Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn
By Wu Men Hui-k’ai
(1183 – 1260)
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
photo by Rose Cook
by Czeslaw Milosz
English version by Robert Hass
Original Language Polish
Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.
photo Rose Cook
an extract from Seneca’s spectacular 2,000-year-old treatise On the Shortness of Life:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough if you know how to use it.
photo Rose Cook
You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savour the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment.
Then you will begin to experience joy in life.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
‘I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talking about the options,
talking about sweet time.’
I asked him:
‘When it sank in
That this might really be the real end,
How’s it hit you
When you get that kind of news?’
‘I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.
I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishing
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again.’
And he said:
‘Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying,
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it.’
photo Rose Cook
naked I wear one
in my hair.
by Derek Mahon
How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart;
the sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.