five minutes

I have five minutes. What should I say?

The universe is full of magic. When everything is dark and nothing seems to be going my way, I can remember that my whole entire life is just a speck of dust in  our vast spilled milk galaxy. The infinite and finite hold hands, and perspective is the Great Clarifier.

Regeneration is not just a word

Regeneration is not just a word.

It is not a catchphrase or logo. It is not a commodity or pyramid scheme.

When the soil is teeming with new life, when the mist covers the field, when the biota surges forward and recedes backward, we find the wave of regeneration moving through us. When after the pain of being born a life reverberates, when our eyes are full like moons, when our thoughts echo nature, we know that every day billions of our own cells die and billions are reborn. Regeneration is the acknowledgement of the cycle of life and death, it is the acceptance of the circle, it doesn’t shy away from death and it doesn’t cling to profit.

A moment comes in our lives and we are regenerated. Skin shed like an old coat in summer. What was unclear becomes clear. Those that oppose the circle oppose regeneration – to them, fear dictates that all must stay the same. But nothing stays the same, nothing stops time, and everything is relative to where we stand in the moment.

Senses magnify, perception clears. A regenerated landscape blooms and thrives. A regenerated heart opens and heals. Rivers cycle and trees eat photons. A fox skitters like an electron.

Linear models collapse. Sinusoidal rhythms rule. We are not getting out of this thing called life alive, so we must surf.

No thing

“What I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.

It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Oh!” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Perhaps it is time to quit.

When I begin to practice “letting go”, when I give up clinging to an idea or feeling, I feel relief. As if my body has been a clenched fist until I let it relax. I realize that the control I have over my life is only in the moment. I can’t ban suffering, I can’t mine joy. I can only do what needs to be done and enjoy the process.

Letting go is not the same as giving up or procrastinating. Those actions give us a sense that we are off the hook, while still hanging on it. Letting go is the outbreath, the savasana, the relaxation of our muscles, the clearing of the mind. It is the truth that we can’t know everything, and we can’t control anything for long. The knowledge that the end will come, and the absence of fear.

Letting go is stepping back into the flow.

Quitting is an action. When you see that the path you are on leads over a cliff. Quitting is the positive step toward a different path. Sometimes we have to quit so that we can start walking in the right direction.

All of these things are part of living. No reason to judge ourselves constantly. Just take a walk.  What do you really want to do today?

 

The Dalai Lama says that the goal of life is to be happy.

It seems simple, but what if we forgot what makes us happy?

Life never stops, there is no time to catch our breaths. We are aware that we need to live in the present moment, and not dwell in the past or future. Otherwise we’re filled with stress or regret.  For so long we’ve been grasping at straws and losing our selves, but when we practice “letting go” we find ourselves. Freeing ourselves from the tyranny of possessions and concepts feels right, Sometimes all we need is a walking stick and a gravel road. Or a cup of tea and a friend.

Do we really think that cleaning up this room or fixing this thing or landing this project will make everything all better? Doubt it. In the short term it’s great to get the list done, but we need to look at the long term list.

What is it I want to do before I die? What really makes me happy? What do I want to do for the rest of my life to make a living? Why am I not doing it?

Our paths weave the cosmic fabric. Nobody but you can choose your way. Sometimes we have to go with the flow instead of struggling forward, sometimes we have to fight to find the new way. No matter what, though, we are here, right here, now.

Janet Echelman makes art out of strings

 

 

wild 1

I live a domestic life, but I love the wild life. There is that thing inside me that is magnetized to the wilderness, regardless if it is a thousand acres or just that little patch of wildflowers behind the shed. Nature without a human touch, the most rare thing of all.

I don’t make my living from the wild, I make it from the tame. I take chaos and turn it into form. I’m just an organizer. The wild exists outside of those efforts, but we must add wild to our lives to have perspective. Without perspective into the natural world, we miss out on the spark of life and everything is just cause and effect, law and order.

Notice the wild patches today.

Momento mori

There is stress and there is STRESS. There are moments of stress, and then there are long-term panic sessions that lodge in the gut, causing sleeplessness and an underlying sense of dread. Managing this latter type of stress is perhaps my biggest struggle, and I would go so far as to guess that many small business owners and other driven people share my predicament.

As a young man I shrugged off stress with ease. My whole motto was “Relax, we’re all going to die in the end so we might as well enjoy life now.” I don’t think I was too far off the mark, but as the years have progressed and I’ve taken on more responsibilities, especially taking on the responsibilities of raising livestock, I’ve forgotten this principle and morphed into that bulgey-eyed Mr. Stressball-type whom I used to pity.

I’m kidding. I’m not always Mr. Stressball, and I’m not always Mr. Laidback. Behind the masks we wear through our daily lives we are just who we are, doing what we need to do. We each have a different path, but we meet eachother thousands of times in between life and death.

Having perspective is when you understand that even though everything in your life seems just slightly beyond your control, everything is still probably okay. It is all out of our control to a large degree. By grasping onto some idea and identifying deeply with the idea, we essentially create our own stress. Why the hell would we do such a thing to ourselves?

Because we don’t want to let go of the idea of who we are, or how we live, or what we do. These ideas make up the narrative of our lives. Losing control of any of those ideas is somewhat akin to losing any sense of our own existence.  Stress is really our minds and bodies reacting to fear and we think “It’s all up to me to make things right, to figure things out, to protect my world.”

If we’ve lost something like our friends, family, home, we feel sadness and fear of losing again and again until there is nothing left to hold on to. The weird thing is this very fear is what will definitely happen. My breaths are limited and one day I will no longer be here. No matter what happens in my life, I am blessed to live in a wealthy country. I don’t have to worry about war destroying my life, or lack of potable water and food. I can make actual choices about what I am going to do every day and what I am going to eat and drink. I can sleep in a safe warm bed. I can see my family and friends when I want to. When I have fears about the future, when I have doubts about my path, when I regret the past, I know that these are all privileges.

And I know we are all in this together. We are all passing through the cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth in some form. Fear is like a cloud that blocks the sun. Behind that veil is the bright beating heart that fuels all life, and we all yearn to be warmed by it.

So, daily, I remind myself that this life is it for me. It isn’t a competition – history shows us that all winners eventually lose. The real work lies in compassion and cooperation.