How Is It Already August? (or, On Turning 55)

Last Tuesday we flipped the dojo calendar to the new month, and I or someone said something to the effect of “How is it already August?” That line has been rattling around in my brain for a week, gathering energy and ideas. Today is my 55th birthday.  Yesterday morning I woke up to all these random lines coalescing into a country/rock song, of all things. So I wrote it down. It doesn’t have much of a tune yet, except bits in my head. Maybe I’ll write it down one of these days. On reading it, it seems a bit depressing. But it’s more an urgent call to action. Hurry! There’s no time to waste.

Enjoy.


How Is It Already August?
(or, On Turning 55)

By Linda Eskin

INTRO
The calendar up on the kitchen wall
Shows it’s time to turn another page.

We wonder how the time can seem to crawl
Yet suddenly we reach a certain age!

~~~

I started the year
With big visions and goals.
And now those ideas all seem
Shot full of holes.

Months ahead seemed to be
Limitless and wide open.
Filled with potential,
As though I’d just woken.

We’d go camping and swimming,
Hang out with our friends.
Every week we’d go hiking.
The fun never ends!

CHORUS 1
But whatever happened to April and June?
We haven’t see rainfall in many a moon.
Solstice is past and the nights’ getting longer.
And I’d hardly noticed the heat getting stronger.

How is it already August?

~~~

I thought that by now
I’d be farther along.
I thought I’d be smarter,
I thought I’d be strong.

Meant to go for a hike,
Meant to go the beach.
And writing my books
Always seems out of reach.

Trading hours for money
Things get in the way.
If I want to get moving
Guess I’d best start today!

CHORUS 2
Good times in life don’t stand still ’til were ready
And while we’re distracted time’s progress is steady
At the beginning the year seemed so long.
I was just getting started, now it’s more than half gone.

And how is it August already?

~~~

BREAK
I breathe in and it’s March
Let it out, it’s July
The months disappear
In the blink of an eye

The days fly by quickly
Like miles on a long drive;
We’re at 221
Out of 365.

   ~~~

We’re all getting old,
Living under the gun.
Now’s the time to be bold,
And start getting things done

Soon we’ll see pumpkins,
Then turkeys and elves.
But when the ball finally drops
We’re alone with our selves.

CHORUS 3
Whatever happened to the rest of the year?
Can you believe that we’re already here?
The high sun is bright and the hot days are long
But I’ve hardly found time just to write down this song

How is it already August?

~~~

OUTTRO
The calendar up on the kitchen wall
Shows it’s time to turn another page.


Copyright © 2017, Linda Eskin. Please share freely by linking to this post. All other uses by written permission only.

Had enough? Join a dojo.

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Have you finally had enough?

Do you need a break from the constant stream of contentious, terrifying news?
A refuge from the usual win/lose, zero-sum, us-versus-them thinking?

There’s a place to practice peaceful resolution of conflict,
to learn to keep your center while opening your heart.

A place to challenge your body, your mind, and your limiting beliefs,
to look inside, and see yourself in a whole new way.

A martial art – an embodied practice – where we train to evolve beyond fighting.
Beyond fighting each other.
Beyond fighting our circumstances.
Beyond fighting ourselves.

The inclusive, compassionate, and supportive community
of Aikido practitioners around the world
is waiting to welcome you.

Find an Aikido dojo near you today.


Please share this post or image freely, without modification/cropping. You may use it to promote your dojo or Aikido programs. This is entirely my own work, and I retain copyright.

Solstice Haiku for Mark Harrington

I was recently chatting with my one of my Aikido buddies on the other side of the country, Mark Harrington. We’ve been checking in from time to time as we both progress through our respective ranks in different organizations. Mark is a bit ahead of me. Anyway, we got to talking about holiday gift giving (or not). If I recall correctly, I promised him a solstice haiku. So here it is, on the first day of Winter. Enjoy.

“Hey! How’s it going?”
We call across the distance.
Friends on the same path.

Late at Night

I hope my neighbors are in their beds, dreaming their dreams, late at night.
I hope they are sound sleepers, sawing logs, not bothered by much.
I hope they are not nosy; not peering from their windows with the lights out.

It’s bad enough I feed the donkeys after class, and sometimes after dinner.
The braying at 10:30 could be trying if my neighbors were awake.
The clatter of cat food into dishes, and splashing of water into large bowls,
Might not be too bad. At least the kitties are well enough behaved.

I hope my neighbors are not fearful.

They would surely wonder what that crazy Eskin lady is doing now,
out there in the dark, swinging and swirling a rake handle overhead
while the donkeys munch their hay.

“Has she at last gone completely mad?”

How could they know that practicing the 20 jo suburi in the stillness
is the perfect way to settle down before settling into bed?

If they do see, I hope my neighbors don’t worry.

“Why on earth is she lying on the driveway, on her back, at 2 a.m.?”
Maybe they haven’t seen the observatory in the yard.
Maybe they didn’t read the news about the meteor shower.

“And why is that rake handle lying across across her chest?”
Perhaps they haven’t noticed the raccoons,
Who’ve come to eat the cat food.

Practice

Everything we do is training,
Like if we grouse about it raining,
We learn the habit of complaining.
Practice gratitude, instead.

We build our habits brick by brick,
That make us healthier, or sick.
Our actions cause these things to stick.
What we do, we will become.

We tell our passions just to hush.
We hurry things, and learn to rush.
We worry our spirits into mush
When we could chill instead.

Constant practice is our call.
Not “practice” as in basketball,
A full-time thing, including all;
The way we live our lives.

There’s not a separate time or space,
It’s every hour, and every place,
There is no finish, it’s not a race,
The practice is the goal.

Practice settling, opening, breathing,
Living, growing, even grieving.
These threads form the cloth we’re weaving
Into who we really are.

Feel into the body’s system
It has a certain ancient wisdom
We might discover, if we listen
Centered, grounded love.

[I’m not quite happy with this, but as I’ve hit the deadline I set for getting started on another thing today I’m calling it good for the moment and sharing it. I may edit it later.]

Abundance

From today’s classes, a bounty:
Blends, techniques, feedback, feelings.
Let it come to you. Relax. Center.
Keep your own alignment and things will work out.

Like armfuls of fresh vegetables from a friend’s garden.
I try to carry them all safely home,
Without dropping any between here and there.
A few escape my grasp and roll away.

But the others, the gifts I do hold onto,
These cool, smooth, deeply-colored orbs,
coaxed to life from earth, water, and air…
Each is a delicious treasure.

Porch Sitting

Today we sit on Sensei’s deck,
the ocean glinting twenty miles away.

Weathered bamboo clatters softly overhead
as we settle in to sit, scattered lightly
like leaves blown into cool shady corners,
or lizards, basking on the warm wood in the sun.

I choose the shade.

Forty minutes? I’m used to just fifteen.
I see the sea, feel the air, 
hear the birds, and close my eyes
as Sensei sounds a small, clear chime.

A dozen little birds chatter down the hill,
a faraway crow gives three short caws,
and I wonder what might come up in forty minutes
that’s managed to keep itself hidden from fifteen.

A small plane hums overhead, and I think of flying. 
When I flew I got bit, hard. I loved flying.
I had a great teacher, and a community of friends.
I was never going to stop flying.
And then I stopped flying.

I worry, briefly, about that rhythm to things.
Flying, engineering, music…
Is it just that, the rhythm of things?
They come, stay for a time, and go?
They go with good reason, but they go.

A neighbor’s horse gives a sharp snort.
Right. And horses too.

What about Aikido? 
The thought of someday not training anymore,
not wanting to train, not missing it…
It’s unimaginable, gut-wrenching.
But could it go, too, in time?

The flying, engineering, music, and horses,
those were things I was trying to become,
was trying to get good at, would be someday.
They were places I did not belong,
and was struggling to get to.
When I saw this about each one, I let it go.

As I begin to realize this profound difference
the gut unsnarls and breathing relaxes.

Aikido from the first has felt like home.
There’s no trying, no struggle, no someday.
It’s who I already am. 
I won’t let that go. How could I?

Instead I let the worry go. 
It’s silly, like worrying that I might 
somehow float off the surface of the earth.
The wind takes the worry like a kite with a broken string,
and in a moment I no longer see it in the sky.

My attention is drawn to the deck, to sitting.
I wonder how long it’s been, and how much longer.
“Don’t be looking for the end, keep going deeper.”
I remember Kayla Feder Sensei saying once,

I return to breathing, 
noticing the thoughts that come,
and letting the breeze carry each one off.

Sensei sounds his small, clear chime again,
and I complete a last full breath.
When I open my eyes I’m mildly surprised
that everyone is further away than they felt.
But I’m very happy to see them again.

Resistance

A friend recently gave me a book she thought I might enjoy, and I really have. It’s the sort of book that whatever you open it up to, there’s something relevant to whatever’s going on. It’s poetic without being sappy, and inspiring without being preachy. Calming. Sensible.

Just yesterday day a friend on Facebook mentioned that it must have been really sad for me to give up riding. My reply began “Surprisingly not all that sad. Trying to remain committed to something I was really no longer committed to was difficult. Finally seeing things clearly was a relief. …” And just hours later I randomly picked up the book, and opened it to this, which is also relevant to Aikido technique, and Aikido in everything:

Resistance

Everyone will tell you
“Change is hard,”
Transformation is the greatest
Challenge
On your spiritual journey.
But it’s not true.
Change is not hard.
Resistance to change is
Hard. 
If you let go
Surrender into the
Fear
Willingly
Open your fists and
Release
All you are clutching
And simply be still as the
Winds of transformation
Blow through you
Then everything in you that is
Not free
Will be carried away with the
Leaves and dust and debris
Lifted into the air and
Gone
And all that will remain
Is
Peace.
See?
Transformation is
Easy
If you stop trying so hard to change
And
Like a strong breath clearing a
Palmful of ashes
Just let the
Wind
Free you.

by Nicole Grace
from her book:
Bodhisattva – How To Be Free

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