January 27, 2013

The Best Answer Is Found When We Are Lost.

Feeling lost could be an interesting spot to discover ourselves.

Within the melancholy or even hysteria, we might bump into something large—a vastness that is always present, deep, and near—just beyond the walls of who we think we are.

This spaciousness doesn’t really care about how nice we look or whether it is cloudy or clear; rather it seems to just relish the unknown while it flows equally through what appears porous and impenetrable. This openness is the reality that is always listing just beyond our notions of being lost or found, dead or alive, happy or sad, good or bad. When we are lost, we are given an opportunity to move past the smallness we hold on to, to step into what is overarching and present.

Here are two poems by Edward Thomas and Shiki about what we might find when we journey mindfully through the unknown:

But the call of children in the unfamiliar streets
That echo with a familiar twilight echoing,
Sweet as the voice of nightingale or lark, completes
A magic of strange welcome, so that I seem a king
Among men, beast, machine, bird, child, and the ghost
That in the echo lives and with the echo dies.
The friendless town is friendly; homeless, I am not lost;
Though I know none of these doors, and meet but strangers’ eyes.

~ Edward Thomas, “Good-Night”

Autumn wind arrives
we are alive and can see each other,
you and I.

~ Shiki, “Autumn Wind”

As Thomas moves from the countryside into a friendless town, he smiles at the sound of life—children at play, work, bird calls, bartering, a domestic argument and boisterous laughter from the village pub. Without thinking about who he is or what he must do or why things are as they are, the poet immerses himself into the symphonic cacophony that is somehow entirely harmonious—the universal stew that flows past the woods, across the cobblestone streets and right through his mind: “(though I may appear lost) homeless, I am not lost… (I am home, in the midst of infinity).”

This is the sense of intimacy we could feel when we let go of our created dream worlds to step into the life that is here. Letting go and accepting the now might make for the most wonderful kind of journey through this life.

Shiki strikes the same chord as well in his haiku, “Autumn Wind.” Shiki is lost in a sprawling scene of mountains next to a bubbling brook. He is lost, he doesn’t know who he is, and the autumn wind is there to accompany him into the chilly evening lighting. He recognizes this and profoundly realizes that he is alive. Being lost in a wood, in the midst of infinity, he is alive and can see the universe in what inhabits the same moment he is experiencing. He smiles and nods to the life that is here. This is the same intimacy Thomas describes, and we might feel it too when we let go of our thoughts and opinions to relish the infinite reality that is always here.

Intimacy means presence and that same smile and nod to the fact that we might always be lost and that this sense of being lost could be the most wonderful thing to accept in this life. We might let go of what was once small, good, comforting, and important, to embrace vastness, the inconceivable and the ever-present sense of joy and intimacy that flows with the tides of impermanence.

Where is Shiki’s nod in your life?


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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