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photo by Jennifer Bloom


(from Within My Illusions)

the way we make wishes

by spreading the seeds

of a weed.

the way sunlight dances

on the water like rain,

shimmers like fireflies

between blades of grass

that grow in the lake.

the blurred edge of land and water.

the way rocks appear black and barren

as they jut from the ocean

and the way flowers grow

on those lifeless stones

in tones of amethyst, jade, citrine.

the way charts can predict tides,

but not patterns of movement

as waves rebound off the shore

and one another.

the way salt in water can both soothe and sting.

the way my heart can hold

a wellspring of grief

and also the feeling

of being a bird in flight,

that it can go to the depths

and still find surprise and delight

in the sweet-tart nectar of a freshly-picked peach

as it drips down my chin, the tears

as they drip down my cheeks.

the way vulnerability can be powerful,

emptiness complete,

and darkness illuminating.

and the way that I and we

are one and not

the same.

You can hear me read "paradox" in this video, which includes an audio excerpt from the Within My Illusions Listening Experience along with a photo I took on the 2017 trip to the California Bay Area that inspired the poem.

I often think about this poem around the June solstice, remembering a long afternoon of wandering along the California coastline. Leaving a visit with a friend one afternoon and without an agenda for the rest of the day, I decided to turn off the GPS on my phone and follow my inner guidance back to the inn where I was staying in a small town two hours up the coast. Without a plan and with plenty of daylight hours ahead of me (and the Pacific Ocean as my navigation companion), I followed each impulse as it arose, stopping when I felt drawn to take a picture or explore an area.

Once I let go of my craving for direction, I relaxed into the ease and joy of noticing what was around me, of paying attention to the moment, and going with the flow of the unplanned plan. I arrived back at the inn just in time to watch the sun dip into the water while I dined on the fruit and other farm stand goodies I had picked up along the way.

Ever since that trip, I've been experimenting with bringing more and more of the spirit of the unplanned plan into my life. Admittedly, this can be more difficult for me in the day-to-day than on vacation. Often my practice is simply to notice when my efforts feel like they have momentum behind them and when it feels like I'm swimming upstream.

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a mini-retreat near where I live in Austin, Texas. The place where I was staying had a labyrinth in the woods. Since it was there, I decided I would walk it. I winded my way along the paths outlined by limestone rocks, occasionally navigating my body around the trees that were on the way. When I reached the center, the path turned me around to travel back out the same ground I had tread on my way in, though this time with a different perspective on the landscape. When I reached the end, which was also the beginning, a thought arose: What would it take to let go of all your striving and just be where you are?

Wishing you a week of beautiful wandering and extraordinary ordinary.

With love,


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