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This poem and others are available in my books, Nothing Works: Meditations on Aikido, Buddhism, the Tao, Zen, and other inconsequential things....and, Nothing Special, and Nothing Matters..., available thru Amazon.com, in print and Kindle editions and Barnes & Noble websites.....Also available as an e-book via Smashwords.com. Try this link: www.nothing-works.com for the full array of options.
I don't know how the young do it?
They breeze through life with no clue
Though, of course, they think they do
At what point does that change?
For me, each step is filled with
Agonizing existential dread
I place one foot forward
And, somewhere, a star explodes
Another step, and the last of a species
Goes extinct, one more, a war starts,
A child cries, galaxies collide,
The homeless wander on by,
Quantum realities split apart; yet, another
And the universe expands even further
Stretching my mind and sanity even more
I tell myself: I can make it! I can make it!
Just get to Starbucks!
When we speak of a nothingness
Outside of existence
We speak of a relative nothingness
Not true emptiness
We still have a this or that
A this and that mind set Absolute emptiness is one with being
Not separate from it
It is not out there
It is near at hand
We are forced to say
It is not this thing or that
Therefore, it is this thing or that Fire does not burn fire
The sword does not cut the sword
Perhaps it is a language problem?
Aikido is my regular misogi practice
No talking, tongue to roof of mouth,
Breathing through the nose
Warm-ups with torifume,
With furitama, with otakebi
Responding as uke without thinking
(Or, at least, trying to)
Performing as nage without thinking
(Or, at least, trying to)
After Aikido class
We all go to a coffee shop
(Some have tea!)
We are mostly too old to
Care to go to a bar…
And, sweat cooling
We all discuss the class
Techniques, successes, failures
General pain and suffering
And then usually move
On to other subjects
(Religion, Politics, War, Logic,
Math, Science, Stupidity, etc.
all the common ailments
A long-time class tradition
An open invitation
Sometimes outsiders join us
Old café denizens creeping out
Of the dark recesses of the coffee shop
Drawn to our charisma!
Calling us Sensei, Ninja Master…-
Who are we to disabuse them
And crush their souls?
But, then, Joseph starts talking
And we are all brought down to Earth
Still, we miss him when
He is gone and like him
So, we smile and nod our heads
(Sometimes slapping his)
And let the Aikido universe spin on
With cup o'tea in hand