The time between

Somewhen in my imagined past

There is a girl still waiting
by the driveway
for her dad
to take her in his pickup truck to the dump, to the store, to the local racing club
knowing they'll to talk about science, about college, about people, about the future
real things, she knew.
She didn't know how she knew, but she knew, and she would save the memories for discussions.

neither the girl nor her father could know that for the next decade, he would leave each month without knowing how to say goodbye. And, she would get used to saying goodbye without knowing that he'd left.

She would spend the next few decades finding men who couldn't recognize her; who had a certain brand of humor and critical nature, and learning, painfully, by trial and error, to stop waiting and leave them instead.

"Just how lonely ARE you?" asked the Voice
The Heart stayed silent, knowing that the Voice speaks from the overflow

It is no wonder
that while Odysseus stole the stage at the time,
character from the Odyssey I will always remember is the unnamed hound who,
on recognizing the disguised Master he lost when a puppy
wagged his heavy tail in joy, and finally died.

Filling the time between
there is a loneliness
The mission is to drain it until the empty space is just that and nothing more

no more salt,
no more water
just the space and time

The space between

Last year, the image was water
the kind that runs down a mountain, searching for a stream
the kind that reacts in perfect measure, no more, no less, to a dropped and sinking stone.
the kind that calmly accepts an obstacle and, in embracing it, flows unimpeded
the kind that is not ice

The image was water
and we made it down the mountain to a lake.

This year, I wondered whether there would be a new image
And there is.

It is the non-image. The emptiness, the void, the gap, the non-often-recognized-yet-structured space between.

In keeping with that theme, we ask ourselves what is not.

When I encounter a given situation with a given person
- what is not happening?
- who is not speaking?
- which voices am I not hearing?
- who is the other person not?
and at last,
- who am I not?

What at first seems inefficient becomes quickly clarifying.
In describing what is not the stone,
I finally see (and absorb) only the stone that falls
and nothing else


The pi day of the century, I spent it well

Would Einstein like Asahi?
We should have poured one out for him.

Crisscrossing streets through Shanghai,
An exercise in linguistic chemistry:
Adventures in Potentium,
An unexpected gedanken experiment
in the emergent alchemic triad

A steam-punk vat laden with purple possibility
a silver paint of reflective perception
the lightless black of non-negotiable that-which-simply-is
And the pack of Diogenic monks that herd these dreams into glowing vats or painted maps
in an allegorical territory following the physics of presocratic philosophy

all while warding off the maw that goes on consuming and is never consumed

There's a story
trying to tell itself
as we fumble for the images
And yet,
we find them.
Finding them, we test them and they hold.

The streetlamp flickered and went out. I witnessed receipt of the message before he left.

Have you ever realized that you're on the other side? An antipode of the very world that you once (and still do) walked?

"You can do it," I thought toward the darkened light, on behalf of a previous world.

The streetlamp hummed back to orange, then yellow-white before he returned.

I want to hear this story.


The Cave is a long tunnel under a roof of stars

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind
The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
'Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind
So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand
So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say
'Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be
And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

From alabaster, through a tunnel of silent lightning colors. Walking a Tightrope of Serenity. Accompanied by a jellyfish. It is stunningly beautiful.

All heavy laden acquainted with sorrow
May Christ in our marrow, carry us home
From alabaster come blessings of laughter
A fragrance of passion and joy from the truth

Grant the unbroken tears ever flowing
From hearts of contrition only for You
May sin never hold true that love never broke through
For God's mercy holds us and we are His own

This road that we travel, may it be the straight and narrow
God give us peace and grace from You, all the day
Shelter with fire, our voices we raise still higher
God give us peace and grace from You, all the day through


Serendipitous Wine

All day I think it, and last/night I say it.

I love you.

I loveyou
i love you

At times, I believe that all of creation is the attempt to both say and hear these words; is wrapped around the channel that sends and delivers these words; is a facet of this singularity.
I feel grateful and honored and humbled to be spoken through.

More importantly,
I know that you heard it.

The cosmos breathes
banners fly and flutes
hum with their hollow hearts

In which direction, I wanted to know, do I shout my gratitude to the universe?
Tell yourself, he said with a smile.
But later, (since the sky is a mirror) we both yelled gleefully towards the stars
in thanks for serendipitous wine.


Another kind of magic

(first draft lost)

It's another kind of magic to gimpse when something already is and has been.

even more amazing than discovering that someone understands what you are trying to say
Is discovering that not only do they already know,
they've already told you.

I love the way gifts can be wrapped in time.
I love the way that time delivers gifts.

I am indebted to writers
for preserving an experience for others who recognize it to point at and agree
yes; with all my past and present, yes.

He was right to remind us both that you cannot prolong such gifts.  You cannot preserve them.
But, you can bring something back.

I am building a memory palace.
The bus home in Portland and everything as it should be
That 1/2 hour on Pingjiang Lu as the city kindly met with me
The block in old town painted gleaming white with gratitude, gratitude, gratitude for a gift I didn't know I needed.
The brilliant embroidered 'mandala' (I abuse the term) I planted (and by 'planted', I mean 'chose to notice') flowering on the intersection where I saw the separate woven threads emerge from their knit pattern and combine.

I endeavor to be a sculpter of time
and of meaning

I do deeply appreciate whoever is writing my book

Bedtime story of the universe

Have you ever fallen in love with a star
and then realized that it's actually a constellation?

The SuperHuman Achievement

(proceeding from Frankl's description of the human achievement as taking on a role of creator and artist of meaning itself)

(and, meaning "Super" not as in being better, but as being greater, more inclusive, transcending individual identity)

And further:

"Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.  No one can become fully aware of the essence of another human being unless he loves him.  by his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features of the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.  Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities.

By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true..."  
-Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning

When I was young, I asked God to see others the way He did, and through his love. This description sounds to me like an elegant and ultimate combination of the "God is Love" foundation of John wedded to the Paulo Coelho's description of love as enabling and transformative in "The Alchemist" - In a world where the only constant is change, and where love is what believes in and encourages that growth, then that is a thing, a characteristic, a vision worth aspiring to, leaning on like a cane, cultivating, embracing, and becoming.



'Did it take long to find me?' I asked the faithful light.
'Did it take long to find me?  And, are you gonna stay tonight?'

Thank you.
And, to the other little lights as well.

Is this part of what he (and Campbell) had mentioned?  That we are creating our own mythology?
Either way, I'll choose to appreciate the times when, after sending my request into the earth, the universe meets me in a way that I can recognize.

Today, my favorite lyrics are from "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens.  It just occurred to me today that maybe 老子 would have also been amused.

Water. Meaning.

Flaming swords and rivers are no threat to one another

if meaning is of any importance,
and yes - yes it is. 

In some ways, it is the only thing of importance.
Although (and perhaps because) it is easily blown away without a trace.

The most important thing we can synthesize from the blocks we hack out of our minecraft-like world .. is meaning.

What art can one learn to craft from a river (or rivers) if one learns to treat time as a medium?


The game between the game

Following a prompt from a friend on a better way to practice this:

I am playing a new game of seeing the negative space.
Seeing the thing as outlined by the not-thing.
Noticing the distances that make things what they are by the nature of the separation.
Seeing the thing as being the outline of the not-thing.
When I write, outlining the not-thing with the thing.
Acknowledging the decisions not made, the roads not traveled, the silence between by which sounds are defined.

The quiet into which what I don't plan can grow.

The world feels much more comfortably full,
when I acknowledge even the stories that don't speak.

The Human Achievement

I'm listening to Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning on Audible.
It's the background and description of his school of thought in psychiatry called "logotherapy".

I like the way he describes the "human achievement" as that which a person may produce from a given "predicament".

Turning predicament into a human achievement is the manner in which all people are necessarily artists.  Like any art, it can be practiced, stylized, and honed into a truly respectable craft.

In everything, the uniquely human potential is to paint that layer of perception, interpretation, and chosen response upon the canvas of situation with which we are presented.

It is the art of acknowledging and working with what we cannot change to produce, create, or accept what we can.  We may or may not consider it to be successful, but it is this layer of perception and response that would not arise in any other way, and thus, in its uniqueness, is a human achievement.

I am reminded of the quote at the beginning of Steinbeck's Cannery Row.
And Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

continue (meaning of life resolved, next question please)

Walking the evening streets of Shanghai,

Harbin beers in hand,

(considering the All as an informational map in 1s and 0s
the "things" that we know as selected groupings of those,
and a human drive to uncover meaning like an algorithm tasked with revealing its own code)

is as good a place as any

to be reminded that one's "purpose" in life is to be,

to be uniquely,

and so being,


Thank you.


Fits and Stops and starts

Looking back at my own posts, not finding what I wanted.
Surprised at what I did find

including silence.

The posts, huddled in time around gaping empty spaces
craters. Trying to grow again before the next carves out its due.

Posts drafted in my head that I don't see - flags of thought I wish I'd thrown in time.
I see comments I wish I'd known about, responded to
Perhaps from others trying to walk across this same slippery stream
the stepping stones are many, but the water deep.
The breaths come few and far between.

Though I hope that others understand,
I know that really, I address myself in saying:

Please forgive the silence
it's not that I've been drowning
but all the work at breathing
makes it awful hard to speak.

At least,
I know the taste of air
I know when I'm awake
The struggle is for the next breath of consciousness
every time I slip and plunge
as I make my way across this river dream

I am ashamed at the ways I betray my own progress
but the way ahead is still forward
My previous steps, though unsteady, inconsistent, drive me from the past to start again
and on I go