Zen & the Arts - Field Notes

From PZI Talk, an online community forum, September 6 & 7, 2015.

From: Amaryllis Fletcher

Early last week I awoke one morning with the word/thought “reset.” We say, “Yeah, change, that’s life,” but sometimes life offers more startling changes, the more obviously “no return” kind.

Three long months have passed since falling and hitting my head on the kitchen tile. Though my health and hearing have returned (the ear doctor said I was “very, very lucky,” considering the bone I fractured, to have no hearing loss), I’m starting this teaching year with a stronger sense of the fragility of my life and the preciousness and tenuousness of moments shared with others.

And after finally getting through some difficulty adapting to having a visiting friend share my small house, it feels lonely now that he’s gone back “home” to work. Empty house!

Some violin students transition to middle school and seem, abruptly, to be different people. Or other, older activities displace violin practice. We adapt or wave good bye. And we’re all a bit frazzled by school cranking up again.

A college piano teacher friend who is starting lessons on violin discovers that one of her new piano students has never had a human teacher. He learned to play entirely from a computer app that shows with diagram “fingers” where to “poke” the keys. “Students have changed!” she sighs, looking forward to retiring from the college.

Thoughts proliferate like weeds in soil that has been disturbed. “Reset.” Big life change reset. Small momentary reset. (I’m careful not to lean on anything when putting on and off my shoes, wary of water spilled on the floor….) Welcome the house full of emptiness. Welcome my surprising and challenging violin students. I even welcome my nemesis, the computer, which offers the image of a fresh unencumbered beginning. Now, and now and now. Nothing can take “just this” away.

Now, what shall I plant in this overturned soil?


Marble Mountains, Klamath National Forest, CA

From: Jamie Kissinger

Thanks Amaryllis.

I feel like you are giving voice to what’s going on beneath the surface. It’s fall, things change, and I’m feeling the fragility of it. I’m at the coffee shop, crowded with families eating breakfast, a large woman running full speed in her apron, back and forth from the patio to the kitchen, trying to keep up with orders. I’m worried she will fall (I don’t think she’s worried). I’m just now this very minute writing about the biblical Fall for a mythology class. And change—I just sent an email to my boss of 6 or 7 years now, giving notice, leaving my professional carpentry career behind. It feels not as easy as it would have been when I was younger to make such a change—and yet I can feel how not carrying around the dead body of Jamie-the-carpenter (like in Weekend at Bernie’s) will be a relief. I was living in Boulder once and all the high winds would make for a lot of downed branches—a windfall—and I had a dream where I was walking alongside an old Jungian analyst named Joseph Henderson, down a street thick with all kinds of dead branches. He was saying, very gravely: “Whether inside of analysis or outside of analysis, dead wood is a hindrance.”

Re: the Garden of Eden, I keep looking at houses and property for sale on Zillow and Trulia in greener, cheaper places in Oregon – or a remote, meticulously crafted, off-the-grid Zen cottage in the Marble Mountains. Whereas I might have criticized myself in the past, now I let myself have such frivolous obsessions, and assume that there is something there that my imagination needs. Maybe I’m falling, longing for Eden. Or in Eden, longing for Eden.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.