respect everything

The other night in the zendo I felt movement on my leg. At first I thought it was just the fan blowing on me, but then the movement continued in a path up my leg. I tried to let it go from my mind, as I usually try to do with minor sensations that arise while sitting. Eventually the crawling stopped. But then about five or ten minutes later I felt it again on my arm, heading down toward my hand. Whatever it was must have circumnavigated my body. It reached my wrist, hesitated, turned around and began crawling back up my arm before finally moving off my skin, probably onto my clothes. I did not feel it again for the duration of the sitting period.

Afterwards we talked about sensations that arise during zazen and what to do about them, specifically what qualifies as something worth moving your body for, at the risk of becoming a distraction for the people sitting next to you. As someone pointed out, meditation is a good time to experiment with reactions one might not default to in everyday life.

In this case, clearly there was some type of insect crawling on my body and my first instinct in daily life would be to (a) look at it and/or (b) brush it off. The outcome of (a) would most likely determine whether reaction (b) manifests itself. If I saw that it was a mosquito or a large spider, I would no doubt immediately brush it off. I might even brush whatever it was off without first looking at it. The mere feeling of something crawling on me could provoke an action designed for instantaneous removal, at the risk of potential injury or even death to a living organism.

If last night I had jerked my arm when I felt the crawling sensation I would likely have disturbed the people sitting to my left and right. Knowing this I sat with the sensation and in turn experienced a curious response within myself. I felt connected to this insect of which I did not even have a visual image. All I had was the feeling of its legs as it moved in zigzag motions along my skin. I felt its uncertainty as it paused and turned back the way it had come. I felt a friendliness toward it growing as we momentarily shared the same space.

As Shunryu Suzuki once said:

When our life is based on respect and complete trust, it will be completely peaceful. Our relationship with nature should also be like this. We should respect everything, and we can practice respecting things in the way we relate with them.¹

¹Suzuki, Shunryu. Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen. Edited by Edward Espe Brown. New York: HarperCollins; 2003.

eastern tiger swallowtail

Worn late-summer Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Worn late-summer Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Note the faded and ragged wing tips, completely missing the ‘swallow tail’. They’re almost too degraded to identify the sex, but based on my other photos I think it’s a male. The light form of the female has much more blue on the hind wings. Still, it’s kind of a tough call.

Worn late-summer Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with bee companion, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Late-summer Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with bee companion.

life along a west virginia stream

© 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 1

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Ebony Jewelwing, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Ebony Jewelwing

 

Streamside Attraction No. 2, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 2

 

Wood Turtle, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Turtle

 

Wood Turtle, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Wood Turtle

 

Streamside Attraction No. 3, © 2016 S. D. Stewart

Streamside Attraction No. 3

ravine trail

The new trail opens up the wildest area in this urban forest oasis. Clusters of mushroom sprout from the center of the path. Few have walked here yet. It is high summer and the wood thrush yet sings. Cicadas offer up a constant backing drone. Point of fact: dogs don’t process the switchback concept. It conflicts with their innate knowledge of the shortest distance rule. As the trail climbs from the deepest shaded low point, the morning heat barges uninvited into the cool air space. Sounds of the nearby freeway intrude. As I struggle to adapt, a certain chorus tears through my head in response. This walk is soon over.

mole crickets

mole cricket (mōl) n. Any of various burrowing crickets of the family Gryllotalpidae, having short wings and front legs well adapted for digging and feeding mainly on the roots of plants. (Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed.)

External notes: Three species are invasive in the southeastern U.S. where they are noted garden pests. The Northern mole cricket is native to the eastern and central U.S., where it lives in grasslands, meadows, and prairie ecosystems.

Internal notes: After the fact, I heard about a cricket census in my geographic area. Citizens and scientists walked around one evening and noted all the singing crickets and katydids. I wonder if mole crickets sing when they are underground.

Anagrams into: Lick more, etc.

This was another fortuitous dictionary find. The dictionary continues to be a welcome source of solace. I want to crawl inside its pages and stroll around, maybe set up a lean-to near the binding and camp out for a while. There is so much to see! So many interesting little photos of wondrous things of every variety under the sun. So many new words to devour.

spring sprang sprung

With the year’s first sighting of cigar-smoking man (scroll to the bottom of that page for full enlightenment), we solemnly herald the official arrival of the so-called warm season (so-called by me, that is). Cigar-smoking man (or cigar-smoking guy, as he is also sometimes known) appears to be growing a beard. He was not in the company of his lady friend. I wonder if they are still an item, as they say (the other, more generic they, that is).

Warm season brings a slow shedding of clothing. An increase in flesh exposed to the sun’s rays. Perhaps even corporate nudity. Certainly tourists.  And what I fear most of all: mosquito death squads. It’s all too much.

What will I write about this warm season without sounding highly repetitive.

Wait, don’t read those other posts…it will all soon become painfully familiar.

peering out from dormancy

The recently sliced up confetti of old words sifts through my fingers as the primitive beats of old heavy music pulses in the other room. Winter is upon us, oh yes, with the wind and the snow and the sleet and the penetrating coldness. Every year the shock of how slowly real winter arrives here beats me about the head with a large stick come late December, early Januaryish. Cold fingers tapping on the keys, the chill of the glass in these windows, how reading in the sunroom suddenly means reading in the ice fishing shack. And how I become a grumbly old man, rug thrown across my lap, scarf encircling my neck, unwashed hair standing on end, burning words in my brain to stay warm somewhere, if not on the outer surfaces, then at least on the inner ones.

I still prefer it to the stifling madness of a city summer. I find it easier to get warmer than to get cooler. The lack of mosquitoes in winter thrills me. Sometimes I loiter in my front yard, teeth chattering, for the mere joy of not being eaten alive by those tiny flying demons.

The bitter cold purifies. Most living things die out there. Or go dormant. I go semi-dormant myself, though this state is not dissimilar from other times of year for me.

On cold days, humans appear on the street as rapid bundles of fabric. On hot days, humans appear on the street as languid loops of flesh. Take your pick.

I’m making good use of my vacation from the-place-that-shall-not-be-mentioned-by-name. In addition to copious reading, I’m indulging in a bit of paper management, something which I tend to ignore the necessity of for months at a time. This activity chiefly entails clearing off a desk I no longer use, famed dumping ground of mail that may or may not require saving and paper scraps scrawled with cryptic notations that I must now decipher in order to determine their value. But it also extends to shredding old writing: abandoned manuscripts, hard copies of blog entries, failed stories, and handwritten pieces that have since been either typed up or rejected. Destroying my own words gives me secret pleasure (well, it’s no secret anymore). So much of what I’ve written is dead to me, and I am merely finalizing that. The end of the year is a good time to do this. One desires a clean slate, at least on some levels. We are of course multi-slated individuals, and not all slates require erasing.

Yes, so here I am talking about the weather and my fascinating domestic life. It’s not what I wanted to write about, but I have not figured out yet how to write about what it is that I want to write about. Oddly enough this past summer was more fertile for that, so perhaps the heat is good for something after all.

Playlist for above activities and subsequent transposition into words:

Universal Order of Armageddon – Discography
Sleep – Volume One
Charles Mingus – Mingus Moves

these glowing chains

This morning downtown smelled like a lit fuse.

After lunch I went back to find more monarchs. They were keeping company with one raggedy-looking Common Buckeye. A monarch almost flew into my face. I watched it shove its proboscis into every single bloom. I considered staying there all day.

Wikipedia disambiguates firefox from foxfire. This irritates me more than it should.

I may change my name to Dirge Foxfire and start wearing all black. Soon after, me and my drum machine Phalanx will start a band to broadcast the coming of the end. Only the people who matter will hear our message, of course. Later I will begin to glow as my corporeal presence slowly fades.

Lit fuse smell caused by three-alarm fire.

peak monarch migration

I found this one and a few others fueling up across the street just now. Higher than usual numbers are traveling south through the eastern U.S., and apparently avoiding the dry Midwest on their way to Mexico. Let’s hope they make it, despite an even longer trip.

© 2012 S. D. Stewart

tenodera aridifolia = one riot, a failed raid

The One and The Other are on vacation this week. Or they may have time traveled or transcended reality or something. It’s hard to say for sure. They are unreliable narrators. I overheard them jabbering about surfing wicked eddies in the space-time continuum. As I left the room, I saw them out of the corner of my eye, a brief flash. I think they were holding towels. Perhaps they’re now cavorting with mattresses on Sqornshellous Zeta.

I saw many birds this weekend. Birds. Birds. Birds. I went to the park. Twice. I saw a Chinese Mantis (Tenodera aridifolia). It flew across my path and landed in a tree. Fun!

On Saturday night I played Bananagrams. I felt sure I’d win on account of all the anagramming I’ve been doing lately, but I did not. Win, that is. One of my opponents was a known fierce competitor. Fastest bananagrammer in the West, they say. Now, I’m an anagram purist and do not think you should be able to dump letters, even considering that you are penalized by having to take extras when you do. When I mentioned this I was accused of being difficult. I ended up screwed several times at the end of a round when I picked up everybody’s crappy discarded letters. I think I prefer Boggle and Scrabble.

Work is work is work is work is work. Bah. Read poetry outside at midday near the water. So many old white men in suits. Just wait until they get the corporate nudity memo. Bloated bellies, sagging flesh tubes, scraggly grey chest hair…THE WORLD WILL SEE IT ALL. No one will be intimidated again by your fetid air of combed-over superiority.

Reading again about how the lucrative used tire market is the nefarious cause behind one of my summer woes. Isn’t that a bitter pill. I can’t get over it. Me, who hates cars and doesn’t even own one. I dream of an apparently pre-1987 world where I could actually enjoy my deck instead of shrinking from it in fear for months at a time. Where assassins did not invade the sanctity of my home, lurking in the low shadows, inserting their proboscises into my flesh to make a blood withdrawal. Used tires? Are you kidding me?

So here I am with my brand new 1970s rec room molester carpet, my office looking much tidier as a result, the shaggy blunt brutality of Monday closing in on me. The horror, the horror. And those brats The One & The Other not even here to entertain me. Damn them.

This didn’t really go where I wanted it to go.

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources

  • BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS