The sounds from my kitchen as I am sitting here at my kitchen table. The sun to the east beating down on my left side, demanding my attention despite my resistance. I see my partial reflection in the window in front of me, my left side mostly. Left black eye glass frame, left nostril, left ear. Hair tussled. An oak tree stands behind my reflection.
But the sounds.
First, a bird.
Second, a plane – far off in the distance – miles away; Yet, it’s sound waves find my ear drums.
We really are connected.
Third, a car engine starting up, then driving off.
The birds silence for a few moments after that. Now, a few minutes later, I hear the birds again, their confidence returning. I hear the humming of the I-580 in the near distance.
A door closes downstairs.
The shadow of a micro flying insect darts over my journal, then disappears just as quickly.
The sun accents my gray hairs. Grays protruding, matched with subtle blondes.
I’m getting older. An aging butch.
To have patience with myself is to relieve suffering, according to Roshi O’Hara in the Fourth Talk on the Prajna Paramita, The Heart Sutra, recorded in the Village Zendo during a 2010 winter sesshin.
She also tells the story of travelers in the woods late at night who are trying to protect themselves from ogres and goblins. They become separated. One finds a hut and goes in for the night, but becomes fearful when he hears something pounding on the door. So he pulls the door towards him, keeping the ogre out, as the outside ogre fights to push the door in. All night long, they battle at the door. Then, at sunlight, the one inside pauses to peek through the crack only to learn that the outside ogre is his traveling companion.
Why are we afraid of ourselves?
An orange pumpkin to my left, on my window sill, catches my eye. It appears more vivid this morning.
The sun is relentless, almost shocking now, even for October.
The sound of a airline passenger ebbs and flows, catching a sound wave for only a moment, until it dissipates.
A car drives by.
A smaller plane flies over – loud engine, silencing its small ancestors in the branches of the oak tree.
Leaves fall from the oak, naturally – unheard – a silent death – a sacrifice.
My left ear feels hot from the sun, though really it is on fire from the life of this moment.