Thursday, November 6, 2014


I am surrounded by pieces of, artifacts from my life. A discarded cleat from Edna Lockwood, a log-built bugeye given to me by the Boat Shop of the museum where I worked; a clothbound tome, "English Romantic Poetry and Prose," a textbook from Washington College where I first encountered Blake and Wordsworth; a coffee table book of the centennial retrospective of the White Mountain Guide; my grandfather's shaving mirror, wooden box and arms with candle holders on top; a book "From Pot Pie to Hell and Damnation," that took myself and a graphic designer a couple years to put in order and the author a lifetime to research and compile.

I am surrounded by books and magazines both read and unread. It's enough to keep my head swimming for a lifetime to come.

But instead, this week I've been trying again to clear my head rather than fill it. I am getting back into the practice of sitting meditation; making time everyday to sit in silence, to focus on my breath, to let my thoughts go and just be present; to clear my mind so I can fill it anew; clear my mind so that I can listen to new possibilities, new directions.

During the past week I've gone back to roots. Trick or treating with the girls and friends. Running a half-marathon in 30 to 40 mph winds faster than I thought I was in shape for. Tending to sick children while I was also sick. Finding some balance. Voting in an election. Searching for orange and red fall leaves with older daughter Anna on our drive to school. Driving my 12-year-old truck on back country roads.

Sometimes these moments are peaceful, sometimes they are poignant. It has been a year of things lost and trying to find meaning and of trying to find me. If you go with the Buddhist outlook then that search is a lost cause since there is no individual self anyway ;)

Miles Davis plays. John Lee Hooker. Van Morrison. Their music is expansive. Soaring. Heart breaking. Alive. Searching.

On the album "Astral Weeks," Van Morrison sings like a meditation teacher:

You breathe in, you breathe out,
You breathe in, you breathe out,
You breathe in, you breathe out,

Thanks for the reminder. I try to stay with that. But when he sings:

You never ever wonder why

We part ways. It's in my nature to wonder why.

I love the word "dwell," in both its meanings of living or inhabiting, and also to think or hang inside a thought. Martin Heidegger, in his essay, "Building Dwelling Thinking" spells out that dwelling is fundamental to being human, dwelling in the sense of being at peace, being preserved from harm, safeguarded.

To dwell.

Smartwool socks and holy-kneed jeans stretched and crossed on the coffee table. The taste of Jameson's lingering on my tongue. Beard slowly returning to form. Contemplating Peter Matthiessen's journey in "The Snow Leopard" and his ability to recall or recount or describe scenery and people. Black pen scrawling in a Moleskine notebook, can't recall how many of these, of various sizes, I have filled. Looking up, taking reading glasses off. Breathing in, Breathing out. Wondering why.

To dwell.

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