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.