Back to Basics

comments 26

I came in the door
grunting like a bison
with four empty stomachs
and a calf at home with a head cold,
dragged a toe on the threshold
and nearly sent five half-shredded bags
of heart healthy fruits and vegetables
two bottles of heart healthy wine
a heart healthy dark chocolate bar
and a glass bottle of the most perfect
most heart healthy cold-pressed olive oil
Mother Nature could produce
shooting across the floor
in a real-time cornucopia
of slime and color and shattered glass.
Then I caught sight of Hafiz,
sitting exactly where I’d left him,
with a pencil to his mouth
and a blank sheet of paper on his lap
and his eyes motionless, but open,
using the window as a metaphor
for actually looking around or something.
Apparently he hadn’t moved in hours–
it’s one hour each way to the grocery store
that has my chipotle marinade
and that Quintuple Chocolate Fracas ice cream I like,
and the bank isn’t exactly on the way
and I gave him a real smug look.
Plus I had to get gas.

What have you been up to?

I’ve been sitting here
enjoying a few hours
with the heart of Creation,
thinking of you, he said.

(I was softening up by the second.)

And to be quite frank with you, he said.
I’m exhausted.

Uhmmm– okay…???

(I made one of those faces like,
This means what…
you think too hard maybe…?)

Then he pulled a hot pink water pistol
out from between the seat cushions
loaded with a full clip of jasmine water
and really let me have it.
I forgot everything else
and dove at the gun
and the bottle of olive oil
rolled all the way across the room
like a perfect crescendo-building device
and we struggled like a pair
of semi-retired pistoleros
who’d foregone
any formal training in the martial arts
until we were laughing so hard
we couldn’t breath at all
except for little scoops of air
that sounded like
we were choking on whole mallards
and I remembered how badly
I needed what I always
already had

and still got lost sometimes
trying to find.


  1. A wonderful moment when everything seems to be falling apart, to take the time for a laugh with a friend to let one realize not to sweat the small stuff and oh yeah, it is all small stuff. Well that’s what they say anyway. I like to think the stuff is just that, empty poofs of cotton candy that stick to us and we frantically try to pry the gooey mess off only to find, carefully licking it off is so much more fun. Thanks for the fun visit with Hafiz. He reminds me of my life, as people say “as soon as you’re done playing”, and i’m thinking, Is that what I’m doing? I thought I was having me time creating….now go about your business and let me play already….you know? Yeah, I think you do 🙂 Peace, love and I do like the dark chocolate….perhaps I shall go indulge in a piece from the fridge. 🙂 K

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, Kim, it’s all small stuff when you get right down to it. When you see it for what it is and what it isn’t. Playing is essential at any age and it transforms the doldrums into moments of spontaneity and creation as you note. Also I think we can get a little wrapped up in the idea that we should be being productive all the time, to the point we forget that the moments in which we are simply in peace, and sharing joy, and having fun, are the levers Creation pulls to transform the whole. I think you know this well… You are always holding the space to create… I hope you had a piece of dark chocolate after all!


      Liked by 2 people

  2. Michael, your ability to seek out and enjoy games with Hafiz amazes me. 🙂 Hafiz seems to appear there here and everywhere at the same time. He shows up at my house once in a while insisting it is time to play duck-duck-goose and not to go to bed. And he carries same water pistol here too. Last night he wanted me to try and eat some skunk spray flavored jelly beans, and when I insisted I just wanted the fancy dark chocolate, he reached for that water gun and reminded me perhaps it is best go with the flow. 🙂
    My children, and learning with them, and one of my favorite parenting books, “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence J. Cohen endlessly teach me of the endless possibilities and creativity of play, the greatest healer and equalizer. We grow up, we pretend we are not interested in climbing the trees and swinging on the swings anymore so we come up some other games that we pretend are not games at all or are oh so much more important.
    The special sauce part made me laugh, because my friend and I always enjoy this story of how her husband, who loves cooking, insisted driving 6 hours one way some place in Michigan (with screaming kids in the car) to get this special barbeque sauce which you cannot get anywhere else. Makes you wonder if it is the process of getting it that is more addictive than the sauce itself.
    Thank you so much for these beautiful reminders to get back to the basics, and have a playful week. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kristina,

      A few months back I consumed one (1) flesh-colored, vomit-flavored jelly bean with little red dots in it. This is no small feat. But vomit at least wasn’t designed by Nature to make you turn the other direction and never, ever, come back. The skunk spray flavor sounds absolutely vile. I’d be sitting there chewing, probably crying, fighting to stifle my body’s perfectly intelligent autonomic responses to the situation, while my mind would be trying to create a diversion by wondering how many skunk beans must be consumed in a year to justify the R&D costs.

      And I love to hear the stories you share of your kids playing and growing and learning. Somehow just hearing about them evokes a feeling of sweetness and joy. Hafiz is surely in the midst of such moments, stirring the pot, whispering jelly bean flavors in their ears, directing attention to the branches where the birds have just arrived to sing their songs.

      I have to say that six hours is too far for any sauce with which I’m familiar. There must be a bet involved here we don’t know about. Or a dare. Or as you say, just the love of traveling beneath the sky, just because… I can relate to that, too… The screaming kids calls it into question, however… 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

      • Truthfully, I have no clue how or why someone in the world came up with the idea of making vomit or skunk flavored candy. They did not stop there either, the box that kids had included stinky socks, baby wipes, rotten eggs, grass clippings, moldy cheese, canned dog food, etc. After I read your comment, I surveyed the kids as to which one was the worst (trying to be scientific here). The vomit and the skunk tied for the worst. So… if you are forced to do this next time, I say go with the grass clippings. 🙂
        Love your writing. The bison line and the little phrases “the bank isn’t exactly on the way” are hilarious.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Kristina,

          I could be way off, but in my own theater of experience, it was the Harry Potter movies and the scenes on the train of the young wizards eating all those absurdly-gross jelly beans that got this ball rolling, or at least brought it to commercial life. I thank you for the courage you have displayed in conducting an impromptu scientific survey of the matter. Very excellent work. I will go with the grass clippings, and I can say I’ll have no idea if it tastes “right” or not… 🙂

          Thank you again. I’m glad the writing is enjoyable. Yours is, too. It’s these little observations that make life so intriguing. The bank is never on the way…

          Happy Candy Eating!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one of my favorite posts Michael. I’m laughing along with you and Hafiz, remembering I might need a few belly laughs and squirts myself. 🙂 You paint so vividly with your words. Thanks!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Brad! I think it’s good once in a while to throw caution to the wind and break up the momentum of things… The basic water pistol is a lost art, completely overwhelmed by the Super Soakers and the Water Cannons that can hit a thrown penny at thirty yards and automatically correct for wind direction, elevation and relative humidity…

      To old school!
      To playing with pieces of wood!
      And riding bikes that you actually couldn’t lift with one finger!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    We do get so caught up in day to day goings on…banks, gas stations, getting things done. Who doesn’t love a good belly laugh?! I love that deep, gulping, can’t breathe, out of control kind of laughing. No breath, “except for little scoops of air that sounded like we were choking on whole mallards.” That totally cracked me up, just reading that. And a squirt gun full of jasmine water? Yes! Bring it on! Gotta remember that one. And I have to remember, “I needed what I always
    already had and… still got lost sometimes trying to find.”

    I love this. I’m glad you said sometimes, because I think mostly we know what we have. Don’t you?

    Love and Happiness,

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Mary,

      Yes I do think we mostly know. We just get a little confused sometimes. The little things we give so much attention to pile up into faux monsters and crushing circumstances. Nothing like a good water gun duel to bring a bit of much-needed clarity and crack things open. I’m glad you liked the duck metaphor…! I thought you might!

      The thing about those old water guns is they were all poorly constructed and unreliable– they never shot straight for one thing, like the act of pulling the trigger dragged everything in front of the gun three feet to the left– and so you really couldn’t be good or bad with them! When you take the more-or-less out of the equation, you’re forced to just have fun with it… You discover you can just enjoy it for what it is. I think life is a little like that. Fire away…!

      Love and Happiness returned.


  5. Oh Michael! I am sitting here and noticing how I am feeling after I read this post. I think you have such an incredible style of writing, and I am always able to find a lot of me in what you write about….but there’s more. Yet, there’s more. I am sitting here enjoying that feeling that you’re writing gives me, it’s something like the feeling of having the time of your life.

    And yes, there’s more, lo and behold you close with

    I remembered how badly
    I needed what I always
    already had
    and still got lost sometimes
    trying to find.

    and the evening is perfect and I whisper to myself, I get where you are coming from.

    Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 4 people

    • Harlon, my friend in whom I likewise find echoes of who we’ve always been, thank you for the kind words. You have made my evening, I know that much. I conclude with delight: this is the time of my life…!

      I love what we do here in this WP land—sharing words with one another that set off chain reactions of warmth and curiosity and insight. It’s different than having a direct conversation in a way. In some ways perhaps even more profound. It’s a little like digging up some part of yourself, setting it up just right, adjusting the lighting and the props, then opening the curtain on the stage to your heart. Allowing yourself to be seen. This is what’s in here. Do you see? This is who I am…

      It helps to have an audience who knows the proper response to any plot twist whatsoever, is love.


      Liked by 2 people

  6. This is great, Michael, and I felt I enjoyed reading it even more a second time when doing so at a fast pace. I like the attempted guilt assuaging as regards the Quintuple Chocolate Fracas ice cream. I do that myself – have an organic green tea in the morning then feel I have license to go crazy the rest of the day.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You go, Hariod!

      It’s all about totaling up the points isn’t it? (Sadly.) A green tea, a slice of black forest cake. An act of deprivation, an act of excess. A glass of beer, do the dishes. Work late, stop for that doughnut on the way in the next day. I can’t even stand it anymore. All the app’s that are tracking my progress on the perpetual path to self-improvement. So I’m focused on the bigger picture now.

      Behaved well in my last life, so… you do the math. 🙂

      Much Love

      Liked by 2 people

        • Dear Hariod,

          You know better than to ask such questions here, no?

          I think the subject of karma would perhaps make a great follow-up dialogue topic for you and I, since I often wonder whose karma it is anyways… but in briefer form here, I believe in two types of karma—neither of which may be the kind to which you refer. The first type of karma in which I believe is the type that says the ultimate “ending” for any being is in the heart of Love. Regardless of what choices and pitfalls may arise along the way, Love’s net catches all, even those that judgment and righteousness would throw over the side. This is the idea that there is nothing any being can do to escape the destiny Love has prepared for them, though they can (and often do) put up quite a fight.

          The second type of karma is perhaps less absolute, and it is the idea that our choices and our beliefs, both individually and collectively, yield a momentum in the quality of our experience. I’m not sure what you are asking about the cake/doughnut level. Perhaps you’re asking if I think eating cake and doughnuts all the time may have consequences? I think absolutely, but the outcomes are linked to such a wide array of factors that I think it is naive to create a table of “if this, then that” relationships in our mind. I am reminded of the yogis who have consumed large doses of psychedelic drugs without any effects on their consciousness for instance. Some people eat doughnuts all their lives, or smoke cigarettes all their lives without ill effects. Others are not so fortunate. We could argue genetics but my opinion is that at a deeper level the fears, anxieties, bitterness, disappointment and anger (and so on and so forth) that we harbor is debilitating, and it trickles into all the rest. I think some would argue that our genetics are as much the product of this type of karmic momentum as the other way around, meaning that genetics are to a certain extent malleable in their expression and adaptation to the circumstances of one’s life.

          Am I making any sense? Am I close to your question? I love your question by the way.


          Liked by 1 person

          • This is great, Michael, and you’re quite right, it perhaps needs a lengthy exchange. It has to remain something of an open question – that much seems clear – but I think it’s an interesting subject. Even many of those who’ve no interest in religious cosmology or seemingly supranatural/metaphysical ideas seem also either to accept, intuit or suspect some sort of karmic equation is going on behind the scenes. I was just being fatuous with cake-doughnut level – sorry my friend.

            Let me know if you want to have another off-blog exchange, with a view to cobbling it together for a post should anything makes sense. No guarantees of any sense being made of it all on my side! o_O

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hariod,

              I think another off-blog exchange sounds fun! I may need a week or so to finish a previous commitment I’ve just begun before I can give it the attention it deserves. I’ll likely not make any sense either, so it should be an adventure… 🙂


              Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed the interaction between you and Hafiz. We get so caught up in shopping for food, trips to the bank, etc., etc., good to see it in perspective with humor which comes across here loud and clear.
    Thanks for the lift and love,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ellen. Perspective is absolutely vital. When I lose it, I lose my bearings. I stumble and falter and mumble. Or go quiet while on the inside I am peeled thin and ghostly. Those are the days my inner Hafiz pulls out the trampoline, a clipboard and a whistle, and points out all the helping hands that are hanging down from the clouds. You just have to jump a few times to build up some energy so you can grab hold of one! They offer incredible perspective!

      Don’t ask me what the whistle is for. Ha!

      Glad you felt lifted. I did too.


  8. Laughing! The imagery in this is exquisitely wonderful, especially the first stanza. And of course the closing is a lovely reminder – we always already have it. I too still get lost sometimes trying to find it. Well, of course, if we’re trying to find it we’re lost by definition 🙂
    much love, Alison

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Alison.

      I agree with the logic of those definitions. If we’re not lost, we’re at least confused. Ha! They can be a trap, though, can’t they!? Like what’s the point of telling yourself you already have something when you distinctly feel as though you don’t!? To get from one side of the logic to the other (from disconnection to connection, or the logic of misperception to the logic of truth) always seems to require at least a moment of navigating the insane. Humor works much better for me in this regard than crushing darkness… Though they both have their place… Everything that carries us across that gap has its place… 🙂

      Love to you and Don,

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks. I needed that! I also keep wondering what a calf at home with the head cold would think of all this. I imagined that calf watching this, then maybe diving into the ruckus. I bet that calf feels better now, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi JoAnna,

      I hope the calf feels better now, too. Yes I agree! And you are absolutely correct… I forgot to mention that in the scrum that broke out the calf in question drew a mini water pistol from an ankle holster and dove right into the action. Finding the device clever, but futile, an upgrade was made to water balloons!



  10. It is often our ability to laugh and see the funny side of things.. I am thankful that Hafiz got to wrestling in belly laughs..:) and can just imagine the mess 🙂 Thank goodness for Pink Water Pistols ….. ‘Draw’
    Hope you are having a good week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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