Friday, March 4, 2011

Cosmic, Muddy Spring

"Cosmic Spring" - Frantisek Kupka, 1871-1957

It's not here yet. Or maybe it is, inside the heart. Even as some of the pile of snow here melts, the threat of another dumping tempers any thoughts of spring.

15th century Zen poet Ikkyu says it well in this poem:

My Hovel

The world before my eyes is wan and wasted, just like me.
The earth is decrepit, the sky stormy, all the grass withered.
No spring breeze even at this late date,
Just winter clouds swallowing up my tiny reed hut.

These days, there are all kinds of ways to avoid the natural environment. To act like you aren't part of the earth. But even so, you can't escape that connection: we are all, still, just mud and clouds after all.

The contrast between the images in Kupka's painting and in Ikkyu's poem seem quite fitting, don't you think? The former sky high and the later absolutely earth bound.

This time of year, I find that the two come and go, sometimes by the hour. One hour, you're slipping on half melted dirty ice and getting honked at by some woman in a grungy car, and the next you're marveling at the beauty of a painting, the miracle of breathing, and visions of the future.

Some of the plants in my apartment window have suddenly started sprouting little clones of themselves. Tiny sage bushes, strands of mint, leaves of lemon balm. A few others have sections which have suddenly dried up, as if the life that was there was borrowed to make the new life in a neighboring pot.

This is a tough time to stay balanced in my opinion. The fleeting, ever shifting nature of life is more readily apparent. Step on the wrong sheet of ice and you're gonna fall through.

How do you work with this time of year? How do you weave the muddy and the cosmic together, moment by moment?

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