The Poetry of Ordinary Time – August 2 2020

The Poetry of Ordinary Time – August 2 2020

(originally published in April, 2013. Thanks again, Marie.)


There’s this guy in New York–I say it’s a guy, it could be a woman–last spring there was somebody who was drawing on the sidewalk in blue chalk. And all it said was “Happiness”–a big “Happiness” with a big blue arrow, “this way.” I would see these around and I thought this is terrific, this is really kind of wonderful. Like happiness is this way or that way. Then one day, I was waiting for my daughter and her friends to get off one bus, and we were going to get on another, and there was a big blue chalk that said “Happiness,” and then there was a big circle drawn on the sidewalk, and it said, “Here.” And everybody who walked by stood in the circle. And we did too. [ ] And you stood in the circle and you felt great. “Here’s where it is: the Thisness. Here it is.” And we were like, ‘Yay,’ you know; and people walked by and said, ‘Me next?’ And there was a poem there. That was a poem. Happiness here. Stand here.


an interview with Krista Tippett on On Being, April 25, 2013


There is much talk these days about being in the here and now, about getting present. Living mindfully.


How many of us, though, practice mindfulness? And how much of the time? When out in public it seems that most of us are on the phone or on the internet or texting or simply in speculation–wondering what’s going to happen in some future moment or worrying about some past event we wish had gone differently. What is it we miss when we allow ourselves these escapes from the present?


Life. The magic and wonder of nature, expressing itself for us, to us, through us. And happiness. Bliss being the very nature of nature itself. Sat-chit-ananda. Existence-consciousness-bliss. This is what the ancient rishis said of the universe, that bliss is the nature of our world and everything in it. Of ourselves and life and each moment, always, no matter what. Bliss. So that when we avoid the present moment, hiding out in our mind, in our busyness, in our worry and speculation and ideas of controlling what happens next, we also are missing the only place where happiness is available. Here. Now. Within me. 


And not just as one possibility among many, but in fact the very essence of what is. The Thisness, as Ms. Howe speaks to above. Isn’t that enough reason to choose the here and now?


Today I will open myself to the present moment, to the intelligence of my senses, and I will seek the hidden, the ineffable, the secret world that lies within the world. I will look for evidence of poetry in the way a body moves, in the way someone sips their coffee, in the way a young girl flips her hair or the way an elder pauses after closing the door of his car, gathering himself for the next moment. I will feel my feet against the ground and the breeze on my face and the cool as I walk out of the sun and into shadow.

Cactus and Buddha, backyard tintype, Studio City CA