in the wild untended fields of my heart
sits an old man. the day is late but warm
and the low-angled light spreads like butter
over the tall grass. his beard is white
gone beyond gray and his hair, long and thin
shifts with the wind. he wears an old vest
of many colors, stitched with threads of silver
and his boney white feet sit bare upon the earth.
his hands, held still on his long legs, bear the marks
of a lifetime of choices — he sits beyond judgment
beyond all expectation — he’s been waiting
for a very very long time. he breathes as I breathe.
his soft blue eyes are clouded now
from having witnessed a life, while in the distance
the witches voices rise in round to the beating sound
of his heart– he has always known this singing—
he has known all of the songs of the world.
we are all of us sorcerers,
all singers of this single deathless song.
© J.A. Fink, november 2011
I’ve always been a master of the hedge, the back door left ajar, the psychological bolthole where I can slip if this doesn’t go well. Work, art, music, relationships — I’ve approached them all with a persistent subconscious restraint, a small holding back, the invisible “not really.”
But it’s not small at all, this reservation. It’s like trying to get airborne while stubbornly hanging onto a branch. There can be some pretty interesting flapping around, but not a whole lot of altitude.
Where this pattern comes from is anybody’s guess, but I have my suspicions. On some level, it’s tough to fly while lifting the weight of all of these stories (like a parachute full of bricks- it’s not much protection in the end.) The “not good enough” (this classic piece of Americana); the “who do you think you are?” (where we shoulder the weight of someone else’s fear); the dread of being embarrassed or judged that underlies so much of the fear of failure.
And of course, over time, this fabric of stories becomes it’s own story with it’s own weight carefully woven through the gravity of repetition. So when do we get to put it down? And what triggers that decision? Of course, this has to be more of a process than an event, but still, when?
I carry a picture in my mind of an old man, his hair gone gray and long, having finally arrived at that place of nothing left to prove and nothing left to fear. He’s watching his grandchildren play. He closes his eyes and savors the laughter. His old face is warm.
So there it is — before it’s truly too late, I aspire to shrug off the heavy brocade, this fabric of stories and at least once to feel the wind directly on my skin.
I aspire to embrace my own inner fool, to go “all in” as often as I can stand it.
I want to kick the door shut behind me and head into the hills, to trust that a trail will form itself, even if it’s not at all where I thought I was going, to reach for the edge of the cliff and simply keep climbing, to relax my grip and trust that the wind will carry me
© J.A. Fink 2013
check out this recent article for the Shambhala Times Online. coming home in February from a two week retreat at Karme Choling, the Shambhala Buddhist land center in Vermont, I was seated next to a Franciscan Monk- an amazing conversation followed…
it’s mud season here
tipping from winter into spring
though so far the earth
seems a bit behind the sky.
if I walk these hills early
yesterday’s footprints are deep
and hard, and what will later
become puddles are still frozen
and cracked, broken.
as we all are broken, all
incorporating our share of mud,
carrying our own embarrassing stones
yet still smooth
on the surface, still shiny.
it’s almost as if we’re afraid of spring,
to the cold,
to the hard and to sharp, yet spring
will come, whether we welcome it or not.
will be gone, and this ground
will again become pliable, this ice
will soften and run
the faint trace of its passing
leaving only this irregular ring
of moist fertile soil
leaving, despite all
of our terrible fears, no stain
whatsoever on the sweet green face
of this earth
© J.A. Fink 2013