Three preceptors have told me three different stories recently, and I consider them as I wash down the little stand – full of construction grime – to make myself a sink for shaving.
One told me: “you are fearless: I have always appreciated that about you.”
And one said, “you are soft,” which others have said of me. They are to be taken as words of praise from Buddhist lips, or from a poet's, I suppose.
And yet another said, “but there's no problem!”
Of course there is a problem, but – I translate – what if the problem is not what I think it is? What if a person with one sweep of the arm cleared the table – books and papers and dishes flying – and simply started over?
I have let so many nets of expectation, so many interpretations of my duty, settle over me; I have developed so many habits of thought and action for fulfilling or evading them, that I can no longer see through it all. They don't just color my world: they make it. But there is a real world out there, a world of red leaves, and shifting sunlight, and ants with ticklish stomachs, that cares nothing for my obligations.
Theodore Roosevelt's uncle was the man who arranged for building and fitting out the Alabama, in England. I never knew that.
Over there, the heads of two Douglas firs stand against an October sky the color of old snow. The trees are an old, tired black: the black of a belt that is fading a little, going a little green. They don't move.