Dorianne Laux

Perpetual Kindness

September 25, 2020

Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Tolstoy said, “Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” I found this poem by Dorianne Laux in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, CT. The poet, whose most recent book of poetry is Only As The Day Is Long, lives in Maine.


For the Sake of Strangers

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward anothera stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even 
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it mus have once called to them
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1994 by Dorianne Laux, “For the Sake of Strangers,” from What We Carry, (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1994). Poem reprinted by permission of Dorianne Laux and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. 

000 Buddhas

Field Trip Friday (Memory Lane Edition)—The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

September 18, 2020



Like most people, I’ve been staying close to home this year. I haven’t visited my mom in California, or met up with my friend Kerri for a road trip…and I miss it. 


At home, it’s been too hot to explore outdoors, and it hasn’t felt safe or appropriate to explore anywhere indoors. I’m getting a little stir crazy! So I decided to take Field Trip Friday into the realm of memory—surely there were some places I’ve visited during the past few years that I haven’t fully savored or written about here on Catching Happiness.
 
And indeed there were. The first one I want to share with you is the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the first large Buddhist monastic community in the United States. Kerri and I stopped briefly at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas during our California road trip in 2018. We didn’t have a lot of time there, but the atmosphere made an impression. I had not heard of it before, even though it’s been around since the 1970s, and was officially inaugurated in 1982. Just goes to show how many interesting, out-of-the-way places are out there if we only look. 


The monastic complex lies on 80 acres of a 700-acre property nestled into a valley near Ukiah, California. There are 13 buildings, including the monastery, a dining hall, elementary and secondary schools, a gift and bookstore, a vegetarian restaurant, as well as an organic garden, fields, and woods. 


Here are a few photos:


The Hall of 10,000 Buddhas:






One of the resident peacocks:


I love this peaceful-looking statue:


Under normal circumstances, the monastery offers in-person classes and events, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the complex is temporarily closed to visitors and events are being held online.

 

We only had a short time to wander the peaceful grounds, unfortunately, but it would be an excellent place to sketch, read, or simply relax with your thoughts. 

Since I’m not ready to travel again yet, I am going to take some time to go through my photos from the trips I’ve been fortunate enough to take, and I’m going to pull out my trip journals, too. It’s not a bad thing to have time to reflect on the past travels. It lifts my spirits to relieve happy memories, and even the bumps and inconveniences of travel become funny memories over time. This is one of the (few) gifts of the pandemic: an opportunity to slow down and appreciate what I have without always pushing forward to the next bright, shiny thing.
 
Has the pandemic offered you any unexpected gifts? Please share in the comments below. 






Breaks

Break Away

September 11, 2020

Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

“The biggest lies I tell myself are ‘It will just take a minute,” and “I’ll remember that.’

“It’s rare that anything worth doing lasts ‘just a minute’ or that we’ll be finished ‘in a sec’ or that ‘a quick look’ will be enough. We have to break away, turn off, shut down and come back.

“Break away. The work, the dishes, the decluttering, the worries, the to-do lists … they can wait.”
—Courtney Carver

What will you break away from today? What will you do instead?

Eugene Delacroix

We Are Happy When We Believe Ourselves So

September 04, 2020

Eugene Delacroix

“How are you? Are you ruling your imagination? That is the important thing: we are happy when we believe ourselves to be so, and if our minds are set on the opposite extreme all the diversions in the world will not give us any pleasure.”
—Eugene Delacroix, in an 1858 letter to Mme de Forget, The Journal of Eugene Delacroix


Look for my travel writing here