On the first day of the year, I have certain rituals to help send resolutions forward to the months ahead. Mostly it’s about paying attention to the things that feed me and refusing all other distractions. So the morning began with a long zazen meditation and full chanting of the Sutra book followed by oatmeal breakfast and three Solitaire games. I wrote a blog, played piano starting with Bach and ending with Bird and enjoyed a quinoa salad lunch. I got out and walked through the park and up to Golden Gate Heights hill while reciting memorized poetry, then sat looking out at the city and wrote in my journal. I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and then headed home to butternut squash lasagna and green beans. Then out to the movies (“The Theory of Everything”). A perfect day!
Perhaps inspired by the scales of past poems memorized, I wrote a poem myself atop the hill. A nice surprise— it’s been a while. Needs work, but here’s the first draft.
ADVICE FROM A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR
“What professions should I choose?”
“Be a carpenter of the soul
and build a shelter for your longing.
Be a plumber of the heart
and flush down the clogged pipes filled with your wounds and hurts.
Be an electrician of the mind
and connect the brain’s neurocircuitry until you light up
like a Christmas tree.
Be a stern judge of your own crimes
and banish your greed and vanity and smallness to the dungeon.
Be a compassionate judge of your own self-judgment
and declare yourself innocent of the guilt others heap on you.
Be a musician of the spirit
and strum the strings that send you soaring
beat the drums that set you dancing.
Be an artist of your genius
and paint the self-portrait that looks like no one else
and yet is everyone else.
Be a doctor of your failings
and diagnose the symptoms in time for healing.
Your job training is in every waking moment.
Your diploma is a peaceful heart.
Your retirement benefits are the heaven you have made for yourself
by living well."
by living well."