Category Archives: photography

Animal Survivor’s & Evacuee’s Shelter from Firestorm

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away ~Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

gimme shelter: caring for horseys ~d nelson

This week wind’s continually enraged
local fires’ ferocious, insatiable appetites.
Heroically, domestic animals were rescued
and evacuated to the fairgrounds and other shelters.
I smile to your living, scorched fur presence.

gimme shelter: relieve my saddness ~d nelson

Breathing in, through a particulate respirator
I calm my body, that you may feel safe
and cared for and can calm your precious body, too.
I somehow see in your eyes & body language
the sadness of being displaced & relocated.
The trauma of surviving, after witnessing
those who ran for shelter from smoke
& flames, but were consumed by the cataclysm.

Overhead a constant roars of helicopters
& air bombers carry water & fire-retardant,
fighting a real war of survival from above,
while hundreds of firefighters from all over the West
drain their sources to save people, animals & drought-ravaged forest.
Dozens already known dead, hundreds missing.
Over 5700 structures destroyed. It’s all beyond sad.

Humbling to be here whilst hillsides, valleys,
homes just 8 miles away were lost to the inferno.
South a short distance from where I now type,
hotels, business’ and entire neighborhoods, gone.
The local high school & college are shelters for newly homeless people.

Last Sunday I stopped to grocery shop at trader joes in Santa Rosa
after chatting about music while checking out,
headed back to my small Mendocino County town.
Later that evening Coffey Park & Fountaingrove neighborhoods were consumed.
Just a block from where I had stopped to shop.
Looking at news articles I happen to read about a musician
who fortunately heard the sheriff’s evacuation loudspeaker outside.
He & the girlfriend quickly packed up the guitar, the dogs and got in the car.
In the rearview mirror was a rapidly approaching fireball scorching Coffey Park.
Reading that he worked at trader joes, I recognized he was my cashier.

It’s heartbreaking to here, now whilst my hometown of Sonoma
& much of Sonoma County also continues to burn.
Breathing in, I feel mostly calm. Breathing out noticeable emotional overload.
May I live in such a way that honors those who are gone.
Gratitude, expressed in this song, for being offered shelter when needed.
As I sleep lightly & often use earplugs to keep from being awoken,
it could have been me. I likely wouldn’t have heard evacuation orders
as sheriff’s car drove past in the middle of the night.

When a feeling of sadness, despair, or anger arises, we should stop what we are doing in order to go home to ourselves and take care. We can sit or lie down and begin to practice mindful breathing. The daily practice of breathing can be very helpful. A strong emotion is like a storm, and when a storm is about to arrive, we should prepare so we can cope with it. We should not dwell on the level of our head and our thinking but bring all our attention down to the level of our abdomen. We may practice mindful breathing and become aware of the rise and fall of our abdomen. Breathing in, rising; breathing out, falling. Rising, falling. We stop all the thinking because thinking can make the emotion stronger.
We should be aware that an emotion is only an emotion; it arrives, stays for some time, and then passes, just like a storm. We should not die just because of one emotion. We should remind young people about this. We are much more than our emotions, and we can take care of them whether we are feeling anger or despair. We don’t think anymore, we just focus 100 percent of our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen and in that moment we are safe. Our emotion may last five or ten minutes but if we continue to breathe in and out, we will be safe, because mindfulness is protecting us. Mindfulness is the Buddha in us, helping us practice belly breathing…
We are like a tree during a storm. If you look at the top of a tree, you may have the impression that the tree can be blown away or that the branches can be broken anytime, but if you direct your attention to the trunk of the tree and become aware that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil, then you see the solidity of the tree. The mind is the top of the tree, so don’t dwell there; bring your mind down to the trunk. The abdomen is the trunk, so stick to it, practice mindful, deep breathing, and after that the emotion will pass. When you have survived one emotion, you know that next time a strong emotion arises, you will survive again. But don’t wait for the next strong emotion to practice. It is important that you practice deep, mindful breathing every day.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Advertisements

Getting Up on the Bright Side of the Bed

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side ~d nelson

Dear Ones, with the agony & joy of having no internet service at home all week, I’m re-posting this piece originally posted on May 10, 2013.

Slowly I rolled over and got up on the bright side of the bed this afternoon, well actually, the massage table. So wonderfully relaxed in this body. While the humble Chinese man’s experienced hands found and worked acupressure points, I followed the in and out breaths with a smile. Breathing in, feeling pressure along the shoulder-blade. Breathing out, letting go of tension there. “Such a joy”, said my body, in its unspoken language. And what could be better, asks the mind. Perhaps soaking, relaxingly, in really hot water, it replies.

Meditation generally keeps my thoughts and feelings at ease. Stretching and yoga releases physical tightness. But having help to work out the kinks, undo the knots, flush out the lactic acid is quite a luxury. I’m feeling grateful for the conditions that allow for such a healing offering to the body at an affordable price. It can also be a beautiful gift to the one next to you.

When getting off the table I remembered a song I wrote back in 2000 to celebrate coming out of a painful and dark period. I was fortunate to record it with some Hopi School 4th graders. And it became a modest hit on KUYI Hopi radio, in part due to the Hopi translation of the chorus. I recall the translation is getting up facing the direction of light. Years later a music video of the Bright Side of the Bed featuring the original recording was produced and can be seen below with some beautiful young sisters from Amsterdam. It is easy getting up on the bright side of the massage table. May you get up on the bright side of the bed every morning.

Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But I’m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.

Dog Daze of Summer

amazed starring @ eclipse dog daze ~d nelson

Breathing easier right here
as wildfires across the west
are being put out
& smoke clears across my skies.

at beach without leash dog daze

Record August heat
& now cooler evenings
offer body & mind comfort, locally
as dog daze of summer.

street crossing dog daze

But, elsewhere people,
animals, plants & earth
violently uprooted by nature’s
undiscriminating forces.

Wishing comfort, assistance,
food, shelter & medicine
for those effected by tornadoes,
earthquakes, fires, floods,
worldwide.

May we all help each other
near and far,
as best as we can.

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is not greater disaster than greed ~Lao-Tzu

Harvest Time in Our Family’s Garden

garden gift box ~d nelson

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace ~ May Sarton

Family garden’s plants
displaying ample abundance
of vegetables & fruits.
I’m overjoyed that annual harvest is in.
Pleased to share with you.

happy tomato row ~d nelson

Inviting, bright colors,
succulent, exquisite flavors
that must be experienced.
Otherwise, I can only describe this
as tasting like the best tomato.

Did I grow this garden, you ask?
My aspiration to do so
was inherited from those who came before.
Planting, cultivating & nurturing took
just a little joyful energy & scheduling.

a fine fig

The real miracle lies with those seeds
which contain cosmic life-replenishing potential.
Offered necessary conditions of water,
sunlight, warm mother earth, time & luck,
the miracle has manifested, again.

Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts ~ Michael Pollan

This food is a gift of the whole universe,
the earth, the sky, numerous living beings
& much hard & loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness & gratitude
(5 meal contemplations for saying before eating, Thich Nhat Hanh)

corn touching sky

There are so many people near & far
without adequate food to eat.
They wake up hungry, go to bed, hungry.
Over 30 million people in this world
are on the threshold of famine.
Expressing gratitude for each bite
& helping others as we can
seems proper & natural to me.
We are all brother & sister flowers
in this family garden of humanity.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in ~ Greek proverb

Feets Flying & Defying Gravity

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf. ~Rabindranath Tagore

dancing is life~d. nelson

Upon striking up the band(s)
body uncontrollably moves to grooves.
Pure physical pleasure.
In times such as these,
instantaneous reason to live.

dancingislife-3

Let’s dance
like there’s no tomorrow.  (perhaps to a song like this)
Go ahead & do that hand thing.
The time is now.
This is it!

dancingislife-4

Age don’t matter, just need a body.
While some of us skillfully
two-step, old-time traditional or jitterbug,
other’s of us line, Shmoney
or simply wiggle like worms.

Put on your dancing shoes
or bare those feet
for defying gravity,
entropy & mortality
– if only momentarily.

dancingislife-12

Dancing, feeling connected
with a heightened sense of space.
Mother Earth greets our gentle touchings down.
If we don’t laugh, smile
or dance, perhaps we’d cry.

Seeing Happiness, Again

Dwelling in the present moment, we can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves ~Thich Nhat Hanh

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

“Are you blind?” I asked the young man sitting next to me in the park. I had offered empathetic listening as he explained at length how there’s nothing to do here and that’s why this town is boring. If only he could get a ride an hour to the nearest city there would be fun things to do so he wouldn’t be bored. He replied that he had two good eyes.

I told him of my moon watching meditation last night.
How the golden hues of sunset were still setting the hills ablaze
with a golden glow as this super full moon rose up behind them
in plain view for all to see.

Oranges, yellows, greens, browns whites,
blacks, blues, magentas, among others
in the shapes of rolling hills, oaks, pines, moon
clouds, lake, waves, rocks, geese, ducks.
Such an amazing display of colors and shapes.
A true miracle to behold
to let touch my heart through
perception & my eye’s consciousness.

Such a miracle to see, at all.
Offering more than enough conditions for me to be happy.

super moon

super moon

I shared with him about diabetic patients I used to care for.
How, over time, many lost their vision
due to the corrosive effects of too much glucose
running through eye’s blood vessels.
And how they became so sad and unhappy
when they could no longer see well, or at all.

I asked if there is anything he really likes to look at
and he told me how pretty his girlfriend is.
After a few more comments to each other
he went off to be with his special friend
where he was going to look at her with new eyes
and tell her how special she is to him.

I am happy that he decided to open his eyes
to beauty present before him
and let go of the idea of being bored.

(originally posted July 12, 2014)