Joy

This human reality will never please me, and that’s OK. I find joy in my own way.

When I’m at work scrubbing pots and see a cricket jump in the corner of the floor drain, trying to find sanctuary, I immediately pause my work. I squat down and extend my finger, an olive branch. I do this with spiders, moths, beetles and whatever other tiny being appears to be in distress when I’m cleaning.

Sometimes I think about how they perceive a human finger. Do they know it is attached to a human? Do they know what a human is? Do they know they are inside a building with fluorescent lights? Have they ever seen the sun? Are they terrified? How do they perceive the rushing water and wind from the high pressure hose? Do they want to be in another place? Do they want to be extracted from this situation? As a level six ethical vegan, I follow the philosophy of non-interference in the affairs of non-human animals and all other sentient beings, unless there is immediate suffering that I can prevent without shifting the balance of nature and affecting the timelines. In this case, I believe there is cause for intervention.

So I extend my index finger and the gray moth lying belly up on the floor suddenly comes to life. Her tiny legs cling to me. I smile and suddenly forget about how much I hate my boss. There are more important things in life. I stand up and pull my fingers into a loose fist, with the moth sitting on top of my knuckle. She opens her wings to shake off the water. I whisper to the moth and assure her that she is going to be OK. I walk around the drying racks and pull the rolling garage door over my head with my other hand. Cold, dry air and natural light fill the soil room. I breathe in the desert morning then place the moth on some sagebrush and feel a simple joy from reducing the suffering of one little, tiny being.

In a world of wanton cruelty, I see this as an act of rebellion. And I’m a soul rebel.

———

I feel a similar sense of joy when I go for a walk at the nature preserve and see a glimpse into the simple, private lives of chipmunks and geese.

Watching a chipmunk wag his bushy little tail and play with a piece of long grass that glows gold in the morning light gives me so much pleasure. What worries the chipmunk? Does he think constantly of imminent attacks from hawks? Or does he play carefree with his friends and jump between boulders during the warm daylight hours, then retreat to his hole at night to cuddle with his family during the freezing nights? Does he think about the exploitation of labor? Does he think about how much he has to save up to buy a house?

I always hear the geese before seeing them. Their honking carries across the rocky terrain. The flying “V” is broken into two distinct pieces, with the leading group working in perfect coordination to reduce wind resistance for those behind. I always feel like waving my hat in the air or saluting these magnificent animals, like they are a highly decorated air force squadron returning victorious from war, but instead I just watch and listen. They fly over my head and I hear the delicate squeak they make when breathing during vigorous flight. I’ve never noticed that before.

As they fly into the distance, the flock becomes fluid. The geese are no longer individuals, just black dots against a clear blue sky. The dots dance and their shape morphs constantly. The flying “V” ebbs and flows like the tide.

I thank the animals for showing me the simple joy of living.

Prickly

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I used to come here when I was young

About a year-and-a-half ago

I had just quit my career and would sit on these rocks and listen to a podcast about depression

I felt like the broken glass next to the prickly desert cacti matched my demeanor

cacti

Now I’ve stumbled upon this little alcove and I remember what I was feeling back then

I was so lost and confused and angry

That hasn’t changed

But now I’m more comfortable with chaos and uncertainty

The seven seas don’t scare me as this boat continues to drift unmoored

Yet returning here, I feel older and I feel more disconnected

I feel more strongly than ever that I don’t understand anyone and that no one understands me

Putting the broken glass back together would be impossible

close

The Rain

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I wanted to kiss you in that rain

 

You said the weather is angry and you like it

As you pulled up your hoodie in the desert

Wet, dark hair sticking to your forehead

Above your eyes that can’t be summed up in one word

You said they are green but that discredits their mystery

 

I never thought the weather was angry

It felt like passion to me but

Maybe anger and passion come from the same source

 

Either way

I don’t mind waiting for the rain to clear

I’m used to waiting and

The weather is changing and

At least now I know how the rain

Makes you more beautiful

Fragments

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I want to say thank you to something

but I don’t know what to call it.

 

Show me the fragments of knowledge

shared across cultures, countries, continents

through the ages the languages the world religions.

 

It can’t be some grand conspiracy

too many coincidences.

 

Each seeing, feeling the same concepts

writing the same thoughts in poetry.

 

It makes me believe

there is something.

 

When the missionaries in Utah asked

if I believe in God,

I told them I didn’t

understand the question.

 

There’s something I want to thank but

I don’t know what to call it.

 

 

Geocentric

Why do the butterflies dance in front of me?

Why does the wind whisper in my ear?

Why do the ravens fly over my head?

Why do the rocks support me?

Why does the sun beat down on me?

Why does the moon protect me?

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Skewed.

They don’t do it for me.

It’s just part of their nature.

We make believe we are at the center of it all.