But, says Ryokan, as if in a confiding whisper: “I’ll tell you a secret: All things are impermanent!” In the end, he says, “My life is like an old rundown hermitage: poor, simple, quiet.”
I have slept again. It has continued raining.
I have hit hard walls and recoiled.
Now, in the night, I consider my affairs.
And some degree of clarity has come.
Tonight I managed to not take my wild confusion and pain to anywhere at all. Just to sit with it.
I managed to stay home instead of rushing hither and thither and much as I longed to i did not try to fill the emptiness with the Little Ones.
The Eremitic Life calls to me – as so often it does.
When I am in the Eremitic Life , I live more comfortably. I feel less shredded or obligated to eat, drink, sleep or behave as anyone else wants me to do or thinks I should.
When I am in the Eremitic Life , I have little need to EXPLAIN – not anything to anyone.
No need to work out why I don’t like hot drinks or trips to Bali or private schools or CEOs or many many things.
Within the Eremitic Life – I simply live.
And now I am well aware that within that Life I might well die.
It has hurt this weekend to be so wearied and have no visits from Loved Ones but I am now emerging from that narrowness and something has clicked. Of Life in which I am most at home and least distressed.
A life in which my hyphenated name needs but rarely to be used.
IMAGINE THAT !
These last three years took me back into a world of form filling and fright. Of society and dependence on others. One more wee leap to go here and I shall be home in Hermitage and have no need to jollify or conform.
Well. Well. Well. Whoever would have thought that I would reach this particular Rest Stop. My Own Place.
I have laid by an outfit for $100. That is something I never do. Might never have done before and as I sit here tonight I am delighted that it is a pair of black bamboo pants and a black bamboo T-shirt. I have purple sandals from AWL leather in Bellingen. I have my Bladerunner Black Wolf bag back. I just need a very portable laptop and I will be ready for the future.
I have learnt many things from my Family Elders
I have grown to realize that my Life travels in Circles
My Aboriginal Culture has taught me that
Universal Life is Circular
When I was born I was not allowed to live with my Family
I grew up in the white man’s world
We lived in a Square house
We picked fruits and vegetables from neatly fenced Square plot
We kept animals in Square paddocks
We sat and ate at a Square table
We sat on Square chairs
I slept in a Square bed
I looked at myself in a Square mirror and did not know who I was
One day I met my Mother
I just knew that this meeting was part of our Healing Circle
Then I began to travel
I visited places that I had been before
But this time I sat down with Family
We gathered closely together by big Round camp fires
We ate bush tucker, feasting on Round ants and berries
We ate meat from animals that lived in Round burrows
We slept in Circles on beaches around our fires
We sat in the dirt, on Our land, that belongs to a big Round planet
We watched the Moon grow to a magnificent yellow Circle
That was Our Time
I have learnt two different ways now
I am thankful for this
That is part of my Life Circle
My heart is Round like a drum, ready to echo the music of my Family
But the Square within me still remains
The square hole stops me in my entirety
– Ali Cobby Eckermann
In his poem “Old Age,” the poet Ou Yang Hsui (1007-1072) tells briefly of the burdens of getting sick when old: dry, dull eyes, aches, a fuzzy brain dull and forgetful.
When I was young I liked to read. Now I am too old to make the effort. Then, too, If I come across something interesting I have no one to talk to about it.
In theory, a solitary ought not to miss another’s presence but Ou Yang Hsui’s expression of loneliness is not unusual even among the worldly. Nor is a hermit immune to sentiment.
Kenneth Rexroth notes that in fact the Chinese Tang poets inclined to sentiment, especially with advancing age. The poets, male and female, thought of their forties as old age, referring to the first gray hair. By late forties, the course of their days was uncertain, and by fifty the end seemed near. Perhaps given the vagaries of life expectancy in antiquity, this sentiment was not unjustified. Studies of life expectancy in past centuries revised longevity based on survival into adulthood, so that older age was not infrequent, but the poets preferred a different criteria.
When the famous recluse Tu Fu (712-770) visited retired scholar Wei Pa, he reflected:
We sit here together in the candle light.
How much longer will our prime last?
Our temple are already grey.
I visit my old friends
Half of them ave become ghosts.
Fear and sorrow choke me and burn my bowels …
Reflections on transience are emblematic of Chinese and Japanese poetry, the genius of which is the subtle ability to address sentiment and philosophy and meld them into a poem. Tu Fu, rightly considered one of the world’s greatest poets, was more properly a recluse rather than a hermit, Confucian but revealing elements of Taoist and Buddhist thought. His revelation of sentiment is always within reflections on impermanence and melancholy, what the Japanese would later call mono no aware, the poignancy of things.
MY CONCLUSION TONIGHT
Funny thing – Life. I have just slept and sat all weekend and done it a bit rough really but at the end of these few days I REALISED SOMETHING. And that is a very good thing. I do believe I am getting closer and closer to the way I like to live and the way I once did live. Phew. May the hyphen be little and rarely needed.