Today in October

by | Oct 9, 2022

I’m still swimming without a wetsuit in Lake Washington, even into October because it is so warm. The air is full of smoke so this morning I won’t meet a friend at the water’s edge. Maybe tomorrow. We say that a lot to each other, maybe tomorrow. I may visit my fall garden, The kale and collards and tomatoes are quite robust. Plums didn’t do well, nor did the apple trees in my yard.

During the first year of the pandemic, I followed the hummingbirds. I learned about their mating activities, their rounds of visiting certain flowers each day, the flashes of magenta at their throats and on their heads. This year I haven’t been so attentive, as we are emerging from so much isolation and going back into a more active life. I avoid using the word ‘normal’. What is normal life? There is the life we had before the virus locked us inside. There is the life before global warming became so evident. There is the life before we really noticed the polarization of our fellow countrymen.

How do we respond to all the changes, changes that are continuously occurring within and without us? Now the changes are unavoidable, undeniable. We are facing our own extinction as a species. A teacher I have studied with over the years, a monk named Analayo, told us that he had planned to translate ancient Chinese Buddhist texts over the next ten years but changed his mind. He will continue to teach us now instead. He sees what is coming and he is dedicating himself to our collective wellbeing in a suffering world.

So again, I ask the question. As Mary Oliver said, “What is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?”

I was in the mall yesterday. It was crowded, with teens, families, single people. The mall, a temple to consumerism. A place we cannot find true happiness, ever. I don’t mean to judge. I was there too. Our stuff, our acquisitions, are meaningless. As I look around at my own house, full of things, I know I have lived out of a backpack. Around this world, there are those who live with very little.

How do we, as Thoreau has written, love our lives, poor as they are?

Love must be the answer. We must learn to love ourselves, deeply and with great sincerity. When we can do that, the love can flow in all directions, to all beings, to the body of the Earth herself. it is the place where sorrow connects with kindness. And we see that we are all part of all that is. No separation anywhere.