A Real Stickler

comments 24
Poetry

“The way will be muddy
and seemingly alone,
even when
you find yourself in crowds,
even when all the refugees
are funneled together
through a narrow pass.
You will find yourself
trying to avoid
being crushed,
trying to avoid
being left behind,
trying to avoid
being starved,
trying to avoid
being plundered.
You may dream
of blue skies and sunlight,
but your path will wind beneath
overcast skies and sprinkling rain.
You may dream
of virgin landscapes and the perfume of flowers,
but your path will wind through
fog and muck along well-trampled trails.
The melancholy call
of an all-seeing raven
will be the only flavor
to your gruel.

“The way will not be
a hero’s gauntlet.
The decisive battle
you crave
will not come.
The chance to
pin yourself forever
to the field of stars,
to ignite meaning
with one swing of the sword,
with one ferocious assault upon a leviathan,
with one moment of participation
in a glorious last stand of heroes,
will not come.

“You will find yourself, instead,
in the sopping ditches
and ceaseless irritation
of a guerrilla struggle
with the many faces of suffering.
These you will find
beside
within
and across from you.
Instead of dragons, beggars.
Instead of bandits or pirates, scared vagabonds.
Instead of beasts, disease.
Instead of praise, silence.
Instead of sworn enemies, strangers.
Instead of bounty, paucity.

“The way begins
when you discover
that a hero
is not the right tool
for this job,
when you find
that you’ve been
missing the obvious
by trying to conform
your every experience
to the last chapter
you read
in that hero how-to book,
when you discover
you can permeate the mud and goo
surrounding you
with the radiant contents
of your heart
the way
magnetism can soak through an iron bar
and reveal its inner majesty.
The way begins
when you discover
Love has permeated you
in much the same way,
saturated you with a field of potential
ready to spring across
every seeming gap
and flood the world.

“The way ends-”

Whoa! Whoa!
What’s that!?
My one man audience
sprang to life,
sending his stool
flying, his arms waving wildly
as if to signal the premature
conclusion to a prize fight,
casting winged-shadows
upon the far wall.
“You had me
going that time,” he said,
“until that part
about how
it all ends.”

Then he stepped close to me.
He put one hand
on each of my shoulders
and gazed into me
as if a single, clear look
could compel
an entire desert to abandon
its belief in drought.
I tried not to think or flinch.
It’s hard, when an ocean
is pouring itself into a creek bed,
not to wonder what could happen.
Then he patted me on the shoulder.

“Let’s take it from the top,” he said.
“Again!”

I tell you what,
that guy is a real stickler
for getting it just right,
that Hafiz.

24 Comments

  1. Wonderful Michael. Two knockout punch surprises. For me it seems the journey will never end, especially when I keep trying to fix, solve, chase, etc The restless mind still needs taming by love.
    🙂

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  2. Ah yes. The Truth of infinity. It never ends. This reminded me of Satyam Nadeen’s awakening in the mire and mud of prison. It inspired me to contemplate the prison of this life – there is no escape. Ever. It was incredibly freeing to come to terms with that. Again. And again. And again. Each time a little easier. This is it!

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    • I think the issue is always thinking that what we need and desire is somewhere else, right? I think… one day, I’ll get there. Which one? 🙂

      There is a passage in A Course of Love where Jesus asks us to accept that we are eternal beings right now, and to welcome that “knowing.” It doesn’t mean we stop eating meals or washing our laundry. It just means we don’t set up an artificial barrier on the influx of grace, that we don’t convince ourselves that certainty and genuine inner knowing can only come through physical death.

      I think though, that from this type of acceptance there comes the freedom in which the daily lived experience begins to transform. No longer do we choose to see with spiritual sight because of what we think we’ll get out of that. Instead, we recognize there is no sight that is not spiritual. We witness the profound indwelling of spirit all around us, and then we’re in trouble, because I think it isn’t just a moment’s experience of the lights coming on. I think, perhaps, they just keep getting brighter and brighter… We cross over. Or we remain here. Or we leave and we come back. No matter… Suffering is no longer a variable in the equation. Our awareness of Love does not change. We dwell in perpetual revelation.

      This experience is so amazing… I feel like we’re moving in slow motion through the boundary layer at the interface between time and timelessness. With each breath, there is an added depth.

      Thanks as always for your bright presence here, Alison.

      Michael

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  3. Astounding. Has Hafiz moved within – is he typing with your fingers? The words rang so true and profound, I kept waiting for the credit to Hafiz (or one such known name) at the end – and soon afterwards, I became aware of the connecting mud radiating all about here this morning.

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    • I don’t know! I keep giving credit to Hafiz. While writing it seems so natural. I don’t claim to have any link other than a buoyant feeling when his name comes up. Back when I discovered Ladinsky’s translation-renditions, the same feeling came up, and there seemed to be a playfulness there that was accessible, that echoes a bit of the theatrical or playful that I find inside when I sit down to write. And then one thing leads to another. Pretty soon a pattern emerges. He seems willing enough to back me up.

      Then it sounds like he sprang into your heart, too, and with the arrival of his presence you find yourself radiating through the mud. Love’s boundaryless ambassadors are so sweet to encounter.

      Michael

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    • ~meredith says

      Maybe it was the way it rained while we played through it, out in the sand by the sea. What say you, sand-tossing shoveled?

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  4. ~meredith says

    (SHOVELER, touchpad, not shoveled!) Ergh! Technology keeps rewriting the intangibles… no matter. But remember when…?

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    • Yes, I remember… 🙂 A glorious time. Before we knew that rain was frowned upon by this establishment… When there were no appearances to preserve… When castles were made and destroyed with the same gusto…

      I love your line about technology rewriting the intangibles. That one is a gem glimmering in the sand…

      Michael

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  5. Joy upon joys to the rare man who has the courage to let his heart lead the dance. What a difference life makes when we learn to love the fog, or at the very least become comfortable with the navigation challenges it brings with it.

    I am all over the place at the moment, but I am recalling in your writing or commenting or something somewhere else about your recent gift of travel resources to family who have been not in the mode of generating in that way for themselves. There is some truth to not enabling, but also there is truth in the limitations of time available for connection. When one uses and shares resources sparingly in this way, I think the heart is in the right place. Not that my opinion matters all that much, but I think I would have done the same thing.

    I have a younger brother who did not have the funds to make a trip to California to meet his birth mum. I worked extra and backed the event financially and then the sister just under me and I went with him to give emotional support should it have been needed (other than a quick trip to the Getty, it turned out I spent the entire time in bed in the hotel coughing up a lung). Won’t give money for his cell phone bill though 🙂 .

    You are an excellent man living a strong life with honorable intent M. I feel blessed to have had you find my words and make a connection here. You do and gift good things in the world. -x.M

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    • Thanks, Maren. I so appreciate your taking the time to reflect and share, and reach into your own bag of past experiences. The amazing thing about all of this is the way it draws everyone to that moment of confronting themselves. No one else. Just me and my choices, and the reactions that surface like unearthed hidden pain, and what I find in all of that occasionally ensuing chaos.

      I’m grateful for the ability to engage here on a deep level.

      Michael

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  6. Hey Michael, I will admit that sometimes I don’t follow your words but you awake something really deep in me and all these feelings come up and I feel somehow happy and excited even when you write about suffering. Weird ha? This is why I like visiting 🙂 There’s something about u…
    Ah yes, You r unique 😉 xox

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    • Thank you. Your description reminds me of how I feel when I look at a beautiful painting, or a scene in nature. It is not readily understood in its parts, but it has a wholeness to it I can’t avoid feeling. It sounds like something is resonating for you, which is a miracle in its own way I think- to write something and attempt to translate a series of feelings and impressions into words, and then to see them received by another- it is quite humbling. Thank you for the kind words.

      Michael

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  7. Zara says

    True gems flow from this dear Michael….beautiful:)
    With much love
    Zara

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    • Thank you, Zara for the note, and for the company as we squeeze through the mountain pass and trudge across the bog. I see I failed to mention the urgent necessity of companions along the way… 🙂

      Michael

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  8. Hello Michael — thanks for finding your way to New Earth Paradigm and enjoying a recent post there. My husband and I recently delved into the Oneness material brought through by Rasha. We are gaining deeper perspective on our lives being lived and enjoyed moment by moment from a heart-centerd orientation. My “illusions of grandeur” for myself on the stage of life are being seen for what they are and released. If, indeed, I do not find love in the “trenches” or in the “beggar” or in my living room, then I run the risk of never stumbling upon it “out there — somewhere.”
    It appears that many “ones” are now discovering the truths toward which your beautiful words point. More and more of us seem to be salvaging our”selves” from our former vainglorious lives and finding more solid footing in the fields of our hearts. Many blessings to you for assisting us with shedding the excess baggage no longer needed for “props,” Alia

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    • Hi Alia,

      I am not familiar with the Rasha material, but the rest is sounding familiar… 🙂 You are so right about Love being present in the simple and the mundane, in our own living room, in our friends both new and old, and in the tea kettle, and not necessarily through grand, sweeping earthly pageants of miracles and celestial happenings. I think part of the gift of A Course in Miracles for me was the nudge to accept this type of realization as valid– the space between thoughts while folding laundry and the view of eagles flying over a waterfall at a national park are on a level, or can be. Thanks for sharing here…

      Michael

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      • In my earlier days when I still “ironed” things, I noticed many quiet moments. While I didn’t particularly like ironing, I enjoyed the peacefulness that came with the process.

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