't remember that we were coming. She didn't remember being excited the first time, when I told her we would be coming to take her out. She didn't remember that both my brothers were coming either. So when they arrived, she got very excited again.

For her, because of her memory, these situations are like having Christmas, forgetting it happened, and having it all over again. Beyond the pain of watching the sharpness of my mom's mind fade, and the dark times when she looses track of the basic things like how she gets to the grocery store, there is a lesson for me. Seeing every experience with new eyes, untarnished by expectations or regrets is something I can strive for. I can remember I am going out to dinner, but let go of the idea that I have any idea what is going to happen. Letting go of expectations and the idea that my memory is here to guide me, or keep me safe is a way for me to be more present in all the moments of my life. It may also ease my pain as, like my mother, my own sharpness start to fade.


Thanks Mom.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This morning I saw a Squirrel climb one of the ladders of our old swing set. She did it to get to the top of the apple tree that lives off the Eastern side of our cabin. She reminded me that doing things that hard way is not a requirement. Sometimes taking the easier road is fine, as long as it takes you where you are supposed to go, and you don't hesitate to veer off the easy road when it starts to divert you from your path.

Then I imagined my Squirrel teacher stuck on the swing set, unable to get off to climb onto the apple tree, where her breakfast of buds was waiting. In my mind, she climbed up one ladder, across the top and down the other. Then she climbed up again, around and around in a never ending loop. This image reminded me of traps I can get caught in, where the seduction of ease blinds me from seeing what is available to me just on the other side of something difficult.


Thank you Squirrel teacher for bringing me back to balancing the value of challenge with the importance of not making thing harder than they need to be.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I woke up this morning with a song. Here's the lyrics so far.
When anger and worry
Won't get off your back
And rush to remind you
Of something you lack
Don't you know
It gets easier

I am reminded that no matter how hard things get, things always get easier. Acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude and service. “This too shall pass.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It occurred to me this morning that Catbird doesn't think for an instant what other people think about his song. He just sings. For me busking is a personal act of resistance. It is a stand in the context of voices and ideas that could distract me from doing something I love; Ideas that want me to think I am too old or not good enough, or want me to worry about what people might think. 

Catbird is a teacher for me. He is a beacon of being in a world of judgment and doubt. When I play in the street today I will be thinking of Catbird and doing my best to resist the distractions that would pull me down.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Being present and explicit requires, first, presence. A catbird is known to be very social. That means they like to hang around with us. We have one living around the cabin this year. He seems to like to sit outside and sing long complex songs, as if he's telling us about everything he's seeing. 

This morning, as I listened to his song, I worked to stay in every moment of it. Not anticipating what would happen next or what he just sang, but being in what he was singing as he sang it. This note, this moment, right here right now.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

As I sat and did my breath work this morning, tears began to flow from my eyes. When I was younger and I would cry, my parents would tell me that it was the Shorie in me. Apparently the Shorie side of the family was more closely connected to their tears. As much as I tried, I could not connect my tears to a sadness I was aware of, or a joy or any feeling that I could recognize. 

I am learning that tears are not always connected to a feeling my mind can recognize. Sometimes they are simply what my body needs to do.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On top of our screen house there is a weather vein. The rod that connects it to the roof is bent, so it doesn't work. It's called weather vein because if you understand what the wind direction tells you, you will know what sort of weather is coming. 

The wind this morning was from the West. Is a storm coming? I don't know, but I'll pay attention and maybe next time I will.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

This morning, I woke and wondered what I would notice and what it would teach me. Later, while I was doing my breath work, I realized I was still holding onto that thought. I noticed Peeper, Chipmunk on the wood pile, and Ovenbird singing in the forest, and realized I was holding onto them as well. Then I remembered the Zen Koan about the professor looking for wisdom, the Master, and the overflowing tea cup. The master tells the professor, “I can not teach you. Your cup is already full.”

Someone once told me to remember to empty the bucket. So I let go of what I notice, I let go or Peeper, Chipmunk, and Ovenbird, I let go of the professor, the Master, and the tea cup. Now I let go of the bucket, and I am here.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

This morning I saw Chipmunk on the wood pile. It reminded me of a moment last year when the there was a Chipmunk on the wood pile. Seeing last year's Chipmunk was followed by the flash of Hawk's wing, and no more Chipmunk. Having had the memory, I scanned the trees for Hawk. If I saw her, I impulsed, I could warn Chipmunk.


Then it occurred to me. If a warn Chipmunk and Hawk fails, Hawk will simply have to go somewhere else for her breakfast. Do I warn Centipede off from Chipmunk? And all any of this accomplishes is making death happen somewhere else. I realized that this all speaks to a rather misguided relationship to death. Staying alive can not be the focus of existence. Death is not the opposite of life. Death is to life as steps are to walking. I am left grateful for this moment, ever poised between its beginning and its end.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Some mornings I am particularly inspired by what happens in my life, and I get ideas for more than one journal entry. That happened yesterday. Having three in the bag, I found it difficult to pay attention to what was going on this morning, as Birchy and I sat on the porch eating breakfast. 

This reminded me of the times when I am so distracted by what I am going to say in response, that I stop paying attention to words of the person with whom I am talking. When this happens, I miss out. Holding onto what I'm going to say has me missing out on was transpires in the mean time. I have checked out and am stuck in the conversation's past. I prefer to shape my response after the speaker is done, and I have taken in all that was said. It keeps me in the moment of the conversation, not stuck in the past of previous thoughts and limited conclusions. 

Returning to the moment and realizing what was going on this morning inspired me to write this. Now I have. And here we are.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

In my computer's thesaurus a synonym for the word “worry” is “care.” To my way of thinking this suggests that absent but implicit in the word worry is caring. For me worry is passive and not useful. Caring is something I can do. 

So I wonder how I might find a way to express caring that is present and explicit.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I am told that the health of amphibians is a good indicator of the health of the environment. Although it happens earlier and earlier each year, the peepers that emerge from the cow pond behind the cabin did so again this spring. 

I am grateful to them for giving me hope about possible futures.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I was once told that a masterpiece was not intended to be the defining achievement of a person, but simply a testament to their having learned all that the master had to teach them. The masterpiece represented the point at which the student could begin to contribute to the art form in new and original ways. 

This idea created for me a motif for learning. Rather than thinking about learning as a liner progression to a final definitive end point, learning can be a process of coming to multiple beginnings. Each beginning is an opportunity to contribute originality, enriching what was and creating new beginnings. 

In this way I move from the idea of static masterpieces that we replicate in a line, to one where every masterpiece creates the possibility of originality, enriching and thickening the possibilities of what can come next, fanning out in all directions.

Monday, May 1, 2017

In one moment I notice that the Robins have returned to the Eastern side of the cabin. In another, I notice that the hawk is flying West when she hunts. Robin and Hawk live not 50 yards from each other, yet now each lives its life. A Hawk could kill a Robin so quickly the Robin wouldn't even realize what had happened. 

The Birds remind me that awareness and worry are not the same thing. 

Worry is about what might be. 

Awareness is about what is. 

A Robin can live safely, but only in a cage. A free aware Robin pays attention to when the Hawk starts for fly west to hunt, leaving the Eastern side of the house for the Robin to do her own hunting. Might the Hawk come back? Yes, but Hawk isn't here now.


The Birds remind me that my life isn't about begin safe. Nor is it about what might happen. It is about living in the context of real risk, and not letting it take me out of the wonder of this moment.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

As a human, I have to deal with hard situations. One of the hardest is when someone I care about gets mad at me. It's hard for me because it happens when I have let someone down. It is not my intention to let people down, but it happens. When it does, I take it up as an opportunity to practice what I preach.

First, I pay attention to my breath. Am I holding in my gut and breathing in my chest? If I am, I let my diaphragm go and take my breath back.

Next, I notice the difference between what I can control an what I can't. When I find something I can't control back on my plate, I let it go.

Then I think about my four practices; acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude and service, and I pick one and do it.

Then I notice what is going on around me. How does the air smell? How warm is it? What is the light like? Out of my mind, back to my senses.

Then I remember that whatever I did, I did it with the information I had at the time, doing the best I could. This usually gives me the energy to remember that I can't change what did, but I can use the experience to effect what I do now.

Now that I'm back, what do I choose to do next?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I have seen hawks fly so high that I could barely tell they were hawks. There is no practical reason for them to fly that high. They can't hunt from that high up. All they can do is soar.

When I sit behind the cabin at night I am reminded that there is no physical boundary between me and the limitless cosmos. The boundaries I place on myself are just that; boundaries I place on myself.


Today, I am remembering to pay attention to the choices I make and the limitations they create. The night sky reminds that there are no tangible limitations. Hawk reminds me that I always have the option to soar.

Friday, April 28, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-Cultural Myths V-Are You Doing Something You Love?

When I no longer have to build a fire in the wood stove every morning, the dog that lives with us and I go out on the west porch for breakfast. This morning her line got caught on an old rotten stump. As soon as she realized she was stuck, she barked for me to come and get her un-stuck. 

 She reminded me that when I realize I'm stuck, I can wait to ask for help as long as I want. Or I can just ask right away.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

For me, thoughts that are fearful, judgmental, accusatory, angry, or critical are negative thoughts. They serve no purpose and contribute nothing to my life. 

Today, I am grateful to be able to recognize these thoughts when they enter my mind. 

Once I recognize them, I can allow them to pass by, like the wind blowing through the trees.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm very interested in distractions. Distractions divert me from fully being in this moment. All magic is about distraction. The magician gets us to focus in one direction so we don't notice what is going on in another. I went through a tough patch this week, and I am grateful because it reminded me of couple of things. First, it reminded me that my practices don't remove the traps of distraction that I can get caught in, nor do they make it impossible for me to get stuck. Next, it reminded me about the difference between what I can control and what I can't. Finally, it reminded me about the pain associated with getting connected to those things I can't control. 

One of my teachers was a Coopers Hawk. She lives about 20 yards off the West side of the cabin. I'm pretty sure she's the reason why the Robins don't live on the other side of the house anymore. Some days the Robin gets the Worm, some days the Hawk gets the Robin. Getting connected to the possibility of seeing the Robins make and raise a family distracted me from the flow of everything. 

Hawk reminded me that death is a part of life, and that all I can count on is this moment right here, right now. Thank you Hawk.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today, I am remembering to be grateful for the moments of peace I find in my day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Busking is about moments. People rarely stop for a whole song. A nod, or slight change in gait, a quick dance move or a thumbs up are usually all I get to indicate that I have connected with someone.  
When I was young I used to think that there were things I could do to keep bad things from happening. Now I know that there no bad things that happen. Yes, there are difficult moments, but they are surrounded by simple and joyful ones. 

A nod, a slight change in gait or a quick dance move. Today, I'm remembering to pay attention to what I do with the moments of my life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

There are Phoebes nesting on the Eastern side of the cabin. While I was sitting outside this morning I didn't see them, but I noticed two squirrels alarm calling in a pine tree to the South. In the moment, I thought they were annoyed with me, or each other. I didn't put the two thing together until later. Glancing out the Northern bedroom window, I saw a Coopers Hawk fly by. She was flying West, so her starting position couldn't have been more that a few yards from where I was sitting earlier. 

She reminded me that there are always answers if I am willing to wait patiently and pay attention.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Yesterday, while I was out busking, I saw an old soul. She was seven maybe nine, I can never tell with old souls. She had walked by me a couple of times with her family, but then she stopped and looked at me. Her parents noticed and stopped, too. She turned to her father and asked him for a dollar. He gave it to her, and she walked over to my case and put it in. She looked up at me and smiled a little before walking away with her family. 

Today, I am grateful for old souls because they give me hope. They are born with old wisdom, and don't forget. I am also grateful for new souls. They help me not take things so seriously.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-Cultural Myths IV-Doing Nothing?

If evolution were only about survival of the fittest, we all would have evolved into a single most fit species, leaving behind our less fit progenitors. It seems evolution attends to the importance of diversity as variety as we all follow our paths toward becoming. 

Today, I am remembering to attend to the importance of my unique path.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

There are those that say that before we humans spoke, we sang. 

Today I am remembering to sing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

There are still places on our Earth where, on the night of the new moon, the only thing that stands in the way of your being able to see the millions of stars that make up our Milky Way is the willingness to look up. Unfortunately, the closer we get to what we call civilization the harder it is to see the beauty of our galaxy. People who grew up in and around cities may have never seen this amazing beauty, so they don't miss it.

This got me thinking about freedom. As we are seduced by promises of safety, small lights of freedom are obscured. The process is slow so we don't really notice the change. Eventually, though, the light of freedom is snuffed out. And since there are some people who have never experienced the star shine of true freedom, they don't even miss it.


Today, I am remembering to be grateful for the freedom I still have, that it might be a beacon guiding me toward what is still possible.

Monday, April 17, 2017

As we surveyed the garden, my 92 year old father in law put his hand on my shoulder to steady himself. He was still weak from his last foray with ill health. 

“What a great day to be alive,” he said. 

Yes it is.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A guy came up to me while I was busking in Kittery yesterday. He asked if I knew where the Tributary Brewing Company was. He said is nephew was gong to be playing there. I said I didn't know where it was, and directed him to some folks who might.

After I was done playing, I thought about going over to the brewing company to see the band. I drove over to the parking lot of the bar, and reconsidered. I wanted to go in, but I was nervous about going into an unfamiliar place. I left.
On the way home I remembered something my son once told me. He said he never wanted to look back and wish he had done something in stead of doing it. So he does things, even though he might have to push himself. He said this was how he was gong to avoid regrets. I turned the truck around and went back to the bar.

I listened to a couple of songs. The band was really good. Not my thing, though. Dead head jam band sort of stuff. I decided to go home.

As I walked out the door of the bar, a warm evening breeze washed over me. At the same time a wonderful feeling of calmness settled on me like a soothing blanket.


This week one of my folks told me about the idea of “doing it anyway, even if you don't want to.” She said it was one of the most important things she ever learned from a therapist (she didn't learn it from me, by the way). Walking out of the bar, I think I got a sense of why it is such an important idea for her. Even though nothing really memorable happened in the bar, I don't think I'll soon forget the feeling of freedom I felt walking back to my truck to head home.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We had to go through my great uncles things after he died. As was not uncommon for men of his generation, he had a sizable collection of pocket knives. We went through them one by one, passing them around the circle of assembled relatives. People who knew him better then I told stories about the knives they recognized. He had told them where he picked it up and which moment of his life that particular knife was connected to.

Eventually, we came to a knife we all greed must have been his favorite. Not because of the story attached to it, in fact no one remembered seeing that knife before. Nor was it because it was gleaming and pristine. We knew it was his favorite because the blade was almost completely warn away.


No matter how fine the quality of the blade, if you use a knife, it has to be sharpened. The process of using and sharpening means that eventually the blade wares away. It reminded me that change is always happening. No matter what I do, everything wares away like the blade of my uncle's well loved knife. What I can do is choose how to spend the time I have been given. I choose to sharpen the blade of my life till it too wares away.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Less than 100 years ago we believed there was nothing smaller than the atom. 

I wonder what today will bring?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Today, I am remembering that my self esteem can be based on; 

a) things I can control, like the choices I make and the actions I take in this moment right here, right now, or 

b) things that I can't control, like the opinions other people hold about me, what I did last Wednesday, or the way my hair looked when I got out of bed this morning. 

I choose option “a.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Today I'm remembering that creativity is not something that I make happen, it is something I surrender to. 

I can believe that I control the river if I want to. 

It is happy to flow around me.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-Cultural Myths III-Stressed Out?

Today I'm realizing that I never know when I will light the last fire of the season. I simple wake up one morning and it is no longer necessary to have a fire in the wood stove. 

Things change. 

Today is its own day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Today, I am paying attention to how often my mind informs my body, and not the other way around. 

This connects me back to balance. 

Not one or the other, but both and.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Today, I'm remembering to be grateful for the possibilities that manifest when I least expect them.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

In the woodpile I found a chipmunk nest made of the feathers of a small bird that had been killed and eaten by a bird if prey. 

It reminded me that outside what we call civilization, tragedy is not about death, but about waste and meaninglessness. 

I used the nest as tinder for this morning's fire.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Today, I am remembering that in difficult times it is especially important for me to pay attention to moments of peace and joy.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

4/6/2098 

Dear Mom, 

I got a letter from an MIT student today. She said she had tagged some carbon atoms with trackers and had been following them. She told me one was now part of me. She said they had originally tagged my carbon atom on a beach in Alaska. After they tagged it, it had been washed into the sea by the rain. Then it was swallowed by a Humpback Whale. The whale was pretty old and it died. It was eaten by a tuna. The tuna got caught in a net off the coast of Japan. It ended up in a restaurant in Portsmouth. That's how it got to me. It feels pretty neat to be a part of all that. It got me thinking about how it all started with you and dad. Just wanted to write and say thanks. 

Thanks.