Wednesday, 17 December 2014

WW: Faintly macabre

(Encountered this on the beach after a wild storm. Very likely flotsam from the Japanese tsunami. Chilling sight in that dark desolate place.)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Parted Stays

By the time I reached Alan's apartment -- a six-hour battle up three hours of rainy interstate blockaded by accidents -- I was exhausted, disgusted, and keen to leave freeways behind for a very long time. My glasses were embedded in the bridge of my nose, their bows biting into my ears.

But how good to find Al at the end of the road! He smiled broadly as he opened the door, and I was heartened to see that the break-up hadn't taken the glint from his porcelain-blue eyes. He laughed his old "H-e-e-ey, man!", clamped my hand, and suddenly we were college kids again, as if Al could make it so simply by combing his thick blond hair the same way.

There was nothing for it but to return to the scene of the crime, and so we drove across town to Fairhaven, and our favourite restaurant. As I savoured a mushroom burger and a frosty porter, Al regaled me with tales of his tour in the Air Force, his current job fixing helicopters, and a bar fight he'd recently witnessed, his large hands evoking the knife-whirling Canadians as he mugged and gesticulated, eyes wide with an enthusiasm that fell away from the rest of us with our hair.

We picked up frozen yogurt on the way home, then spooned it out over Al's breakfast counter -- I in the living room, he in the kitchen. Missing furniture and blank spaces on the wall told a story that lost none of its pain for remaining carefully unspoken. When at last Lake Whatcom blacked from the sliding glass door, he said that Michelle had been with abusive men before they met, that she treated him like a child, and that at last she came to consider him the enemy. I understood, and said nothing. That Al's relationship had failed at the same time as mine only deepened the anguish: another stay parted on a sea grown surly. But there was exhilaration in facing the storm together, damming it up in silence, and so defeating it.

I slept fitfully on the sofa that night, and woke to muffled morning-jock banter from Al's clock radio. We gulped tea as he readied for work, the anticipated stress of our respective days twanging between us in monosyllables. At the door we hesitated, I in the hall, he on the mat, reluctant to desert the other in the presence of danger. But there were aircraft to repair, borders to trace. We clasped hands again, muttered "See ya, man," and the door swung shut.

I showered and dressed, but the sadness didn't break till the Ram's engine roared to life.

(Adapted from Rough Around the Edges: A Journey Around Washington's Borderlands, copyright RK Henderson. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

WW: Spawned out

(Remember, young people: SEX KILLS.)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Koan: Liberation


One day a man found a battered lamp by the roadside. As he polished away the grime, a genii came streaming out of the burner in a pillar of flame.

"For liberating me from that prison, I will grant you any wish!" he cried.

"Make me the richest man in the world!" said the man.

And POOF! The genii took away his desire.

(From an old Russian story. Photo courtesy of David Falconer, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

WW: Solar prescription

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Good Song: Was It Ever Really Mine

I collect Authentic Christian pop artists, that is, devout Christians whose lyrics centre on practical application of Christ's values, rather than skin-deep commercials. They're damn thin (so to speak) on the ground, but every one I've found so far is brilliant. Inspired by fundamental truth, their work has universal appeal, and practitioners of this tiny genre work mindfully to keep it that way. Is it an effective strategy? Well, Zen Buddhist hermits love their stuff. So you tell me.

Jon Troast is a great example. Check out, by way of appropriate Thanksgiving meditation, his Was It Ever Really Mine:

This charming footage was shot at one of Jon's famous living room concerts. (He travels the US, Basho-like, and performs for any private citizen who comes up with the pittance he charges. Yes, I'm serious: book him here.) The sound quality suffers from impromptu technology, but the album cut is crystal-clear and professionally mixed and can be streamed in the "Launch Music" device in the upper left corner of his website. Alternatively, you can GET THE ENTIRE ALBUM FREE simply by joining Jon's email list. (A $10 US value, by the way.) I have no idea how this guy stays in business, or why he's not on the charts, but perhaps we can contribute to both.

One way or another, it's one more thing to be thankful for.

By Jon Troast

I brought a dollar to the store today
Wanted to buy something new
I put the dollar in my front pocket
And brought it back home to you

‘Cause I don’t want to buy what I don’t need
And I don’t want to own what I can’t keep
And if I’m gonna have to leave it all behind
Was it ever really mine?

I made a dollar at my job today
I show up every week
I guess I really didn’t make it
They gave it to me

‘Cause I don’t want to buy what I don’t need
And I don’t want to own what I can’t keep
And if I’m gonna have to leave it all behind
Was it ever really mine?

There are mansions waiting in the sky
Where the rivers run but never run dry
There are highways of gold, room for this soul
I don’t think Jesus would lie

I put a dollar in the mail today
I hope it gets there in time
They look so hungry on my TV
I hope they’ll be alright

‘Cause the store’s full of things that I don’t need
And the world’s full of mouths that I can’t feed
And if I’m gonna have to leave it all behind
Was it ever really mine?

And I don’t want to buy what I don’t need
And I don’t want to own what I can’t keep
And if I’m gonna have to leave it all behind
Was it ever really mine?

WW: Nine meditation candles

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