Praise, be grateful, my mind sails free
Thankful in mind I shall ever be
Choosing what I choose to see
Choose no distance from you to me
The grace of ages as I believe
Mind in mine, love’s Reality
The old man didn’t stand with the others
doing their tai chi in the park.
He chose to stand on the dragon’s spine,
that’s what he called it,
a narrow ridge trailing off downhill
away from an ancient twisted oak.
He said the tree was his teacher.
What has it taught you?
Name one thing, someone said.
Well, he said, I learned that
when I breathe out slowly, pushing
up from my Qi center,
near my navel, I think,
I’m sorry, but I can’t remember,
when I clear away the mean thinking
leftover from the drive to the park,
the breath that leaves my body
always comes back.
And so I asked the tree,
Is giving love and receiving love
like that? That equal measure thing?
Yes, the tree said to me,
just the same as breathing,
just the same as life.
My Uncle Gizz loved to say, “No matter where you go, there you are.”
It was his take on the old saw that holds to the notion that you can take the boy out of the country, but you aren’t likely to wring the country out of the boy.
Or, as Emerson wrote on the intoxication of travel in his essay “Self-Reliance”…
“I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern Fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”
To me, it’s not whether or not to go from the country to the city, or from New England to Europe, rather to be yourself wherever you are.
Noodling on all that, I wrote a poem.
Down the hill an acorn rolled
Until it struck a stone
So still it lay there, quite surprised
To find itself at home