Unnecessary Possessions

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Picture: Rush Hour On Leith Street  by John M. Boyd

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Do you really need it? Will you honour it?

These are the questions that I’ve been indirectly asking myself these cold autumn days while walking into the warmth of art shops. I love art and I can’t help but notice, in myself, that consumerist society has taught us to treat everything as if it was to buy and keep – or throw. Buying something means that you’re going to make use of it in the near or distant future. For example, I’ve been a book stasher for most of my University years, and of all those attractive books I might have positively read 30%. In the last few years, I’ve questioned many of my compulsive behaviours and slowly developed a higher degree of awareness. The other day, I went to a frame and print shop in Edinburgh and felt very attracted by some art postcards, checked the price and considered buying. Afterward, I started doing what I normally do in museums or galleries: observing the painting without mental labels; first the whole pictures, then the details. Therefore I chose to not buy any of those beautiful cards. However, and here’s the trickiest part of contemporary lifestyle, I saved their details on my smartphone – as if the paintings were going to die if I didn’t – for future use or appreciation. I understand that I could use those details to share the paintings with friends or on social media, thus adding value to these people. But, we have to be very aware of the energy behind our actions. Only through presence, and therefore awareness, we achieve a powerful level of freedom in our choices. We can shift our unconscious intention – usually stemming from the constant unsatisfaction of the ego – into a more selfless or creative one. The desire to possess, cumulate, keep or save for ourselves emanates from an illusory state of lack: our egoic identity deludes itself that it needs more stuff in order to survive.

I obviously didn’t need to possess those prints and attach them to the wall to appreciate them. Probably, I didn’t even need to save their details on my web browser, but I’ve made good use of them – the picture in this article is one of those. In the present moment, the only moment we actually have, I have the chance to merge with them, to enjoy their contemplation, naturally recognizing that I don’t need to possess any beauty in order to commune with it.

 

Herons

 

Dancing Madman

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Picture: Greek Dancer by Jean Groberg

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Dancing madman on the street,

As free as the wind on his bare chest.

Dancing madman on the street,

Living in the moment,

Happier than the shop-owners

Peering out of the window at the ordinary miracle;

Happier than the police,

Came to extinguish his smile,

Laughter of the eternal child.

Dancing madman on the street,

His house’s a backpack,

His home, the whole world.

He has no riches nor gold

But he’s richer than most,

He’s richer than we’re told.

Dancing madman on the street,

You bestow me a tune

From the beginning of the century,

From the beginning of time,

Or is it from the end?

How?

I don’t mind, for both of them

Can only be conceived Now.

 

Herons

Give Yourself Permission

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Picture: Hummingbird Love (Open Hands) by Elody Gyekis

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Give yourself permission

To feel the breeze on your skin,

To listen to the wind.

Give yourself permission

To breathe in the stillness of a tree,

To learn from the careless joy of a dog.

Give yourself permission

To be in harmony with the people surrounding you,

To honour them with your presence.

And,

Please,

Whatever the circumstances,

Give yourself permission

To be happy now.

 

Herons

Don’t Search, Find

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Picture by Anonymous

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I’ve been hunting a laugh,

Her eyes, her smile so vibrant;

I’ve been looking for diamonds in a pile of coal,

For love outside myself.

Then,

I saw, I saw it again:

Love is already there,

Love is within you,

Within me;

I couldn’t make my mirror smile before smiling.

Go to the heart centre,

Feel the warmth

Warming all things in existence.

Don’t search,

Find.

 

Herons

Look Ahead

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Picture by Barbara Keith

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We can’t go backwards. That’s what life seems to be telling me these days. We can’t dwell in the past, we can’t inhabit the past, simply because it doesn’t exist.  We have only this precious, shimmering, present moment. Even nostalgia, sweet and sour, is experienced now. Because now is all we have, now is the gateway towards infinity and, guess what, it’s always open. Always. All the limitations we see are a by-product of our conditioning, of the collective beliefs we have accepted as true. But the essence of things is always there for us. Try this: plug in your headphones and play a song you like; if it has lyrics ignore them, listen to the music as if it was whole like a birdsong; listen to it fully without judgments, mental commentaries, anecdotes, memories; anytime a thought pops up go back gently to the music. Now you’re really listening to the song, without the filter of your mind. The chattering mind is a powerful tool, but it can become a tricky distraction from what we are experiencing now. Moreover, the mind can only stir up a soup of what you already know – the old, the past. Even when we think about the future we see through our old dusty glasses. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? Neither of the two, you choose. Nothing is inherently good or bad – the mind judges. When we silence the mind we recognize that everything is neutral. That said, I invite you, as I invite myself to be present, aware to the here and now. I invite us to act unpredictably. To act boldly. To shake the current state of things. Because, right now we have infinite possibilities.

Open your eyes and look ahead.

 

Herons

Going To The Big Something Out Of Skye

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Picture by Andrew Peutherer Prints

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Sit back, relax. I want you to feel your body, I want you to feel the vital energy that activates your limbs. The energy in your toes, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, pelvis. In your belly, torso – breasts if you happen to have a couple – shoulders. In your fingers, hands, forearms, arms. In your neck, feel your neck. Ultimately, the head: full of thoughts, worries, desires, fears, ambitions. Get rid of those, please. It’s easy: just be aware of the electromagnetic energy in your head, and in your whole body. Now feel your chest, feel your heart-center and relate to it as the core of your being. Close your eyes for a while. Try to maintain your awareness on that subtle electric sensation in your whole body as long as you can.

Now you’re ready to read this.

James is ready to leave. The bags are packed, the sails are tacked. Tina is waiting outside near the sailboat, she looks astounding in the grey light of the firth. She smiles. She’s looking through the window glass at James who’s making sure everything is turned off. One thing’s already for sure, the vibe is everything except off. They are flowing. Flowing through the game of matter, since they gained access to the fourth dimension. Life is a dream – repeat it a couple of times, life is a dream. They are right where they need to be, which miraculously matches with where they want to be. Or maybe, they finally got it. The two things always match.

Tina stops James’ enthusiastic boarding by clutching the edges of his coat. She looks at him in the eyes and kisses him. “Now, you can go.” He smiles and carries all their luggage below deck. “Wait! The moca coffee pot!” he yells.

“I’ll take it. You set the sails, love.” She jumps off the boat and almost breaks her ankle – she giggles. The wooden house still glows with the light of the small portion of existence they shared there. Tina plucks a bunch of buckthorn berries before going, they might come in handy. They cast off, James reaches the helm and adjusts the course. The salt is in the air, the seagulls guard the land – they’ll make sure everything carries on well while they’re away. Tina and James exit the firth and its pines. They sail on to the Isle of Man, then make a stop in Bangor. Finally, they reach the Isle of Skye. From there they will cross the ocean. But let’s focus on the now, the only existing moment.

Portree is just gorgeous. They stop and sit in the colorful harbour with their guitars. He repeatedly strums a chord in the gentle breeze: D minor. She starts elaborating an intricate arpeggio in accordance with the gulls’ song. Then they switch abruptly, she picks up the rhythmic role. James’ fingers dance through the scales and bends of his blues-rock solo. The tourists who appear along with the flowers in spring – some of them actually look like bizarre flowers – groove to their random music show enjoying the beauty of the scenery even more. They play Stand By Me by Ben E. King: she sings the background vocals with gut-shaking precision, he lets his voice come out as if it was running water from a mountain spring. Everybody gather around them; even the bagpipe player from the other side of the wharf decides to come over, perhaps he was a bit tired and needed an excuse to stop. Afterwards, they play the homonymous song by Oasis, Wishman by Trevor Hall, and Ice Cream Man by young Tom Waits.

“We have a last song now, from our friend Herons, it’s called The Valley.” says Tina.

James strums a series of long chords. F major sharp, D major, A major. Tina decorates the sequence with some high note drops. So they start singing in unison: “Way down to, way down to the valley… Way down to, way down to the valley…” and James shouts, “One, two, three, four!”

The rock song echoes in the bay, fresh and uplifting. And, surprisingly enough, no-one bothers to record it. Tina and James thank everybody wholeheartedly. People throw coins and notes in their funky hats. However, paper and metal discs will serve no purpose in the ocean, they’re better off spending them for more supplies and a bottle of gin – you never know.

Dawn bursts purple on the horizon, the seagulls salute them as they cross the billows like street acrobats. The show is set. The symphony plays wild. It smells like thunder and lightning, but it doesn’t matter. Death is just like falling overboard and melt in the sea of creation, or at worse, bump on a new boat.

 

Herons

Rush-hour Cloak

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Picture by Janet Garcia

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Sunset smoking, on fire.

Slightly car-sick, I roll on the highway,

The tree branches along the road seem to greet me.

Dronin’ wasp-scooters slide ahead from behind,

Ghost-men cross the street blessing their lives with risk,

While the taillights burn slow, and the sunset hides behind blankets of clouds.

Today, I hallucinate reality less than yesterday,

Today, I’m in perfectly unsteady balance.

 

Herons