Is here and now
I have dropped my worries
Nowhere to go, nothing to do
I don’t need to hurry
Is here and now
I have dropped my worries
Somewhere to go, something to do
No longer in a hurry
How wonderful! That by the time we come to the end of the second verse in this simple song, it is such a real possibility!
We live in a time in the world where the footprints of hurry are causing pain to the earth, and to our collective consciousness. Hurry is such a contagious energy; and whilst there is a gentle movement growing to decline the invitation to be ever busy and in a hurry, it can still feel like it takes more discipline to do less than to say yes to all the opportunities that come to us.
When this song was new to me, I distinctly recall thinking “nowhere to go, nothing to do!!?! – what an absurd luxury!”. But really, what is absurd is that such a concept should seem like a luxury, not to mention an absurd one!
I love the Plum Village practice of having a “lazy day” each week; a day where we have a chance to catch up with ourselves in our bodies. At first unspiralling from the habit of having a very full diary was difficult, even uncomfortable for me. Life is so full of so many exciting opportunities to do, learn, see, talk, listen, meet, play… so many verbs, such limited time!
But what is the quality of our experience when we are so preoccupied with cleverly slotting it all into the schedule, planning our route to the next thing whilst we are at the current thing? How available are we for the people we are with, for ourselves, when we are busily trying to manipulate time? Are we fully present at our appointment with life? Are we able to see that here, now, in the present moment, is the very pureland we are conditioned to be chasing?
I am really seeing a difference, thanks to this song, and the permission I needed to consider a lazy day as a valid thing to schedule; in how I parent a toddler with my youngest child now, compared to her older sister, 13 years ago. What a radical thing, to allow enough space in our day, that we can walk a block at toddler pace, enjoying instead of feeling frustrated and anxious about looking at tiny leaves, patterns in the pavement, shapes in the clouds. There is even enough time to be aware that my tea is there!
How long does it take a toddler to walk a block? As long as possible!
Right now, my parenting is my teacher, my toddler is my bell of mindfulness. And I feel so grateful that her natural way of doing life waters the seeds of mindfulness that are planted in me from times when I could study the dharma more fully.
I remember standing in a very long queue in a busy Paris train station the day after a delicious week in Plum Village, and humming this song to myself as the queue slowly moved. For me, the songs of practice can act as short cuts to some of the essence of the teachings, and I really appreciate this!
I wonder how it is for you?
I go back to the island within my heart
There are beautiful trees
Upon the island
There are clear streams of water
There are birds, sunshine, and fresh air
Breathing out I feel safe
I enjoy going back to my island.
This beautiful song is one of my favourites from Plum Village.
I sing it, and other songs of practice, to my toddler each night at bedtime. Some days, this is the extent of my “formal dharma practice”!
A lecture I heard around the idea of our island, talked about the need to nourish and maintain our island, so that when we really need it, it is a beautiful sanctuary for us.
That we can choose what trees to plant and nourish there. We wouldn’t expect a mango tree to grow from the seed of a lemon, and similarly, if we want our island to be calm, we can mindfully practise feeling calm; so that if there is a tempest in our external world, those trees we have planted on our island are there to shelter us.
In my own life, I really notice the difference between the times that I look after my island, and when I let it slide, and weeds of fear, and anger spring up there. Then, if I am shaken by circumstances, it is harder to find the peace I need within me when I haven’t been looking after my island.
In the same way that we can’t wait til we need our car to learn how to drive it, we cannot expect our island to feel like a safe place without our careful maintenance.
Last night as I sang this song to my 19 month old daughter, she cuddled me and said “Mummy I like this song”. And it was a wonderful motivation for me to do what I can to nurture my island within.
I hope you can find time to plant some lovely trees on your island this week.
Mum, I’m gay,
I texted her.
That’s nice dear.
As in you’ve renamed yourself, or like two poofy men?
Striding through the Autumn morning in my walking shoes
Seeking solace in the beauty outside me
from the rage that churns within
The grey blanket of the pre-dawn sky warms me not,
but offers me great comfort,
with the reassuring reminder that I am
and as expansive as the universe
A blush emerges as the sun comes back from the other side of the world, busy tart
A suggestive apricot, fuzzy and without edges, and with the optimism of Alabama Whitman
“She tastes like a peach”
how truly did I want to taste her mouth
Still I stride, breathing through my swirling truth
And now, somehow, streaks of pink and blue
Audacious as those marine creatures that you think have surely been exaggerated
in the artist’s depiction
I can even forgive my ancestors for believing in sky god
Here under this cracking morning sky, remembering to notice the beauty of the universe.
Mary Oliver eat your heart out!
Savour those juices as they stream down your chin
Rivulets forming in your cleavage invitationally
for another lover
of life to slurp at
Mum, I like to lick life juice off the tits of women poets.
Still I stride, rounding the corner, home comes into view.
And in the valley beyond, down over the town to the west
The sun, my current favourite artist, has invited the morning mist to dance.
My queer little heart opens in bliss.
Life really does love me!
And I love her right back,
most Sapphically indeed.
filled with seasons
my stories and experiences
travel with me
make me who I am...
All things I see, touch, do and feel
come through me and are transmuted
gnarly old me
and all the things I've witnessed
I know that I'm
old as rain
fresh as morning dew
just part of something
letting go with easeful acceptance
inhaling what changes the seasons bring
aware of the value of the precious glimmers
brought about by togetherness
ok in my solitude
seeing the same stardust in you
as I know is in me
my business is to simply be
allowing my experiences to wash over me like the light of dawn
holding on with intentional love
to the aspects that nourish me
releasing with gratitude
the aspects that teach me
celebrating my ancestry,
descendant that I am
of the women they didn't burn
open to the return to myself
of the love that I have released to the universe
“Old as rain and fresh as morning dew” is from fierce Australian feminist poet, playwright, and novelist Dorothy Hewett and is part of one of the poems in her play The Chapel Perilous
I honour her.
And with that
The dahlias are suddenly finished.
My only consolation
The wry knowledge
of just how quickly
next year will come round
not always not even usually, but every now and then I float out above the conversation I am in and the cruel thought occurs "oh I am such an idiot" it takes such a lot of effort to love myself out of these moments
Poetry will save us as it has and always does It's poetry who catches us falling in and out of love A resting tent that nurtures us while our souls replenish, touching the universality of our own uniquely fragile stardust... Stroking our foreheads, breathing peace into our hearts, illuminating the beauty in everything and stitching it into a cloak of light, draped lovingly around our shaking shoulders; whispering cogently to us of its impenetrability, of our own sovereign safety, so that we may rise refueled our furnace stoked charged by the life force now burning outrageously bright in us to face the world and all its oddly timed surprises with the optimistic courage of a rising sun This day is mine! Poetry has saved me. Again.
I was somewhere that I thought I might see you and my heart was aflutter
I saw someone who could have been you and my soul began to ache
It wasn’t even you
Among the many cars, yours could maybe have been one of them. I couldn’t see it, but the thought that I might had me all atingle.
And then, driving away, there you were, driving towards me
Our eyes met
Our hearts intertwined
And in that moment, I knew.
Knew that I was head over heels in love with you
May we use this time apart well
May we reunite in bliss
And live our lives together in simple joy
For you are beautiful
And so am I
In the forest
alone I stand
by the held wisdom
and cool release
of all my fellow trees
Our shared experiences
touch us differently
but the sky calls us all
as our roots reach
to nourish us
Now at last I understand Why all those mothers of all those high school boyfriends delighted in me so Now that I am the mother of a daughter who brings home teenage boys What a refreshing relief I must have been for those women who lived with teenage boys
How can the rain be without symbolism? How could it ever be that it is simply raining? How can I be calm when this water is surrounding me without relent? My heart's lament. I'm damp. Damp in all my organs. I want to whinge in protest I want to register with some authority, officially, my dissatisfaction with the appearance of mold on my timber chair Actually? Really? Truly? I'm to put up with this now as well? My heart is harbouring mildew. Black soot haunts my kidneys. My liver is beset by wet dust of the kind that causes hives in some young children Smoke it out, this ominous damp! Cleanse me of this creeping moisture... Smudge, Fire, Hot coals... I don't care. Just let me be rid of this soggy curse. I would rather that the workings of my brain crackle like dry forest twigs or a lively fire I would rather that the air in me felt light and crisp as sunshine I want to be crunchy to feel like a spark in me could easily ignite Yes! I want to be flammable or at least warm like a pocket potato or a passionate embrace... This damp suits me not. Enough rain. Enough.
In my garden
I look up and gasp in awe
At the beauty of the view up through the tree
“Imagine being one of the creatures lucky enough to live under here!”
And then I realised that I am.