Instructions for the Journey
The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don't grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It's easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.
And if all that fails,
wash your own dishes.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
- Pat Schneider
Olive Street Transfer
Tea for You, Too
I want to tell you
that in general things
are all right with me,
Just a second, here's Einstein
asking where the tea is.
I reassure him
it will be ready soon,
and he shuffles back
to the room that holds him,
with plenty of space
for that cup of tea,
even though the cup
is twelve feet in diameter,
about the same size
as my thinking of you
- Ron Padgett
Yamaoka Tesshu, a samurai and student of Zen, traveled around Japan studying from various Zen masters. One day, he wandered into the Shokoku Temple and happened upon the monk Dokuon.In a desire to show his comprehension of Zen, Tesshu stated to the Master, "The mind, the Buddha and all beings are empty. The true nature of all things is emptiness. There is no enlightenment, no delusion; no sages, no commoners; no toil, no reward."
Master Dokuon remained quiet for some time and then banged him on the head.
Tesshu fumed in anger and asked, "What did you do that for?"
Master Dokuon replied, "If everything is empty, where did the temper come from?"
"But there isn't actually a most beautiful person in the world, because there are so many kinds of beauty. Some people love roundness and softness, and other people love sharp edges and strong muscles. Some people like thick hair like a lion's mane, and other people like thin hair that pours down like an inky waterfall, and some people love someone so much they forget what they look like. Some people think the night sky full of stars at midnight is the most beautiful thing imaginable, some people think it's a forest in snow, and some people . . . Well, there are a lot of people with a lot of ideas about beauty. And love. When you love someone a lot, they just look like love."
- Rebecca Solnit
Love comes quietly,
about me, on me,
in the old ways.
What did I know
able to go
alone all the way.
- Robert Creeley
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
- Derek Walcott
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