As the light starts clicking down

[You can read the following entry and those of similar interest by going to Zen in the navigation bar up above.  Hope you enjoy.]

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.


Hello Everyone

This Friday, November 25th, at Lion’s Hall at 7:00PM here on Salt Spring, we’ll have the book launch for One Hundred Butterflies, so I thought I’d post a few of the poems that people seem to enjoy. When you look at the navigation bar above this note, you’ll find different poems in each of the pages under the headings Zen, Poetry and Wanderings.  I hope you enjoy reading these. If you’d like to get the book, or order for friends, please just go to Book Titles and click on the link for One Hundred Butterflies.

And, to honour the photo at the top taken by my dear friend Nancy Campbell:


Many herbs

one taste

a cup of tea


As always, please feel free to add a comment. I love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks so much – Peter


You can read this post and entries with a similar orientation or area of interest by selecting Wanderings in the pages above

I really don’t know why, but in recent weeks I’ve been thinking more than usual about what we do and how we do it. This morning I remembered that I made the little drawing up there at the top of today’s blog as last year’s birthday present to myself to remind me that the way I live actually has an effect on the world – one that I have to live with, too.

All This and Karma, Too?

It makes me smile to see that drawing again, and, as one thing tends to lead to another, seeing it engendered another recollection; namely, one of the best, if humourous, definitions I’ve ever heard of the word karma.  So many people toss this word around like so much perfume or cologne, but in general I think its meaning may not be so clear.  Anyway, someone once told me there was an old Chinese saying that defined it perfectly: Spit straight up, learn something new.

Then, in that delicious never ending chain of associations the mind seems fond of, I also remembered one of the poems in One Hundred Butterflies most people seem to like, which goes like this:


                                        Don’t eat so fast.

                                       When you use your sticks

                                       like scissors

                                       you frighten the rice.


Just after the first edition of this book was published, I sat at the dining table with my dear friend, Kaz Tanahashi . Kaz is a master calligrapher, a painter, writer, translator of significant Buddhist texts, and, at the age of seventy-eight years old, he continues to travel the world for months at a time working for peace.

Anyway, as we sat at his table drinking tea, Kaz asked me to read him one of the butterfly poems, so I read him the poem above. Kaz was so surprised to hear the poem, he burst out laughing and said, “Oh! With just a few words, you’ve destroyed my entire culture!”

I took it as one of the greatest compliments of my life, and laughed hard, too, but in all honesty, I’d prefer not to destroy cultures, any more than I want my sticks to frighten rice, not now and not the rice my grandchildren eat seven generations from now, either.

Hindsight Now

If hindsight is ahead in this great all inclusive moment called now, then one of the great miracles of human understanding and awareness is our ability to see into the future right where we stand at any given moment, and use hindsight now. It seems worth considering, anyway, worth practicing. If you’re reading this note I feel certain you already do this somewhat, so let’s keep going, together. And, let’s make more silly signs and poems that make us laugh, appreciate and see what we are.

Thanks for reading along. If you enjoy this and can think of someone who might enjoy it as well, please send them the link. And, of course, please feel free to comment to let me know what you’re thinking, too.

Poetry: One Hundred Butterflies and Book Club Buddy

As of a few hours ago, I’m happy to say, One Hundred Butterflies became this week’s featured book on a fabulous web site called Book Club Buddy, found at  It comes complete with an interview. I love Book Club Buddy!  It brings writers and readers together in an important and most enjoyable way. Plus you can get free books! Please go there and see for yourself, and sign up so you can have hours (days!) of a reader’s enjoyment and get close up with the writers.

If you go to the site and click on Most Recent Posts, or on Author’s Interviews, you can read the interview I did for Book Club Buddy, which I hope you will enjoy, filled with stories about how the book came about (ha!), and writing in general. Then, if you click on Getting 2 Know Peter Levitt by scrolling down to that link on the Home Page, you can see answers to a couple of questions I was given that I hope will interest you.  This was great fun to do and I learned a lot in the doing.

While on the site – check out the other books, authors, interviews, etc.  This is a great resource for writers and readers – a little world made for us!

Enjoy, everyone.  I’ll be posting more on this site, too – before long.


New Posts on Web Blog

Dear Friends

I’ve added new content to Zen, For Writers, and Wanderings – complete with snazzy visuals in two of the three – and, in one, a pretty great hat. I hope you enjoy reading – and, if you like, please let me know via the comments what yr thinking, too.

thanks so much,


Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to what I hope will be a bit of a meeting place – albeit a somewhat disembodied one. For many years now I’ve wanted to have something called What I’m Thinking About Now as a way of reaching across to people, and having people reach back.

Originally, I thought it might be nice to have a newspaper column with those words up on the marquee, so to speak, but the ambition gene seems to have skipped the hospital room where I was born and, at most, I may have mentioned this to one or two people, neither the owner of a newspaper. Oh, well.

Fortunately, and quite recently, a few friends liked this reaching across idea and put these pages together so that all such activities might have an actual home. Thank you – it’s very kind.

Let me end this first posting, then, with a poem I’ve grown pretty fond of. It’s by David Budbill, and I think he really got this right:

Bugs in a Bowl
Han Shan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled Chinese poet of a thousand years ago, said:

We’re just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.

I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.

Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.

Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.

Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.

Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!