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“Doors are opening,” the recorded voice repeats.

People squeeze on and shuffle off at each

of the 17 stops between home and work, mentally

preparing themselves for the day ahead or perhaps

savoring the last moments of personal time before their shift begins,

the meetings start, and they sell it to someone else.

Seventeen times the voice repeats:

Doors are opening.

Seventeen stops home. People wearily popping in earbuds,

blocking out the day or the bus ruckus or intruding thoughts

about what they didn’t get done or have yet to do. Staring

out windows wistfully, looking down at their phones numbly. All the while,

the voice is consistent and insistent:

Doors are opening.

34 times a day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year…

8,840 reminders that doors are opening.

8,840 doors have opened.

On the most mundane Monday:

Doors are opening.

In the midst of the shittiest of shitty weeks:

Doors are opening.

Despite what you believe about yourself or your circumstances, or perhaps

because of that:

Doors are opening.

And one day you will hear this. And one day you’ll believe it

and alight.

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Waking

The perfume of early morning after the rain: Fresh, but not laundered sheets fresh.

Flowers opening, stretching towards the warm sun, but not

knitted blanket warm.

The ground saturated, but not

full meal satiated.

Blades of grass christened with glistening dew drops, but not

new car glistening.

Early morning after the rain: Everything is alive in its way,

and so are you.

Two Choices

Consider the ocean, the graceful flow of its give

and take. The sheer force of its forward motion, exploding

against whatever lies ahead, and the humility of its almost

instantaneous retreat.

 

Consider the jagged rocks enduring the tides, mutable

but not movable, allowing themselves to be shaped

by external forces. And still, resolved

to stand.

 

Consider the sea lions, oblivious to anything other than their most

basic needs. Struggling against their own weight. But huddled

and happy.

 

Consider the driftwood, whittled by the surf’s furious churning. Stripped, scarred,

and made beautiful by its surrender. And the fragments of shells, polished

and glistening like shiny pieces of trash that magpies steal

to decorate their nests.

 

Consider the deep silence of human footsteps on the soft paths

of redwood forest floors. The stillness of skylit mornings

and fireside nights. The nearly seamless blending of the built

with the natural.

 

Consider Mars, a glowing red dot, distant but prominent, not unlike

the fiery end of the cigarette you smoke on the deck while you contemplate

all the moments that led to this one, and whether future ones will measure up.

Before you stand on that ledge, above the swirling foam and errant logs

trapped and turning, and decide — despite everything —

to jump.

Weather

An elderly man stands alone on a busy corner of San Francisco in the cold rain asking for help.

I don’t know his story, but here’s what I do know.

His name is David.

You can find him most days on the corner of Mission and Third, or outside the Montgomery BART station.

A coffee shop at that corner puts out tables with huge umbrellas, which he refuses to stand under even in the pouring rain, so as not to interfere with business “in any way, shape, or form.”

He’s respectful.

Also, this exact spot affords him the flow of traffic from four directions, which, he points out, would be reduced to two under the umbrellas.

He’s strategic.

He holds out a cap, the old man variety, with a vintage-looking tag sewn into the lining that suggests it’s well made.

He’ll ask your name and shake your hand. His hands are warm and smooth. They feel like padded mittens.

He won’t take the umbrella you offer.

“Don’t worry about me,” he’ll assure unprompted, as if responding to a mother’s concerned look. He’ll smile and repeat “I’ll be alright” like a mantra, blinking against the pelting rain.

Observational learning

The sea casts an aqueous net with the grasping end

of each crashing wave, as if saying, This belongs to me.

Trying to pull back into its belly all the castaway shells

and bull whip kelp it discarded in a fit of rage, realizing

it still wants these things.

 

And then it recoils, as if in humble self awareness that even its own

unknown depths can’t hold that which wishes

to be free.