a hut at the edge of a forest. it had no door and was dark on the inside.
i stepped into the hut to get out of the elements.
inside, i sat down on the floor, the entrance on my right.
something in the corner to my left had a halo glow. a staff with a three-pronged headpiece moved in the illuminated shadow.
it asked what dirt i brought inside.
“arrogance and impatience,” i answered.
the clangor of bells and gongs filled the space.
something hot yet cold touched my forehead.
it said if i kept walking the dirt would wash away, that anger was water.
for the past week smoke from surrounding wildfires has shrouded the city, making my lungs burn and eyes water. the smoke-filled grey sky has transitioned to cloud-filled grey sky. the damp air is cool on my skin.
with the arrival of clouds, light plays trickery on the senses—the day looks as if it belongs to autumn, not summer.
i walk the streets and parks. a breeze moves the boughs overhead and carries a few fallen leaves across the sidewalk. a memory surfaces from close on five years ago: an autumnal walk with my partner. we were walking home from the market. while stopped on a street corner i spied a tree whose remaining leaf canopy only existed on its periphery. leaves quivered, some fell to the ground. with the leaves today and the memory, William Carlos Williams’s poem Approach of Winter came to mind:
The half-stripped trees struck by a wind together,
bending all, the leaves flutter drily and refuse to let go or driven like hail stream bitterly out to one side and fall where the salvias, hard carmine - like no leaf that ever was - edge the bare garden.
another gust picked up fallen leaves and they danced across the sidewalk. people are like leaves. they bud and sprout, grow and mature, weather the seasons. some die off prematurely, others fall alone or with leaves they have spent their entire lives beside.
on that evening five years ago, i could see my breath. then and now, the muffled hints of conversation, the din of traffic, the swirl of leaves picked up by the breeze — the interconnectedness of everything.
i am grateful for it all.
from a high window i watch a murder of crows fly in concentric circles for close on five minutes. at this height, the push-out vertical window only opens two inches; the crow caws punctuate soft wind gusts which remind me of the sound of bound newspaper pages turning in the library.
i walk away from the window; my coffee cup needed filling and cooking needed to begin.
the metallic ping as salt crystals strike the bottom of the empty pan. the crunch of the onion giving way to the knife. the sounds take me back to a place, nearly seven years ago, where i was made eggs and toast by a man who loves me still and i danced in the kitchen while waiting.
i return to the window. the crows have flown elsewhere. heavy rain is falling, the chatter of conversations from those walking the streets below cannot be heard; tug boats position a shipping tanker in the bay, gantry bound; a man curses in the hall at a torn bag of rubbish; thoughts of a man in glasgow, whom i know is sipping tea and writing, even though i am not there.
a tug boat horn pulls me out of sleep. it is still dark out, the wind blows. the trees are mostly bare as only leaf buds dot the boughs. the sound of the wind, a low whistle, as opposed to the wrestling of leaves as if it were full summer.
my thoughts drift: a brief conversation with a homeless man, a chittering sparrow, my grams's progression towards death, a woman who miscarried.
“i am hungry, do you have any spare change? i'm not lying about being homeless. let me show you what's in my bag—all i have is a blanket and a pair of socks. please, believe me.”
“thank you for talking to me. people don't like talking to homeless.”
the young sparrow, the corners of its beak maturing from a yellow colour to cream, perched atop a wooden sign post, chittered at its brethren before shitting, then flying away.
my grams, no longer able to chew food, can only eat pureed meals.
a woman who miscarried is surprised by how much grief she feels for the fetus.
the closing line of philip larkin's poem, The Mower, came to mind while the coffee steeped:
…we should be kind While there is still time.
everything in the cosmos is interconnected. our separation is bridged through compassion and kindness; to others, ourselves, and the world around us. it travels further than the pealing of a temple bell.
by the by, The Mower can be read in its entirety here
the phrase “letting go” is frequently used amongst Dharma practitioners, found in texts, and heard in discussions. despite its frequent reference, the meaning of “letting go” is commonly misunderstood.
the Dharma teaches the importance of letting go of ego, of preferences, of emotions, of neurosis, of addictions, of compulsions, of desires, of what we think the Dharma is. we cause harm and perpetuate our own suffering with the misguided belief that “letting go” means that our egoic attachments vanish and we then become beacons of peace and tranquility.
it is true that letting go of our attachments is important, but “letting go” does not mean getting rid of things. “letting go” does not mean that our attachments and character traits disappear.
“letting go” is about acceptance—about realizing that those aspects of our personality that we think are broken will not disappear. our neuroses, desires, preferences—it is those attributes that give us individuality; they are part of each of us and are neither good nor bad. when we “let go,” it simply means that we are no longer controlled by attachments and beliefs; that life is no longer ego-driven, but actually lived.
truly letting go is like looking at yourself in a mirror. you see your reflection, and you know you are not your reflection.
when i was very young, say three or four, my grams tied a thread around the abdomen of a live june bug. after tying the knot, she passed me a living kite.
the june bug died from exhaustion (and possibly fear, for sentience is everywhere) from not being able to escape and rest. i kept its carcass for years till it finally crumbled after being jostled in its box.
this is why i have a june bug tattoo; to always be reminded that our actions have impacts.