Sunday, April 26, 2009


I'm up with the robins this morning -- you think 'rosy-fingered dawn' is merely a figure of speech? -- trying to empty my mind. You know, zazen. The distant sound of barking dogs, maybe a bear is walking through the neighborhood. Neighbors still asleep. Be still oh my waking mind like the surface of the lake.

"On the seashore of endless worlds children meet." Tagore. After all these years, the thought pierces my consciousness. Like an arrow of song. Saeta. Juan Ramon Jimenez, a good man is an ass. And a bad ass is a man. Close. The water softener gurgles. Overnight, dandelions have set up camp on the lawn over the septic field. Be still.

The robin hops, stops, cocks his head, listens, darts forward, jabs its beak into the soil, throws back its head, swallows, stops, poses. Begins again with another hop. Time's arrow is my affliction, not this creature's.

It is now three full months since I was laid off. The anger has dissipated, the reflexive self-doubt has subsided. I'm breathing freely again. Be still. All those years in the book business seem as remote to me now as the years of my childhood. Not the books themselves, nor the people who made them. But all the other stuff that filled our days with needless worry -- I'm glad to be away from it and feel compassion for those left behind.

Quist warned me, "When paradigms shift, somebody's bound to get hurt. Just remember: the hurt doesn't last. You should be thankful when they fire you -- it'll allow you to wander in your own backyard for a spell and play with the things you love."

I think to myself, no, my mind is not empty. But it is no longer filled with thoughts of The Job. It will be again -- I can't afford to be a bum, but for now I can be still, and let my mind roam, unfettered, a bird of appetite loose in a lost world regained.

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