« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

February 2011 Archives

February 4, 2011

The Dream of Life [Revisit]

Today I found out a friend of mine, his partner of 35 years together had passed away 2 weeks ago. My heart trembles. He mentioned to me that his partner has been ill for the past 10 years and that he's been taking care of him all this time, but this was still all too sudden. My friend and I aren't close, but we somehow bonded in a fairly short amount of time. My heart breaks when I heard about the funeral arrangements and everything that involved. He said his partner requested to be cremated. I remember the time I was asked to 'push the button' when it was my grandmother who was lying in the casket...

Looking at my old blog this afternoon, I came across an entry from April 2, 2007...

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

The image of a human life as a small skiff on the wide waters of the world has been around as long as people have had boats, and the thought of that life is a dream is no news flash either. But what does it mean that there is something happy, maybe even beautiful or consoling, in thinking so?


This world we are born into--this complicated, difficult, haunting touching world--is the one whole thing. It is the world we awaken in, and awaken to. Our awakening is made of this world, just as it is. It doesn't come from some other realm like a bolt from the blue, and you don't go to someplace else when you awaken. Awakening is not a destination, and meditation is not a bus ride. Awakening is the unfolding of an ability to see what has always been here. To see, more and more reliably, what is actually in front of you.


We're awfully lucky that life isn't a monologue. There is so much that is unexpected and unplanned for, and those are the things that can make all the difference: raising a child you didn't give birth to, helping an elderly neighbor as she's dying, spending time in a foreign country because you fell in love with someone who lives there. Sometimes these things fall like grace from some unanticipated cloud, and sometimes it's more like a meteor plowing into us. But the world is filled with stories of how hardships and difficulties can pull us deeper into life, if we let them; they can bring us heart and soul in a way the easy life never could.

In this dreamscape of a world, heavens and hell realms are a thought or a phone call or a news broadcast away. Children turn into adults you never could have imagined they carried inside them. The sky over the sea is full of pelicans, and then they almost disappear, and now the sky is full of them again, because humans started using DDT and then stopped. On any morning, what happens on the other side of the world can make you weep over your breakfast.

Perhaps, after all, we shouldn't take our lives so personally, shouldn't think of them as the monologue of busy and insistent and separate selves. Perhaps we are made up of landscapes and events and memories and genetics; of the touch of those we hold dear, our oldest fears, the art that moves us, and those sorrows on the other side of the world that make us weep at the breakfast table. The astronomer Carl Sagan used to say that if you really want to make an apple pie from scratch, you have to start with the Big Bang.


But which I mean, to experience the dreamlike quality of life is to understand that there is something mysterious at the heart of things, something we can't figure out or get control of. It's a mighty big ocean whose surface we skim. If we lean back into that experience, we're more and more at peace with what isn't certain, and less and less in a chronic state of complaint at what W.H. Auden called the disobedience of the daydream. We spend so much time disappointed in life for being life. But as we feel less and less resistance to things as they are, as peace grows in the midst of uncertainty, kindness is not far behind. We're not at war with life so much anymore, and that is a kinder way to be. When we're not fighting with life, or turning away from it, joining in seems to come pretty naturally. Someone is hungry; it's time to make dinner. An election turns out badly; where do we go from here? When we're aware of the dream of life, we know that we're part of its co-creation whether we act or not.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

The word merry came from roots meaning "pleasing" and "of short duration." This poignant life, so fleeting and yet made entirely of eternal moments--this is the dream we are making together, this is the dream that is making us, and that is the one whole thing.

Text: Joan Sutherland

Peace. To all.

xo, r

February 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma

I think you would have liked this track very much. I miss you grandma...


Currently listening:
佛光山 Buddhist Monk Choir - 觀音聖號 (五音調)

February 25, 2011

Untitled 0187*

Wow, an old Flash file that I dug up...


Currently listening:
Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie - Snowfall

About February 2011

This page contains all entries posted to The Beauty of All Things in February 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

March 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.