Saturday, January 31, 2015

A few feet in front of us

All of us walk in the dark. Our eyes adjust to the light around us, or lack of, and we manage to stay upright for more steps than we stumble. But we see nothing fully or completely. Perhaps the false success of rarely falling down misleads us into thinking that even our tumbles have merit.

Much of this week's walking has taken me on a section of road under construction. Perhaps this path has been dangerous. And under other circumstances, many of my phobias would converge to block me from this direction. However, I cannot help but be drawn here, only able to see a few feet in front of me, but so enjoying those feet as I chase a sunset or new perspective on old roads.

5:30 in the morning
and the only lit places
are an alley
and Your dark bridge
I usually love the smell of walking, and the pictures of what those fragrances may mean. I've caught the scent of grills in the winter and imagined a man pretending to resent his role in the family's dinner preparation, but secretly thrilled by the sound of small flames on hamburger or chicken and the solitude outside his door. Often a whiff of fabric softener as I pass by a house with one light on makes me think of a tired mother doing all the work to get those who sleep through their day.

Preferring to be unseen, I sometimes walk behind a section of strip of shops. On the human side is a Pizza Hut, a doughnut shop, a hair and nail salon, and other businesses which come and go. On the return leg of one walk, several feet before I could get to the back of buildings, I could smell the strong odor of cigarette smoke from the delivery men who unloading a truck. And the closer I came the more the alley felt like a tunnel, funneling that that smoke, concentrating it toward me. So I altered the route, and passed in front, where kolaches tried to seduce me.

Even in solitude, even before light, there are distractions. And everything is an obstacle for someone. We see where our eyes are pointed. I wonder if we take enough in.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Disappointing Returns

I have had trouble writing this post. It is not that I have not written or made an effort. It is not that I have not walked. But I have thought much about, and spent the past couple of weeks trying to walk off, disappointment, and it is difficult, I see, to write about such a subject without sounding like one is feeling sorry for oneself. Part of this is because of feeling sorry for myself.

Part of the problem is also in trying to define just what one is disappointed about, and whether or not that disappointment is reasonable. Every human being is going to be disappointed in something and someone, and sometimes that disappointment comes because a person or thing has not lived up to reasonable standards; sometimes the standards or expectations are not reasonable. I'm convinced that in most instances of human interaction, the truth is somewhere in between. And rarely will one take the time to put on the glasses required to see one's one part in this.

Much of my disappointment lately is not about what I expect of others that is reasonable or unreasonable, but in what I fear those shortcomings may mean for my future. This fear is a killer. For example, if someone I love makes a promise and does not come through, not because of neglect or ill will, but just because life gets in the damn way, I too often let myself think that the future holds the same disconnection or hurt. But fear obscures reality by making us see a possible, but unrealized, future.

you are infused in me
part of the yesterday
i half remember
and as i age
i am terrified
by the shedding of skin

I've been reading Seeds of Contemplation, by Zen Catholic Thomas Merton. In it, he says, "As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones." I suspect that "contact" could also be about the desire for contact and what we may think we lack of it. He also writes, "The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our false self, and enter by love into the union with the Life Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls."

Much pain is caused by telling people to not be disappointed; pain also comes from trying hard to avoid disappointment. On the other hand, it seems we benefit from it when we recognize the jailer, be it a loved one, the devil, or our own self. I pray with great longing for the day I don't look for a key except in the feet God gave me.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Planting seeds in ice

It seems my perambulations have been longer, perhaps riskier as the new year has started. This is not due to any resolutions. I don't do resolutions. I make promises and commitments. But as I have had, I suppose, a little more time, and much more anxiety than I had expected at this juncture of my "vacation," I have tried a couple of new routes, or at least paths I could not have taken at any other time.

For example, I have walked twice on an expanse of highway under construction. Normally this would have been bustling with people and machines, and I certainly would not be allowed up there. But one walk was during freezing cold, and another was on New Years Day, so area was abandoned and looking as forlorn as abandoned things are in winter.

please don't nod in time
to my melancholy words
agony should be no tune
you can shut off so easily
i'm not a channel to be changed

On another walk, I found myself further down I-30, under an overpass, and some mischievous spirit in me thought it would be fun to climb up so that I could be in the middle of the highway. Maybe an interesting picture could be had. It wasn't, but I did manage to nearly bust my keister trying to get down. I wonder what sort of metaphor is sliding down thirty feet of cold concrete.

I have felt a bit wistful about all this. On Monday, I get back to my paying job, and I've felt no little anxiety that my walks will be shorter, less adventurous, less picturesque. What I had hoped to accomplish in terms of my own journey may not have happened. I cannot tell at this juncture because I have been planting seeds in ice: it feels futile, but I have to have faith it isn't. Ice melts, I'm told.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

a psalm

tell me, You,
with your hills and valleys
your deserts and difficult streams
what music is there
in these maddening machines
these serpentine silences
tell me, Secret i'm not
privy to, slogging through
my ventricles, what art
is in this artifice ? what
is the reason for facing
everything but your Face
i wait not patiently as-
well. i wait 
and in return i return 
and turn
and twist
and far off is a sea
where You spoke
and i wish to dream 
myself there
i sit i cry out i open
quiet quiets me
and i wait