One of my new mindfulness-strengthening practices I’ve come up with for 2020 is Haiku A Day, where I pen one new haiku every day.
Here is my first week of 2020 in Haiku:
Never will I know
how truly gifted I am
to have this one life
Winter birds asleep
townspeople in deep slumber
trees rest until spring
Darkness changes hue
No one morning looks the same
Sometimes dark is light
Glowing beeswax flame
one fallen star on the ground
Green tea in winter
January roots and blooms
I sit in gladness
Morning pen in hand
a rumbling on the stove
the universe hums
Wake up: 3am
darkness speaks in poetry:
I am here for you
As someone who is interested in both honoring impermanence and upholding sentimentality, I’ve not kept every scrap of art or pipecleaner creation my stepson ever made but I did keep a few select pieces. I’ve been intentional in my keepings, careful not to clutter up our life holding on to the past.
One of my prized possessions – prized as in: I’d want to snatch it up on my way out the door if our house were on fire and I were a quick enough thinker – is a clay mug he crafted in middle school.
The assignment was to make a cougar mug, in an effort to instill a certain prescribed affection for the school’s wild feline mascot.
It feels a bit odd to me now but didn’t at the time, to align such young minds in the direction of school allegiance. Now I wonder what early prep work this is for a lifetime spent, for some of us, trying to find our self and un-conform.
Every morning, I end my sitting meditation session with a short gratitude practice involving three gratitude-infused prostrations to the earth and then I stand and do one final standing bow, where I say inwardly to myself:
In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today,
may I be useful, may I be kind.
I fashioned the Zen enso in the pic above using a newly acquired calligraphy pen and a super thick Sharpie.
In early December, I posted this pic on my home sangha’s Facebook page (Be Here Now Community) where, to date, it has “reached” 1,556 people. Of the 72 people who clicked on an emoji for the post: 71 people either liked or loved it and 1 person chose the sad icon. The person who was saddened by the post, commented: Can I be un-useful…..? So I am not good enough as I am….? 😢💔
I chose not to respond to this person’s comment, as I didn’t feel that a FB comment reply would be a skillful way to have any sort of meaningful dialog take place, and would likely only serve to create more confusion. However, I really appreciated this person’s comment; it’s been a subject of mild reflection for me ever since. I greatly appreciate learning how people hear and receive the Dharma. It helps me to better understand where people are coming from and to perhaps make adjustments in how I might share the Dharma with others, as someone who is highly invested in doing my best to unpack certain elements of the teachings that can often and easily be misunderstood or left unclear.
My reflections centered around this person’s comment include: if I was asked this question in person, what would I have said?; what message do I think they received from my post?; how can I flesh this out more?; how might I respond in such a way that won’t be more damaging or add further to this person’s confusion/sorrow?
Soon we bid farewell to one year in welcome of another. Soon we turn over the calendar, the decade; archiving it in the folds of yesterday’s memory.
And as is custom for me, I will leave behind the specialty mindfulness-strengthening exercises I started this past January and replace them with new ones to carry with me through the year, as a way to help keep my practice fresh and alive.
Each January, I pick up 2 or 3 new mindfulness-based practices, and lay down the ones from the previous year. In 2019, I adopted two new practices: 1. an Angst & Impatience tick-mark chart in my car, which I used diligently when driving and 2. 52-Weeks of Thank You’s.
Starting on January 1st, I’ll be picking up 3 new practices: 1. reading & practicing with one card a week from Thay’s deck of 108 meditation cards (recently published; see pic below) 2. transferring the Angst & Impatience chart for use when I’m on my laptop and 3. writing one haiku per day (or perhaps one per week, if doing it on the daily proves to be too much).
The Quiet Room at the Philadelphia airport. Dec 22, 2019
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Me? I’m in quiet (not silent, cuz here I am blogging about it) peaceful protest. Still, I can hear the bells tolling on Santa’s sleigh; from around the necks of his jolly crew of reindeer; on the shoes of his hard-working elves; from cash registers near and far. I wish forever and a day this holiday of Christmas was held in sacred accord with religious vows and values. That it wasn’t about what Santa wraps and leaves in secret under the tree. That it wasn’t about glorifying the acquiring of a bunch of stuff we don’t need. That it wasn’t about lying to our children.
It isn’t stuff we’re short on. Time and un-distracted presence is what we’re collectively lacking. Both are free; priceless.
Home is at once:
where I lay my head to rest each night –
the dwelling place that holds the shelving which holds the books I’ve collected;
the town I am cradled in and the people that I share my breath with
on a regular basis, who all gaze out and see the same mountains I do;
the state my town resides and the landscape, cattle, barbed wire,
and boots on the ground that spread from border to border;
the stomping grounds of my birth and raising,
where I fell down the basement steps in a rolling walker
when I was a baby on Lemon Street and slow danced with boys
at school dances in the gym of Log College Middle School;
and the inner world I carry with me like a snowglobe
and can shake up and make it glitter rain wherever I go.
On Monday, I broke my favorite mug (see pic above); the one I use every day; the one I purchased from a local clay artist over the summer and carted home in the saddlebag of my motorcycle. On Tuesday, I managed to break my 2nd favorite mug.
I was on a roll.
On Wednesday, I stopped into three different small town thrift shops on my way to visit a friend up north on the Flathead Lake and purchased a mug with a dancing Snoopy on one side and the words: Life is too short not to live it up a little on the other side for .50 cents and balance was restored to my early morning tea-drinking routine.