The old Iroquois gardening rule-of-thumb says to plant your corn when the oak leaves are the size of squirrels' ears, which is a lot easier to remember than where you put the almanac, and makes seeds happier I suppose, but there aren't any squirrels around here, so the old saying wouldn't be much use in this neighborhood unless like me you're from New York and can remember squirrels' ears. But I gave up planting corn here even before I gave up planting onions. I wouldn't think of leaving that tall, delicate, long-growing vegetable at the mercy of certain natural neighbors, having so many times beheld where a lamented vegetable had been growing until but a moment ago...
What got me thus tangentially started on this is that the squirrels' ear thing now relates to the character of my daily existence in another, technological way: when my oak leaves are the size of squirrels' ears, I begin to lose my satellite tv signal. Kind and thoughtful friends say Why not just move your dish? True, I could do that, it might work, for a while. Corporate types suggest that I cut down the damn trees, clear the sky of pesky verdure or just take charge, get real: get cable! I could do those things as well; such thoughts crossed my mind, a time ago. But I don't live in that mind anymore.
What those folks don't seem to understand is that if I do either of those things I would have year-round, 24-hour access to what juridical bodies with corporate taste offer as factual perspectives on socioeconomic events occurring around the world, or as their idea of what is marketably entertaining, and I don't think I could stand that for long.
Pale bean stems miracling up out of the ground; the bite of new radish leaves; the rush of ripe plums: now that's news. More trees leafing, barn swallows whirling, frog on the window: that's entertainment.
Out driving today, at one point just sitting there waiting for a light to change, I saw a little girl in a bright jacket, 8 or 9 years old, arms raised, spinning, dancing and smiling by herself in the winter sun on the otherwise empty village roadside.
I thought at first that she was talking to someone and sharing some laughter, but when I turned and looked around I saw no one else there; she was singing and laughing to herself. Her mood and manner, of dancing, smiling, singing all by herself and for no one else beside a country road, happy alone on a cold winter morning when expressing joy to the max topped her list of things to do, made me happy too, and I suppose happified any other lucky drivers who later chanced to receive this spontaneous gift as they were passing by.
Then the light changed and I went on my adult way, yet wondering at the unusual nature of this feeling. There was something else to this joy, that seemed to be only in response, but that in fact was partly my own. I realized that another great joy of children, apart from the gift they are, the gift they bring, and the gift they give, is that they evoke in us the children we ourselves once were. There are tremendous depths to this gift, to realizing that the children we were, we are still; they are there intact within us, like the grain in a tree, a lifetime cored with its earliest years, and because they are there they strengthen us, they quicken our soul, give us integrity and are grateful to be acknowledged...
Folks of the type often called wise say that to relate to a child you must go to the child’s level. Kind of a locked-in adult way of looking at it, that from where you always are you must always bend down, lower your eminent self, yet continue being the grown-up, as though it’s all you are. Children feel that prejudice at once.
A child’s life is a search for true companions, and when to a child who is now in the world you become the child you still are, the child out there who caused this miracle is delighted, knowing her age like none other, and recognizing it in you. Thanks to them we are led to those children we were, whose easy presences we are so pleased to realize - whether we know it or not - still reside in our lives, waiting to exist again. They are a joy in us to re-become; yet so seldom can that can happen in our multistrictured world: that normal, busily obligated, mannered, social, employed, public, cultured world where too often we spend our entire adulthoods until they are gone.
So stop and enjoy the gift of children, who bring childhood back to life in those who have left it for too long; children from whom we learn that over and over again we can be 10 years old, we can be 5, we can be 2, we can even be an infant in our arms, looking into our own eyes, learning that we have never left, that life does not begin or end, unless we keep it to ourselves...
This is a question of tremendous significance for our day, when there are more desks in the world than ever before in history. Thus the profound resonance of the worldwide ongoing scientific research into whether or not a deskic environment can support life in any form. Investigations thus far strongly indicate the negative, some experts being of the opinion that life as we know it has never existed at desks, despite apparent indications to the contrary.
Earlier in this century, having examined thousands of deskic artifacts from throughout the deskbound universe, including scrapings and fossils, as well as petrified, atrophied and mummified remains, researchers tentatively agreed that desks might harbor some sort of paperpushing life form, but it was later determined that all of those studies, themselves performed in large part at desks, were therefore seriously skewed by sedentary bias.
Subsequent highly specific field analysis showed that the deskic specimens had in fact never developed to the stage commonly acknowledged as "truly living"; yet even now, millions of people each day leave their homes to sit at desks for hours at a time, in the irrational conviction that at those desks they have a life, despite the mounting scientific evidence that tells us this simply is not true.
Still, people will be people; many also believe that there is life on Mars; but if these earthly studies tell us anything at all, it's that Mars is very likely covered with desks.
Born and raised in upstate New York, traveled for a decade after college, lived in various places around the world, keeping a journal. Settled in Kyoto in 1980, moved to this mountainside above Lake Biwa in 1995. Started Pure Land Mountain in April 2002.
Written and sidebar contents 2002~2015 copyright Robert Brady