The Wandering Man: May/June 2014
May 21, 2014 03:08PM ● Published by Erik Dittmann
Onegaishimasu, how are you Matsu-san? Thanks for writing; as of this morning, April 16, there are 68 days of spring until the summer solstice. Doing countdowns is a waking up practice, an awareness practice. No, I'm not trying to leap ahead into another season. One season at a time resonates just fine with me; 68 days is a long time. If I count the other way, I'll end up close to Valentine's Day and remember all over again that I didn't receive a single valentine.
I think I've mentioned before about a thing called Thirty Thousand Days. That is the average length of a human life. I think how it works is to multiply 365.2 times your age at your most recent birthdate. Then you subtract that from 30,000 and you get a rough idea of how much time you have left. That's another wake up practice. For example, I have less than 7,800 days and my mother has already gone over her allotment. None of this is a given; life is a surprise.
You wrote in your letter that being in prison was like being on a raft that was floating you further away from a changing world you once knew; this 'further' may just be a delusion. The world is full of prisons of all kinds and much as we hate to admit it, sometimes we create them.
The library in Marshall is taking donations for their annual spring book sale. I've taken a boxful of books off of my shelves to make more room for the books I have lying around in every room of the house; it isn't spring cleaning, it's more like spring rearranging. The book My Return by Jack Henry Abbott is a hardcover used library book that I bought online. I chuckle as I put it in the box of donations, thinking of the twisted irony. Maybe I shall always wonder what happened to Jack Henry between his success of In the Belly of the Beast (which made the New York Times bestseller list) and subsequent downfall, which took him back to prison and his failure to recreate the success of Beast with My Return.
In the Zen tradition there are two sicknesses: one is the sickness that comes with success, the other is the sickness that comes with failure. I think it is better denoted as: there's the sickness we know about and the sickness we don't know about.
I like what you wrote in your letter Matsu-san, about noticing that when you engage in one activity like painting, drawing diminishes; when writing fiction soars, poetry shrinks. Multitasking is a true sickness of our times. Even though there are many birds and many stones available, "one bird, one stone" is the way to wake up.
And if the bird
is sitting on the stone?