Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life After Death

Excellent visit Thursday with a learned breast specialist.  Entirely reassured.  (If you are on Facebook, there's somewhat more on my Page there.)  This is not cancer.  Dazed and confused.  Sleeping happily.

Before the appointment we had a great expensive lunch (they make their own ginger ale!) and Tom drove along the lake, and I took this picture of a sizable boulder by the side of the road.  Kind of looks like it's been in a few collisions, like me.

Together, Tom and I wrote this haiku -
ancient stone
names of lovers
inscribed in fading paint
So blown away by being alive - having (maybe, of course) more life ahead, and noticing the attempts by my conditioned self to get me back in the living grave we call a rut.  Now I have to catch up on all the things you have to do if you're going to stay alive - went to the health club, the grocery store . . . collapsed.  It's been a long hard year, so far.  Maybe I've used up my trouble quotient for 2013.  I wish.

Last night, browsing around on Wild Fox Zen, I happened on this poem, translated by the poet Robert Bly.  It reminded me of a time years ago when we left a great party with people playing bluegrass in a packed living room, a warm and inviting house, and no alcohol or smoking, a definite bonus.  When we stepped outside, pow, cool night air, a sky full of stars.  I said to Tom, "This is what a good death would be like - you leave a great party and step out into the stars." But actually dying, when I thought it was approaching me and remembered the deaths of people I loved, actually dying is not a party.

This poem reminded me of that experience, how hard it can be to let go of this body's life, then how wonderful the lonely empty could be.  I have my own poems that I regretted never publishing when I realized I might not have time.

I've been astonished how many poems came to my mind and came my way that showed deep understanding of life.  However, and I don't know anything about Bly, many wonderful writers and artists have not had happy lives - many are bipolar, whence cometh the creativity, but which is hard to live with and, in my lifetime, has not been treated appropriately.  You can get the idea of the wonderful, you can render it in art, but bipolar experiences and emotions are acute, and learning to live with these realities is another thing entirely.  The only significant help I've had has been from Zen masters.

The Silence Afterward
                       Rolf Jacobsen

Try to be done now
with deliberately provocative actions and sales
brunches and gas ovens,
be done with fashion shows and horoscopes,
military parades, architectural contests,
and the rows of triple traffic lights.
come through all that and be through
with getting ready for parties and eight possibilities
   of winning on the numbers,
cost of living indexes and stock market analyses,
because it is too late,
it is way too late,
get through with and come home
to the silence afterwards
that meets you like warm blood hitting your
and like thunder on the way
and the sound of great clocks striking
that make the eardrums quiver,
because words don’t exist any longer,
there are no more words,
from now on all talk will take place
with the voices stones and trees have.
- – -
The silence that lives in the grass
on the underside of every blade
and in the blue space between the stones.
The silence
that follows the shots and birdsong.
The silence 
that pulls a blanket over the dead body
and waits in the stair until every one is gone.
The silence
that lies like a small bird between your hands,
the only friend you have.
I have personal experiences and reasons to trust that in the end, the Absolute is our friend.  After all, it's your own Mom.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. It's Ad astra per alia porci these days.

  2. Bly lives in my neck of the woods. I've met him a few times. I've long loved his poetry. He can be kind of a grumpy guy though. I remember once we (my zen center) had a meditation tent at a local festival and Bly came in for a sit. Power scowl on the way in, and on the way out. But you know, maybe the zazen did him good anyway. There's kind of a divide around here between those who love Robert and those who love his ex-wife Carol. Carol's been dead awhile now, but amongst certain members of the local literary community, the loyalty is still fierce. Robert lives on, and Carol does too, in her own way.

    1. I suppose zazen always does a bit of good. I hope so. We've sure seen a lot of people come and go.

  3. Beautiful, ecstatic for you

  4. So nice to hear it wasn't cancer. Thanks for sharing the good news and the beautiful poem.