We sit around the small tables glad to be out of the sun whose midday glare seems to blind the drivers slowly approaching the Jetty Park lot.
A family chatters, the children laughing at nothing, at everything, and nearby a dog lays out dreaming of a good walk and dinner, hoping for scraps.
We can hear the water of the inlet, the waves breaking onto the beach, visuals left to our imaginations, but we are satisfied with that, and the fact that our tacos here are far more reasonable with the “without the view” discount.
The morning was indistinguishable from so many others. Lorenz was taking his morning walk around the pond or lake, it was of that intermediate size that could be either or neither, when in a break with his habit, he sat down on one of the four benches, and stared out over the water. He hadn’t seen the usual egrets or herons or ibis, which did strike him as a bit odd since they were as regular in attendance as he was. As he pondered their absence he was startled by what felt like a tickling on his arm. He looked down to find a Painted Lady butterfly perched on his forearm sitting placidly. He stared at what seemed to be the eyes on its wing staring at him. Neither moved, he for fear of dislodging his visitor, the butterfly for its own, undisclosed, unfathomable reasons. This mutual staring continued until time lost its shape, its defintion, and puddled at his feet, no longer mattering at all. But evenutally a breeze came up and it lifted from his arm, flitted about as if in some farewell and was off. He had no idea that moments later the tsunami warning sirens began up and down Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
Follow the old fellow walking over there, he who cannot see because it is too bright, who cannot see because it is too dark who cannot see above himself, below behind or beside, but traverses the path with an unerring foot.
A reflection on Case 22 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
He found the cup by the curb one morning walking to the bus. He rarely notice things on his walk, thinking always about the day ahead. But this day he saw it, picked it up and put it in his messenger bag intending to clean it later, when he got home after work. He had no idea why he wanted it. It wasn’t particularly pretty, a drab red with a mark where a decal had long ago peeled away. He forgot it, until he found it in his bag several days later, he washed it and placed it on a special shelf in his kitchen cabinet. The shelf was reserved for things he found with which he intended to do something, but that something had not yet happened. He knew something was missing from the shelf, so he took a selfie, printed it and placed it on the shelf.
Sitting atop a hundred foot pole you are convinced there are only two directions: pole and down. Old Osho asks, how will you proceed and you stare back at this lunatic. How will you proceed, he repeats?
You release the pole step slowly away, looking at ten directions before you, you move your feet, each one touches the path of each of the three worlds and Osho gently touching your elbow walks a bit by your side.
A reflection on case 46 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans.
We both know that having a pet at our age is wise for they provide a companionship that can be difficult to find. I’ve had both dogs and cats, but the decision this time was reasonably simple, for dogs have an insatiable need to walk their people, weather is no impediment and my arthritis is no longer all that forgiving of damp and cold.
So we settled on a cat, and we have been pleased with our decision – she is joyous, playful and reads our emotional needs, but most importantly, other than not needing to walk us, she has been remarkably adept at training us to live in her new home.
Today I paused and had a conversation with my mind, and found it remarkably enlightening. It wasn’t a terribly long talk for I quickly ran out of things to say and I would have sworn it had heard them all before and anticipated me fully. In the end though, I did have one advantage and simply got up and walked away and that caught it wholly by surprise.
She sat us down this morning for a heart to heart conversation. We had mentioned the neighbors’ new dog, their second, this one little smaller than a pony. She smiled at us, but we could tell it was a false smile, something was hiding about to be set free. “That is the problem with dogs,” she said, “they come in all sizes and temperaments. You never know what to expect, except that in any weather, but mostly the kind you hate, you have to walk them, or they walk you. And loud, they all seem to come without volume controls. So be thankful you have me. Now excuse me, my litter pan beckons.”