Thought of the Day


 
 
Life does not turn on one moment.
Experiences accumulate. And their mass wavers,
then undulates a geography.

Most paths are implied, not announced.
We are uninvited but not
unwanted.
 
 

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Advice for the Young and Impatient


 
 
The world around you is far richer and more expansive than you’ll ever know. So don’t let the extent of your vision define your boundaries. Doors will close, yes. However other doors may not subsequently open. Sometimes you must force them from their hinges.

But don’t touch anything (or anyone) that you aren’t willing to break. It hurts to be deprived, yet it hurts to desire too.
 
 

The Long Hike to the Beach

Meadowdale Beach is a county park just north of Seattle that requires a moderately strenuous hike down (and then back up) through a gulch which cradles Meadowdale Creek. It’s a difficult but picturesque journey that I’ve undertaken more than a few times. Here are some photos from a recent visit.

The creek slowly emerges from the undergrowth as you venture farther and farther down the trail:
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The canopy above the trail at one point looks almost like it was built as a sacred space, a quiet stop along a spiritual journey:
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The creek pours out onto the beach and into the Puget Sound:
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Along with some broken shells and the requisite driftwood I found a late sea creature still fairly well preserved:
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And of course there was a plethora of humans and their pets (excitable dogs of course) at play in the sands. It was an enjoyable day all in all. Worth the strain. Like life itself, a gift not received but discovered.

 

Moebius Strip

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Shadows are the unambiguous messengers of time.
And light is always late for the next event.
They–both–won’t ever cease to be familiar.

Now I know why first love fascinates us so:
the illumination of every other affection
comes cascading over the same horizon.

And if night makes us forget ourselves,
sever the ends of the very world;
your map will spread full before you again.
 
 

Running to Stand Still


 
 
Perhaps we are our own mirrors
and only disown them to glass for an ideal.
Then we remain several steps behind
the formation of our dreamed imperatives,
a purposeful mist that drifts along the contours
of starry-eyed simplicity.

Deep understanding of the world
(the intricate chemistry of tumult and silence,
ruminations given in error, earned in humility,
dispersed into nurture, joy, and grief)
is the hard casing of our reflections.

Why can we never move closer–
only evolve within our own vision or
along the surface of others’ fragile esteem?
Belief must suffice, whether
      god or void,
      nuance or instinct,
      spare islet or mountainous sway.

We will inhabit these fictions
      as flame makes the darkness
a mere memory
and behold what cannot be real
without us.
 
 

On Mirrors

Czeslaw Milosz in one of his last poems quotes Julia Hartwig on the subject of mirrors:

A mirror awaiting the reflection of a human face, so
uncertain, as always, of its image.

He then avails his thoughts on the same subject to the reader:

The mirror awaits a face: mine, hers, his, of us
divided into men and women, old people and children.

And all of that is we, that is I in the plural,
always uncertain of my reflection in the mirror’s well,

Leaning as a child over the well’s casing

And there, in the deep, a tiny and not quite familiar face.

And it is precisely this uncertainty, of what I am, that connects me
to the next person before the mirror.

To compose a mirror, one must back a pane of glass with some kind of metal, like silver or aluminum. But the term also implies the act of reflecting light. And as both poets above infer, mirrors as humans create them come with the expectation of human faces and bodies within them.

If we define an object by its purpose and not just as the sum of its parts, then do we attempt to impose human need on to reality and redefine the world as if it is a satellite of us? Or is reality truly defined by need? Does the world grow greater and more purposeful as needs emerge and evolve?

I ponder these question from within a hotel room, from a chair I do not own, next to a bed I’ve slept in but never will again. I am here though the greater part of me stays fixed to my home even when my physical presence wanders far away. Perhaps an understanding of life and its meaning will always elude us. Because too many parts of ourselves scatter within it and will never be fully in sync with one another.

We can only see one image
in a mirror. One answer
to one question.

Beyond that moment and that gaze
nothing important or necessary
exists outside its lines.

Light does not entwine with
any other light.
While warmth passes with a touch.

I never considered even as a child imposing myself upon the world, for I defined the world as everything around me. Like a window can seem like a wall, I possessed nothing so much as I flirted with its mechanisms. I fell in love with perspective: the knowledge of the distant.

I will return home eventually. Only death prevents it. The rain will not, though now it keeps me behind glass. The trees jitter underneath it. I am anxious too. Yet it’s not that I am doubtful.

It’s that I know myself too well.

The Fish That Couldn’t Swim (Repost)

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Once upon a shore
Of salty sand and more
There was a fish that couldn’t swim.
            Just ask him.
“My fins are such a terror!
    Never will I cruise the sea.
    My life is but an error.
Woe is me . . . ”

This failing pleased the osprey
And made his predatory day:
“A fish that flops on shore
    Pleases to the core.
    As with others of the flesh
    It satisfies the appetite
    Yet avails me a catch
With a minimum of flight!”

And so, without a pause
The osprey swooped and bore its claws.
The fish was clenched with fear,
            Shed a tear.
“Let this day not be my last,
    His hunger not decide my fate.
    How the die is cruelly cast!
Instinct: do not wait!”

And this is what the osprey saw
That shut his hungry jaw:
A rippling splash where once was food.
His prey had changed its attitude
“I can swim! Look at me!
    Yet now the task is harder.
    I’ve got to learn to breathe
Underwater

And soon . . . ”
 
 

Ms. Ardelle


 
 
I once knew a woman who in middle age dyed her greying hair a deep shade of black. I have no knowledge of her whereabouts now, but when the nighttime is quiet and still, I hear the huskiness of her voice. (She is whispering some fearful gossip like a deity who does not understand her own power.)

Words are stars, Ms. Ardelle.
From dust they came
And though they do ignite

We have not yet burned away
The darkness. I’ve forgotten
Every story that you told
In my presence.

However, I remember the morals that you would defend only in secret. Like moonlight obscured by gnarled branches and leathery leaves, the moments all passed incomplete. And here we remain:

In this brutal world
Where silence is mistaken
For love.
 
 

Motives

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He whispered strength, a calm fortress that invited
all and enveloped them without grip . . .
      I wear no mask; I observe.
The here and there, the sedentary what and
the velocity how. I heard nothing . . .

(Perhaps the experience of color
is linked to appetite: we devour everything
in a manner. The flavor of vision . . . )

When they came in droves
with their rainbow fragments and euphony,
and the doors swung wide for them,
I drew the cool air into a deep shiver.
      No one knew I was there . . .
(We dismiss ourselves at crucial moments
into who-know-what kind of abyss. It is
not dark there, just endless . . . )

But this: he split his own heart in
so many jagged ways that the art of it
was lost to him.
      I savored all that
I knew . . .