The Wolfku Garden - 14

My morning poem
Alive from lack of this world
Come evening she’s dead

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 Quite often, I wake up in the middle of the night with some snippet of a poem or a suddenly urgent question or a nicely dancing set of seventeen syllables that claim to be a Wolfku refusing to let me fall all the way back to sleep until I make a note of it/them—lest I forget it/them come my four-a.m. morning.

To accommodate this, I have a ream or so of copy paper in my bedside stand drawer along with a trusted mechanical pencil, and these days I can reach out, pull the drawer open and select a sheet of paper (and fold it in half) along with the pencil (that I bought many years ago in a department store in Clearwater, Florida where the sales clerk categorically told me they absolutely had no mechanical pencils—ten steps after which I stumbled upon the display of them), and turn on my bedside lamp and without really waking up all the way write the snippet, question, Wolfku down. Then I clip the pencil to the folded sheet (facilitating reaching for the sheet and pencil again for the invariable revisions to sail into my head a minute or five or ten from now) and place it on top of the ream or so of still innocent sheets of paper.

Then I turn out the light, roll over onto my left side and try to re-enter sleep. An often-thankless task.

Yes, occasionally, I’ll drift back, but most of the time I muse the snippet or Wolfku a little and if I do I’ll invariably come up with something which I now have to write down, too, lest I forget it come morning.

So, I do: reach for the folded shee and pencil, turn on the light again and revise/add/refine/re-write, etc. the thought in question.

Then I return paper and pencil and try again to sleep, which more often than not leads to another revision.

Here, though, is the curious and often wonderful thing: The poem or the thought (since it is all that is going on for me at this hour of night), even if patently strange, makes perfect sense to me and strikes me as not only meaningful but perhaps important, too. Mankind needs to know of this (that’s why I cannot afford to forget these things, or so I tell myself).

My alarm goes off at 4 a.m. at which point I rise, silence the alarm and turn the cell phone off (I’m using an old, decommissioned but excellent cell phone as my alarm), brush my teeth, exercise, shave and shower, then do my morning sitting (Anapanasati Meditation). After that I usually read for an hour or so (Dhamma) and reflect on wise words uttered or written by wise people.

I then check/retrieve my night-time notes and enter them either in my journal or as a new Wolfku, etc.

Then it’s time to walk.

And still, even now, the night-time notes, the morning poem, my noted thoughts ring true, remain alive in me for lack of this awake (and very intrusive) world. Too much of the night still surrounds and permeates me (for meditation and reading and reflecting does not disturb that mood overly) to ruin the heart of the poem: yes, it still lives, and often I’ll worry it and revise a little during my walk.

However, upon arrival back from my hour’s walk, the awake world now makes a serious push for dominance as it arrives with its emails and blog posts and news and soccer scores and music to be selected to chop salad by, then the actual chopping and now the sitting down to the meal itself (it’s around 10 a.m., now, and this is my lunch).

And from there the day goes on. There’s yardwork to be done, there’s mail to collect, there’s shopping to do, there more email, there might be an article to write, and there is more and more awake world pushing out more and more night-time ditto, and by late afternoon or early evening, the poem has as often as not lost not only its meaning and importance but its breath, too. If I haven’t forgotten it altogether, it certainly seems no longer at all important.

As luck would have it, though, come next morning—the awake world cleared out of my head again, the poem (or one of its many siblings, newly born overnight or not) is alive and breathing again.

Perhaps I should never fully wake up, would that keep my poems alive? Or I should completely and forever wake up transcending all nights. Possibly the latter.


The Wolfku Garden - 13

Shiny metal skin
These animals have round legs
and very bad breath

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Let’s say you’re an alien. Perhaps you’re just visiting, or perhaps it’s your very bad luck and you’ve been incarcerated here for some not inconsiderable crime or crimes (or you wouldn’t find yourself here, among the rest of us crims, methinks) and time.

Either way, now you’re walking down your first road early one morning, your first earthly stroll. Everything is new, unfamiliar, threatening, and not a little scary to be honest. And, now, up ahead, this beast approaching:

You have never seen anything like it.

It shines. Its skin is metal-like if not actually metal and in such strange colors. And there’s glass. No, not the eyes, no, for those are further down, at the end of its broad, huge nose: shining glass eyes—lit from within by danger. No, the glass that hijacks your attention is covering both the front chest and side shoulders and the back of this strange, strange, menacing creature. Where there isn’t metal, there’s glass. Some on top of the head, even.

And feet. Four of them as per usual, but these feet are all round; and they seem to pivot. This beast is not walking or stalking or leaping, it is, strange to say, yes, rolling. Yes, that’s what it does.

And sticking out its back, where the bum should be (or perhaps is, what do I know) is a round pipe which spews the worst breath ever: dark, brown or gray or black but it really stinks.

For a few terrifying moments you think it’s coming for you, straight for you, and it will open its gigantic maw and devour you, but then it shifts its course a little and veers by you missing you by a foot or two and (yes, you’ll probably think I’m dreaming but I looked at the glass as it passed me by) and it seemed to be another beast inside this beast, wielding a round sort of instrument of some kind.

Really, this is the strangest thing ever.

No wonder people tell you to stay away from this place. Very few things make sense here.

Oh boy, here comes another one. Louder. Growling. Spewing. Rolling, veering, missing, hurling down the road.

Rolling metal beasts.



The Wolfku Garden - 12

He lied: a crime worse
than killing—for trusting him
we could die and die

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I am paraphrasing the Buddha here. But this is the essence of what he said: Lying is a more severe and devastating and deadly crime and sin than is killing.

Why?

Because if you “only” kill someone, you’ve only destroyed one life, but if you lie to him or her—especially in matters of the spirit (and some founders of religions knowingly lied and some leaders of religious sects or cults or branches, some knowingly though some perhaps not, continue to do so to this day)—and steer this man or woman in the wrong direction, away from truth, you may well have killed him or her a thousand times over, since by following your advice true liberation will elude the lied-to and the true path home may not be (re)discovered for aeons. That means you have killed him or her many, many times over.

Is this a stretch?

On the surface, yes, perhaps. And if you do not under any circumstances accept reincarnation or re-birth as a concept or phenomenon, yes, perhaps it is a stretch, for you. But if you allow for re-birth, or even the remotest possibility of it, and if you face and accept that the most important mission any of us has here on this little planet of ours is to wake up and make our way out of this prison/trap, then a wrong steer would clearly be far more catastrophic to our long-term well-being and sanity than a mere loss of a single body.

Not to mention the many hopes such lying dashes.

Yes, I believe this to be true.


The Wolfku Garden - 11

A thousand strange rules
An alternate universe
some call Photoshop

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If I’m not mistaken, you can actually get a Master’s Degree in Photoshop these days, if not a Doctorate. Seriously. This, of course, should surprise nobody since that’s pretty much what it takes these days to wrap your wits around this (monstrous and ever-expanding) thing.

Me, I’ve stood at the doorstep of this strange universe a few times (using, or attempting to constructively use, Photoshop Essentials) but I’ve never quite made it past the vestibule of this mighty software and its many tentacles.

Then it dawns on me, it’s a conspiracy, a plan most evil.

In fact, the human race can now be divided into two distinct and very separate (as in light years apart) factions: whose who understand and use Photoshop and those, like me and the other seven and a half billion plus normal folks, who don’t.

The Photoshop race is small and exclusive and they are not native to our solar system, much less our planet; I have come to that conclusion. In fact, they are a subtle (or not so subtle—once the scales have fallen from your astonished eyes) invasion by aliens who will soon make their move to take over this Earth of ours.

The first alien who landed (and took human form—his/her/its name was Adobe) invented Photoshop as the gateway of communication between him/her/it and all who were to follow and did (and still do). Only they really understand what Photoshop is all about and what it can do, and it is what keeps them organized, up-to-date on their plans, and synchronized toward that big Orson-Wells-like day ahead.

Yes, I have a feeling that they will strike soon, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that if you have tried to understand and use Photoshop, and failed, well, then (at least) you are not an alien. Good thing to know, yes?

Alien conspiracy theories aside, why do we need Photoshop? (Realize that a Photoshop-pro thinks me crazy for even asking).

I  am not a good photographer by any stretch and were it not for the digital camera I would hardly ever take a good picture—but when you can take a hundred or so shots of that one subject and all it costs you is time and heavy use of the delete button to rid the world of the ninety-nine or so that look questionable at best to keep the one that might do you proud—well, then even I can come up with somewhat respectable shots.

And so, with the one good frame in the digital bag, what do I do next? First and foremost, I used Windows 10’s “Photos” which gives me all the tools I need for cropping, color-tweaking, etc. at least ninety percent of the time. It’s made for photo-dummies like me. I understand “Photos” and I can apply it. The designers did a good job, with guys like me in mind. They are all from this planet, these guys—and like it here.

Should I need to edit the image further (say for more effects) I turn to one of four (or more than one) different very good photo-editing apps:

The old, proven standby “Paint” for resizing and text;

“Fused” for merging (overlaying) two images into one;

“Photomatix” for bracketed pics, or single pics (this program provides excellent effects); and

“Polarr” for additional fine-tuning and effects.

That said, “Photos” and “Paint” does it for me just about always, and when I look at the result, I’m happy. Some other people, too, look at the picture and seem happy with it. Would Photoshop make it better?

I guess the Photoshop-pro would say yes, and possibly, he or she could. But would the improvement be detectable by anyone not stemming from the Photoshop universe? I don’t know.

My other thought on this is that with the advent of programs as powerful as Photoshop, where you can (I believe) rescue even badly taken shots and make them look wonderful, is not the skill, the art of photography itself being made redundant/obsolete? Again, I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I’ve tried to wrap my wits around this massive program and I’ve always come up short and confused and very much of this world.

And always very happy to return to “Photos” and “Paint” — my two old and trusted Ps.


The Wolfku Garden - 10

The rose: tall and proud
The blade of grass: envious
The sky loves them both

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Along Pebble Beach Drive, where I walk each morning, there are many nice houses, some with beautiful and well-tended gardens, some with many and wonderful flowers.

The flower in question, the “rose” of this Wolfku was one of those, but it was not a rose. What kind of flower it was, I don’t know. But it stood tall, and it stood proud and rose just came to mind.

Surrounding it at every turn, grass. Lots of it. Some blades shorter than others. All, though, seeming to enviously eye their tall and beautiful cousin stretching toward the sun, blithely lapping the warming morning light.

The thing though, the thing that struck me, was that they all inhale carbon dioxide and they all exhale oxygen. They are all tended to more or less equally by the sun and they share the same sky. And this sky, that I share with them too, does not discriminate in the least. It loves the rose and the blade equally, supplying them equally with their sustenance same as the sun beaming down through the sky arrives at the doorstep of both rose and blade asking to be let in.

I wish I could talk rose, or blade, and then I would have told them this and perhaps also pointed out that there is reason neither for pride nor envy, the sky loves them both, equally.

Not so sure that particular rose would have listened, though. It did look mighty please with itself.


The Wolfku Garden - 9

Who made such a world
Where for one being to live
another must die?

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This, I admit, is a recurring theme because it is a thought and a notion and a perplexity and a question that refuses to leave me alone.

Here it is expressed for the first time (well, for my first time) in a five-seven-five Wolfku, and it states my quandary quite clearly: on this planet (and for all I know, in this universe) we have to compete for food, and in this competition someone always has to die, whether that someone is a blade of grass, a carrot, a chicken, a cow, a shrimp, a bird, a worm, you name it, someone (and I used the pronoun someone because it is alive, it is a being of some sort) has to give up his, or her, or its life to feed someone else. The only life forms here on earth that are not born killers are plants (nice beings that they are) who live on sunshine and what chemicals the earth provides.

I was raised a Christian. Well, sort of. I was certainly raised to believe that God was good, not an evil bone in his Godly body. All-merciful God, the all-compassionate God, the all-forgiving God. Yet, yet, if I’m to believe that He did in fact create the Heavens and the Earth according to His plan (which my maternal grandmother—mormor—certainly drummed into me all summer long during my forming years: four through eleven or so), He has set up a really messed-up game here. Does the all-merciful One really enjoy all this incessant killing? Why on earth would He? How on earth could He? Cheap kicks? One can only shake one’s earthly, bewildered head.

I picture the earth worm hanging on for (literally) dear life to the, yes, earth while the little (cute, sure) bird has the worm by its tail and pulls with all its might to dislodge the recalcitrant critter who seems to want to go on living. From the bird’s perspective: perhaps her chicks are starving, perhaps they are near death, and if so, at this point it’s either the earth worm or the chicks. Truly, a bird no-brainer. From the worm’s perspective: life’s been good so far, and this actually hurts. I am not letting go, though. A worm no-brainer.

And God, watching (as He watches every critter and creature on earth—including, if my grandmother is to be believe, each and every thought of each and every being as well), is He getting his fill of kicks now? Does He enjoy the earthworm’s struggle to stay alive? Does he enjoy the starving chicks back in the nest?

Surely, surely, had He wanted to, He could have designed and arranged a much better, a much more merciful food-chain—say, one that would let us all live and grow on sunshine. Since, supposedly, He is all-knowing, all-seeing, incredibly smart and clever, no one’s going to tell me that conceiving of a non-killing food supply for all His critters would be beyond his ken, that would be a little sacrilegious, no? So, He would have been (and still is) capable of a kinder, more merciful way of keeping all His children alive and well.

So, and that is really the question, why didn’t He? Why on earth didn’t He? Yes, I know, Man has since written a book called the Bible and in this book it says (Genesis 1:28): And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

That verse is also known as the terrestrial carte blanche: yes, go ahead and subdue, kill whatever you want and eat it. You’re at the top of the food chain. They’re your slaves and minions. Well done.

I can only shake my earthly, bewildered head again.

We have a stellar contradiction here, far too large (and obvious) to notice for most of us: the kindest Being in the Universe has designed the cruelest game in the Universe. And that sits well with most of us?

Again, this earthly, bewildered head shakes.


The Wolfku Garden - 8

The seagull through fog
Silent, airy, wing—wing steps
Fainter, into white

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Another foggy morning. Not that the seagulls care. Or perhaps they do.

Usually, though, you’d see them from afar—winged artists of wind and current. Quite often I’d not only see them sail above me, but beside me and even below me, for I’m walking along a bluff about thirty feet above the sandy beach below (and further out the ocean), and the gulls, gliding twenty-five feet about the sand glide five feet below me. It’s a wonderful sight, that, for not only does it give you a close-up of beak and eye, but also a real sense of their size on the wing, a three-feet span I’d guess.

Yes, usually, you’d see the gulls from afar, either shooting up into the air from the beach below, or just riding high on some up-draft or surfing on a strong wind. This morning though, in the dense fog, what gulls I saw appeared out of a milky nowhere and only flashed by or above me for a breath or two, before disappearing back into the fog—this particular one slowly, gradually, growing mistier and mistier, fainter and fainter, until the undisturbed white of the fog was restored, leaving no gull-traces at all.

From nothing: emerging gull, gull, fading back into nothing.

There’s a lesson here somewhere.


The Wolfku Garden - 7

One bark, many chirps
The fog is dense this morning
Voices carry well

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Each morning, after first limbering up a little, then some exercise, then my morning meditation, and then after half a grapefruit and some reading and contemplation while sipping my green tea, I head out for my daily morning walk.

I live in a (perfect) cabin a short walk from the Pacific Ocean, and I count myself very lucky to be able to walk along its amazing shore twice a day, an opportunity I seldom fail to avail myself of (you know, some people drive half a continent just to see this water).

As a rule, I take a longer (3.7 miles) walk in the morning and a shorter (1.3 miles) walk in the afternoon, which usually includes sitting down for a while to take in the curving space of all this Pacific water—for a total of 5 miles a day.

I like the number five.

I also like the number eight, which is how many kilometers (which, of course, I also like, being Swedish and all) I walk daily.

I like kilometers, too, but they’re not of much use here, only inside my head and to make up the number eight.

Be that, though, as it may, the morning that saw this Wolfku bop to the surface was very foggy, and as I walked I noticed (or thought I noticed) how well sounds carry in the fog.

Yes, so I thought, until I some time later Googled it only to find out that voices do not carry better in fog, quite the opposite—the tiny water particles that make up the fog actually interfere with the propagation of the sound waves, and diffuses and weakens the sound.

Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty.

And now I had to ask myself, how come I thought sounds—like the seals barking, like the birds chirping—actually sounded louder and clearer in this dense fog? I can only think of two things:

There were fewer cars out and about that morning, so less disturbance auto-wise, and what cars there were would have been, to some extent, trusting Google to tell the truth, muffled. Not, to share another rather amazing thing about this place, that there are ever many cars out and about when I walk. Some days I can count the number I meet (or that overtake me) on my fingers—and that’s for an hour’s walk.

And the other thing I can think of is the phenomenon where one sense sharpens when another is dulled: I could see a lot less with all that fog, perhaps my ears picked up the slack and simply heard better.

Because, really, it felt like I was walking through a mist of sounds. The grove immediately to my right, perhaps twenty feet way, though hidden in the mist, seemed to teem with birds, chattering away at full voice; and the seals out on Castle Rock (which I could not see either, of course) seemed like, well, it seemed like the whole rock was a lot closer than I know it is.

And so, the logical conclusion as I turned and headed back home again, was that sound must travel better and clearer in fog; after all, a Wolfku surfaced just to prove it.

And who am I to argue with that.

Sound does travel better, and farther under water, though. Counter-intuitive though it might be, Google agrees.