What I want, no, need actually, is to remember the smells of youth. The images I can recall, but they are aged pictures, run repeatedly through the Photoshop of memory, and cannot be trusted only desired.
The old, half ready to fall oak, in the Salt Lake City park had a faint pungency that lingered even as I departed my body as the acid kicked in, and drew me back from the abyss hours later,
and my then wife, cradling our first born in the hospital bed, the scent of innocence and sterility that neither of us dared recognize as a foretelling of our denouement.
Those moments are lost in the sea of time, washed away from memory’s shore, but the smell of a summer oak still promises a gentle return to self.
I was honored to have this recently published in Arena Magazine: A Magazine of Critical Thinking, Issue 162 from Victoria, Australia
This river has for endless time flowed from the distant hills on its winding path to the waiting sea. The river has no need of clocks, cares little whether the Sun, Moon or clouds shimmers on its surface. The river counts seasons as passing moments ever new, ever shifting, and our lives, and our dams are minor diversions. I sit along the banks and watch the clouds flow gently down stream seeking the solitude only the ocean will afford.
The hardest prison to escape is the one whose walls are built by the mind with fear and trepidation. It is like the open gate you dare not enter, fearing that you are leaving and will not be allowed to return. Atop a pole there are an infinite number of directions to go and only one is straight down, but you dread selecting any, for gravity is a fear as great his death yet you know you can feel neither. The prison of the mind is impregnable for there, fear and pain live in concert and you are a small boat on an angry sea, staring always at the roiling waves.
As the seasons change I will stand with one foot on the highest peak and the other at the bottom of the deepest sea. But do not ask that I stand in a place where there is no Buddha, or my feet and legs shall fall away into the void.
A reflection on Case 68 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye) Koans
Next week we will walk along the beach and periodically stare out on the ocean. The waves will wash in and out, and one will look much like the last and the next. If we get out early enough, perhaps we will sit outside a café across the road from the beach and drink our wet cappuccinos and eat our bagels while watching some 20-something perform yoga poses on the sand, poses that we can remember, uncertain how our bodies ever assumed those postures, certain to do so again would cause breakage that would put medicine to an unfair test. We watch the elderly drivers, question why they still have licenses to drive, and to the extent possible, avoid looking in mirrors.
Why do you seek old Masters, they have no special gift. Your lineage is the surface of the sea never still, all waves. Your teacher has no answers, his silence instructs close your ears and listen, is that his breath you hear or only your own? In is out, out is in depending on where you sit.
Dreams are the gentle sea across which we float as night embraces us. This is the preferred view, but in the stormy dark our dreams turn violent tossing us against thoughts we have long suppressed. It is how we row, how we ride he swells, searching for the calm on the horizon that allows us to see the shore of a new day.
The sea steals the edge of the shore, replacing it with something familiar and yet different. It is much the same with the waves of sleep that lap at my dreams leaving fractured memories and holes left to fill with desire and imagination. Walking along the shore of dawn and awakening, I feel time creep between my toes.
I sit outside, on the mesa having watched the mauve, fuchsia and coral sky finally concede to night. The two orange orbs sit twenty yards away, staring back and in this moment coyote and I have known each other for moments, and for generations, and we are content. Coyote tells me he was once an elder living in the old adobe buildings, how he was a shaman, still is, with his magic, and I tell him of how I walked for years in the desert, food appearing from heaven, of how I crossed the sea and some thought it parted for me. Coyote and I are both old and we know we each have stories that no one would believe, and so we are left to believe each other and tell our stories to the sky gods.