Friday, December 6, 2013

Being Where You Are


A man passed by on his bicycle in the wee hours of the morning,
gloveless – and I know the bite of winter’s sting - so wondered
how long it would take him to get to where he’s going.

Maybe, while he peddles, he imagines himself elsewhere,
on a desert island perhaps, warmed by the sun, listening to the waves.
How hard it is, with time, to continue to “Be-where-you-are”
if your ability to Be
depends on where you are.

Thoughts arriving after reading this  poem I saw back in November:

If only
I could learn

to be
where I am

and not
where I want

to be.

   ~ ~ Tom Montag

Of course it all depends on what one means by "be".  And maybe, sometimes, the being Here or the being There turns out  the same, that 'everywhere you go, there you are' -  or are still not.  Come winter--in this neck of the woods, at least--a lot of folks just want to be in Florida.  These migrateurs en bon francais, or "snowbirds", as they're called, flock there by the thousands (between January and April, 700,000 Quebeckers head to the US to escape the snow.)

Once, while walking a neighbor's dog on a frigid January morning, my fingers and toes went numb and I began stomping my boots and punching my hands together, frantically  trying to get the circulation back. I was expending a lot of energy just reacting.  The phrase "Be the cold" arrived in my head and I suddenly stopped and calmed down.  I would get home soon enough, but for a brief moment I let go, as it were, and became the snow.  And everything changed.  Hard to explain, and I realize this sounds corny (becoming snow),  but the numbness suddenly seemed less painful, the fear of frostbite less pervasive; my focus swept from the panicky stomping to ... the snow-covered landscape, the bright blue sky, the crazy little dog now chasing a black squirrel. And I walked, not ran, on back home.  And the winters got easier.  Maybe it's all in how you see a thing.

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.
~ ~ Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
I believe I am in Hell, therefore I am.  ~ ~ Arthur Rimbaud 

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.  ~  ~ Oscar Wilde

 You can observe a lot just by watching.  ~ ~ Yogi Berra

I kinda got sidetracked here with the quotables..  My favorite Yogi Berra quote is:

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

It calls to mind another oft-heard saying, "When in doubt, continue driving" (rather than just randomly turning left or right  not knowing if, but hoping, you'll somehow get unlost) . Imagine yourself coming to a fork in the road ... and continuing just driving forward.  No one would, of course.  But not knowing if you should do this or that is a kind of fork in the road, and if you just keep going (Yogi's "taking the fork"), you're opting to not stay stuck.  You keep moving, but perhaps differently, more conscious of  when not to panic, when to stay the course, when to let go, when to get on with be-ing.  (Or something like that.). 

Thoughts on a  cold gray cloudy day, waving bye to some snowbirds.