Monthly Archives: December 2012

The murk of a day before sunrise, what comes after

The murk of a day before sunrise, hot tea. I let The Talking Heads finish singing this must be the place before I hop out of my car. Across the street, I meet a man who is standing outside. “I knew it had to be another masochist,” he says as I approach.

“It’s a beautiful day,” I shrug.

Slowly more people begin to arrive. The dojo is filled with tired and clumsy, four days of the early morning push wears away at a body who is not used to it. Today is laughter, work with the Jo, light randori. 


Twenty minutes after sunrise, I am standing in a half full strip mall parking lot, holding a pair of hiking poles and hoping for the best. Half a minute later, a car pulls up next to me and a woman, somewhere near middle age calls out, “You’re here for west tiger mountain?”

I nod, we introduce ourselves. “I’ll drive” she says. We learn that we grew up in the same place 2,900 miles away, and have shared some other towns. There’s one more stop to pick up another stranger.

One hour later we’re at the beginning of a 9 mile hike, up into the frosty hills of clear cut and 25 year old forest. Small mushrooms poke out from the mud and snow, and we marvel over their forms-one woman with some hesitance. “The oyster mushroom,” I say, “not only feeds off of these logs, but snares ants in it’s hyphae and absorbs the nitrogen from their bodies.” A glorious feeling it is, with the cold air wrapping around my body and the snow cascading off of trees above in ascent.

As we descend from the mountain, through a white world of nucleated water droplets, the three of us strangers drink in the beauty of the pure white snow, while recounting strange near death experiences of others. Horror stories of the news, apoptosis, and what the most and least painful forms of suicide might be. 

Returning home, I spend the rest of the day trying not to fall asleep as I revel in the company of friends. The seams of the world gently ripping open.


Winter Training

I found myself many hours before sunrise holding a bokken, shuddering. My muscles could not still from the strangeness of 5  am rhythmic slicing by the light of a single candle flame. Ich! Ni! San! Shi! Go!…each member of the dojo counting to ten ad infinitum. Slicing, disarmament, and breath work all, to put it simply, strange and challenging to someone who is unfamiliar with the way it all works.

After exiting that space, I drive to the place I can never quite find. As I walk from my car, a man huddled up under an open air shelter shouts something out at me-possibly asking if it’s 5 am yet-but I cant tell. He is rocking back and forth to restore blood to circulation, and it’s obvious my car has woken him up. Those twitchy motions…I’m surprised there aren’t others sleeping here, but it’s possibly a mile from down town, where many of the transients have taken to sleeping in front of city hall. When I noticed this a few weeks back, I had wondered if it was a get out of the rain matter or another political movement. For some, being transient is political others it is not…

Onward. The pique of morning comes in a reverse rainbow of color. First, the blue bandwidth rules the land, then purple, yellow tones and red become vibrant. Down on a watershed trail exploring the land until it bursts to light. As if if there is a question of what to do with time, the only answer, really is to be out in it. At 7:23 the first other starts singing.