Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy

Unhappiness:
Wishing things were other than they are.

True happiness
 exists as the spacious and compassionate heart's willingness
 to be at peace 
with whatever is present.

Expectations
can be the biggest source of unhappiness;
People just don’t behave as we expect them to;
Events just don’t happen as we might wish.

Taking Joy in life as it is
is key.


Outcast

I discovered
 a hidden joy,
even power,
in being an outcast,
a so-called heretic
from my institutionalized religion.

We should all have ways
in which we feel that we stand outside
the circles of religious power.

Moving out
beyond institutionalized religion’s do’s and don’ts
can be they key to knowledge and experiences
that are not available in the inner circle.

When I stopped trying so hard to fit in,
I discovered new horizons,
freedom,
and the power
to grow.

Honor



The religion in which I was raised
was always deeply tinged in self-denial.
Its core values, which included pride, dignity, and legitimacy,
were inseparable from the self-loathing
 that wracked me
when I yielded to impulse
and violated the religious rules of behavior
imposed on me.

Eventually I had to learn that
a desire to protect my honor,
not fear of punishment,
was my best driver.

The ancient Greeks and Israelites
were more concerned with rules of ritual purity
than with good conduct.
It was okay to rape your slave, for example,
but not during her menstrual period.

Proof of personal honor in many of today’s religions
 even today
is the brutal control
exercised over the reproductive behavior of its members.

Darker still,
is the imposition of strict, punitive religions.
Fear of an angry god
(crafted in the image of angry human masters)
is used to control subordinates
who lack an internal code to control themselves.

My decision to move on was transformative.
If happiness is knowing the right thing and doing it,
then I had found it.

Without personal honor shaping my sense of right,
freed from religious tyranny,
true happiness would be hard to imagine.

In Passing

Unless I was in a new place
or experiencing something I perceived as extraordinary,
I’d breeze right by.
I’d go on with my day, eyes on my to-do lists,
asleep
to the—ordinary—splendor around me.


Cultivating creativity for me began with
paying attention,
even to the mundane, commonplace and boring.

In order to write poetry
I needed to be alive,
alive to both my external and internal surroundings,
 to everything from the inside of a flower to the inside of my heart.

I had to learn to use my senses,
savor the spices in my supper,
one tiny bite at a time,
smell the rain (and maybe even taste it),
look at the angles of a room,
at the angles of a face,
stare at the sky,
linger longer at the library,
feeling a book’s firm spine,
running my fingers over my favorite words,
and catch conversations in cafes, grocery stores and doctor's offices.

I had to begin peeling back the layers,
one by one,
of big and small things,
of love, lunch, lackluster emotions, early mornings.

I had to learn to capture the nuances of everything
from a stranger's perfume to a slice of apple pie.



I was never trained as a poet.
I've never taken poetry lessons.
I've never had workshops.
Nobody taught me anything,
really much.

But I think poets didn't come out of a classroom,
that poetry began when somebody walked out of a cave
and looked up at the sky with wonder
and said, Ahhh.

To pay attention,
I simply get curious,
curious about everything.
I ask questions.
All kinds of questions.

Thus is my time on earth filled with glory.

Intently looking and listening
boosts my life.
The moment I give close attention to anything,
a tree, a flower, a leaf, a bug,
it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

And, thankfully, all of us have this ability.
All we need to do is open our eyes
and pay attention.