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My Gold Streaked Shadow

From exuberance, I talk too much when I should be practicing noble silence, our form of using functional speech sparingly. What am I yammering on about? Where is it coming from? There is a dark shadow, but in that dark shadow is also a streak of gold.

I talk from, Zazen, tea ceremony, sutra study, Buddhist philosphy, activism, calligraphy, creative writing, running, hiking, yoga and I even made a damn clay tea bowl, thinking I'd do that once a month, too,

My resume is ridiculous: Mason, Carpenter's apprentice, Dog musher in Alaska, English major, Middle School Teacher, National Park Ranger, Monk. These were big ideas.

Invited to a weekly Tai-chi class, I can barely contain myself. I won't be going, but I'm white knuckling for some rest.

And I love it all. If you asked me to not have done something, I'd ignore that. If you ask me to stop some of my hobbies, my attachment balks at the lack of diversity, the boredom, the static and stale day in and day out nightmare.

What's the shadow? I call it dilettante. That word makes me cringe and want to spit hot fire. And that smoke signal of suffering lets me know it's time to pay attention: I'm actually not good at any of the above listed things. Mediocre to barely proficient, at best (and that may be too kind).

However, that may be me, and it may be okay, because I'm a happy guy. In addition, I'd like to shut up about it, because I think my friends and family may find it exhausting. I know I do.

Oh, and I'm not beating up on myself here- it's just something I noticed, something I want to be careful with. The only thing I'd like to change is how my mouth flaps like a whippoorwill's ass. The rest I'll deal with in quiet, steady, observation.

For a deep bow to my gold streak, to the talkative but personable, to the dilettante interested in life, I give you my favorite poem of all time:

What's In My Journal

William Stafford

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand. But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable. Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous discards. Space for knicknacks, and for Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify. Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind that takes genius. Chasms in character. Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above a new grave. Pages you know exist but you can't find them. Someone's terribly inevitable life story, maybe mine. 

Cheers to the geniuses of deliberate obfuscation and being agreeable. May we be generous and compassionate with our gold streaked shadows. 


  1. As Yunyan was sweeping the ground, Daowu said, "Too busy."
    Yunyan said, "You should know there's one who isn't busy."
    Daowu said, "If so, then there's a second moon."
    Yunyan held up the broom and said, "Which moon is this?"

  2. My favorite lines of a poem (April Inventory) I've always liked.

    There is a loveliness exists,
    Preserves us, not for specialists.

  3. Now this appeared in my inbox (!) so I read it again, and I have another comment. You are good at creative writing. Not writing for publication, not working on a novel, those things don't make you a dilettante at it, either. It's a gift. These days I find myself wanting to tell people, your gifts are supposed to be shared. I don't care to be logical about that; it's heart knowledge.


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