Thursday, December 2, 2010

Go with the Flow

“One thing flows into another… Before the rain stops, we hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.”

—Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

*            *            *

I’m watching clouds. Folding over the sun. Changing the mood of the day.

I see Mt. Fuji.
I see the wings of a dragon.
I see mist lifting off the mountaintops.

I’m watching raindrops slide down my window. Hurling at the glass. Blurring the clouds.

I see snakes.
I see crystal balls.
I see drooping flowers.

I’m watching trees shiver in the wind. Warping in waves. Howling when the current passes through bare branches.

I see a wakened wolf.
I see autumn sway to the breath of winter.
I see the last leaves of gold turn bronze.

I watch from inside. Wrapped in my fleece cloak. Sipping tea. Soaking in the steam from my bowl of noodles.

I look up. A friend smiles at me from across the table.

I can’t imagine the change of seasons any other way.

*             *            *

Go with the flow I tell myself. The clock ticks. The tick-tocks echo. A blank stare.

I take a breath. My breath is more like a sigh. I’m tired. I don’t think he understands me. I erase the board, a colorful diagram of future verb tenses smeared to oblivion.


The plan gets tossed. I look up from my thick pile of notes on English grammar.

“So, what are you going to do this weekend?”
Hesitantly, “This weekend I watch movie.”
“Oh,” I smile, “This weekend you are going to watch a movie!”
“Yes.” His face relaxes. He sits a little less formally in his chair.

I step away from the whiteboard. I close the textbook. A flashcard falls on the floor. Just person to person.

“What movie are you going to watch?”
“I watch Iamman.”

I wish he’d say I AM GOING to watch…Let it go…go with the flow…

“Iamman? Hmmm…I’ve never heard of it before. Is it a Japanese movie?”
“No, Iamman, you know it…Engrish movie…Amelican. He flexes his arm, gesturing strength.
“Iamman. Let me see. Do you mean I * am * man?”
“No, no…Iamman.” He loosens up. Smiles, flexes his arm again. “Iamman,” he repeats with confidence.

Pause. I think. I slump in my seat, comfortably settling into this guessing game.

“Iamman. Iamman. I * am* man?” again.

“No, no,” another flex. Now his lips curl upward at the corners.
That makes me happy.

“Hmmm…Iamman…You are going to see Iamman…Iamman…I am man…Iyomman…Iyonman…Iernman…Ironman…Iron Man!! Iron Man!! You are going to see Iron Man! Robert Downey Junior. Iron Man! Iron Man!” I can’t contain my excitement.

“Yes,” he says. “I am going to see Iylon Man this weekend.” A beautiful, grammatically correct English sentence in the future tense! Better yet, said with a smile and a chuckle.

He said Iylon Man, not Iron Man…wrong pronunciation…should I correct? Let it go. Go with the flow.

The clock tick tocks. The time is up. I flex my arm. I smile.

“Enjoy Iron Man.”

“Yes, I enjoy Iron Man.” He leaves the room with a bounce and saunters off into the evening.

My heart smiles. I walk into the winter-tinged autumn air, or is it the autumn-tinged winter air?
I inhale deeply.
Go with the flow.
We have a lot to learn from the seasons.


  1. Wow. That was lol and touching at the same time. Miss you!

  2. Thanks for reading. I'm glad I could make you smile!


  3. Beautiful words and photos! This really made me miss Fall! Those aha moments with your students are really great, aren't they?

  4. Thanks for reading Luisa. Yes, teaching can be so rewarding!