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Sum

I have been on the road for more than three years now. From the bold sunshine in San Diego and the dusty desert around Palm Springs, through the green pine forests, by the blue rivers and over the snow-capped mountains of the Northwest.Eagle fishing I took pictures of eagles while I was cruising in a boat off the west coast of Vancouver Island. My little RV disappeared in the glacier-carved canyons of British Columbia. I lost the sun in the eclipse, looking from the frozen lava flows in Idaho and struggled to find it again through the smoke from huge fires in Montana and Wyoming.

Etna StatuesAfter completing the circle through the Northwest twice, I have settled down in the places I like the most. For the summer, I have been staying in Etna, California, thirty miles south of the Oregon border. Etna is incredibly beautiful. The town lies in a deep green valley, but still 3000 feet up, with little rivers running everywhere. The mountains that surround the valley seal it off from the outside world. Deer cross through downtown on a regular basis. Hay is bailed in fields everywhere. The air is sweet and fresh. It is warm and quiet. At this time of year, the blackberries are growing all over the place.

Dutch FlatIn the Fall and Spring, I retreat to Dutch Flat, north of Sacramento. Up in the Sierras, esp. on the edge of the seasons, the air is crisp and full of potential. The blues and greens are sharp and energetic. The weather has a presence every day. For me, it feels like a threshold to greater mysteries.

In the winter, I stay near the Salton Sea, just south of Palm Springs. The desert is a contrast. So much more is left to the imagination. Grapevines grow in January down there. The San Jacinto mountains keep the storms away, for the most part. The geese stop by for a couple of days, on their way somewhere.  Warm winter days, cool winter nights. I have always loved the seasons, but these days being cold is no longer a thrill. My old bones welcome the steady, warm embrace of Southern California.

Dawn on snowy San Jacinto mountains smallI have realized that it’s not one thing that makes life worthwhile, it’s all of it. Any one experience is defined in terms of all the other experiences. Any one thing fades. Nothing could stand alone – there would be no contrast, no background against which the figure could stand out. There is no size to anything, unless it is compared to something else. What it is compared to is what went before.

In the last year, my brother died and my grandson was born. That is the bigger picture, in terms of hills and valleys. I can only use words that once applied to the landscape to metaphorically describe an invisible world beyond my senses. The experience is the same. The nervous system doesn’t know the difference.

People and Rocks smallAt 70 years old, I am seeing friends die once in a while. That puts it all in perspective. Whole lifetimes linger in the mind. I begin to think about what I am leaving behind. There is no way to know how it all adds up. All I am aware of is that I gave it my best shot, expressing all I could think of. I believe that’s why we’re here – to add imagination to the circumstances.

My earliest memories of being around others are of being in the classroom in South Australia. I was six years old. I sat in the back of the rows of desks. Another boy and I would compete on filling out math problems on cards. The cards were piled on a table at the front of the classroom. When we each finished one card successfully, we would race up to the front table and get the next card. We called it “doing our sums”. Sums were math in those days.

In reality, we are constantly summing things up, revising the bottom line. Our awareness is actually a running total of experience. By adding things up, we can project a bigger picture. Perhaps even one we haven’t seen yet … for which we will have to use the words for things we have seen already. I don’t see inner experience as a bunch of different streams, feelings flowing this way and that. Inner experience is an accumulation of all that has been felt at any given time. Each moment is a current, flowing with everything up to now. The shape of Now reflects all that went (and didn’t go) before. I am an accumulation. What you see is how it adds up so far.

Just as my outer body is a visible running total of my biological interactions in life, my past thoughts and feelings are resulting in my experience now. The history is unrecoverable. Here, now, is the edge of everything that went before … like the last ring in a tree-trunk, the flower in the Spring, the stream after a snowfall or like the stars in the sky

There is just one experience. This one. Now. It is made of everything.

 

Words

numbersA word is designed to keep a thing the same, while time flows around it. I name it so that it will be there tomorrow … and the next day. All kinds of plans can be made once we use the word instead of the thing. For centuries this has been handy.

Still, we have all been let down by words. Whatever I call it, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Eventually we all run up against the realization that the word is not the thing, the map is not the territory. The relationship between words and reality is a percentage game. Politicians take advantage of that fact. “That’s not what I would call it!” is the beginning of most arguments.

In another life, I used to begin General Semantics classes with a question: “If I tell you that the trees outside are purple”, then what do you know?” It would take some time to sort through the alternatives, before everyone agreed that the only thing to be known was that I said that – nothing more about the trees outside or imagining what was going on in my mind. We have become so enamored by the power to produce a world with words that we are losing the connection to reality. Grammar that was once the engine of civilization now lies like wreckage along the side of the road. Critical thinking is lost in the mess.

The problem now, in 2019, is that words are losing their value. The current leader of the free world needs words to lose their significance … because most of the words about him are bad. He treats words as he treats other agreements, as if reality were arbitrary. trump wants that arbitrariness … the fact that what you say about something doesn’t really matter because the map is not the territory… to overwhelm the folks less able to think for themselves, so that they will turn to him as savior. Rather than lifting people up, he wants to drag them down to his level.

When the words stop meaning anything, we will be back where we began. We will have to start over. No one will trust words for a while. Eventually, everyone will keep their word again. Language will once more become a bond instead of a breaker. That’s the only way we will survive. We will always be vulnerable to the con artist – one who doesn’t mean what he or she says. What makes words work, like money, is their agreed-upon meaning. This is a social contract and ultimately relies upon the goodwill of everyone involved. Such a world has always been vulnerable to those who just pretend.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Words are being twisted and torqued into meaningless piles of selfish dribble. When words are no longer trusted, only action will remain as an outlet for personal expression. Un-labelled emotion bursting forth is the stuff of revolution. trump is what we’re left with when words don’t mean anything anymore. And clearly trump is failing.

For the abstract words like Justice and Freedom to mean anything, if there is to be a difference between Good and Bad, concrete words must begin to make sense again. Language must once more be supported by the facts. Only when we trust what we can see, will we reach again for the invisible. There is no sense to the future if we don’t return to meaning what we say.

Small Joy

‘Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive laughter weeps.”         William Blake.

Oregon Beach 4As I get older, I appreciate more the ordinary things: the deep blue sky in the morning, a cool breeze off the mountains or a rising star at night. I am more acutely aware that those things will not be around forever … or I will not be around to experience them. Joy may be a special feeling, but it is not that unusual. Joy is available in everything, whenever I stop taking my experience for granted.

These days, avoiding a fall when I get up out of a chair can be a thrill. An egg sandwich with HP sauce starts the day off well for me. Arriving for the train as it is pulling into the station, tells me I am in harmony with the world. A rainstorm blows quickly through the desert, waking everything up. A glass is caught as it falls off the table. A friend or family member calls unexpectedly. There is one drink of cold water left in the fridge. Another day without falling off the edge of the world. Life is sustained by small joy.

Too often these moments of quiet union with life are lost in the drive to get ahead, to manage the world, to stake and protect a claim. Little bits of bigger feeling slip in here and there, but they are lost in the Machine. Seeing the world in a grain of sand doesn’t pay the bills. I have a job to do. For me, it is only after I feel like that job is done (going to the store, raising a family, building a career, etc.) that I let the grammar go, falling back into the moment, to be swept around by the polarities of life.

The opportunities for appreciation are everywhere, all the time. I realize that just waking up in the morning, now that I am 70 years old, is a pretty good deal. Appreciation can become a habit. When I think I have lost my keys and I find them, when the sun rises just right between the clouds, when the rice pudding turns out nicely brown on top … joy is everywhere, depending on how I see what happens. Joy can be practiced. Gratitude always follows.

Small joy is not something we talk about. It is private, subtle and quick. Joy is when the boundaries disappear, so it’s not easy to talk about. When pleasure is derived at the expense of others, when it is dependent in any way on anything, it is not joy. That is what we have to learn. The whole point about joyfulness is that it feels like it’s everywhere. It is at the heart of everything. It is a dimension all its own … that happens to resonate in ours from time to time.

Chasing joy is like chasing butterflies, a fruitless endeavor … like trying to see the back of your head without a mirror. Joy doesn’t go anywhere, it is the natural state of things – the experience when inner forms match outer perception and separations disappear. Joy is the feeling of everything. We just have to get the complexes out of the way. That means we have to allow for disappointment and disillusion again, letting down the filters we constructed to keep our ideas safe. I can’t go around something to get to real joy. That’s not how it works.

Big Joy inspires stories, poems and songs. Big Joy is said to be the goal. But peak experiences are not meant to last. They are intended to shape the memory and point the way. Big joy wreaks havoc with everyday life. We can spend a lifetime waiting for Big Joy. It may never come. We may never see it. If we have nothing to relate it to … times when the pendulum swung the other way … it will never be the right size.

A breath is a small joy. A smile. A hug. A light in the eye. That moment when you and I are the same. Small joy guides the heart, singing softly through our senses. Small joy reminds us gently that we are part of something more … it rings with the treasure in life. For a moment, I am one with everything I know.

With small joy, there is no keeping. Subject – verb – object means nothing in a dimension where everything is everywhere, all the time. Grammar requires separation. With words, I break the world apart, so that I can put it back together in what I imagine to be a better way, deluded by the promise of Big Joy.

Being alive is often compared to being on a beach. As I stand in the water, a single wave rolls up on to the sand. They all look the same, one after the other, but that wave alone slaps my feet. That wave, at that moment, pushed by the earth and pulled by the moon, is a note from the universe. The splash is a tiny sound, lost in the crashing of its predecessors, further out to sea. Can that single wave be the reason the sky is blue? Sometimes, it feels like that to me.

 

For the Duration

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“Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening all at once.”                    Ray Cummings

Today, I feel like the ancient mariner, cornering passers-by to tell them a story, warning of dangers they will never face. What can I tell you my friend, that will soothe your way? Which words will unlock the flow of spirit waiting at the door? Which collection of syllables can point to the path? What symbols will register? I know that when I was lost, wandering all over the place, looking for a clue, I welcomed any hint of a direction. Now I need to tell someone else. This is how it was for me.

I felt like I was thrown into the universal music without a guide … so that my tune had to be original, built from scratch. Parents have a say but Originality is a note all its own. It is the first step in a new octave. In such a way, we are all in this together. We are all original. I can only play my own sounds but I can harmonize. Resonance is the key.

I could have spent a lifetime trying to control what appear to be the bits and pieces. That never really worked for me. Control does not allow for anything new. Control demands a closed system. In reality, it is all new, every day. For most of my life, my own style was to bash things into place and hold on to whatever worked at the time. Some stuff I managed to keep for quite a while. Eventually though, I had to let go. 70 years is too long for anything to stay the same. Chaos was not acceptable, especially in the beginning, so I labelled things as soon as possible, to keep them the same … including myself. Sometimes I found myself holding on to an idea of “me” as if life itself were at stake.

While there is no comfort, there is reassurance in realizing that my ideas are just that – my ideas. I am the one driving the bus. Ideas can change. We share a common consciousness, but it is experienced from any number of individual points-of-view. The Curse of human life is that who I am is up to me. The irony is that, everything else being equal, that’s what each of us would choose. The Blessing is that who I am is up to me.

In fact, who I am hasn’t actually happened yet. The past and the future only exist in the present. It is really about who am I going to be in the next moment. It truly is all relative. How I string the moments together is up to me. “I” am the point of view. Labelling something in the past and seeking it in the future is a fool’s errand. As soon as a name is coined, its attachment to reality begins to fade and the effort to keep it the same begins.

Personal alchemy can begin with a single word. Words are how we put the moments together. “Fear” for instance. Think of the word as a suitcase. Open it up and watch what tumbles out. Sit with that open suitcase for a while. Find a little piece of it and call it something more constructive, like “anticipation” or “excitement”. Or use it as a trigger for action. Do something. Practice. “Love” is another idea I have been pondering for years. When I realized that “Love” is coming from somewhere, not going to somewhere, my perception changed. “I” or “me” are always good ideas to contemplate. ‘Who’ is it that wants change?

Any system of transformation requires an internal focus … what stays the same throughout the process?  It is not an occupation for everybody. Change is not always good for business or relationships. It may be that those of us who slop about in this internal mess are just more inclined to do so. Those who are more evolved may simply be happy with the way things are. Understanding what is below the surface, or even seeing the world as a surface, is only necessary for some people.

From the beginning, I found that I resonate to certain frequencies and not others. This is how I found my way. Like heat-seeking animals in the desert or birds flying north in summer. The sense is so subtle that it is easily over-ridden by the screaming and the shouting of the modern world. And it is always there. The words come later, after the event. Each time, as I gave up the stuff I had been sure of, I became clumsy and stupid again. Over the decades, this has been some sort of cycle. Each time was like learning a new language, a different grammar … which led to a new way of seeing the world – as French divides the world into masculine and feminine and how German adds a dimension which is neutral.

Describing these invisible, immaterial patterns can’t be done in a word or two. It takes a story to put things together, to connect one moment to the next. It is connecting events – putting them in line –  that creates time and makes sense of the world. A story can bend and twist the perception of circumstances so that the incoming energy makes sense. How often do we say, in the face of an event, “I thought so”.

What we are really after is what endures. This is the paradox every seeker must resolve. What endures is what is looking in the first place.

 

Grandpa

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My first grandson was born by caesarian, six weeks premature. Fluid appeared in his stomach and he had stopped moving. The doctors had to intervene. He had a leak in his lymph system. Lines were hooked up to provide the fluids his little body was missing. After eight weeks, multiple lines were replaced by one line – a ‘broviac’ over his heart. Since his immune system was compromised, he was in the hospital for six months. As the insurance company was well aware, Oliver is a million-dollar baby.

The lymph fluid seeped into his whole body. The new soft baby skin was stretched like a balloon, swelling up his stomach, arms and legs. His tiny hands were like bubbles. An operation closed the major leak and Stanley’s own willpower seemed to do the rest. Gradually the swelling disappeared, his immune system developed and his muscles grew. His own evolution took over.

Fortunately, his mother had six months maternity leave and his father worked independently for a distant mortgage company, so both parents were with him every day. The blessing was that little Oliver had nothing with which to compare his experience. As far as he knew, this is life … there is nothing otherwise. He would get uncomfortable though, as fluid build-up affected his breathing. He was drained once a week. Consitutionally, he was a tough little guy.

I began praying for him from the beginning. I was miles away from San Francisco, in the California Sierra mountains but the little guy had all the family and professional support available. As the veterans said, it was up to him at a certain point. All I could do was imagine the best for him.

Prayer, to me, means looking inwards and finding the connection that takes me out of my self. Prayer is a state of mind. That state of mind belongs to us all. Prayer works, I believe, subtle as it may be. Decades ago, I had helped heal my dislocated hip by imagining a constant flow of blue-green energy, sweeping in and through the joint. Who knows for sure, but it seemed to me like it helped. There are subtle energies that operate on a spectrum just beyond our senses. It takes faith to reach them. I had believed that all my life and I practiced seeing things that way. I felt like, if prayer now had a place, it was time for all that practice to pay off.

In prayer, I began projecting, imagining blue-green energy swirling in and around my tiny grandson, finding and fixing unresolved tissue. I went there in my mind for hours a day. I called to him through the 25% of the genes that we had in common. Without thinking about it, I began to mirror his personal struggle. I started working with hand-weights when I went on my long daily walks. I made it my mission to get in shape, all the while thinking of little Oliver … imagining him to be me and me to be him. The difference was only 70 years.

His mother and father, the nurses and doctors, all commented on how strong the little guy appeared to be. That was the beginning of a novel thought for me. What if we can have something going on here? What if there is a connection, very subtle more than likely, that resonates between my grandson and me. I imagined that the experience would not be the same as having a son. Upon my son’s birth, it was clear as crystal that we had a connection. After all, he was half me. I did not expect the connection to be as direct for a son once removed. I was wrong.

Since the news of his conception, I had been imagining a connection in my meditations. As if I were he and he were me. After a month or so of directing my thoughts in this way, I began to sense an unfamiliar shape, swirling in my mind. A slight form emerged amongst the blue-green streams, spiraling and sweeping, this way and that. There was something very subtle about it. It had a pulse. At its’ heart, it didn’t seem to be me. I imagined it to be my grandson.

Since college and Carl Jung, I have believed that we are all connected on a subconscious level. There is an element of faith in exploring those dimensions. They are non-local and will not be pinned down in words, despite how hard religions and philosophies may try. The experience we all have had – of a resonance that lifts us up out of our ‘selves’ – cannot be captured or willfully repeated. It is just a glimpse of the weave that underlies it all. To be honest, I did not expect to be aware of a connection. I assumed it was all based on faith. But I began to realize, as little Oliver was in the hospital month after month, we were beginning to think along the same lines.

During one visit to the hospital, I watched as he lay in his crib. His mom lowered a bar from which hung several colorful plush toys. It occurred to me that the little red one on the far left caught his attention. I imagined punching the little rabbit with our left arm as precisely as I could. I saw his right arm lift. I assumed it had to do with our connection. He tried several times. I’m not sure he knew that it was actually his arm yet. There was a subtle difference. It didn’t work to ‘try’ to move our arm. I had to ‘assume’ it was moving. I had entirely forgotten how I move my own limbs. I couldn’t push it. I just had to imagine it was so.

In such a tiny body, it wasn’t long before he tired. I could feel him going to sleep. There was a softness that I had not experienced in my own life since was I was child. A warm sleepiness like sliding back into heaven. His parents and I went out to lunch while he was sleeping. In the middle of the food truck barbeque, I felt an internal tick that told me Stanley was waking up. I looked at his mother to see if she were feeling the same thing. She was enjoying being outside, chatting with everyone. I dismissed it as my own projection. Still, I imagined that Oliver would like to turn on his side. An odd thought.

It was when I heard the crying that I knew something weird was going on. I woke up suddenly, in the middle of the night. A baby was next to me, wailing for attention. I knew it was not my imagination. It was out there. I was living in an RV, deep in the pine forest. I had no neighbors. I looked around for the source. I heard it. There was something there. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that the sound I had heard had anything to do with my internal state, with my wishes and prayers. They were insubstantial. This was not.

This was a note I had never heard before. This was here, somewhere. As I lay awake for the rest of the night, watching thousands of  stars roll across the pitch-black sky, it eventually occurred to me that, fantastic as it may sound, perhaps we had connected. I was an old man who had seen just enough to know that anything was possible and who had done just enough not to mind being wrong. What if I could guide this little soul through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? What if I could lend a sympathetic ear when all it takes is someone to listen? And what if we could do it all at a distance. It would be a tricky business, finding reality in the imagination. Boundaries would be important – something I was never very good at.

As the sunlight gathered strength, splintering between the pine trees, I heard another cry. It was a sound I would get used to. It would split into finer notes, eventually into a conversation, as we got to know each other well. I imagined wrapping my arms around that tiny soul and filling it with love. He would not be alone as long as I was around. In my mind, I put my finger in his little hand. Hold on to Grandpa, I thought, we will take this one on together.

 

Bottom Line

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I hesitate to offer what I have learned over 70 years, because what I have learned is that God is everywhere, all the time and there’s nothing to worry about … in the long run. Sort of a non-message. Of course, a single lifetime is a different story. It takes faith to cross the hills and valleys of living here on earth. Some older folks already know that things will be fine and are just quietly going about their business … having fun, with no need for reminders. Until you are older though, it can seem like quite a trek.

It could be that I am just late to the party, emerging from the dark and wandering around looking for someone to discuss my findings, like the ancient mariner. Over the long course of my life, I have found a reminder every now and then to be quite handy. I don’t think I am one of those who was born just to have fun. I am too curious. I am meant to confront the world and discover stuff. I don’t believe I am meant to be comfortable. At least, that’s how it’s been. And hopefully, one day, I will learn to pass a word or two on to those who are not having fun yet.

At my age, after seven decades, I have the opportunity to see things another way. I have made my case. I am not still pursuing unfulfilled wishes. I am not still trying to push and pull the world into place. I have given it my best shot and I am happy with the results. Like every other 70 year-old in history, I wish I could point out basic ‘rules of the road’ to young people, so that their way may be a little easier. But that is not the way life works. The essential path can only be uncovered by one’s self. All anyone else can do is point.

There are ‘laws’ that operate behind the scenes. There is an invisible structure out of which emerges the arrangement of ‘things’ we encounter in life. There is a framework to our experience that operates in the background, the way the moon disappears once a month and the earth zooms around the sun once a year. It is the spiritual side of the cosmic dance. To see what is going on, one has to pay attention, for a long time. Until one sees for one’s self, it is all just folklore.

The living mind, of which we are a part, can only be glimpsed, never captured. Like everything else, it is a pulse. Our connection is before we can think. The identities we use to get around in the world are fabrications, conjured out of the circumstances, resonating, in a way we often don’t recognize, to who we really are. Even while a mind is wrapped up in a role, spirit frequencies resonate with the heart, whispering directions. All we can do is peek at reality, as it pops up in the here and now. It takes a lifetime for most of us to learn to recognize that note and perhaps even longer to realize its value. We do though, eventually, realize that something more is going on.

For example, I have learned that I can’t keep anything the way it was when I liked it the most, despite what I call it. Anyway, desire is actually a state of being, not necessarily incomplete. With the luxury of looking back, I can see my lifetime as a transition, a beat in the music of the universe. The one way is much too big to know, there is nowhere it is not. We are here to learn harmony.

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Insight into my real nature reveals a deep intention to transform. I am struggling to become my better self, to find the sweeter melodies among the swirling vibrations. Nothing stands still. There is a frequency to every thing. Some waves are very fast and some are very slow. How another vibration interferes with mine is how I know it. There is a rhythm to everything. It all comes and goes. Sooner or later, I have to pick something and stick with it for a while, making a shape in the flow. As a result, I get what I deserve. Being unwilling for change is like trying to fix the tide. Holding on in the mind, the flow of life stops and the dreaming begins.

The problem with knowledge is that it refers to a make-believe world in which opposites appear to create structure. ‘Opposites’ are actually extreme degrees of the same thing. Cold and hot, big and small, love and hate, joy and sadness are different places on the same scale. Every ‘thing’ is a field with two poles and depends on a point of view. So no two structures are the same. There is a masculine and feminine in everything. Nothing has just one side. Always taking or always giving just doesn’t work. This is the principle of creation. It takes two to make one.

In a universe where everything is connected, every action has a reaction. We lose sight of the form of this law in the millions of actions we take every day. Like pixels in a picture. Actions include thoughts and intentions, every one of which has a consequence. It adds up. The simple secret is that who I really am, who you really are, is the awareness behind all this nonsense.

Another cosmic law that has manifested itself to observers over time and contributed the most to science is – As above, so below. Universal patterns are repeated at the micro and macro levels. Life spirals. Know yourself and you will know it all. All magic means is that tiny, invisible patterns, when practiced properly, begin to show up on a larger scale.

These principles, distilled from thousands of years of observation, acknowledge the wave nature of our being. Upon these waves, we are playing our scenes, trying to keep life a certain way. There is a momentum to these invisible streams. Life moves on. The streams are becoming finer and finer in structure, flowing in and out of our lives as wishes and dreams, subtly suggesting there can be heaven on earth.

Conquering the unruly beast that life appears to be will never happen. There is nothing ‘outside’ of life that can bring it under control. We are in it, hook, line and sinker.

I believe this is where we want to be. Perhaps we all had a choice, somewhere along the line. Any being in the universe, if they had that choice, would want to be human. Our hearts can reach to ecstasy and fall to despair. We are destined to realize such states are all reflections of the God that pours through our hearts. How can we not be caretakers of the earth? Open souls bring a balance back into the world, relief from those who would shunt spirit into a corner and offer it for sale. The harmonies of joy and sadness are songs that need an ear. The kaleidoscope of light and darkness needs an eye. Even being here now requires a point of view.

Those of us who are young usually can’t afford to stop and look for very long. But there always comes a time when such information comes in handy.

The bottom line is that Life radiates in waves. Straight lines are a human invention, in order to get from day to day. There is nowhere it is not, so spirit knows nothing of a straight line. The spirit is in the earth from the beginning. That spirit is you. And me. Now. There is nothing more you are supposed to be. If you want more, it is up to you.

What works is to take responsibility for the way the world appears to be. After all, it only appears that way to you … if you look carefully. The world of your experience is in your terms, emerging out of your memories. It appears differently to someone else. What we have in common is that we must each do this alone. Only when I accept that I am steering the ship, can I turn it toward the stars.

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Here we go again

70th birthday walk smallIt’s been a while since I last wrote anything. Goes in cycles. I have been hiding from the rain in Palm Springs. Snow on the mountains around the desert valley felt like the edge of winter.

I can get used to doing virtually nothing … but watching my thoughts. It’s easy because I have done most of the stuff I want to do. I am happy being alive.

I’m back in the woods of the Sierras now. Multiple shades of green wake up my vision, which had grown lazy in the desert. Water spills everywhere, the rushing and splashing wakes up my ears. After the vastness of the dry lands, Nature wraps around me in these luscious hills. I have learned to welcome the change and appreciate each season. Seems to me, after all these years (70), that the source of most of my frustration has been my efforts to keep things the same.

A ‘thing’ is not a ‘thing’, it is a process. In order to hold a perception still in the mind, I stamp it with a name, confident that I can expect it to be the same way next time. This way, I can put some ‘things’ together into a world that makes sense … that is predictable.

Pretty soon, I am naming things I can’t even see.

Eventually, I will bend some perceptions into predetermined shapes, confirming a world which really only happens in my head … where I choose to look … and when. I pick a place in the flow and try to make camp.

I have learned that everything changes, except me. I am that which was peering out of a seven-year old body into the tropical Darwin sunsets. I am that which was reading a comic book about Disneyland, while returning to England on an ocean liner, through the Panama Canal. I am that who wanted to grow up to be James Bond and now accepts that Sean Connery and Daniel Craig did it better.

I am that which struggled to learn Latin, was over the moon in my first kiss and over-flowed with pride upon the birth of my twin sons. My body bears the scars of backyard accidents, youthful folly and 15 years of playing rugby, but I am not that which is getting old. Circumstances can fly to pieces in front of me and I am not that.

I am now that which has to concentrate, in order to lever my body up in the morning. The intentions, to express my self, remain the same … the only consistent thread in the pile  of events that tumble through the years. What I was at the beginning, I am now – the only element that hasn’t changed.

I am that which regrets being tired on a given day, which delights in small joys, which hopes, dreams and disappears when I look for it. I am that which you recognize behind the words. We are the same there.

Garberville Stream in the redwoods smallHolding the world in place only works for a while. It is only when that world shifts that I get a chance to glimpse what was holding it all together. Me. Seventy years of experience draped around a soul that came to play.

The sun is rising, spreading spears of light into the green. The forest is warming up once again. I am inseparable from all that. All that would not be there, the way it appears to be, without me. I was the desert for a while, spread out into the vastness, blue sky all the way to the horizon.

Now I am the forest. The heart of the mystery is that everything loses its meaning after a while. Except me.