Monday, December 5, 2011

First Word~Fresh Eyes and Beginner's Mind

Wisdom and Wonderment

A friend asked what I meant by beginner's mind in "First Word." My answer-in-process  is below. I used to enjoy practicing deliberate forgetfulness so that I could see a beloved movie or read a beloved book or poem over and over again for the first time. I don't have to practice any more! It's a gift of the older, overflowing mind which has accumulated so much material to store that locating any of it is increasingly complicated. . . . No worries. More pleasure of (re)discovery in the search process.


beginner's mind is seeing with fresh eyes and hearing with fresh ears,  and paradoxically receiving everything with innocence through a lens of experience and wisdom

the poem shows how to awaken the senses and break free of assumptions~

it means forfeiting the greatest obstacle to learning, which is the assumption that one already knows, and the greatest obstacle to experiencing the familiar, which is psychic numbing by means of the attitude, 'i've seen/heard/read/written/done that already.' see the sunset? i've seen one . . . and so on. 

the poem is an awakening, an opening of one's mind and senses to see and hear life as if  for the first time

having a willingness to come to your senses as a newborn each day . . . to experience the quiet wonders of everyday life, the gift of being full of wonder~ to read old things as if for the first time, and to forget that you are afraid, and therefore to invite the inner critic simply to be still and savor the moments, and value effort while practicing effortlessness, leaving revisions for another time

beginner's mind practices the art of wonderment and gives thanks with calm happiness or exuberant joy, or reacts empathically with an immediacy that is free of prior associations, creating new perspectives and insights in the process, like turning the image of what one sees upside down and tracing its lines and curves with one's finger, to feel the flow of each movement's shape and let the thing reveal itself as it is, before allowing one to interpret it through a cloudy lens of limited personal experience, and when one no longer can name it, turning it right side up again and looking at it with a new "aha!"

First Word

This is the practice of Beginner’s Mind.
Every day you wake up and it is your first day of existence.

You do not remember that in your sleep you cried out
your unconscious expletive: Help!

Not yet knowing where you are, you rise
from Night, stretch, stand and move toward the window
or open the door.

You look out and see the world for the first time,
lay your eyes on your first tree, a budding flower,
an open bloom, and green grass or brown earth, or perhaps
gray pavement on which kids down the street are playing softball.
Then from somewhere you hear a piano sending forth the sound
of Gershwin, Chopin or Brahms, and it is the first music you have ever heard.

You breathe in the scent of grass, of coffee, of cedar, and it is your first
experience of fragrance.

You feel the sunlight touching your face, the sensation of rain
or the kiss of a snowflake, and it is the first time your skin feels a caress.

And you stand still to breathe, and it is your first breath
and first moment of astonished awareness.
And then you blink and open your eyes wider
and speak your first word
and first prayer—


Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequencies of Sound

Brigadoon Camellia in Surprise Spring Snowfall

Discovering the World: Flower Shadow Child

Mama writes: "Flowers" . . . "Ecstatic"

Discovering the Wonders of  Nature, Art and Literature

Great Aunt Martha’s Grapes

In the summertime, Grandma and Grandpa
loved to play cards with Aunt Martha and
Uncle Tom on Sunday afternoons.
I watched and drank lemonade and honey.

One Sunday afternoon, it was Uncle Tom’s
turn to be “Dummy,” which meant
he had to leave the table and go play with me.
He said he’d show me Aunt Martha’s grapevines,
full of fat purple fruit and huge leaves.

“Pick one, Baby,” he said, and with one tug
it was free and into my open mouth.
Oh! What sweetness! What flavor! What glee!
Two more stuffed in, and then I said,
“I want to pick Aunt Martha some.”

Good thing I had my pink plastic purse
strapped across my chest for such things.
I filled it until it would barely close.

After awhile, we went back inside.
Uncle Tom sat on the couch
and spat in his spittoon, and
told how Baby had loved
the good grapes, ripe to perfection.
Grandma poured more lemonade.

I forgot about my gift to Aunt Martha.
It must have been some days or weeks
later when Mama noticed my pink purse
turning purple. What she thought
when she opened it she did not say.
In later years, she said I once collected
the best, ripest grapes from the vineyard
for a very special family communion wine.
It was a Sunday to remember.

                                   Alla Renée Bozarth

My Rubber Ducky

Mama was afraid of germs.
She knew they could make people sick,
especially fragile babies.

Back then, people didn’t know
kids needed to eat a little dirt
now and then, on picnics for instance,
when their sandwiches fell into the sand~
to give their immune systems something
to fight, and make them strong, a good
workout in the immune gym
for the boxer genes.

I was Mama’s first and only child,
and she was older than most mothers,
perhaps more anxious and fretful.
Anyway, one day Papa brought home
a rubber duck for my bathwater playmate.

Mama said, “First, I will sterilize him.”
Into the boiling pot poor Ducky went.
Mama watched and stirred,
and after a suitably sterile time,
she turned off the heat and
pulled my duck out
of his steaming first bath.

“Poor Duck!” she cried in horror.
By then, I’d crawled into the kitchen.
I saw him, drooped in her thickly
gloved hands.

I reached up to meet him.
He looked all right to me!
All bright yellow and cheery.
Mama blew her own love germs
on him to cool him,
and off we three went
to our first bath.

Ducky must have been glad
for cool water!
I was glad for Ducky.
I thought he was beautiful,
and a very good swimmer.

He floated circles around me~
one foot to the side of him
and one foot beneath,
they seemed very fine paddles.

His head was every-which-way
and bobbing around~
one eye on my one open wide eye,
one eye on my feet or the ceiling,
grinning as curious as me.

Mama looked unsure,
her lips slightly parted,
a small scowl on her forehead,
as if she expected disaster.
What was wrong?
Did she think he’d drown?
Not with me to watch out for him!

Ducky and I paddled around
together like that for years.

Of course, after a few, I realized
he’d had a mishap, and Mama
explained to me what had happened,
which made me love him all the more.
After all, I’d had an accident too, and
it gave me a droopy eye of my own,
so I wasn’t perfect either.

“I think you’re beautiful, Ducky,” I said.
“I think you’re beautiful,” said Mama to me.

                                    Alla Renée Bozarth

            God’s Knees               

Sometimes I feel like a little kid
lost in the department store or circus, and
desperately trying to find God’s knees.
All I can see is a confusing kaleidoscope
of hodgepodge colors, people’s pant legs
or skirt hems and shoes and bare skin.
They all look like they’re lost, too.
Then I feel a tug on my arm.
In my desperation I forgot that
Someone was holding my hand.
I look up and see my little hand
tucked into a large and well-worn hand,
a rough worker’s hand, competent and strong,
but gentle too, and smooth where it holds onto mine.
I follow that big hand up a huge, muscular arm,
all the way to its shoulders, and there I see this
amazing face, old and young at the same time,
rough and smooth and pink and brown with all
the rainbow dancing around from the light
that comes out of nowhere. I don’t know
if it’s a grandmother or grandfather face.
But it’s looking at me and it smiles.
It smiles like it knows all it needs to know, and it knows me
through and through. And one of its eyes winks
at me and then the smile opens to a grin,
and the Face lifts up to move ahead and the Hand
squeezes mine, and we’re walking together,
side by side, and I don’t feel so small anymore,
even against the biggest body I’ve ever seen.
We’re walking together, and somehow
the One holding my hand lets me know
that even though I’m scared and don’t know
where I am or where we’re going, and even
if we get hurt somehow, we’re okay, and we’ll be okay.
And I’m not just being cared for and loved—
I ~tiny, lost me~ am being respected.

Diamonds in a Stony Field and Learning to Dance in Limbo by Alla Renée Bozarth,  
copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Camellia beauty at the Top of the Fountain

 Magnolia self-revelation

The Silk Mimosa Miracle Tree


                         The Chatterbox Tree                      

The silk mimosa over rhododendron and roses in the front yard
was not expected to live beyond the usual fifteen years when I came here
so many years ago, and the tree was already ten years old. When it was nearly
twenty, it was growing so rapidly and generously that it broke its heart
with flowers one day in a downpour. Half the tree covered all of the grass,
separated and gone to green for good. A huge gash of a wound healed
to a tarry scar, and an immense curl of strong scar tissue protectively encircled
the old exposed injury. 
                                                            Wounded Healer Tree

In years following, more limbs broke away from the miraculous body,
but it only gave twice as much of itself in response.

It began to compensate for a bare north flank by stretching west as far
as the road, gracefully leaning over my mailbox to welcome the neighbors
home and see more of the world. It blesses all who pass through the back door,
extending itself all the way east toward the mountain, to see dawn rising
from the forest, pasture and wildflower meadow. One would have to stand
a quarter mile away to capture the whole creature’s image, with panoramic lens.

Now, twenty-four years later, it is going strong at more than twice its predicted
life span, and no one is allowed to tell it so, but only, Live On!
watered with love and gratitude and praise down to its deeply receptive roots.

But what really keeps it alive, I think, is its own divine
fragrance, that every summer draws hundreds of hummingbirds
to take up residence among the delicate, honey-scented flowers.
And they do not sing when they are at home, these small wonder birds.
They talk! On and on they chatter, with amazing voices that are not music
but plain and unmistakable conversation. They play together by twos in loops 
and lusty leaps, dive bombing the roses, then going back to sip on those pink silk, 
feathery fan flowers,  where they get high until, by noon, they are so drunk with love 
for this tree that they encircle it into a great, green and gold
and bright pink hummingbird hug. They rest all afternoon, passed out
on its branches, leaning their heads on its leaves, still chattering
to each other in their dreams, with voices relentless as wings.

The tree sways gently beneath these fairylike birds and sprouts
another hundred buds, shedding its feathers and leaves all over the grass
to make room. Noisy? you ask. Messy! you say. And I say, when you love someone
you don’t so much mind the mess, and that is not noise but speech, and soon
I will have listened long enough to be able myself to converse among them,
and help the silk tree to live for a hundred years.

Alla Renée Bozarth  ~ The Frequencies of Sound.

The wounded healer tree nurses new life.

The birds in my silk mimosa tree are too tiny to show up in photos, but here are a few more of their exotic cousins to enjoy. 

My hummingbird guests (rather, my hosts) are mostly modest ruby throats and not as spectacular as most of those below from other places, but plain or elaborate, the hummingbird's nature inspires wonderment, as do the flowers and trees.   

Hummingbirds are from the Internet Gallery, the rose lives with me and is called Pristine. 


                        Wondrous Beauty on the Wing

Painting by Vadim Trunov 


May you be launched in fair weather,
with the wind at your back
and the shining stars streaming you through
the whole map of heaven.

May your strong sails of bright silk billow,
proud and free with the sun’s golden blessing,
and carry you, safe and well
and all the way home.

Alla Renée Bozarth

This Mortal Marriage~
Poems of Love, Lament and Praise
iUniverse 2003.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, re-enter Beginner's Mind and let wonder be reborn!


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