So on my 64th birthday

I find myself continuing the eternal transition,

still performing the tasks of the young

sustaining discomfort to adjust to the unfamiliar.

Learning, learning, adapting, adapting. All in solitude, immersed

in self-examination, a core part of me still waiting,

like a hunter in a blind in the woods,

eyes on the sky, scanning, scanning for

the arrival of that which is sought.

During meditation this morning I saw

the metaphor of a broken compass.

My core guidance system ill-tuned from the beginning,

leading me to blunder, lost, into traps that were obvious.

But I continue, forge on, enjoy the beauty of vistas

Even in hell. The timeless gifts of the sun, the trees,

the breeze, the light, the deep

sound of the wind as it passes over the mountain.  

The country gives me more gifts as I age and

walk quietly through this world.

But also, particularly each time I fail to recall a name

or feel the fading of a memory,

I begin the search for the exit strategy, a sign

Directing me to a quiet and unsensational departure. 

I think back over the struggles of my childhood, the nausea

and loneliness, the humiliation, the incessant fear, the fundamental

burden of being unwanted that undermined

the simple cycle of self-sustenance.

To be unwanted, yet continue to be. I learned back then

the only purpose in this pain was some kind of sacrifice,

an offering up the karmic reservoir – why else would this happen

to me? Was (is) there some evil in me that merits suffering?

Even then I understood

Through some religious magic

that the pain of a child

had some meaning in the much, much larger frame of things,

must not the gods, at least, understand its purpose?

This path led to transcendence,

the capacity to detach and see and even appreciate

while one’s face is being removed.  A talent for enduring

nakedness, bereft of the protective layer, an understanding

that pain and loneliness and humiliation are phenomena

like any other in the eyes of the gods,

that the third eye sees and grieves and witnesses the necessity

of its own tears. But detachment creates

its own problems, for to some extent we survive through illusions, our belief

that the temporary tissue of the self is “real.”

To never have had that belief,

to never have accepted the legitimacy of one’s own being,

well, that does not make for an easy life.

But then Zen comes to the rescue,

for the sun is out, air cool and clear, and

loving friends await me to the south. The suffering and loneliness

and loss is nothing but aging, ever-weakening signals.  Today

is nothing more or less than today, and it is most absurd

to be anywhere

but here.

So here I am.