Culture and Art, Zen & Dharma

Because even the word obstacle is an obstacle

Try to love everything that gets in your way: the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane while you execute thirty-six furious laps, one for every item on your to-do list.

The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side, whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course. Teachers all. Learn to be small and swim through obstacles like a minnow without grudges or memory. Dart toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle is another obstacle.

Try to love the teenage girl idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine, in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life, and keep going, keep going.

Swim by an uncle in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew how to hold his breath underwater, even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour. Someday, years from now, this boy who is kicking and flailing in the exact place you want to touch and turn will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat raising his champagne glass in a toast when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now, but he’ll come up like a cork, alive.

So your moment of impatience must bow in service to a larger story, because if something is in your way it is going your way, the way of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

Alison Luterman
(thanks to Helen who sent me this poem today)

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