focus and forget
rest with the great achievement.
The ancient child asks
“what is the great achievement?”
It is beyond description in any language
it can only be felt intuitively
it can only be expressed intuitively.
Engage a loose, alert, and aware
body, mind, and sound
then look into the formless
and perceive no thing.
See yourself as a sphere
small at first
growing to encompass
the vastness of infinite space.
focus and forget then
in a state of ease and rest
secure the truth of the great achievement.
Employing the truth will not exhaust its power
when it seems exhausted it is really abundant
and while human art will die at the hands of utility
the great achievement is beyond being useful.
Great straightness is curved and crooked
great intelligence is raw and silly
great words are simple and naturally awkward.
Engaged movement drives out the frozen cold
mindful stillness subdues the frenzied heart.
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe.
~ Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45, Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006
Yesterday I went out to the dock with journal and pen, and sat for a while, writing. I thought I’d share a little with you today.
15 September 2013: It is a gorgeous day. Walking to the woods on the way to the dock, I encountered two Red-Spotted Purple butterflies. There is a place near the beginning of the path that curves around, and you can’t see what’s ahead until you get around the curve. The butterflies are there, every day, just around the bend. I’m sure it’s not the same butterflies, although they are always Red-Spotted Purples. How can I be sure? Some look worn and damaged in different locations on their wings, and some are not damaged at all.
Way back when I took on the challenge of getting outside every day, I bought a bag with a shoulder strap that is big enough to hold a journal, a pen, and a few odds and ends for the camera (extra batteries, a miniature tripod, etc.). The idea was to find a place to sit while I was outdoors, and journal. I only did it a few times during that challenge because there were no good places to sit other than the ground. Not that I mind sitting on the ground, but it was the Bogs and sitting on the ground wasn’t always comfortable (or dry).
Here at the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, we acquired several benches when we bought the house and property. A few of the benches are beyond hope (and sitting on), but three or four of the benches are sound and sturdy, and located in places where one might want to sit and write. Today I packed the bag with the shoulder strap, putting in it a new journal and one pen (will remember to put an extra in there next time!), walked out to the dock, had a seat on the bench and started writing.
I used to dream of being a writer. Sometimes I still do. But I’m not sure I have enough words and metaphors to be a writer of any merit. I love a good metaphor. I don’t know why they elude me. I see a shaft of orange sunlight pour through the woods, and I write, “a shaft of orange sunlight poured through the woods,” and then I wonder if there is a better way to write “a shaft of orange sunlight poured through the woods.” Would a better writer struggle with that, too?
It is lovely out here on the dock. Breezy. The tide is rapidly going out. The sky is blue and streaked with wispy clouds. The rustling of the grasses is loud and crispy. I hear cicadas and crickets, but not a peep, tweet, or chirp from the birds.
Sparkles of sunlight ride the surface of the waves on the water, moving with the leaves, grass, and other bits of nature’s debris being taken out with the tide. Terrapin heads keep popping up out of the water (up periscope!). A water snake swims by. I’ve seen him here before, and think he lives in the bank near the dock. The water splashes and laps, ripples and waves. Back Creek almost always seems to be in a hurry, rushing in and out with the tides.
But there are times in between, just before the tide turns one way or the other, when the creek appears still and on the verge.
Finally! Birds! Crows are cawing in the distance. There must be quite a few of them. A cacophony of crows. A gull is sweeping around in the distance, and will probably have flown overhead by the time I finish writing this sentence. I often wonder how many birds and other creatures live in the marsh and land across from the dock. Before they disappeared in August, Red-Winged Blackbirds could be seen perched on the tops of the rushes. Swallows swooped over the water and around the dock. A Great Blue Heron lives somewhere over in the marsh. I can hear her now, and have seen her flying in and out of the corner of the marsh near the neighbor’s boathouse.
It’s time to make my way back to the house now. M has been building a foundation for a little building to house the new water softener and filter that will be arriving on Wednesday. Our drinking water is brackish, and reminds me of childhood summers at the shore. I’ll stop by to see if he needs any help with bricks or mortar. If not, I’ll keep him company for a bit and offer some moral support. The dinner hour will swing around soon. I made an empty-the-fridge vegetable soup before going out for my walk so all we have to do is heat it and eat it.
After dinner, I will watch the sunset, perhaps from the bench on the platform. I won’t bring the journal or camera along. Sometimes I prefer to sit, and just be.