Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Frozen Tracks

Exiting the Eastern door this morning, I was grated by my barefoot tracks. They were frozen in the slushy snow now turned to ice. Remnants of last evenings sojourn outside to breathe, they drew my attention back to the wonder of tracks.

Captured in the ice were remnants of me; how I walked in the ice last night, on my toes to avoid as much of the chill as possible, where I walked, straight out to the screen house and back, and when I walked, before it was cold enough for the slush be freeze into this morning's ice.

But there is a wider arc contained in these tracks. These tracks, combined with all the tracks I have ever set down through my steps and my actions, connect back to the beginnings of me. And the tracks of the beginnings of me connect back to the beginnings of everything. My beginnings connect back to my parents and their beginnings. Those tracks connect back to their parents and on and on back to the beginnings of everything. My tracks in the ice also connect forward to me, right here, right now.


I appreciate this reminder of my connection back to the beginnings that link to me now. Today, I will be mindful of the tracks I leave today and what they reflect about my intentions for living, and how they manifest what I hold dear.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Snow Feel

The view that greeted me as I walked out the Eastern door this morning looked like a black and white photo. The light was not yet bright enough to bring color to the land. In the dimness, the only way I could tell it was snowing was by feeling the flakes on my face. This got me thinking about the importance of paying attention to all my senses. My eyes did not know it was snowing, neither could I smell the snow.


Today, I will be paying attention to how all of my scenes inform me about the world around me. I'll do my best to avoid the illusions created when I rely only on a few.

Monday, December 11, 2017

No Wind

It took me a while this morning to notice that the wind wasn't blowing. It got me thinking about the importance of notice what isn't as much as what is. It's easy for assumptions to keep me from noticing what isn't happening around me.


Today, I will be paying as much attention to what is absent as what is present.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Snow Light

The snow covers up the skylights, but I notice that it is still a bright morning. It's because of the reflected light from the snow on the ground and hanging on the trees. In fact, on days like today, light seems to be everywhere. This gets me thinking about balance. No matter how dark things can get, there is always light somewhere. It's just up to me to keep my eyes open so I can see it.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cold Air

The cold morning air and thoughts of the coming storm distract me from the moment I am in. Thoughts about keeping the cabin warm remove me from what I am doing; sitting and breathing.

In this moment, I can not control the fires I will make in the coming days, and there will be no moment in which I can control the size and effects of the storm.


So I return to what I am doing. I breathe in, and I breathe out. Now I am typing. That is what I am doing. That is what I can control. The rest will have to take care of itself.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What Do We Do?

There is a tremendous amount of sadness and confusion in the cabin as my children learn that one of their musical inspirations has been accused of rape. They don't know what to do in response.

This question of how to respond gets me thinking, “In order to achieve what?”

As we continue to muddle through what seems to be a particularly complex part of our cultural history, I plan to use this question as an aid to keep my responses as thoughtful and intentional as possible.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Worry?

I sit out in the warm morning air and am invited into a place of worry. Is it fluky weather, or further evidence that we have done great damage to the Earth?

I believe that everything that happens simply creates further possibilities.

Worry is passive. It invites us to wonder things like, “Should this have happened?” Or “What will happen next?”

I prefer to say, “This is what has happened. What is possible now as a result?”

That's what I'm doing today.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Noticing

Not two miles North of the cabin, US route 95 carries 6 lanes of traffic up and down the Seacoast of New England. As close as it is, there are times when the wind blows just right, and I can no longer hear the highway. This morning was one of those times. All I could hear was my breath, the accommodating breeze, and two Owls hooting to the Southeast. I am so used to ignoring the noise of the highway, that it took me a while to realize that it wasn't there.

This got me thinking about how routinized expectations can get me to miss things. I was so used to ignoring the sound of the highway, that I almost didn't notice that it wasn't there. Once I did, I realized that I could hear the sound of my breathing. Noticing the quiet opened me up to what else was available to me.


Today, I will be noticing times when what I think is happening gets in the way of me noticing what is.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Barefooting II

I had to do some cutting of trees yesterday, so I had to put my boots on. The first thing I noticed as I walked out of the cabin and off the front porch, was how little I was paying attention to where my feet were. Having walked off the porch many times without shoes, I am aware of how aware I have to be. I need to notice if there is anything there on the ground that I might not want to step in or on. In my boots, I just trudged along, eyes up, focused on where I was going, not where I was.

This brings me back to the reason I choose not to wear shoes in the first place. It is because of the connection it creates between me and the moment I am in. I have to be paying attention to where I am to keep my feet safe. Barefooting is a concrete practice that creates tangible reminders of what happens when I get distracted. It has given me many gifts.


Today, I am gratetful for the gifts in find in the moments I am in.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Barefooting

As a dedicated bare-footer, there are times when I actually have to wear shoes. One is when I'm running the chainsaw. To go barefoot with a chainsaw in my hands would be foolish, and disrespectful of what the saw can do.

This got me thinking about times when some of my practices have to be set aside because of respect, practicality, or common sense. Whether it's going barefoot, sitting and breathing every morning, or saying “Hi” to everyone I meet along my path, I do what I do not because I have to, but because I choose to.

Sometimes they are choices I make to stand up against the status quo. Sometimes they are choices I make to challenge myself or confront fear or doubt. But they are all choices. Sometimes I can even choose not to do them, to stand up against the idea that things can't change.


Whatever the reason and whatever the choice, today I am paying attention to the power of choices, and being grateful for all the effects they have had on my life.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cherry Tree

Due North of the cabin, stands Cherry Tree. Cherry Tree is probably the oldest tree on the part of the land that was once open Cow pasture. It's mostly dead, though there is a small section of it that still leafs out in Spring.

It is a beautiful tree, tall and expansive, it's many trucks reaching high into the Sky. Even it's dead branches have a specific artistic grace that I find alluring.

I know it will fall soon, or I will cut it down, but for now, it stands tall and beautiful, available for me to appreciate.


Cherry Tree reminds me of the truth that everything is temporary, but even so, there is beauty for me to appreciate if I choose to see it right here, right now. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Action

On the other side of Pinegrove, I heard some big machines. It reminded me of the day the electric company came in and cleared around the power lines. Their clearing created an opening in the woods that disconnected Pinegrove from the woods further on. I was really upset that day to see such changes in the forest. But today, wondering if they were coming back to clear it out again, I get thinking about how I tend to get settled into a place and think, now that I'm here, everything should stay the same.

Thing is, some changes need to happen in order for me to stay living where I live. Clearing out around the electric lines benefits me. It's part of what keeps the lights on at the cabin. Mindful, thoughtful change is essential if I am to continue to do what I do. Mindless thoughtless change is damaging, and doesn't help anyone.

Today, I will be mindful of my actions. I will be considering their effects and their consequences for others and myself.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor XI-Seeing as Genius

Seagull's Reminder

I was so grateful to hear Seagull call out just as I waked out the Eastern door this morning. Seagull's call was long and loud, and was intermingled with Crow's response. Seagull's call reminded me how close I am to the beach and the Ocean.

This got me thinking about how beauty can be so close, but I will forget to notice. Seagull opened my eyes to the closeness of the Sea.


Today, I will think of Seagull, and remember to open my eyes to the beauty that is all around me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Choose

When I choose to make my freedom contingent on someone else's choices, I am no longer free. However, my spirit remains free to make another choice.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Deer in the Dark

As I sat in the darkness this morning, I heard Deer trotting through the Northeastern woods. I am grateful for the ability to hear. I am grateful for the knowledge I used to know it was Deer. I am grateful that I have the time to sit and listen.


Today, I will be paying attention to the blessings that fill my life.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cold and dark?

I could describe this morning as cold and dark, but that's not what it was for me. The first thing I thought of when I saw the dark blue Sky with shards of bright reds and yellows was that it looked like the beginning of a performance.


Today, I will be paying attention to the way I choose to describe things, and the effects of these descriptions.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fly

Through a skylight this morning, I saw a leaf flying high in the air. A burst of wind caught it, and it flew even higher. This got me thinking about possibilities.

Sometimes a leaf disconnects from a tree and falls to the ground. Sometimes a leaf lets go and flies high in the sky, having a grand ride and landing who knows where.

I wonder what is possible when I let go, and allow the wind carry me.


Today, I will be on the lookout for times when my expectation that falling to the ground is the only possibility get in the way of letting the wind carry me places I couldn't have imagined.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Crow Family

Crow and family greeted me this morning from the Northwestern woods. Their caws were loud and abundant. They got me thinking about the joys of being with the people I love.

I am so grateful for the people in my life, and all that I learn from them.

Thank you. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Apple Peel Lesson

I was cutting up an apple for breakfast, and I got to thinking about the idea of peeling.

Where, exactly does the peel end,” I wondered?

I thought back to experiences I have had peeling apples, and it occurred to me that it really doesn't. There are spots where there is more or less peel, but the idea of a point at which the peel ends is an illusion. The peel and every other “part” of the apple slowly transitions from one to the other. Even the seeds are attached though a sort of stem that transition from seed to core.

The same is true for the boundaries that separate us; state from state, country from country, continent from continent, people from people. There is no tangible point at which the river that separates New Hampshire from Maine becomes New Hampshire water and no longer Maine water. It is all water commingling at the shore with the land obscuring the boundary even further.

And it is true for us. The popularity of DNA testing is revealing how intermingled we are with each other. The choice to see myself otherwise is just that; a choice. I can choose to see myself as Apple or peel, but ultimately, both are aspects of the other, and in that way inseparably connected.


Today, I choose to see myself as me and Apple and Earth and Sky, and enjoy what is made possible as a result.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ice Lesson

It rained yesterday Then the temperature dropped. I know from experience that all this means ice will form. When I stepped out the Eastern door this morning, the intense cold greeted my feet, but even with all this information, I forgot to be mindful of my steps. I slipped anyway.

This got me thinking about how, no matter how mindful I might be in the moment, I will still forget and slip. I might slip into worry or fear or doubt, or focusing on the past. I can look at this as a failure or I can consider it another opportunity to re-focus on my practice.


Today, I am grateful for everything that happens in my life, and how each experience is an opportunity for me to learn something I didn't know before.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Slow Change

The morning glow was a distinct shade of pale pale blue. Gradually, Sky become brighter and more white. As it did, it occurred to me that most change happens slowly. I worked hard to attend to the subtle changes as they unfolded in front of me.

This got me thinking that most of the imperceptibility of change has to do with me not being willing to devote the time to notice.


Today, I will be doing me best to notice the slow subtle changes that are happening around me all the time. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Star Rise

As I sit in the early morning darkness, I watch a Star rise.  I know it is rising, because there is a leafless branch between me and the Star that I can use as a reference.  When I first sit down, it is below the branch, then behind, then above. Sky starts to shine brighter, and I know that the Sun is not for behind.

All this broadens my perspective to include the slowly turning Earth that brings me morning, the path of Earth around Sun that brings Winter, and the place in which our solar system lives in the Milky-way. It's easy for me to lose track of this larger perspective, and I am grateful to Star for reminding me.

Today, I will be remembering Star as I walk through my day, and thinking about how walking on Earth is like walking on an enormous log floating in the river of Space.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Owl Wings

Owl hooted in the South. Suddenly, I saw a flash of Owl's wing, just before she disappeared behind the roof of the screen house. Then she hooted from the North. I was grateful to have caught even a glimpse of her, as she winged silently above my head.

This reminded me how important it is to keep my eyes open. Head up, eyes open, so I don't miss the possibilities that exist right in from of me, right here, right now.


Today, I will be doing my best to pay attention to each moment of my day. Maybe I'll see Owl's wing again.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Infinite Gray

The first thing that caught my attention this morning was the color of the Sky. Grays and whites morphing into brighter whites with gleaming yellow hues. The variety was staggering, and changing constantly. It was wondrous.

This got me thinking about the infinite complexity of reality. I am grateful to be able to take in such wonder simply by looking up. The bounty of this beauty is available to me constantly.


Today, I will be doing my best to stop, look, and listen, and enjoy the infinite riches that surround me.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hello

At first, in the dim morning light, there was almost no sound. Then, from the South, I heard Bird begin to chirp quietly. This chirp informed my experience of the existence of my bird cousin.

This got me thinking about greeting my fellow humans. When I say, “Hello,” I am saying, “I am here, and I recognize that you are here, too.” Like Bird, my saying hello has some effect on bringing me into being.


I am grateful to be here today, and I am grateful to be able to say hello to whomever I meet. I look forward to finding out who I will meet today, and what effect they will have on my life. I will begin by going back outside and saying “Hello” to bird.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fly

This morning, I saw Crow in the Sky. Hurtling Southwesterly, Crow was folding and stretching wings through the gusty wind. It looked like fun to me.

Crow got me thinking. If I had to make the choice between winging through the Sky in communion with the bluster, or coming back to the ground to find food for the day, I would pick the Sky. I would forgo the comfort of food for the experience of unpredictable flight. Thing is, the wind that lifts me today might not be around tomorrow.

This reminds me that sometimes the next right thing is not the safe thing. So I ask myself, “What life enriching choice can I make, right here, right now?” The wind of life might toss me to the ground, but it just might send me to heights I can't even imagine.


Today, I choose to fly.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor-IX-The Cure for Overwhelmed

Overwhelming Fire

This time of year, I build a fire every morning. Building the fire starts with a little newspaper. I put tinder on top of that, and kindling on top of that. Then I light the newspaper.

As the fire starts to build, I add more kindling. Then I wait. Once everything catches and is burning steadily, I start to add larger pieces of wood. As the kindling and smaller pieces of wood burn down into a bed of bright glowing embers, I add still bigger logs. I have to be careful, though. If I add too much wood too soon, the fire gets overwhelmed and can go out.

This gets me thinking about how being overwhelmed can happen to me. Trying to do too much at once can put my fire out. What works for me is to pay attention to doing only the next right thing. I put a log on the fire and wait till it catches and is burning well. I avoid the temptation to think about everything at once, like putting all the wood on the fire at the same time.


Today, I will be paying attention to how I am pacing myself, and doing my best not to take on too much at once. That should keep my fire burning brightly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sunrise

Because there are so many leaves down, I can now see the golden embers on the horizon as the Sun rises through leafless branches. In this way the bare Trees expose a beauty once hidden from me.


I am grateful for the cycles of loss and emergence, and remembering to pay attention, as loosing something can distract me from seeing what I have gained.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Singing Tree

This morning, in the dim light, I got to hear the leaf rustle of Tree singing. I was grateful to be able to witness this morning magic.


Today, I will be on the lookout for other easily missable moments of wonder.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cloudy Sky

This cloudy morning brings with it shades of muted browns and gray. The grass that has survived the first frosts shows bright green, a result of the lingering blue light waves. I notice that Lichen on Maple tree is a different shade of gray. Different from the bark of the tree or the clouds in the sky.

This all gets me thinking about the invitations I receive from my culture to think of certain thing as beautiful, while excluding others. Cold and raw is bad where bright and sunny is better.

It occurs to me that the difference in light creates difference in what I see, and that there is beauty in all of it, if I chose to decline the invitations that can inform my preferences. Different levels of light illuminate different things. More light does not illuminate more, it illuminates differently.


Today I am declining the invitation to think about today's cloudy sky as something other than what is, and paying attention to what I can see in dimness, that I could not in brighter light.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stands and Mistakes

Because of a number of mistakes, the fixings for tonight's dinner got left out last night. They included chicken, so the whole thing needs to go into the trash. The waste is troublesome, but this goes along with an awareness that there are far bigger problems in the world today. Even still, the series of mistakes and the consequences are something to get by.

The act of actually putting the food in the trash was a beginning, but there is still a process of letting it go that will unfold over the course of the day. Regret will cycle around with acceptance, and I trust that slowly over the course of time, I'll settle into the new menu, and allow our previous plans to go out with the trash.

I am grateful that my mistakes amount only to a minor mishap. I am fortunate enough to be able to waste food without it having any significant impact on my life. The cycle of regret and acceptance, however, is fueled by my awareness of people who's lives include far less bounty. In this way, my difficulty getting past this mistake is emblematic of something important. It would be easy for me to get past the wasted food if I didn't carry this concern and awareness, so I accept the struggle as a small testament to something for which I stand.


Today, I will be paying attention to the way my purposes and intentions can combine with mistakes and create regret. I'll do my best to accept both, as I continue along my path.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Water Diamond

A single water crystal slid silently down the face of the skylight in the early morning Sunshine. Millions of facets sparkled as brightly as the finest diamond, until it melted and became liquid.

The staggering but impermanent beauty of this watery jewel gets me thinking about the invitations I receive to try to make permanent that which is always changing. My culture, although in a constant state of flux, has evolved a mythology of permanence. Permanent beauty, permanent youth, permanent life; these are the goals of my culture. But this culture is missing out on the real beauty that can only exist with change.

The water crystal shimmers as it spins and shrinks. Facets form, greet the Sun, and disappear, leaving space for new facets to form, until the whole crystal vanishes. The beauty is the change. Even diamonds are temporary. They are formed, and they will dissolve. It is only the fleeting timescale of a human lifetime that makes them seem to last forever.

I have been taught to fear decay, and to look at rot as something that is inherently bad. But rot and decay are more than inevitable. They are an essential part of the flow of life. When I watch the water crystal sliding down the skylight, I resist the invitations to wish it would slide and slide forever. I resist the invitation to stop the process, and hold it shining in the Sunlight forever. I resist the invitations to think that beauty is something I can hold onto and keep forever.

And so in this way by my willingness to accept the impermanence of my life, I am able to connect to the eternal of change, of love, and of the energy that is inherently part of the cycles of transformation. I am more likely to see the beauty in everything including rot and decay, and I no longer value the beauty of a diamond over the beauty of a drop of water.


Today, I will be paying attention to the invitations of my culture that inform what I am supposed to think of as beautiful, and what I am supposed to value. I will resist the invitations to fear change so that I may be more likely to see the beauty in its perpetual transformation.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Crow Lesson

As I sat and breathed this morning in the near gale force winds, I saw a group of Crows flying in the Northern sky. They were diving and soaring and cawing out to each other. They circled around to the West, then turned East, dove and rose and vanished from sight. Where they playing or sparing with each other? I don't know what they were doing, but I know what they can do. Crow can fly with skill and grace in extreme winds. I know this because I saw it.

It is not my intention to ascribe my experience onto my creature cousins. I don't now if they were playing or having fun, but I know they can fly in ways I find extraordinary. Without knowing what it is like to be Crow, I know what is like to be me, and watch Crow. In this way, what I get from Crow, or anyone else I observe along my path, can inspire or challenge or remind me in ways that are useful to me, regardless of whether what I see reflects anything that might be real about their experience.


I am grateful for the lessons I receive from my observations of the world around me, and grateful to Crow. The lesson I take from what I saw is to have more fun. I can only hope that Crow and her cousins were having fun, too. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor VIII-Everything is New

Low Arc Sun

As I sit this morning, I notice that the late Autumnal arc of the Sun has it shining through the Western window of the yurt. Sun shining in through the Eastern door and out through the Western window can only happen at his time of year, when the arc of the Sun is low. This reminds me that as the arc of the Sun changes over the year, different things are illuminated.

This gets me thinking about the importance of different perspectives. Different points of view illuminate different parts of experience. Relying only on my perspective would be like the Sun having only a single arc. So much of life would stay in the shadows.


Today, I will be paying attention to when relying on my perspective alone leaves possibilities in the shadows. I will reach out to others to see what their perspective illuminates.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Brick Path

When I gather Mint in the morning, I go out of the cabin through the Southern door. I walk South/Southeast to the Mint patch. I begin on brick path that “T”s East-West, at which point I leave the path and follow stepping stones through a garden. I get on the brick path again briefly before a stone path leads me to the Mint patch.

My Dad used to say, “Put the path where the people walk.” If I were to stay on the brick path after it “T”'s and follow it East I would curve around slowly, eventually turning South, then Southwest until I came to a fork. The fork is the beginning of a cul-de-sac. The stone path to the Mint patch spurs off of this circle.

The brick path is not where I walk, but it gets me thinking about how, sometimes, a circuitous path that leads me nowhere can be useful. At these times the journey is about the path and not the destination. The brick path is a beautiful path in a beautiful garden. It's curves prolong my experience. It's circle brings me back where I began, without me having to turn around. It is a path to ponder on, not to get somewhere.


Today, I am grateful for the lesson from the circuitous brick path. Today, I will think more about where I am, instead of where I am going.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Turkey Lesson

As I sat and breathed this morning, a group of Turkeys descended from their roost just Northeast of the cabin, to start their slow meander across the land. We have many Turkey neighbors, and often see them carefully perusing the ground for food as they pass by.

Turkey's slow deliberate gate gets me thinking about pace. They remind me that amazing things can happen slowly, and that we do everything step by step.


Today, I will be thinking about the lesson from Turkey and giving myself permission to slow down, and attend to the small steps I take that can lead to something big.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Acceptance II

When I was bucking up wood yesterday, my chainsaw stalled out and I couldn't get it started again. I figured it was a clogged air filter. Cleaning the filter is something I can do, but it is a twenty-four hour process. That meant that the saw was going to be down for the day, and I was going to have to change my plans.

This got me thinking about another form of acceptance. In this situation, it is the acceptance that my plans don't actually mean anything. Nor is attachment to my plans consistent with my intention of acceptance.

Plans are like a door. They are the thing I go through to see what's on there other side. The trick is in not getting attached to the door. When I'm attached to the door, I'm missing all of the possibilities that exist just beyond.


Today, I will be paying attention to my plans so they don't get in the way of my life.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Stacking and Re-Stacking

I woke up this morning and noticed that the woodpile in the woodshed had fallen over. This happens sometimes. I don't know exactly why. There are lots of possible reasons. It could be the ground under the stacks getting harder or softer, or it could be that I didn't stack the wood just right, or it could be that, as the wood continues to dry, the shape of the pile changes, the weight shifts, and the whole thing topples over.

I can't say for sure. It seems that no matter how carefully I stack the wood, this happens sometimes. The one thing I can say is that the pile has fallen over and I have to re-stack it.

This gets me thinking about acceptance. Part of acceptance is accepting that I have to re-stack the wood. But it occurs to me that another part of acceptance started a while ago; The part connected to my knowing that when I stack wood, it might fall over.

Here at the cabin, our wood system in ongoing. I drop trees in late summer/early autumn for the following year. When I'm not dropping trees, I am bucking up the wood from the previous year, getting it ready to split.

Around this time of year, I start splitting and stacking wood that has been drying since last year. That doesn't mean it's completely dry, however, and as a result it is continuing to change. Just like the planks and the cinder blocks and the soil I stack it on. Everything is in a constant state of flux, and though it seem like I am piling one static log onto another, the truth is that the whole picture is in constant motion, making miraculous the fact that the pile doesn't fall over every year.

As I continue to pull back the frame of acceptance, from accepting that the pile has fallen over and the effects that has on my plans for the day, to the reality that the pile might always fall over and that it might fall over after I have re-stacked it, to the fact that the wood is never completely dry and static, nor are the kiln-dried planks it rests on, to the constant movement of the Earth upon which it all rests, I realize that acceptance is more than a practice I take up when I see that something has happened. Acceptance is a way of being that connects me to the ongoing flux of everything. Rather than I tool I can use to deal with day to day situations, it can be a mindset that day to day situation call me back to, through which the particular details of the day find a more meaningful context within the larger frame of life.

In this way, the stacking and re-stacking of wood becomes a reflection of a much larger set of choices. Choices I have made that reflect intentions I have for living. My re-stacking of the wood is no longer a mundane task, but a testament to the confluence of choices leading up to this moment, right here right now. Within this way of thinking, stacking wood, and everything I do connects me to the Sacred, by aligning me with the constant flux of everything. A confluence that began long before me and will go on long after me.

This idea of acceptance transforms what might have been a way to get through the commonplace, into a practice that reconnects us to the eternal. Rather than accepting what we have to do, that we might not want to, we can accept our connection to the constant unfolding of everything and where, within it, we are. In this way, acceptance is not a return to the flow, but a recognition that we are continually a part of it.


With that, I'll go out and re-stack the wood pile, meditating on my connection to the infinite.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Laugh!

The first thing I heard when I went through the Eastern door of the cabin this morning, was Crow. A single caw came from the Southeast. Then, from the Northeast, I heard a series of caws. This kind of call, the caw-caw-caw, always reminds me of laughter, because it seems to be infectious amongst my Crow cousins.

As I sat and listened to them caw-caw-cawing back and forth, I got thinking about the importance of laughter. A good laugh can pull me out of whatever bad mood I happen to be in. I remember when my dad died, how important it was for me and my brothers to sit around and laugh. We laughed about the past, we even laughed about the present; about the fact the my dad was dead, and that the funeral was taking place in the sanctuary where we had played hide and seek as kids, avoiding getting caught by the Janitor, Mr. Peterson.

Our laughter was irreverent, but not disrespectful, and I'm sure my father would have approved. We weren't laughing at anyone but ourselves and the overwhelming situation we were facing. There could be no doubt that learning to live without my father was a serious thing, but learning to use laughter to get through was essential.

I don't believe Crow is ever laughing at anything. I think Crow laughs from the joy of being alive. Whether that is true of not, I appreciate Crow bring laughter into my morning, and reminding me to pay attention to the joy in my own life.


Today, I will remember Crow's lesson and look for opportunities to laugh, and enjoy the healing it brings into my day.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Doing

One of the things I am noticing about the effects of this question, what life enriching choice can I make in this moment, right here right now?, is that it focuses me on what I am doing, not what I have done. This disconnects me from the could'a, should'a, would'a's of my life. Sometimes, the answer to the question is to laugh out loud. That's been fun.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A New Question

When I walked out through the Eastern door this morning, I was so struck by the mild pleasantly humid air that I said, “Good morning!” right out loud. Then I walked to my spot and sat down. As I sat and breathed, a question came to me.

Why am I here?”

It seems important to write that the emphasis was on “Here,” and not “Why.”

It's been more than a month since I injured my back, and I had my wisdom teeth removed last Friday. As a result I have been living through a period of slowly diminishing pain, and though focusing, I have found it distracting.

I pondered all of this for a bit. Why, Here? With regard to the pain, I am here because of a lack of focus and choices I have made. Then this phrase came to me. “What choice can I make in this moment, right here right now that will enrich my life?”

That stopped me in my pondering tracks for a bit. Then I came up with an answer, “To take in as much of the beauty of this moment as I can.” With that answer rippling out into the Cosmos, the dim colors of the early morning seemed to come into greater relief. The browns and oranges of the early November leaves got brighter, and the details stood out more clearly. That was cool.

That moment passed, so I asked the question again, “What choice can I make in this moment right now that will enrich my life?” This time the answer was to pay closer attention to the way the air felt as I breathed in and out.

Well it's been quite a morning. I have modified the question a bit. Now I am saying, “What life enriching choice can I make in this moment, right here right now?”


Today, I will be asking myself that question over and over again, and listening to the answers. I can't wait to see where all this takes me.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Still

I heard Duck on the pond in the darkness of a quiet morning. I thought, what am I to learn today? Then the word “Still” came to me, as I heard Duck fly over my head moving Southerly.


Today, I will be paying attention to the value of not moving.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Electronic Hum

The electricity goes out, and the first thing I notice is the absence of clock time. The hum of devices is replaced by the sound of the wind and rain, and I start to think about how I am going to have to adjust.


Today, I will be paying attention to things like how much water I use and where it comes from, and enjoying the quiet, because the hum of electricity will eventuality return.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Owl Lesson

I awoke this morning to the sight of limbs down and a tree snapped in half. No damage to the cabin, but the electricity is out. The Wind had diminished some, but it was still gusting pretty hard.

Then I heard it. Two Owls calling back and forth to each other. Owl is a big bird, but still I was struck by the fact that she would be out in the woods calling to a cousin in such a storm. Where else would she be, I reminded myself?

Then I thought about some of the astounding assumptions I make about my creature cousins. It can be so easy for me to forget that Owl lives outside all the time. No matter how cold or windy or stormy it gets, she is out there. She doesn't get grounded because of lightning, or because the runway gets icy.

Owl gets me thinking about what it is like to live outside. Not survive outside, but really live outside, with the same level of comfort and familiarity I have for living inside. I have thought of this before, when watching Seagulls hover along in gale force winds. They don't struggle of strain, they just seem to float in the Sky, as if it's something they just do.

Because it is. Like the Chickadees in February, my creature cousins don't retreat when the weather gets harsh, they just live their lives.


Owl reminds me of the many possibilities for living, and that the way I am living right now is just one of them. Today, I will be paying attention to the invitations of comfort and security that limit my ability to see alternative possibilities that exist right in for of me.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Leaf Lesson

A single leaf falls from Maple Tree, and lands in the Ferns just Northeast of the cabin. This leaf will nourish the Ferns as it decomposes, returning to the Earth everything that came to it through the Tree. Where it lands is a product of when it is released, the strength and direction of the Wind, the power of gravity, and a number of other factors, most of which are outside the control of Maple Tree.

This gets me thinking about how much I would like to control the effects of my actions, even though I can't. I would love to guide them toward the outcomes I think would be best, but this is outside of my control.

Like the leaf, the effects of my actions drift out from the moment of choice to have the effects they will have. The best I can do it pay attention to these effects, and allow what I learn to inform subsequent choices.


Today, I will be honoring this leaf lesson and diverting my energy away from attempts to control, and toward my efforts to learn from my experiences and make different choices.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tree Time

Due West of the cabin's front porch, there are two Maple Trees. One of them has dropped most of its leaves. The other is still shedding. Seeing his, I realize that, until today, I didn't notice the leaves falling from either Tree.

As I sit and watch the leaves fall one by one, I am aware that I could have taken the time to witness both Trees transform to their current state from their state of bright green leafy-ness, but I did not. This gets me thinking about how the illusion of rapid change is usually a result of me not paying sufficient attention to the gradual transitions of life. I did not wake up one day at the age of fifty four. A significant number of Winters and Springs and Summers and Autumns have transpired to get me where I am today. Noticing the moments of each enriches my experience of my past, and slows time.

No matter how bare the Tree is, each leaf was released one at a time. I have the opportunity to notice and appreciate each transition that happens in my life, from this moment to the next, like leaves falling from a tree. Otherwise I might wake up one day and wonder where it all went.


Today, I am grateful to be able to sit outside for a while watching the leaves fall, and notice the richness of my life.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Freedom

This morning, while I was sitting, Crows circled in the sky and Squirrel ran across the grass, climbing up onto the wood pile. I thought about how familiar her feet must of felt on trees. I'm not sure why, or even if it's true, but it seems that most of the creature cousins I see these days are Squirrels and Crows. This got me thinking about how important these two families are to me.

Then I started to wonder why. Then I remembered. They remind me about the freedom that is possible in my life when I am not distracted by the kind of thinking that links me to things I can't control. When I see Crow fighting with Hawk, or Squirrel making a ten foot leap from tree to tree, I think about what it would take for me to do those kinds of things.

I would have to be present. To be present, I have to be thinking about what I am doing, not what I might do or what might happen. I have to be engage in the life I am leading, not the one I might have lead, or may have someday.


Thank you my creature cousins for reminding me about the importance of being present in my life. Today, I will be doing my best to live this lesson.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Earth Time

Here at the cabin, I plant our Garlic late in the fall. Timing is crucial because it has to be planted before the ground freezes, but late enough so that the bulbs will not start to sprout. This warm Autumn means I am still waiting to plant, and that planting time could be much later this year.


I am reminded that things happen in their own time, not in mine. Waiting till the time is right allows me to reconnect to Earth time, and pay attention to the invitations I receive to discount the flow and the effects it has on my life.

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor-Part VII-Getting Outside the Box

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lightning

Lightning flashed brightly in the East. The thunder rolled in later, and seemed to surround me. I wondered what it would have looked like from the beach.

The lightning signaled change, and got me thinking about how I can get used to things being a certain way. My perception that thing are ever a certain way is an illusion, since things are always changing.


Today, I will be paying attention for signs of small change, and allowing this to reconnect me to the flow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pink Sky

The Sun glowed pink through the early morning clouds, illuminating the colors in the tree leaves. Like burning coals, the trees shone bright and shimmered in the warm breeze.

Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” The rain did come, and it occurred to me that the warning that can be seen in the clouds applies only to humans in boats. My creature cousins who live in and on the water are not imperiled by rain.


Today, I will be paying attention to times when ideas of good and bad are reflections only of what is useful and not useful to my human family members.

Monday, October 23, 2017

False Sunrise

Hours before the Sun actually crests the horizon, the sky begins to brighten. I have heard this referred to as a false sunrise. This may be because sunrise is considered an event not a process. The precise moment when the Sun is visible on the horizon can be determined. The moment when the sky starts to get brighter is a it more difficult to discern.

This gets me thinking about how I am invited to think about my life as a series of events, instead of a process. There is a specific moment that determines when I am one year older, even though the year has been progressing for three hundred and sixty five days. The time I get up, the time I post this, the time I eat breakfast, these are the markers I am encouraged to think about when I consider the unfolding of my life. They are the sing posts that can distract me from the path, or the map that distracts me from the territory.

I have also heard a false sunrise described as the illusion created by the atmosphere that makes it appear that the Sun has crested the horizon moments before it actually does. In this way we describe what a moment is not, but miss what it is. This first explosion of light may not be the sunrise, but it is something. It is part of a process.


Today, I will be paying attention to times when I am invited to look at the sunrise, and ignore the change in light.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Assumptions

Late last night, I heard Squirrel running in the woods. She was under Oak tree. I was struck by her being out so late. Then it occurred to me that I had been making assumptions about Squirrel. Why shouldn't she be out at night? I was. Why had I assumed she would be awake during the day and sleep only at night? I wondered what else I might be missing as a result of my curiosity being stunted by assumptions.


Today, I will be paying attention to the effects of assumptions, and what they might keep me from seeing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tree Ghost

This morning, I had a vision of an arch way created by two Maple Trees. One of them was a Maple I cut down several years ago. They were both bright orange, set off by a clear blue sky.


I am grateful to live a life haunted by the ghosts of Trees.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Leaves

The early morning Sun shines through the brilliant colors of the changing leaves, and reminds me of magnificent stained glass windows in cathedrals. The beauty of the world beyond my culture is limitless, but fragile. As my culture changes, cathedrals are torn down and the ancient stained glass windows shatter on the ground, or get tucked away in cellars. The beauty that lives wild and free just outside my window can also come crashing down if I take it for granted.


Today, I will be paying attention to the beauty that lives all around me, and remembering that I play a role in making sure my grandchildren have the chance to see it, too.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor VI-Flowers

Flowers

As Autumn progresses, the flowers around the cabin begin to turn brown. Some drop their seeds to the ground, some shrivel and turn to dust to be carried off on the Wind. I realize that this process actually started weeks ago. Each flower had its peak color, and started to fade, but it only now that I start to notice.

There is a line that I wrote in a song. The song is called Flowers. The line is, “Flowers grow and die away, and don't ask for another day.” The song is a testament to the wisdom of Flowers. They live fully in every moment, and die away when it is time. They don't wait for the perfect moment, or hold back because of what someone might think. These are traps I have fallen into.


Today, I am grateful for the wisdom of Flowers, and the lessons they have taught me. Today, I will live more like Flowers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Practice

There are four ideas that form the foundation of my personal practice. They are acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and service. This is how they weave into my life today. I accept the pain that I have to deal with in each moment. I forgive myself for the mistakes I made that lead to the injury. I am grateful for the things I can do the the pain does not prevent. I do what I can do to be of use in spite of the injury.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Moon

Through the trees to the East of the cabin I see the crescent Moon hanging low, accompanied by a single star. As it is dark in the early morning, I know that the moon will be with me throughout the day, crossing invisibly, just ahead of the Sun.


I am grateful for the Moon and will be paying attention to the energy it contributes to it's more obvious partner.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Connections

Every morning, as I collect Mint leaves for my tea, I return to the fact that the Mint I use grows from roots that were given to me by a friend. Her father collected the roots from the town where I was born.


I am grateful to my friend, her father, and the plants for the daily connection I have to them and the place of my birth.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mistakes

As I split wood, every log I pick up and put on the chopping block is a reminder. I am reminded of the trees I brought down to provide us with heat this Winter. I am reminded of the damage I did not do to the cabin or myself in doing so. I am also reminded of the mistakes I made when I cut a log too short or too long. Both instances will require some form of adjustment in the splitting process that will mean more work.

As I ponder this, it occurs to me that no matter what I encounter in the splitting process, eventually all the wood will be split and stacked. Finally, it will all be burned, along with the evidence of my mistakes. As we burn the wood this Winter, all my errors will turn onto smoke and vanish up through the chimney. All that will be left is knowledge.


Today, I will be paying attention to the fact that everything I do creates knowledge. I can use this knowledge to inform the moment I am in, or to keep me stuck in past mistakes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Reminiscences

Yesterday was a particularly poignant day for me. It was filled with many connections and re-connections. There were moments I will cherish and moments that invite doubt and insecurity. All of these thoughts are seductive and pull me out of what is currently happening in my life.


Today, I will be working to return to the Now where I can begin to inhabit the possibilities sparked by yesterday, while avoiding becoming mired in reminiscences and regret.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Names

My wife calls out to the Cat that lives with us, and Cat looks up at her. It occurs to me that Cat knows her name. Then it occurs to me how arbitrary her name is. Then it occurs to me that my name is similarly arbitrary. I think of how it connects me to relatives and heritage and to my family, but it also binds me to a fixed state of “Joel-ness” that I associate with my name. Then I think about how any kind of naming can have this limiting effect.


Today, I will be paying attention to the possible limiting effects of naming, and doing my best to avoid these imposed limits.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Healing IV

As my healing progresses, I realize I have to return to doing things I did before the injury. For me, too much rest means more vulnerability to injury as muscles become weaker and weaker. I am aware of the nuanced balance between work and rest that challenges by healing body without hurting it again. Tension that results from fear of new pain is different from injury pain. Presence in the moment is useful in deciphering the two.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor V-Lessons from Pain

Moon Me

Outside this morning I looked up at the the half moon shining in the Southern sky. It was ringed with haze, and though I thought that might have been a result of the moisture in the atmosphere, it occurred to me that it could also be an artifact of my fifty-something-year-old eyes. This got me thinking about the relationship between me and what seems to be. Everything I experience is a manifestation of me and what seems to be around me. I remember that everything I consider to be not me includes a bit of me. I am grateful for this relationship.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Healing III

As the pain continues to subside, the reminders of conscious movement fade as well. Now is the time when I have to transition to conscious awareness of my movements without reminders in order to avoid re injury.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Interconnection

When I pick up a log to split it, I notice that if it has been on the ground for enough time, the ground sticks to it. As I pull the soft Earth off, it occurs to me that the log has already started to transform. Soil and wood combine to become Earth once again. Than it occurs to me that they have always been connected. Seeing roots and dirt rather than a fluid web of interconnected life is a manifestation of my own misguided thinking. I think tree and soil so I see tree and soil, but where does tree stop and soil begin?


Today, I will be paying attention to the effects my thinking has on my perception of my world; where this is useful and where it gets in the way.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cloud Time

This morning the thought occurred to me, “How much time will I allow myself to heal?” Then I looked up at the clouds. Between me and the upper stratosphere where there are no clouds, there are many layers of wind currents. While I was watching, the upper clouds were quite still while the lower clouds were moving very quickly.

I was reminded of how clouds move. They travel with the wind, not resisting, not anticipating, and without commentary. They follow the flow created by the warming and cooling of Earth. They are not impatient to reach a destination or longing for their departure point. They are simply where they are, as they are. All this reminded me that I will heal in the time it takes for me to heal. What I allow or don't allow is irrelevant. My choice is to be present to the process as it happens, or lose track of it, risking doing something that will re-injure me creating a new trajectory of healing.


There are things I can do today that I could not do yesterday without pain. For this, I am grateful. That is where I am today.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Pain III

My pain is loud. It continually reminds me to slow down and pay attention.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gratitude

There are people living on this planet right now who stay up sometimes for days dancing and singing out of gratitude for a good hunt, or a good harvest, or the healing of a relative. They dance and sing to give back, even though they have to do it all again. Today, I will be pondering this lesson and challenging myself to up my gratitude game. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Healing II

As the pain slowly subsides, and I regain the ability to move more freely, I have the opportunity to be grateful for these gifts of conscious action.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pain II

Sometimes the pain is so present that it completely distracts me from my thoughts. I appreciate this as it gives me an opportunity to notice what remains. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Healing

As I start to heal, I experience the challenge of taking it slowly. Remembering not to rush back into old practices allows me to integrate what I have learned from my experience. Today, I can not do what I was able to do in the past. Using the pain to guide my pace makes it less likely that I will slip back into same patterns. I will use the discomfort to remind me back to the present while I actively attend to my next steps.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Pain

Pain is an opportunity for me to witness the powerful seduction of the past. I know exactly what I did wrong that caused my injury, but there is nothing I can do to change what happened. I can only use the experience to be more present and aware now.

Friday, September 29, 2017

7 Billion Geniuses-The Music Metaphor-Part IV-Practice

Gratitude

At times like this, I am struck by how vigilant I have to be of my own tendency to take things for granted. From the electricity that runs the alarm clock that wakes me to the fresh air I breath in as I turn off the noise to the floor that greets my feet as I get out of the warm comfortable bed in which I sleep. And all that transpires in the first moments of my day.


Today, I will be doing my best to pay attention to the hundreds of times I am gifted with abundance, and be grateful.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Falling Leaves

Leaves fall and remind me that everything is always in motion. They glide to the Earth were they become soil. Soil becomes Trees and the cycle continues.


Today, I am remembering that I am part of this cycle. I, too, am always in motion. What will I become?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chipmunk

As I approached the Mint patch, I saw someone scurry into the underbrush. Waiting for a moment, I saw Chipmunk emerge from the other side. She then ran across a patch of grass, stopped and turned to look back at me. Chipmunk was not panting and did not seem upset by our close encounter, she simply moved to a safe distance and stopped, to look back.

This got me thinking about the assumptions I make about my creature cousins and the prey/predator mythology that is so much a part of my culture. Does Chipmunk see me as a threat or a danger or as a participant in an interaction that she wants to engage in from a distance? Threats are to be eliminated and dangers are to be avoided, but Chipmunk doesn't seem to live her life doing either of these things. She does not eliminate threats by undermining my life, nor does she avoid danger by living far from me. She lives close to me, and our lives intersect because of our similarities. She was looking for some Mint this morning at the same time I was.

I know that she stopped at a distance that I could not cover quickly and looked back at me. But why?


Today, I will be holding onto the idea that I don't actually know the answer to that question. I will also be declining the invitation to think that I do.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Squirrel Lesson IV

This morning, as I came out the Eastern door, Squirrel began an alarm call. It was the longer kaw call with a wavy tail flicker. She started from across the lawn, than ran closer to me. As she sat on top of the woodpile and kawed at me, I was struck by her. There she sat, not five feet from, letting me know she knew I was there. Her kaws kept calling my attention to her, demanding my focus. After a bit, she ran off the woodpile and over to a White Pine stump, where she continued her calls.


Squirrel's actions remind me of bravery. Her willingness to get so close to me gets me thinking about what it takes for me to do things I am afraid to do. I will remember Squirrel when I am facing a challenge, and concerned about what might happen.