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Daylight’s getting shorter. Here in the north country the thermometer hovers around zero Celsius. The smell of snow is in the air; people telling each other at the till when I went to town the other day to get some groceries. “Soon,” they say, and everyone knows what they mean.
This morning, just after getting the fire going in the woodstove, I remembered a brief passage Gary Snyder wrote in his tanker notes on December 8, 1957, somewhere out in the Arabian Sea. Just a quick conversation between ship mates, but it’s stayed with me and helped me out on more than one occasion:
Caruso: It’s a long way to Suez.
Duperont: It ain’t a long way, man, it’s just you got a short mind.
I can’t help but notice the date of this entry, December 8th. It’s the day Zen folks commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment and remember the story of him sitting with great determination for many days beneath the bodhi tree until that morning, at dawn, when out of the vastness of the night he looked up, saw the morning star, and realized the oneness of all things. Why that day? Why that star? To ask the question is to go a little further into our own vast sky and the knowledge of what we are.
Maybe it’s just a story, the kind people tell at this dark time of year to help each other remember the light. People like such stories and there are plenty of them the world around. Or, maybe it’s true. It hardly matters, as I see it. What matters to me is to remember that delicious phrase, “it’s just you got a short mind,” and to do what I can about it.
Happy early winter days, everyone. Let’s try and make it to Suez together, any way we can.
Beyond the lines of these hills
there is another line
no one can see — together
may we get across.