The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods) – Narration

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

I shared the written The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods) in a previous post. In the past few months I’ve listened to others reading my work and wondered how people would respond to it.

Besides, folks may want a break from a steady diet of Empty Sky (I’ll return to it in a few weeks, I promise).

Do let me know what you think. Suggestions for improving this are quite welcome.

Click on the “post” above to open the story in a separate tab/window if you wish to read along side.

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Intention (Parts 1 and 2)

Is it possible to be so present the world stops and waits?

This post originally appeared in two parts on the original ThatThinkYouDo blog, resurrected to the new ThatThinkYouDo, and then the ExpandedAwareness blog. I’m reposting it here as a single entry for a friend.


Part 1
I’ve been studying people who are “living with intention” for about thirty-five years now. Originally I found them due to my cultural anthropology studies. Now I’m finding a few of them in the modern world.

“Living with intention?” you ask. “What does that mean, exactly?”

Hmm…the simple answer is “Living with Intention means paying attention to everything you do” and that’s so weak, so minimal, that only a western trained mind would offer it, so I apologize.

It means being in the moment…while appreciating (not quite, not exactly. English is limited in its ability to express this concept. Or I am limited in my ability to express this concept)…feeling?…every moment that came before you and will come after you.

It means doing whatever you’re doing as if it the fate of the universe hung in the balance…while being able to laugh at yourself regardless of the outcome.

It means focusing all your attention on each individual task…while being aware of everything else that’s going on around you (and recognizing that “around you” can be very, very big).

Realize “now” can be very, very big.

 
It means taking complete and ultimate joy in everything you do…while understanding it may be the last thing that you do.

It means being aware of everything going on around, in and through you each and every moment…and being at peace with it — not necessarily enjoying it or hating it, just being at peace with it, accepting it (because there’s a difference between liking something and accepting something).

And this list gets longer and longer and longer the more I attempt to put into words what can only happen deep inside the individual (because part of intention is being able to keep two completely opposite thoughts in your mind simultaneously, penecontemporaneously).

As one of my teachers said to me, “I can help you find your door. Only you can open your door and walk through. But walking through, there’s no walking back.”

Brushing your teeth. Pay attention to what you’re doing. To how you’re doing it. Be aware of the feel of the brush in your hand and the bristles on your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste and the brush’s movement on your gums and … and be so aware of the fact that you’re doing all this that it becomes a game to you, something to delight in, something to rejoice in, something to be thankful for, to be prayerful about.

But those last words imply something religious and nothing about being intentful is religious. Sufis live with intent but sufism isn’t religious in philosophy, only as it is practiced by some.

Some will read this and think, “Oh, Zen,” and while lots of zen practitioners live with intent the former doesn’t imply the latter. Some will think “Oh, Yin Yang” and to think that demonstrates not knowing, a lack of understanding.
Continue reading “Intention (Parts 1 and 2)”

Combating Evil With Good

In response to Brother Steven Taub’s request

A deliberately provocative title for a possibly mundane post, yet I’ve often learned that the best way to combat things that displease us is via mundacity, so be patient with me and let me know if my offering passeth all understanding for you.

Early last Saturday morning, a neighbor brought in a grounds crew to do some mowing and trimming. A team of three young, tanned and able bodied gentlemen, tshirts, cuttoff jeans, workboots and sunglasses all, and each with an incredibly loud piece of equipment, two riding, one strapped to his back, and they had at it.

Early last Saturday morning.

Even earlier last Saturday morning I was already awake. Sometimes I get up early to read on the backporch and listen to the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bees and the rest of nature fighting for survival.

I heard the truck and trailer drive up and clatter, bang and backfire to a stop. I looked around our neighborhood. No shutters open, no shades up, no blinds withdrawn, no dogs barking, no cats meowing, no children bicycling, no basketballs a’ bouncing, no baseballs a’ batting. It was…

Early last Saturday morning.

About half a mile from my house is a donut shop. While my neighbor came out of his house in his bathrobe and slippers to talk to the grounds crew, hair askew and sleep still muddling his eyes, I got in my car, drove to the donut shop and returned with five large black coffees, sugars, creamers and a dozen donuts. My neighbor was still talking to the grounds crew when I drove down the street.

Early last Saturday morning.

I parked in my driveway, gathered the coffees and donuts and walked across the street. My neighbor and the grounds crew were standing in a loose semicircle looking at and talking about my neighbor’s yard, the other half of the circle was taken up by their trailer and equipment. Their semicircle opened a bit as I approached and I assumed the six o’clock position.

“You guys like some coffee?” I didn’t wait for an answer, I handed them each a coffee, the “man-in-charge” first and my neighbor last as the coffees went from 12 o’clock to five, and I put the box of donuts, opened, on their trailer. “Help yourselves. I got a variety. Sure to be something you like.”

All offered their thanks. We chatted. For about an hour. Sipping our coffees, munching on donuts, listening to the dogs start their barking, the cats start their meowing, the basketballs start their bouncing and children start their playing.

By now Susan (wife, partner, all things bright and beautiful) had raised the shades and opened the blinds, a sign her Saturday had started quietly and peacefully, as all civilized Saturdays should.

I took the last swig of my coffee. “I’ve held you guys up long enough. Have a great day and don’t work too hard.” They offered grateful thanks. I don’t know if my neighbor was being charged by the hour or by the yard and I heard him comment that “Yeah, he’s a good neighbor” as I walked away.

Many Years Back…

…I would walk a mile in the mornings. This was before the donut shop appeared, our neighborhood was still young and grounds crews weren’t needed. One street on my route always had a bit of litter on it. After a week I decided to take a kitchen garbage bag with me and pick up the litter on my walk. There was an ice cream stand next to a ball park on my return route and I could drop the trash in their bins if I didn’t want to carry it back.

I noticed a young boy and his father on these walks. They also noticed me and we got in the habit of waving to each other as neighbors often do. The occasional “Howdy” and “Hello” and “Beautiful day for a walk” and such and nothing more.

Then one day I noticed them ahead of me on that street, garbage bags in hand, picking up litter before I had a chance.

A month or so later a few more streets looked cleaner as I walked.

Wicked Problems, Mundane Solutions

And while we’re busy waiting for the world to change, go buy a box of donuts for those who irritate you. Pick up some litter for no other reason than you like clean streets.

Note: This post originally appeared as the 6 June 2011 Economy of Meaning blog post (now defunct).

The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods)

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

 
Once upon a time, in a land almost too far away, there lived a tall, glorious oak. It wasn’t odd at all that a tall, glorious oak should live in this land for this land was a Woods. But this Woods wasn’t like any woods or forests you’ve ever seen before. Here the animals talked and flowers flew and trees moved wherever they needed. This was a magical Woods, unlike most others.

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

This tall oak watched all around her. She wasn’t old as oaks go in years, but she was a wise oak just the same. She had been an oak all her life. And all her life she had seen things in the Woods. Good things and bad things, sad things and glad things. And everything she saw she held deep inside, deep where the blood of trees flows from the roots in the ground to the high crown of leaves that brace the sky.

One of the things she’d seen often was the love of others for the trees around her. This made her glad. “Someday,” she thought, “someone will come and love me.”

She waited for some time, through many seasons in fact. But no one came. Many came through the Woods where she lived and spread her leaves, but all that came seemed to prefer the shade of other trees. The tall oak watched this and wondered, “Is there something wrong with my leaves? Or my bark? Perhaps I don’t shade the world as I might?”

None of this was true of course. The oak’s leaves were among the most beautiful in the Woods. Her bark was clean and smooth and ran straighter than many other trees. Her shade was a peaceful relief to the small creatures that sought shelter under her.

It’s magic, after all.

 
But all this wonderful oak saw was the scores of others resting under other trees. “Perhaps I’m too tall a tree?”

And so, despite the fact that she was a beautiful oak, she let her boughs drop to her sides and twisted her trunk slightly, trying to make herself smaller in the Woods.

Greetings! I'm your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. Members can view the rest of this post by simply Logging In. Non members can view the rest of this post by joining. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!