When my nineteen-year-old son turns on the kitchen tap
and leans down over the sink and tilts his head sideways
to drink directly from the stream of cool water,
I think of my older brother, now almost ten years gone,
who used to do the same thing at that age;
and when he lifts his head back up and, satisfied,
wipes the water dripping from his cheek
with his shirtsleeve, it’s the same casual gesture
my brother used to make; and I don’t tell him
to use a glass, the way our father told my brother,
because I like remembering my brother
when he was young, decades before anything
went wrong, and I like the way my son
becomes a little more my brother for a moment
through this small habit born of a simple need,
which, natural and unprompted, ties them together
across the bounds of death, and across time …
as if the clear stream flowed between two worlds
and entered this one through the kitchen faucet,
my son and brother drinking the same water.
There are some questions that shouldn’t be asked until a person is mature enough to appreciate the answers-
We are made up of many “things,” so are our handy gadgets, fancy cars, spiffy shoes, colorful yoga mats and ridiculously expensive bikes – A bunch of cells and molecules blended craftily together. If there’s a major distinction to be pointed out between us and these cherished inanimate objects, it’s that we tactile beings are blessed with the ability to feel our emotions and to communicate them to others. Or do we?!?
While we have the ability to express our emotions to others, sometimes – most of the time, we don’t always do it when we desperately need to. It’s important to pause and ask why every once in a while. As you may have noticed in my recent posts, I have been asking myself “why” quite a bit of late. I do so because we live in social media/hyper connected world that tells us, don’t feel upset,” or don’t feel sad, don’t worry, and to “Be brave and stand tall” when adversity graces our lives. It’s also important to remember that the world we live in has a double-edge sword, waiting patiently to chop our heads off when our emotions sway the opposite direction, when we boast and brag about a new gadget, personal best and buying a new bike. The net result of all of “this,” is one sad but brutally true underlying message – Stop being and don’t feel anything.
My posts of late have been painfully tedious for one important reason: I’m starting to make a habit of honoring myself and you, each and every day. One last question before we part ways this morning: Before you click “publish, “like” or post anything online … Is there a moment where you think about the ramifications of your action(s), a moment where you stop being and fail to feel anything?!?
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life-
While cleaning the garage this past weekend, I came across a handful of Enduro – Mountain Bike race medals and tattered bibs from the nearly 4 years I spent living in the United Kingdom. I was preparing to pitch them in the bin outside when curiosity overcame me, I sat down on the warm west-facing front porch and started to look through them. On these worn and faded relics, I found a record of a life that seemed so impossibly exciting to me that I could hardly believe it had once been mine.
With my Son carelessly riding his bike with some neighborhood mates, I sat there, coffee in hand and reminisced about my life competing in England. When I meet fellow cyclist at a local coffee shop early on a Sunday morning, a recent swap meet or my favourite MTB trail head, they invariably inquire why I don’t compete at the same level now. The “thing” is, during nearly all of my years there, my heart longed to be somewhere else. It seems incredible when I think about it now, watching my Son creating long fluid skid marks in the road, when I’m holding objects such as this Thetford Forest MTB Racing Series podium medal, serves only to remind me of the seemingly rare and blessed glimpse of my days spent there.
I tossed the medals and bibs in the trash bin and placed my stained streaked coffee mug on top, sealing the contents inside. Hooked our now warm and cozy beagle up to his leash, grabbed a sweatshirt from inside the garage door, and proceed to tear up the now quiet neighborhood with my Son.
Over the back of the Florida basker,
over the froth of the Firth of Forth,
Up from Tahiti and Madagascar,
Lo, the sun walks north.
The first bright day makes sing the slackers
While leaves explode like firecrackers,
The duck flies forth to greet the spring
And sweetly municipal pigeons sing.
Where the duck quacks, where the bird sings,
We will speak of past things.
Come out with your marbles, come out with your Croup,
The grass is as green as a Girl Scout troop;
In the Mall the stone acoustics stand
Like a listening ear for the Goldman band.
At an outside table, where the sun’s bright glare is,
We will speak of darkened Paris.
Meanwhile, like attendants who hasten the hoofs
Of the ponies who trot in the shadow of roofs,
The sun, in his running, will hasten the plan
Of plants and fishes, beast and man.
We’ll turn our eyes to the sogging ground
And guess if the earth is cracked or round.
Over the plans of the parties at strife,
Over the planes in the waiting north,
Over the average man and his wife,
Lo, the sun walks forth!
– Robert Lax
I paint the spirit and soul of what I see-
Do you recall drawing growing up? A pair of stick figures going for a pleasant bike ride, some puffy clouds and a brilliant sun overhead. Curved lines of a peaceful tree that punctuate the landscape, elevating from the ground, spreading into the unknown. Our childhood drawings were pure, innocent and beautiful. There is something truly magical about drawing and trees – They are, in fact, symbols of our soul.
Trees at times, can be dark and ominous. They cast a long suffocating shadow when we stray close enough. During the winter months, their barren, bleak blackness marks them against gray skies and freshly fallen snow. Tress are survivors of winter, and we would be wise to learn from them.
Trees are, after all, capable of heavenly feats, perhaps trees are more in tune with their true spirit than we are?
The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling-
Meditation is like that. Full of seemingly impossible contradictions! Meditation is tedious and difficult to write about given our connected-analytic nature. Meditation is much easier to explain to someone who habitually thinks poetically. Like the inspired yoga instructor who creates a magical flowing class off the top of their head, or the mountain biker who flows with little effort on tight single-track. Meditation, my kind of Meditation that is … Centers on expanding our logical thinking into poetic and logical thinking. Still with me?!?
How then do we tap into being both a logical thinker, in addition, to being a poetic thinker? This is the essential transformation that a deeply rooted Meditation-Mindfulness practice teaches us.
Allow me to change logical thinker and poetic thinker into – Mind and Heart.
A few years ago, I decided to attend a local workshop and “learn” to meditate. The plan was to attend this workshop, receive a mantra or whatever and instantly become healthier, increase my focus, and calm my crazy mind in like, 13 1/2 minutes of practice twice a day. That was the promise printed on the meditation workshop website. I was “that dude” at the time before tearing my knees apart. An over-achieving runner, and I prided myself on the hard, mindless work I put in daily. Maybe this mindfulness meditation stuff would help me compete at a higher level?!?
On the day of the workshop, as I signed in and unfolded my freezing yoga mat in the picturesque studio, something began to stir within my mind and heart. I had a warm sense of excitement and anticipation that quite surprised me. I literally had no idea what to expect from this class, however in some “weird” way, I resonated with the people who were presenting the workshop and my fellow class mates – Each one of them had a sense of calm that was palpable and real. I listened attentively to their words and the stories they shared, but it was something far beyond the resonating words that was connecting with me, stirring my soul. It’s as though I had passed through a doorway into a serene, peaceful place where my heart expanded and connected to world spinning around me.
This was the first time that I had an awareness of my mind, separate from the peaceful part of my heart.
There are two ways of experiencing Mindfulness … Mind and Heart.