Manners for Living

Here is a little poem I think I wrote yesterday. I say think because sometimes I worry that what I think I've written is actually just something I read once and am regurgitating. I read so much poetry and so many quotes that it's hard to keep track of who said what. Truthfully, I don't think it should really matter, but many people would disagree I suppose. Not that I would want to take credit for someone else's work, I just don't think we should try to own words or images or ideas. And besides, I don't want people to think of ME when they read my thoughts, but the ideas themselves and the Truths they attempt to point to. Anyway, these words sounded particularly familiar when they came out. I googled them but nothing came up, so maybe I did write them? I don't really care, I just want to share them. But! Please do let me know if you know that someone else wrote it, so I can give them credit.

Walking through this life
I am unable to say
How and Why and What,
Just Yes and Please and Thank You.

photos taken at Shenandoah NP


Taneda Santoka


Do you like haiku? I do! I remember the first time I came across Saigyo, I thought I could just die quite happily right then and there in the dear old Abilene Public Library. I came across the name Taneda Santoka in the Haruki Murakami novel I'm currently reading, Kafka on the Shore. By the way, Jason and I are both in some deep, deep LOVE with Murakami. We are delightfully ripping through his novels like our lives depend on it. What a genius he is! Anyway, so I looked up Taneda Santoka and fell in some deep deep love with him, too. Here are a few things I've learned about him so far: His father squandered the family's wealth on women and booze. His mother, exhausted by life, threw herself into the family well when Taneda was a boy. The sight of his mother's lifeless body pulled up from the well was, as one can imagine, something that deeply troubled Taneda for the rest of his days. He had a nervous breakdown and dropped out of school. His brother committed suicide. His wife divorced him. He had a drinking problem. He attempted suicide on more than one occasion. He often wandered alone with only a begging bowl. And yet! And yet, he wrote this beautiful poetry. He was a haiku rebel, not adhering to the traditional 5-7-5 structure. I like people who aren't afraid to push the envelope. And while many haiku poets write about cherry blossoms, Taneda wrote often about weeds.

In happiness
Or sadness
Weeds grow and grow.

One of the things I appreciate most about haiku is the way it brings together the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the physical. It evokes feelings of intimacy with context, combining so beautifully attention to surroundings with awareness of the heart. For me, haiku reflects the oneness of the sadness and joy of living.

Haiku shows us what we knew all the time,
but did not know we knew; it shows us that
we are poets in so far as we live at all.

-R.H. Blyth

Even the sound of the raindrops
Has grown older.

All day,
Without a word-
Waves crashing.



Poem by David Whyte
Photo taken at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne


I'm Pretty Sure That's All There Is To It

Quote by Saint Augustine

Photo taken at St. Kilda Beach


February 11 is a special day: For Dennis and Jon

Hey, Dennis and Jon, go here:

You'll have to watch the fullscreen version in order to read the text. (Especially considering your ages.)



Waste Not, Want Not

Our most limited and precious resource is being used as if it's in infinite supply. Everyday people use it up to make money and gain power. They buy it and sell it as if what they're getting in exchange is worth something more. We even use more of it so that we can leech it to the last reserves, just to see our children waste it only as easily. No, I'm not talking about natural resources; although, the parallels were intentional. I'm talking about time. I don't agree with the expression, “time is money.” I think that time is worth more. Time is the most limited resource for anyone on this planet. We are only given a set amount, and none of us is sure how much. True, time, like energy, is virtually unlimited as far as the universe is concerned, and depending on your religious beliefs, the soul may be immortal. However, the one thing that every living being is guaranteed is death. Industrialization has facilitated the spread of technology and resources which have allowed us to live longer than ever, but it has also forced us to spend more of our time at work than people ever did before. But, however you slice it, our time in this life is limited, and its something that we will never get back. So why don't most of us appreciate what little of this resource we have? Now, I have been lucky to have an abundance of time to myself lately. Time that is mine to do with what ever I want. Free time (most people would be more excited about free money). But I end up spending a lot of my time thinking about other things that I “should” be doing with it, while not appreciating what I have right now; the only time that I am guaranteed. I find myself thinking that I should get a job so that I can have money to use in my free time. Because that would be the responsible thing to do. Invest time now and convert some of it into money so that I can enjoy my future time more. Just hope that the market doesn't crash before then. I realize that's an investment we all have to make. That's the way the world works, whether you like it or not, but it's something that I have a hard time reconciling myself with. I prefer to gamble. In fact, I recently came to the realization that I have a gambling problem. My name is Jason and I have been gambling seriously since 2001. I've gotten into debt pretty bad because of it. I have a mountain of student loans that I have accrued (so that I could spend so much time in school to learn how to properly use words like accrued). I've spent as much time in school as possible, in hopes of spending less time outside of it, to pay off the money that I spent in it. But, I do it mainly because I have more free time now than I will have when I am done. True, I do have to work hard and spend time studying, but it's not the same type of day to day, time consuming routine as a normal job. I know that when I get into the “real world” I'll be working a lot more hours per week, and I won't get as many vacation days. The work might not be as hard, but it will use more of my most precious resource. So, why do I waste this time that I've gotten on credit worrying about what I'll have to spend for it, instead of appreciating it before I have to give it back? And why do people who spend most of their time at work, so that they are able to enjoy free time, use it to worry about things that won't matter after their resources are used up anyway? I want to appreciate the time that I have right now. Actually I take back what I said before. Maybe time is like money, because I think that all money is spending money. True, you should save some for unexpected situations, but if you're not planning on spending it, what's the point? Carpe diem!

You'd better get busy, though, buddy. The goddam sands run out on you every time you turn around.... You're lucky if you get time to sneeze in this goddam phenomenal world.
- J. D. Salinger
Franny and Zooey


A Matter of Matter

Matter is indeed infinitely and incredibly refined.

To anyone who has ever looked on the face of a dead child

or parent

the mere fact that matter could have taken for a time

that precious form, ought to make matter sacred ever after.

It makes no difference what the principle of life may be, material or immaterial,

matter at any rate co-operates, lends itself to all life's purposes.

That beloved incarnation was among matter's possibilities.

pragmatism - william james - 1907

Think of how easily we sometimes take for granted people,

even at times our loved ones.

How much easier it is then, to take for granted the things in our lives.

I remember when I read this quote by Vincent Van Gogh:

"But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things."

It made quite an impression on me.

I have this tendency to live perhaps too much in the non-concrete world,

I like the abstract, the theoretical, the spiritual.

But I think the key is to find a balance between

the spiritual and physical worlds,

to live in the place where they meet.

I think that's where Love resides.

The formless within form, try to see it.

The energy within all things!

the coffee pot, the window pane,

the flower, the pinkie toe, the book, the heart,

they lend themselves, as William points out, so freely

to purpose, to possibility.

Let's give thanks for that gift,

and remember that it is also a responsibility.

When we think of the gun, the crude gesture, the atom bomb,

we remember

that matter lends itself just as easily to hate.

Welcome Morning

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning,

in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry "hello there, Anne,"

each morning,

in the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

The joy that isn't shared, I've heard,

dies young.

-Anne Sexton

Everything is Waiting For You

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice. You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

-David Whyte