My brother, with sister and me in Sinai, confluence of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

In an hour I’m leaving to West Springfield for cataract surgery. My friend and contact with the immigrant community, Jimena Pareja, and her versatile husband, Byron, are picking me up, waiting things out in Springfield, and bringing me home in the late afternoon.

I have confidence that the procedure will give me better eyesight, clearer and more precise, so that I could read road signs before I pass them, so that I could see colors brighter than I have, so that I could see people’s faces in the airport with faster recognition. So that I could drive and look towards sunset without feeling that a flashlight has suddenly been turned on right in front of my pupils and blinded me.

I wish the rest of me could undergo a similar procedure, so that my mind could get clearer, so that I am better able to read personal and relational signs, better decipher their subtle messages. So that I could better look at faces and see, in the Jewish way of saying it, God’s image on each, and that the regular phenomena of nature—including the phenomena of humans, ask Aussie refers to us—no longer appear as insurmountable obstructions.

The surgeon, the wonderful and handsome Dr. John Frangie (can hardly wait to see him with a new eye), will remove a shaded lens (something my teachers have tried to do with my brain for quite a while) and insert a clear one. Zen practice is a little like cataract surgery only its consciousness surgery, removing the cloudy, thin, blind lens to reveal a clearer, brighter world.

Some 20 of us had a Zoom meeting yesterday to talk about Israel and Gaza. The term not-knowing came up; it often does. It’s one of Three Tenets Bernie repeated again and again in our large Zen Peacemakers family, letting go of fixed ideas, bearing witness, taking action, and all these take place simultaneously.

Over the years I notice how many people bring up that term in the vein of This has happened to my life and I don’t know what to do or Now I really don’t know what’s ahead so I’m in not-knowing.While they don’t explicitly say this is bad–they even smile when they say it–the words carry a negative nuance, a wish-it-didn’t-have-to-happen nuance.

That’s not how Bernie saw not-knowing. He wasn’t happy when things fell apart, as they often seemed to do in his neighborhood, but he was also intrigued when this happened. When so much is dismantled, so many assumptions collapsed like rows of dominoes, anything is possible. That’s when we don’t stand in the way of the dynamic currents of life with our identities and attachments, we don’t obstruct reality. And the reality is that we’re all one thing.

So even as people grieve over the collapse of an army, an intelligence bureau, of deeply-held beliefs and confidences, the taking of hostages and the senseless murders, even when people can’t see the way ahead, that’s precisely when powerful things can happen.  When infinite potential not only manifests (it always manifests in some way), but we become conscious of something other than our ideas and help to actualize it.

Is it a way forward? Backward? Up or down? I Have no idea. Words fail me.

I remember Roshi Sr. Pia Gyger talking to me long ago. She was a Zen teacher, and towards the end of her training she left Switzerland to stay with her teacher, Robert Aitken, in Hawaii and do final studies with him. But the war in Kuwait broke out, and instead of working on final koans she settled in front of a television screen and watched and watched as fighter jets pummeled the ground and the ground exploded underneath all that ordnance.

“I did nothing but watch for several days,” she said. “I felt I needed to make a big turn.” She did just that, with a vision she said she received from Mary on what is possible in that part of the world, and for the rest of her life she worked towards fulfilling that vision.

I don’t watch TV, but I monitor the news on my computer endlessly. I feel like I do what Pia did back then.

I don’t entertain a single great vision, but already there are small, important lessons:

Yesterday I called my niece in Israel, an accomplished woman nearing 40, with five children, a Ph.D., and beginning to study towards a new degree in family therapy (at least till the war began), and a husband in one of Israel’s units who has often gone into Gaza. I asked her how she was, and she couldn’t speak. I thought the tension she was carrying was going to explode the digital universe.

After just a few minutes, I mumbled that I didn’t want to trespass too much on her respite time (her father, my brother, had fetched her children to give her a rest), and hung up.

As soon as I did so, I felt bad. So, this morning I tried her again, and when she didn’t answer, I wrote her a text. I apologized for my quick hang-up. I admitted it had little to do with trespassing on her limited attention and everything to do with my inability to  contain her silence, her tension and fear. I promised her that next time I will hold whatever she generously offers. She didn’t have to be silent alone, she could be silent with me. We could both be silent, in company, together. Nobody was going to hang up anymore.

I wish I could do that with mothers in Gaza worried sick over a coming invasion as they watch their children.

My niece said one thing that stayed with me. Feeling helpless in all that silence, I mumbled my regret at not being there to help out more. She said: “We do whatever we can wherever we are.”

Those words echo inside right now. Jan, a gardener who comes in several times over the summer season to help out, is now here for the last time this season. Through the windows I watch her pruning the lilac bushes outside my office, taking down and away the detritus of a season in preparation for next spring. We do whatever we can wherever we are, keeping life and love going.

I will hold another Zoom gathering on Friday afternoon (tomorrow is post-operative procedures) to bear witness to Israel and Gaza, at 3 pm US Eastern time, or 15:00. If you want to join, please email me at and I will send a link tomorrow. If you know of others who might benefit, feel free to share with them. My apologies to those of you in Europe and the Middle East for which this is very late, I scheduled these without adequate consideration. If these gatherings continue next week, I will be more attentive to time zones.

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“Hey Aussie, what’s wrong with her?”

“Quien, illegal Chihuahua?”

“Her. The Senora. She just looks out the window lost in thought. Or else she sits there looking at the screen. Or else she talks on the phone, but otherwise she’s not doing anything. I bring her my pink-and-orange dragon to throw around and she barely notices. How do you not notice a pink-and-orange dragon?”

“This is her way of being upset, Henry.”

“That’s being upset? What about snarling? Barking? Snapping? What about rushing at the fence, Aussie?”

“The Senora doesn’t do things like that. In fact, the more upset she is, the more she just sits there.”

“Is that because she’s Zen, Aussie?”

“No, it’s because she’s the Senora. Doesn’t cry, doesn’t yell. Today I ran away for much of our morning walk and she didn’t even call my name. The quieter she gets, the more upset she is, Henry.”

“Why is she upset? Because I threw my turtle down the toilet? Because I flung Rosa the Rabbit across the table and her coffee spilled on the floor?”

“I think it’s because something that’s happening far, far away.”

“If it’s far away, who cares, Aussie?”

“Oh, so true, illegal Chihuahua. That’s the strange thing about these humans, Henry. They get upset about the darndest things. Just look at her, walking in the back yard slowly. Does she notice the bright orange leaves on the trees? She does not. Does she start cleaning up the dry leaves on the grass which scratch me all the time? Does she even care that they interfere with my nap? She does not.”

“I don’t think she even made her bed this morning, Aussie.”

“Oh oh. Did she leave clothes lying around?”

“Her ugly made-in-China gray sweatshirt and her warm yellow bathrobe. She left one slipper under the bed.”

“What happened to the other slipper?”

“I stole it. Now look at her, Aussie. She’s staring out towards the sunset. The phone rings but she doesn’t answer.”

“She keeps it open to talk to her family. There’s a war, all her nephews have had to leave home and go to fight, her brother’s talking about getting a gun. The Senora doesn’t know what to do, and you know how much she always likes to do things.”

“Do you think she’s going to go there, Aussie? I hate it when she’s not here, my toys get lonely.”

“I don’t think so, Henry. For one thing, there’s still no sign of the ancient black luggage she’s been lugging around with her for the last 25 years. It’s a bad sign when she brings it up from the basement. Also, on Wednesday she has cataract surgery.”

“You mean, she’s going down a waterfall?”

“I think it’s got something to do with her eyes, Henry. Thank God I have Leeann to walk me that day. What good’s a human that doesn’t walk her dog?”

“No good at all, Aussie.”

“Instead of worrying about other humans far away, she should do right by us, here and now. We’re right here, in front of her face, but she barely notices us. You know what conclusion I draw from that, Henry?”

“What, Aussie”?

“She’s a failure as a Zen teacher. She’s supposed to model equanimity, being upright at all times, peace and calm. Instead, she’s an emotional schmatte.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Aussie. She hasn’t rushed against the fence yet. But you know what? She didn’t sit this morning on the corner chair of her bedroom.”

“She didn’t sit, Henry? No meditation?”

“Left the blue Indian blanket on the chair alongside the maroon pillow. They haven’t been touched. Usually that’s the first place she goes when she gets up. I scratch and scratch at the door, but she won’t open it till she sat on that corner chair. But today she opened the door right up.”

“Not only a failed teacher, a failed meditator. Wait till I tell the newspapers.”

Hi everyone, Like some of you, I have strong emotional connections to what is transpiring now in Israel and Gaza. I spend lots of time on the phone and am getting the impression that some people would like to talk with others about what they’re going through now: fear, anxiety, anger, and a deep longing for this to end and finally have peace.
Unfortunately, my information is that things will get worse before they get better. This is just the beginning. How to stay upright?
I suggest a gathering of people on Zoom who would like to share their experiences and feelings right now, in the hope that we find in this meeting of hearts support and encouragement. Sharing how we feel helps me not feel alone. I suggest doing this tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10, at 3 pm US Eastern, or on Friday, 10/13, at 3:00 pm US Eastern. Please email back, to, and let me know if any of these interest you and I will send you a Zoom link.
If you yourself have no interest in this, you may know others who do. Feel free to forward this email to them as well.
May all be safe and happy. Eve

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Walking among the great redwoods.

I flew into Boston from Brazil in the first half of last March and landed in a blizzard. It was early Sunday morning. The friends who were coming to pick me up couldn’t make it in all the snow, so I took a bus to Boston South Station and summoned the elevator to take me up several floors to the big Departures lounge from where I could take a bus to Springfield.

When the elevator doors opened, there was an old man on the floor, skinny, head half hidden under a large woolen skull cap, asleep, belongings in a shopping cart alongside him. He didn’t wake up as the doors opened and my luggage rolled in; he didn’t wake up when I left.

I heard a silent voice addressing me: “You have no right to be cynical.”

The words stayed for a long time. Mostly I thought that they were pointing to my relative comfort and security in comparison to others, admonishing me not to give in to disappointment or pessimism, reminding me to be grateful.

Being grateful, or experiencing great-fullness, as Br. David Steindl-Rast likes to put it, is a practice I appreciate more and more every day. But like blessed (as in I am so blessed!), safe space (as in I need a safe space), and similar terms, it’s become a cliché, and inside I’ve detected an insidious, burgeoning allergy to cliches, especially faddish ones. This perfidious allergy causes me to question assumptions and seek companionship with others who do the same.

So I was very moved by the latest exchange between Charles Eisenstein and Benjamin Life. You can access this through Substack or subscribe directly to Eisenstein’s teachings and get them via email. Eisenstein talks about what happens when we look at photos from the past, the nostalgia we indulge in, and how confusing it could be to look at past images through the lens of the present:

“… [m]emories change as I change, and, to some extent, I rewrite the past in correspondence with who I am becoming. Aspects of the past that had been invisible at the time that I hadn’t noticed come into my awareness. Maybe these photographs can actually help that. They can break through the illusions I have about the past.”

Specifically, he talked about people with dementia. “Thinking of my own unprocessed grief that is brought up when I look at these old photographs, maybe the last phase of life is actually a time when the imperative of the soul to process and integrate everything becomes so overwhelming that you withdraw from your current environment and revisit and process again and again and again all of these episodes from the past and feel all of the things that you didn’t get a chance to feel back then because you were distracted or addicted or preoccupied. And now that your creative functions in the world are diminishing, it’s time to look at all of those things again.”

In other words, even dementia has value.

Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, I was moved by his refusal to fully accept current assumptions that dementia is all about limitations, mental debilitation, and the lack of normal functioning. It could be all those—and something else may be at play here. What we see as pathology may also be soul work.

It may also result in an enhanced palate. I spent some hours with Frank Ostaseski 4 days ago, teacher and leader in end-of-life care. It’s no secret that Frank had suffered a series of strokes that, among other things, have affected his vision; he has described that in various interviews.

It was while we were talking on the deck of his houseboat, drinking coffee and munching on pastries, that I realized what a flavoring his experiences have given him. I lived with Bernie for 3 years after his severe stroke, no one has to tell me of how stroke can physically disable us and take away capabilities—and they can also give us a new flavor.

So, if the old flavor was one of strength, action, and leadership, the new flavor brings other spices into the mix. Not just hot red pepper, which Bernie loved so much it stayed perpetually on the dining table, but also rosemary, cinnamon, and even arrowroot, for a deeper, richer, more flavorful dish.

And if service to the world has been very important to you till now, that newer, fuller flavor is just as much in service. Perhaps not as forcefully as before, with our vows, enthusiasm, passion, greater energy and determination, but finer now, more mature, imbued with love and curiosity, as Frank put it to me, both fueling one another.

Here is this unexpected new flavor. Did you know life could be like that? Did you know the meal could taste like that?  Did you know that this meal could have its own deliciousness?

I woke up this morning to news about war in Israel and Gaza once again. I’m told that the US media isn’t showing the half of it, so it’s time to tune into Israeli newspapers and TV. May everyone be well.

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“Good morning, Goddess, it’s good to see you,” Hal said.

That’s how Hal, the groundskeeper of the Montague Farm, where the Zen Peacemakers once had its headquarters, greets me. It’s how he greeted me this morning when I brought the dogs to the Farm after returning home Tuesday morning.

Hal isn’t his real name, I don’t use people’s real names without permission unless they’re public persons in some way. Hal is one of Henry’s best friends. As soon as he saw us, he stopped mowing the big septic field on the side of the hill, the one we’d built after the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rejected our application to build a more eco-friendly, sustainable alternative, and picked up some twigs to throw to Henry, who rushed over towards him with such exuberance I thought the little dog would take off and fly in the air.

We talked about how things were going for him, the people who’d taken over the Farm, the fall that had been so cold, then turned hot while I was on the West Coast, and is now slipping back to New England fall. I looked at the leaves beginning their turn and thought of how lucky I was to have lived through more than 20 New England autumns.

I’m reminded of relatively small things. Not the big things you see from tall vantage points, the gorgeous city at the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge or the violent, white Pacific waves crashing into this continent as seen from on high, but the small things, like the tiny wild purple asters growing at the top of cliffs, singing their song in a lower volume than the Pacific.

In between throws of twigs for Henry, Hal and I talked about what kind of an imprint we will leave on the land of the Farm. He considered himself lucky to be one of many who leaves something here.

It’s not how we first thought when Bernie and I, part of a 12-person convoy, arrived here. Then, we talked about what we were going to do with the land, not what the land would do with us. We learned. Boy, did we learn. So has everyone else who has been here, starting with Marshall Bloom and his coterie of radicals back in early 1970s, on to the Zen Peacemakers, and on to the present owners. Kicking and screaming, we learned to listen to the land.

I think listening is the first job of being a Goddess.

It was much warmer here than on the West Coast, but we’d had lots of rain here, much like the floods that hit New York City some days ago, remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia, and my sandals sloshed in the deep puddles that overlay the short grass, my feet sliding right inside them, everything getting dirty and wet.

That’s when I remembered Sam Lovejoy, a lawyer and local celebrity known for untying the ropes that held down a tower built in the 1970s as a first step towards developing a nuclear plant here. The tower fell, Sam admitted to everything, the nuclear plant was not built, and Sam was found not guilty by a jury of his peers in a trial that made national headlines.

Sam sat with us the first time we came here in early 2002 and told us that we could upgrade the old Farmhouse to meet code and, of course, renovate the old barn, but, he warned, don’t build small guest cabins on top of the hill because the water table is so high.

Bernie had planned to do just that, and while I was disappointed, he started tweaking things, finally making plans to build those cabins higher up in the woods above the rushing creek. Tweaking is a wonderful Zen practice, the equivalent of meandering during street retreats: If this doesn’t work, I’ll go left, or I’ll go right, or maybe I should go up, down, anywhere else.

Those cabins didn’t happen, either, and while Bernie had plenty of disappointments, he often told me: “Nine out of ten things I plan don’t work out. That’s a good percentage, I think.”

One other thing I recalled this morning as I sloshed through puddles after parting from Hal. Bernie didn’t like the word try, as in: Okay, I’ll try to raise that money, or I’ll try to bake that cake, or I’ll try to become a vegetarian. “Don’t try,” he used to say, “just do it. If it works out, fine. If it doesn’t work out, also fine. Don’t try.”

No halfhearted approaches to life for him. Nor for me.

Welcome home, Eve.

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Photo by Harvey Hacker

I arrived at the Sacramento Airport early, only to go round and round the rental car return in vain (and in the dark) looking for the entrance to the Budget/Avis Rental Car Return. I’m some 8 days before cataract surgery and the lights were few even in the airport. I think I went around at least three times till I found the way into the field and returned the car.

“Hi, Eve,” says a young woman with long dreadlocks, a couple of nose rings and lots of tiny dot earrings on both ear lobes, moving her wand around the sideview mirror.

I’ve stopped asking stupid questions like: “How do you know my name?” If anything, now when people wave wands around my car, I expect more questions, like: “Did you put on weight since you first checked in in Portland?” or “How was the shopping at the Japan Center in San Francisco?”

Bernie used to say that in this one life, there is no such thing as secrets—and that was well before this technical age. Nothing is withheld.

“I like your name,” she added. “My daughter’s name is Evangeline. Close.”

“What’s your name?” I asked her.

“Samantha. Sam,” she said. “It means God hears me.”

I think She heard me, too. Presence was everywhere in this trip, be it in Portland, walking in redwoods forests, looking way down and across the Pacific, watching the white curtain of fog part to reveal San Francisco and remind me how beautiful it is.

But mostly it was the people I talked to, who listened deeply and were ready to plunge right into the things that matter: not the weather, not the trials of Donald Trump, but rather: What are you doing now? What’s giving you energy and renewal? Who and what’s giving you love?

I told a few of them what I heard from Bernie years ago. I asked him about the face-to-face that Zen teachers do with students. He told me: “A lot of people come to see me. They want all kinds of things from me, but do you know what they really want, Eve?”

“What, Bernie?”

“They want me to listen to them.”

“What about a practice, guidance, koans, some way to train?”

“They say they want this or that, but do you know what they really want from you, Eve?”

“No, what, Bernie?”

“They want you to listen to them.”

It’s still taking time, and little by little I learn to do that. To listen to friends across two tall candles on a dining table while far outside cars light up the Bay Bridge at night and cruise ships blast a final farewell as they pull out onto the bay, to an old companion from street retreats sharing coffee with me outside Café Grecco, looking at large photos of a man who’d died a year ago and remembering him with so much love as his wife tells me about their last years together, speaking of how love and curiosity fuel each other as we get older while sitting on the deck of a houseboat and munching on lemon and almond croissants.

Listening to waves crashing against big black boulders, the silent song of ancient trees, the pelicans flying over Sausalito and Tiburon in formation like jet planes.

Soaking in love and friendship, cherishing and being cherished.

So much gratitude to Jane and Harvey, Chris Panos, Joan Hoeberichts, Frank Ostaseski, Bob and Jean.

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Cape Perpetua, Florence, Humbug Mountain, Redwoods National Park. Eureka. Fort Bragg, Mendocino, where I’ve finally settled down for an indulgent croissant and cappuccino.

Sent a last-minute, impulsive email this morning to an old boyfriend who lives or lived somewhere here with his wife, asking if we can meet, leaving it like that. I don’t even know if he’s still living since he was 13 years older than me. If he gets it, will mine be a voice from the past? What does a voice from the past sound like?

In tired nights, capping many hours of driving and trying to get comfortable on sagging motel mattresses, I read the fascinating novel Time Shelter by the Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov, which is all about how easy it is to take refuge in the past, with its music, scents, lingo, and a big future still ahead, especially as people start losing their memories or their mind.

I’m not there. If the ex-boyfriend were to come here and sit across from me, we’d smile with the echo of our joint memories, maybe talk a little about Bernie whom he certainly knew, but the life would come from now—How are you? What is exciting now? What drives you, makes you happy? The answers to those questions would contain everything, the energy of past years, the shrinking future, all viscerally alive right now.

There’s not just confusion in time but also geography. Back home in Western Massachusetts, when I look west to a sun setting behind beech trees, I see the entire United States, state after state lying adjacent to each other like bales of hay over a few thousand miles. The rest of the country lies there. Two hours east is Boston and the Atlantic Ocean, followed by Europe which I’d visited often enough, and the Middle East, of which there’s lots to say but not now.

Here, when I look west there’s only the ocean, with white breakers smashing against gigantic boulders off the Oregon coast, and across from that, Asia. Highway 101 is dotted with signs: Entering Tsunami Alert Zone and Leaving Tsunami Alert Zone., reminding me that I’m not in Kansas anymore. Standing on many lookouts as I drove south, I thought of how this country (which often, after reading the morning newspaper, I think I barely know) was now behind me, and ahead there are only waves coming and receding, coming and receding.

I am writing this in a café, watching people like me coming in and out, white, leisurely, with money to burn on organic espressos and avocado omelettes. Don’t do this back home so I’m happy to do it here and now, but can’t help noticing that the front desk cashiers are all slim, tall, and white, while those who bring in the coffee and take away the dishes are Latino, wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the café, which the front-desk cashiers do not.

Just like in the two motels I stayed in, Reception is occupied by an Indian man holding a little baby in one hand as he types with his other hand and gives me my room key, or last night an Indian mother giving me an exhausted smile at 8 pm when I checked in, a scar ringing one of her dark eyes. She wished me a good night and was there today to wish me a good morning and to have a good day, which I wished her, too.

I will finish this, and if ex-boyfriend doesn’t arrive, will look into neighboring shoe store, continue to Santa Rosa for lunch, and in late afternoon proceed to San Francisco to stay with a wonderful woman whom I love and admire, with her husband, on Telegraph Hill. Hang out with another dear friend on Saturday, and another on Sunday, and more on Monday before heading back home on a Red-Eye.

How have I merited such close friendships? It’s not me at all, it’s just the Big Bang still banging away, creating and exploding and bursting forth. It can’t help itself. On a personal level, may my life continue to give birth again and again. They tell me I’m past reproductive age, but I don’t believe it, not for one second.

I went to a gas station bathroom after crossing into California yesterday and saw the sign below. Have a look.

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Photo by Joseph Bobrow

“The lifespan of a particular plant or animal appears, not as drama complete in itself, but only as a brief interlude in a panorama of endless change.”

I thought of Rachel Carson’s words when I visited the Rose Garden in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. The cloud cover had given way for just a few hours of sun, and we went from row to row, peering carefully at the flavors of each flower, watching as some shed petals down to the ground while others held raindrops like necklace beads. Not that they needed necklaces.

We also bent carefully to sniff their scent. What you do is you get closer, bend your head, get even closer, and when you stand back up, you’re no longer the same.

My friend took a reluctant photo of me (I’m always reluctant around cameras), and when I looked at it, to my surprise, one of the roses lay on top of my shoulder like a corsage a young boyfriend misplaced from bumbling enthusiasm, or perhaps like some giant earring that dangles too far down.

Rachel Carson speaks of things not being just themselves, but brief interludes of change. She might have added that things aren’t just themselves but beads of an endless necklace that connects all beings. It wasn’t just me bending towards the flowers, the flowers bent towards me. Not because I was the sun and not because I was a propagating bee, but because I was their sangha, their community of a sort.

They bent towards me, and I bent towards them. Did we meet anywhere? Does it matter? It’s the inclination towards, the aspiration, the longing met or unmet, that counts. That, and the dropping petals, the passing clouds overhead, the wet, brisk wind that talked not of satisfaction or disappointment but of the endlessness of it all.

Why smell roses in Portland? I live out in nature, with flowers growing at my Kwan-yin’s feet in the back. Why go to a garden in a different city? Maybe because I don’t have enough sun to grow roses by my house. But even if I did, Portland roses smell differently from New England roses.

In my last post I wrote that every time I travel, I wake up that morning and ask myself: Why exactly am I leaving home? Tell me, is there a better reason for leaving home than to smell roses in Portland?

I’ve begun my drive down to San Francisco. Hundreds of miles, 300 today, passing Cannon Beach, Newport, the Siuslaw Forest, with a motel stop in Florence overnight. Maybe I’ll stop at a cave to see sea lions, depending on the time.

Driving west from Portland towards the ocean, a coyote ran on the road and I braked hard to let him cross.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Cormorant youngsters in Ogunquit, Maine. Photo by Cynthia Taberner

I’m sitting on a plane for a trip to the West Coast: Portland, Oregon, then down to San Francisco, Sacramento, and back home. I just figured out how to turn off the explosive scenes on the small screen in front of me, an invite from Direct TV to be entertained from morning to night.

When I left the house Aussie was chewing her Sunday morning marrow bone on her warm rug, Henry throwing his stuffed turtle up in the air for about the 1,500th time, Lori doing her weekend laundry, and rain outside.

It never fails. On the morning I leave for a trip, or the evening before, I find myself asking the same question: Why are you going? So much prep work before you even leave: Straightening out the house before you go, making sure Lori has everything to take care of dogs and house in my absence, completing things that can’t wait for 9 days, not to mention packing and traveling to airport.

But what most causes me to question my plan is appreciating what I have: the comforting light that comes in through the window, the coziness of the book by my bed, the coffee machine making good Italian coffee, the unfailing routine that sometimes feels monotonous and other times surprisingly rich—and I leave that for what?

This time, not to see family, not to teach or do other work, but to see friends.

Love comes in many guises. There’s the one that’s romantic, one-on-one. It emphasizes the specialness of one other person, the listening, caring, and loving space jointly created. Over the years your individual identity gets embedded with the other; if you don’t understand that early, you sure get it when one of you dies and you wonder: Who am I without him or her?

I discovered the answer to that through my work, but more so through my relationships with family, friends, and students. If before I was counting on one other person to be my mirror and reflect me back to me (not a job Bernie, bless his big heart, excelled in), now I find my image reflected back to me by many mirrors, each focusing on one or another dimension. Acknowledgment comes from students focusing on practice and encouragement, from friends focusing on long history, the fun of working together over many years, the deep-hearted resonance that has built up over time, and from my siblings the unconditional support and love that we have worked to develop among us over many years and over many miles of distance.

None of this was easy; none happened automatically. Without care and attention, relationships of all kinds turn fallow and lie supine on the ground, unfed, unwatered, just another brown blade of grass that’ll disappear soon with the onset of winter.

I promised myself some years ago that I will not live in an emotional desert, that I want to be held in the cross-current of reciprocal love and appreciation, of feeding and being fed, at the heart of give-and-take.

I’m an introvert. Inside is where I go for energy, comfort, reassurance. The woods also hold me. So does this trip, to see faces I haven’t seen in a long time, catch up, enjoying shared allusions and experiences, and always curious: So, what are you doing now? Tell me who you pretend you are now, and I’ll tell you who I pretend I am.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


“It’s Saturday night and I’m bored.”


“Because it’s just me, nothing else around except water. Water water everywhere. Gray and silent. I’m bored. Maybe I’ll create some forms.”

“Forms? Why? I like everything formless, just like now. One big nothing. That’s what I call religion.”

“Maybe, but it’s very boring. You know what? Tomorrow I’m going to get to work. Start creating some light.”


“Lack of darkness.”

“You‘ll be sorry. Darkness is so much easier on the eyes.”

“That’ll take the day. After that, put on some Netflix. But on Monday I get back to work.”

“Why work? Just say Bang!

“Okay. On Monday I’ll say Bang! and a universe will appear.”

“I hate Mondays. After that, go on vacation. You’ve done enough. Just think of all that space!”

“I need the ground under my feet.”

“You don’t have feet.”

“I need something solid and stable. On Tuesday I’ll create Earth.”

“What’s an Earth?”

“An Earth is solid and stable. You know levitation?”

“Is there a spiritual being who doesn’t know levitation?”

“It’s the opposite of that. You come down to earth, you don’t go up in the air. And I think I’ll add a few things, like sequoias, grasses, sage, and mums.”

“We don‘t need more stage sets!”

“The next day I’ll—”

“Say Bang! again?”

“No, I’ll create suns, moons, and stars.”

“But you already created a universe.”

“I made a mistake, I created too much dark matter.”

“You don’t make mistakes, at least not in theory. Of course, this one will be a doozy!”

“With suns and moons we’ll have days, months, and years.”

“Also, to-do lists.”

“Speaking of which, on Thursday—”

“Hey, what about pacing your glorious self? Take a day off, go to a spa.”

“On Thursday I’m creating Fish and Fowl.”

“Not Dungeons and Dragons? Red Dead Redemption? Super Mario?”

“On Friday I‘m making things that will walk the Earth. Cows, saber-tooth tigers, spiders, skunks, snakes.”

“Could we cancel the snakes?”

“If you slither hither and thither, if you shiver and quiver, if you got the muscle to hustle, if you walk, stalk—”

“I got it, I got it! If you can do any of those things, you appear on Friday. Take it from me, you’re creating a lot of unnecessary confusion.”

“And finally, just before sunset on Friday, I’ll create humans.”

“Why, for Your sake?”

“I’m bored dancing solo. I need partners.”

“You’re indefinable. You‘re birthless, deathless, beyond time and space, beyond beyond.”

“Also, bored.”

“You’ll be sorry. Too many forms, too many relationships, too much mishigas. When do we watch TV?”

“Saturday. We rest on Saturday. Sleep late. Have a nice breakfast. You like eggs?”

“It’ll be too loud. Too many sights and smells. And kids! You know how I feel about kids! And malls! Kids in malls! Take it from me, you’ll miss the gray water and the silence. You’ll miss the boredom. And we’re so happy here, just the one of us.”

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


I hung up the laundry outside, hoping the sun will dry it by end of day, then noticed the colorful leaves already on the ground and took the above photo. There it is, enough of summer’s warmth to dry even the jeans and sofa covering, while reminders of fall lie all around me.

We’re in in-between times. I’m in that zone quite a bit.

On my way to the laundry lines, carrying a white bin of laundry, I slipped on one of Henry’s newer toys, the pink dinosaur with yellow wings (it doesn’t have a name yet, Pinky is still taken by his old pink elephant). Our indoor floors and outdoors grass, not to mention the more dangerous stairs, are dotted with his toys.

I looked around me while spending a few moments on my butt, taking in the toy and the small depression in the grass that has been there for many years but which I forgot about. Thought of Quarterback Aaron Rodgers falling and hurting himself on his first outing with the New York Jets, only I don’t plan to be out for the season. Also thought of how quickly I like to get up on my feet and go on with my day, as if nothing happened.

That’s exactly what I did. But things don’t happen for no reason. One reason for the fall is my neglect of the toy and depression in the ground. And other reasons?

The New York Jets started checking and rechecking their turf right away after Rodgers’ fall, but when things bring me down like that, I don’t think of turf but rather energy.  What is this pointing me to? What energy is propelling me too fast and too strongly, or what energy is lacking or missing? Am I being pointed in a new direction even as I make my way to the laundry lines hanging out in back?

“There is more than one lane in a highway,” says my New Hampshire friend on the phone.

Her memory’s gone a bit goofy, and mine also because I can’t remember the context in which she said this. I called to wish her a happy Jewish new year, we talked about how scary things were (her words, not mine, followed by my cautioning her not to scare herself to death), and then she said the above. I quickly wrote it down. I try to move fast when I hear or see things that strike me even when at first, I don’t know why.

“I don’t believe in distractions,” I told someone else, this time in Florida, that very day.

I had a bad interaction with a friend, a co-worker did some harm, a family member is sick—all are part of life. It’s why the Buddha said that life is suffering no matter how you cut it. Something happens that doesn’t bode well, doesn’t meet expectations, and we want to just turn the page. Get back to normal, get back to routine, get the earth under our feet again. I’m all for cultivating stability one way or another, but falling on your face can also bring rewards.

“There is more than one lane in a highway.” Even on our country roads, if a tractor is going slowly or a bike rider is laboring her way up the hill, it’s perfectly acceptable to cross the double yellow lines and pass them.

Landing on my butt next to a full laundry bin (how had I managed to keep it upright?) made me wonder: Have I been driving on the same lane far too long and it’s time to switch? Does laundry day always have to take place on Wednesday?

The life dance is never about me because it’s cosmic. I find myself partnered first with one dancer, then another, often moving from place to place. The dance makes no promises and doesn’t ask for permission. The only question I face is whether to put up obstructions or go with it. Call it a distraction and go on with life as usual, pretend I never fell on the grass, make believe that nothing much is happening? Really?

For the Jewish new year (my family spends lots of time on the phone with each other on the eve of), my brother wished for me renewal in at least one area of life. Instantly I felt creative juices flowing, new thoughts rising. How do I make a new move, even a small one?

I don’t pretend to be in balance. Buoy up and feel like flying, get tripped up by a pink dinosaur with yellow wings, and look around me at the yellow leaves on the green grass. Yes, time’s a-flying. At the same time, there are so many in-between times.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

Make a Donation to My Blog Donate To Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.