As the last of the wine glasses is put back on the shelf the Brut recorked and the dishes set in the tray to dry we take a slow walk after the meal hoping the arrabiatta sauce will be less angry, the pasta less weighty, when we arrive back home to the sofa and the purring cat distracting us from the beckoning of the bed.
Between now and eventually lies all of history. We are unable to see it though it lies in our field of vision. That’s the problem, we only know how to look backward. We are barely able to see where we are. It isn’t that we don’t want to be here, merely that here is difficult to see, for we have a tendency to block our vision. Imagine a map with an X or other marker saying “You are Here.” Yet seeing that we know we are not there for in that instant we will look down and see where we truly are. But the better statement to the “you are here” sign is not to call it wrong, but rather to simply ask it, how did you know. It will answer, your visit was history lying between my now and my eventually.
Morning slowly encroaches on your dreams, eroding images despite your tightening grasp. Clear lines blur, become hazy and dissipate bleached by the first light creeping around the shades. The dreams do not care for they will arise again when they choose and this is for them a mere inconvenience. You are the loser here for the linear mindstring once cut never reties with simplicity and something is always lost in the tying.
One of these days soon the sun will again get angry, will blow off steam and all manner of signals will get the message loud if not clearly. The sun can get away with it and we accept it, if not willingly but begrudgingly. When we blow off such steam cities melt, and the angry one is condemned for crimes against humanity or avoiding greater loss. In the final analysis, however, it is probably better to simply be a star where fits of pique are expected and tolerated.
Approach the master sitting on his seat. The fool will seek answers having slept through the lesson but the wise student will bow silently and retreat having learned all there is and knowing absolutely nothing.
A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)
Like most you believe that if it is worth remembering you will, that memory is keyed to some measure of value and if you forget that value had diminished without your noticing. You accept this as a sort of gospel truth for you cannot recall that you once rejected this argument out of hand, for that has slipped way from memory and lies valueless and withering on the synaptic scrap heap. You are certain you had a childhood but just as certain you were thoughtless until age three when life came rushing in remarkable fits and starts bridged by chasms of nothing though you fear that some memories may be slipping into the abyss even as you deny that possibility.
The night fully settles
over northern Minnesota
in the sky grows dark
as the stars make
their reluctant appearance.
Peering through the tall grasses
of the wetlands abutting the road
1000 stars are born
and die in an instant
only to be reborn again
they are replaced by
the beetles that accompany
the slowly rising sun.
Yesterday a small dog, walking its master down the block stopped and stared at you, as you stood on your porch. You stared back at the dog, eyes locked on each other, while the master fidgeted on the sidewalk, afraid or too bored to look at either of you. You realized this was just the dog’s way of teaching his master patience, or perhaps of simply delaying you from what it was that brought you to your porch that you forgot in engaging the dog. Eventually the dog dragged its master on, and you returned to the house, having done nothing but stare at a dog. It was clear in that moment that a dog must have Buddha nature but yours was deeply in question.