Thursday, September 23, 2010

From bus to bus to plane to train…enjoy the journey…

Today is the fall equinox. Usually for me, this day passes like any other. My busy life topples over itself. One day I look up and watch a drop of rain knock the last red leaf off a branch. Snow sets in. I gather my acorns and hibernate.

“Travel slowly,” I read once on a flight to Japan. Wise words crammed against a magazine advertisement for neck pillows.

These days I’m discovering that it’s good to have a destination, but it’s even better to savor the process of getting there.

I cast another quizzical glance at my itinerary:

Goal: Get from point A (Kanazawa) to point B (Tokyo) in time for the wedding

Point A: Time of Departure from Kanazawa: 12:20 PM

Point B: Time of Wedding in Tokyo: 2:30 PM

To Do List for the hours between 12:20-2:30 PM:

1) Take a bus from my apartment to the train station in Kanazawa

2) At the station, somehow figure out how to buy a ticket for the airport shuttle bus

3) Somehow figure out where in the station to catch the airport shuttle bus

4) Get to the airport for the 12:20 PM flight to Tokyo

5) Land in Tokyo and find a restroom

6) Change into my wedding outfit and somehow not look like I got dressed in a public restroom

7) Once dressed, somehow figure out how to get on the monorail bound for station H. (I can’t pronounce the name)

8) Once on the monorail, somehow figure out which station is station H.

9) Get off the train, and somehow find the south exit at station H. What’s the Japanese word for south?

10) Somehow recognize the person who is picking me up from station H. and walking me to the wedding

11) Somehow get to the wedding before the bride gets married

I commit the steps to memory, but with every “somehow,” my anxiety level rises.

Suitcase in hand, I step outside my apartment, walk down four flights of stairs, and wait at the bus stop.

The air is cool.

A butterfly dashes by.

I get lost in the space between its flutters.

Maybe things aren’t so complicated after all.

I’m beginning to see my journey less as an obstacle course from point A to point B, and more as a series of moments flapping against moments that congeal over time to create a memory…

SCCRREEEEETCH…and I’m startled from my philosophical reverie…

The bus doors close. I’m not in them.


12:00 becomes 12:01

Will I make it?






I guess I’ll just wait for the next one.

*     *     *

*     *     *

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I often fear the unknown. 

But what lies in that space of uncertainty is possibility.

Can I reprogram myself to perceive without a program, without a set of assumptions or judgments?

Thinking about this question, I come across an answer:

“The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities.”

—Richard Baker
Introduction to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Embracing doubt and the unknown, I head to Daijoji Temple for an afternoon of Zen meditation.

It is cloudy, and the air is heavy with moisture. I meander through a garden of tombs, haunted by spirits from the past…

Demons chasing demons…

History hangs heavy on this weathered wood.

There’s a scent I can’t identify, and a sense I don’t understand.

But I’m curious.

In all my doubt and all my fear, I take a step with the wrong foot first.

Sitting in stillness, but moving on a circuitous path going nowhere in particular.

Three hours later, the grounds are still empty. The crickets swell in all the silence.

I stand on tiptoes to ring the metal bell.

Weighty reverberations and a hollow sky.

I head home with no feeling of closure or certainty.

Only possibility.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Imperfection is my teacher

“In doing nothing, in simply stopping, we can live freely and true to ourselves.”

From Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go (2007) by Thich Nhat Hanh.

When the urge to know surfaces, stop.

Get lost.

What’s good is bad, and what’s bad is good.

Trying to get home from Kanazawa Castle…

I got lost.

I got on the wrong bus, and I got off at the wrong stop.

I thought: this is bad, until I started walking.

I discovered the river path.

It’s so close to my apartment.

A beautiful path along the Asanogawa river lead me home.

This is what I discovered from making a mistake:

Imperfection is my teacher.