Peace to be Found

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
― Marcus Aurelius

If I were admitted to the hospital tomorrow in serious condition with Covid-19, my final lucid thoughts might be this: I have wasted the final 3 years of my short life on Donald Dumfork Trump. Even if you hate him as I do, an obsession is an obsession.

We are victims, not just of corruption and malfeasance, but of the illusion that in all this world, all its nations and continents and seas, there is nothing going but that petty, worthless little man and the plague he helped fester among us. I mean Covid-19, not just the plague of mindless, selfish hate he brought down first.

There is infinitely more to contemplate and I decline to have my entire consciousness hijacked; refuse to have my life defined by or be sacrificed to this sleazy, vulgar sideshow.

There is a difference between being an informed citizen and being the product that media companies sell to advertisers. And even if the constant stream of “news” is telling you the truth, they are still making a profit by keeping you just worried and anxious enough not to look away for long.

The truth is you can look away; take a nice long look at almost anything and everything else in the world, and when you look back at the news again, you won’t have missed a damn discernable thing. Because everything that’s happening has happened before; it’s just history repeating itself.

Stay home. Stay safe. “Wash your damn hands.” Drink your coffee – or whatever wet you have about the house – and read your books. It’s chaos out there, same as it ever was. There is peace to be found and I wish it for you, my friends.

Bear Mind

Poem, 1.4.18

Let there be a poem now.
Let one appear in the center
of the room, in the air
above the desk, and hang
like a cloud, like a spirit
conjured out of absurdity
and desire. Like a pear
without a tree.
And I will bear
it down and slice and serve
it up, pretending
that it came from me.

As I was working that little poem out of my notebook, I noticed the single unintentional rhyme of pear and bear. I thought about Bear Mind. Not like bear this in mind. Bear Mind. I don’t know where it comes from, if I made it up or heard it somewhere in a poetry reading or a retreat, but it goes something like this:

Imagine you’re sitting in a chair and you have a slice of baloney in your hand. There’s a dog in front of you, watching, and you waive the baloney back and forth. The dog watches the baloney and when you throw it across the room, the dog runs after it. The dog will do this every time. No matter what else the dog might have to look at, listen to, or think about, it’s going after that baloney.

Now imagine it’s not a dog but a bear. You waive the baloney back and forth but the bear is not watching the lunch meat. The bear is watching you, a much larger piece of lunch meat. So when you throw the baloney across the room, the bear doesn’t even blink; he’s not distracted, not even a little. In fact, you may have tossed your last baloney in this world.

I want a mind like that bear. One that stays centered, focused, and doesn’t go chasing after every distracting slice of baloney that gets thrown past his nose. So my goal is to dial back on the inputs of storm and stress, drama and covfefe, that plague my daily existence, and focus on being more mindful, calm, and clear. Building the Bear Mind.

Mandala

I lost a poem last night. Traveling down the great San Joaquin with my parents, under a thirsty waxing crescent of the moon, it appeared in my mind large and promising. I typically get 3 or 4 words of an idea if I’m lucky – just a tiny fuse to light in a stiff wind of distractions. But this was a complete thought, a compound sentence of maybe 10 words. A small stanza, if I’d been in a position to save it. But I was driving. Otherwise, I could have typed it into my iPhone and tonight or tomorrow I might have a new poem to share with you.

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