During a visit with a young friend last night, our conversation touched on plans for career, schooling, family, life in general. Everything’s brightly ahead for her, even as disappointments exert their toll: dashed hopes, quirky twists of fate, and myriad injustices. As we listened more deeply, a quiet settled over us. There we were, at opposite ends of developmental stages, at ease with just being. Tears rolled, laughter erupted. If we’d been near a lake, we’d have heard a loon call her chicks.
This morning I reached for Wang Wei (c.699-761), a ch’an (zen) practitioner, poet, painter, and calligrapher who lived in China during the T’ang dynasty.
Late in life, all I want is peace.
The million pursuits aren’t my concern.
Looking myself over — no future plans.
I just know: go back to the ancient forest.
A breeze in the pines, loosening my belt.
I pick my lute under the mountain moon.
What’s the logic, you ask, of success and failure?
source: Foster, N., & Shoemaker J. (1996) (eds.). The roaring steam: a new Zen reader. Hopewell, NJ: The Ecco Press, p. 33. image: www.loon.org