Underside of Leaves
Underside of Leaves
It’s occurred to me lately that I’m never going to be “discovered.” The phone isn’t going to ring again with someone hoping for my services. Nothing is going to happen that will rescue me from my current situation. That’s not to say my current circumstances are bad, nor am I waiting for rescue. For most of my adult life, I sort of half-expected things were going to get better over time. I no longer expect that.
No, this is it, as good as it’s going to get. If I failed to save for retirement twenty or thirty years ago, it’s not going to suddenly happen now that I’m seventy. The next big landmark in my life will probably be a catastrophic illness or accident, a medical bill I might not be able to pay, a Go Fund Me site, but now with the pandemic, I suppose the line for charity bail outs will be interminable.
On the other hand and possibly on the brighter side, nothing seems to make sense anymore. Merely watching our own government handle the pandemic is an exercise in absurd logic. It’s like watching a Betty Boop cartoon. Nothing follows from what came before, and anything is possible. There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that when I leave my house this morning I’ll bump into Johnny Depp who was just coming to see me to offer me a role in his new film. We’ll go have coffee and he’ll offer me more money than I’ve ever made in my life, just to be part of a fun, new experience. That could happen. I’m not holding my breath, but it could happen.
Or a meteor could land in the vacant lot down the street and I could take it home and crack it open, finding that it contained pure old! Lots of things could happen.
now is the time of year they’re in bloom. I collect their seeds
The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.
I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.
From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “No Death, No Fear”.
“Around us, life bursts with miracles, a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
one third of the way up doi suthep
hot off the electronic press