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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2009 69 art dealer paul Durand-Ruel, he once wrote: “everything is pigeon- throated and punch ablaze. It’s wonderful.” As Monet chronicled, no time is more alive than the intimate now, where truths are eternal. Our sense of time changes as we grow, from the elongated days of childhood to the quickening years of old age. We pass through different time zones. Children digest more information, and faster, than adults, and since everything is new, and much of it flashy, there’s a bundle to slowly process. The elderly sense the world with a slower metabolism, and they find fewer surprises, so life seems to stream by. Increase anyone’s metabolism—with a shock for instance, and adrenaline pours to handle the emergency. Then the brain speeds through informa- tion, since any detail may count. Time slows down. This is also the world of predator and prey. It’s odd picturing other animals exist- ing in their own private time zones, but I think they must. More than anything else, what we pay attention to helps define us. With what do we choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of our life? That question comes painfully and late to some, to many only on their deathbeds, and to others, like me, repeatedly and deniably over the years (especially so if one is raising a family), and then repeatedly but less deniably. how one soothes oneself then takes different forms. Myself, I have been a restless sleep- er, waking often through this dream, then plunging back into a death-denying sleep. With the death of parents, the looming death of a spouse, the death of younger friends, it’s hard to sleep quite as soundly. I wake, and when I do the beauty of the world, however fleeting, fills me with an incontestable joy that leaches right into my bloodstream. I need only allow it in. born into a world of light, my senses mature and will decay. but until they do they are the gateways to the mysterious kingdom in which I find myself, one I could not have imagined, a land not really of hope and glory but their opposite, yet no less beautiful for that. We exist as phantom, monster, miracle, each a theme park all one’s own, and mainly unknowable in the end, not just to others, but to ourselves as well. I often think about the charade of trying to capture a self in a mirror. One day we feel like the toast of the town, the next day the hoax, one moment flighty, the next fully present for and part of life’s contrapuntal fugue. Think about the lunacy of the moon landing, the lunatic fringe of wild loons on a lake in the Aleutians. A word is a kind of pebble in the hand, at once irri- tant, worry bead, reminder. Nothing surpasses the single suchness of this moment. presence is always a present, a gift, intransitively given, in some stage of unwrap, waiting to be explored. Just show up. That’s all we have to do, that’s all I do when I am fully present, for good or bad, right here, right now, without think- ing about work or recess. A sleeper can wake and be lured out of bed by the sorcery of the sky as day is dawning. Time well spent. After all (or more accurately, during all), I may not live to the end of this sentence, to lift my felt-tipped pen and settle a tiny black dot on the page. I did. but that was then and this is now, the ripening dawn. ♦ Reprinted from Dawn Light: Dancing With Cranes and Other Ways to start the Day, by Diane Ackerman. © 2009 by Diane Ackerman. Published by W.W. Norton & Co. TibeTan nuns ProjecT 2010 Calendar on Sale Now! Photographs taken by the nuns and staff in Dharamsala, India Support refugee Buddhist nuns by purchasing our 61⁄2”x 7”wall calendar, filled with beautiful color images of Tibetan life and culture, as well as inspiring quotes for each month. Includes Tibetan lunar calendar and ritual dates. $10.00 + $1.50 s&h per calendar (in WA add .95) ORDER NOW u www.tnp.org email: firstname.lastname@example.org u phone: 206-652-8901 We accept VISA, MasterCard & PayPal 619 Western Ave. #22, Seattle, WA 98104 Tibetan Nuns Project is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization