Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Tag: awareness

Gifts of the Moment

Walking along the fence of the allotment, a window opens into something like deep, foraging time. Walking carefully, steadily, gaze turned towards the edible potential to my left, with senses open to the wider environment. Calm, content, alert, I could keep going like this all afternoon. What is it that makes me think of an ancestor gathering berries into a container woven of grass, a hundred thousand years ago? The imagination renders this moment both less and more significant than usual. Gentle warm wind, intense brightness when clouds give way – a gift this late in the summer.

There is a mild burning at the inside of my third finger where it was touched by nettles and the rubbing with dock leaf hasn’t completely taken it away. A “be careful” message enlivening the skin. Thorns are ready to rip into my scarf, which I hold close to my body. There is barbed wire too and you have to reach a little further at this time of the year to get to the last crop of blackberries. Aware of the whole body, the reach, balance, in-breath, contact with the fruit, careful release, exhale. Some of them are too soft to come off the branch whole and dark, sticky red juice runs down the fingers into the palm. Others are too firm and don’t yield to a probing tuck. They are for later, or for others, whose anonymous presence replaces the “wanting for one-self.”

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This is just to say

Ratnadevi

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

By William Carlos Williams

I was reminded of this poem recently when it was recited in the film Paterson, by Jim Jarmusch. The movie is as counter-cultural as it gets: nothing (or almost nothing) more dramatic happens than a bus breaking down. It has no sex in it, but breathes tenderness, right from the starting scene, where you see a couple waking up, entwined in each other’s’ arms; streaks of golden-white morning light playing on their skins. You see this scene repeated throughout the film, with variations in posture and light, as the days of the week unfold. He is a bus driver in Paterson, the town William Carlos Williams lived and wrote in, and also writes poetry, jotted down in spare moments around his shifts. She is a designer/artist in waiting, developing her style at home, by painting every large enough surface: crockery, curtains, clothes and even homemade cupcakes in black and white patterns.

This slow-paced, meditative film has generally been very well received, which, in itself, gives me hope for our media and action saturated world. Paterson, the film’s unpublished “hero,” doesn’t own a mobile phone or other screen device. He still writes everything by hand, into a notebook with un-ruled pages. As the camera bouncily follows the familiar bus route you are impelled to view the scene through a poet’s eye. Ordinary house walls in juxtaposition to other ordinary house walls, the rambling conversation among passengers or with his colleagues are given significance as potential material for poetry. They are worth taking note of.

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