Autumn is a metaphor for wisdom. And a forecast of rebirth. Watching trees shake off their dead and dying leaves awakens the observer to transformation. The buds to follow could not emerge in the presence of spent leaves that are cast off and litter the forest floor.

We undergo a  metamorphosis, too, when we discard fractured emotions—those cracked and disfigured reactions to real or imagined wounds. We pretend the pains were inflicted on us by others but, in fact, the anguish is a torment of our own making—a response to circumstances over which we no longer have control. When we abandon those erroneous perspectives, we open ourselves to fresh new ones more closely aligned with reality.

It is easy to write about that rebirth. It is much more difficult to experience. But the outcome of the effort promises to be worth the required investment. Time will tell whether the effort succeeds and the results fulfill the promise.


Last night one of the presenters of a program entitled Buddhism 101 reminded the audience that attributing motives to actions taken by a person assumes we understand what is in that person’s mind. But we cannot know what is in another person’s head. As an example, he described a situation in which a person is in a car in front of a vehicle whose driver is flashing the car’s lights, honking the horn, and following much too closely. We might assume the offending driver is drunk or furiously angry at being forced to drive slower than he wishes. Yet, the driver may be a surgeon rushing to a hospital; he simply wants the car in front of him to let him pass so he can perform life-saving surgery.

That reminder was something of an aside to an explanation of Buddhism‘s Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. He spoke of dharma and karma and the various Buddhist sects or traditions. Two hours was woefully inadequate to enable the presenter to fully explain Buddhism, especially in light of the time required to respond to questions, some of which suggested an inability to understand basic concepts about Buddhism. Yet I left the presentation with an interest in re-learning what I once knew about Buddhism. And I left with an interest in exploring it more deeply.


This morning, as very dim light leaked into the forest outside my window, an ugly and unexpected vision visited me. There, among the trees almost hidden by heavy fog, I clearly saw myself with a noose around my neck, hanging from a very high branch. The image disappeared after only a fraction of a second, but my memory of what I saw remains with me. My friend who accompanied me to the Buddhism presentation questioned whether I can envision what I look like. The fleeting but troubling image answers that I can.


Today, I will be the handyman, working on the master bathroom. Foggy weather makes staying indoors appealing. But we have errands to run, which may take us out and about. A new battery for mi novia‘s car, a long-delayed trip to the post office, and a visit to the grocery store all are in store. I hope to finish my little handyman project between those errands but, if  not, there’s always tomorrow. Ach, but another solemn reminder from last night’s program: tomorrow is never guaranteed.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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