Roadside Chats (23)
The inspiration for Roadside Chats comes from the travel journals of the Japanese Poet/Monk Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). After the Christchurch earthquakes, as I drive north seeking a new life, I read Basho’s; ‘Narrow Road to the Interior.’ ‘Narrow Road’ is more than a simple travel journal. It includes haiku poetry. The journal also reflects on a weave of outer and inner journey.
I like Basho’s spirit. I’m inspired by his ability to go on long, arduous, and sometimes risky journeys. Basho leaves the safety of his hermit’s hut, to walk the valleys & mountain trails of feudal Japan. He visits old friends and places of pilgrimage. He walks the in-between zone. He wanders far from safety and convention in search of insight and discovery.
Roadside’s is a record of my own ventures into the unknown. Sometimes I write from my cottage in the Wakamarina Valley. Sometimes I write on the road. My writings are a mix of inner & outer journeying. I explore the in-between zone. I reflect and discover. I write small poems rising in the moment. I reflect on sayings whose origins lie in the depths of Nature.
During my last journey, I spend time in Christchurch hospital. As I recover; the Self, (the divine spark of Nature within me) gives me the saying; ‘Know and Slow.’ Like a bead in a rosary, I repeat the phrase over & over. I want to ‘Know.’ Knowing is about developing insight. Why do I push myself? What’s under it? What drives me? ‘Slow’ is about learning the purposeful art of slowing in order to live a more compassionate, creative and insightful life.
I don’t find ‘slow’ easy. Most of my life I’ve been a hard charger. Just like my mother I’ve driven myself. I’ve also consistently put the needs of others before my own. I’ve over-cared.
As I reflect on ‘Know and Slow’ a poem rises. I imagine it written on the back of the Camper:
Trust the way of the heart
I want to slow but I don’t want to wrap myself in cotton wool. Cutting firewood on the slope at the back of Deep Song I notice I’m sweating profusely. I remember the way my heart occasionally misses a beat. I become concerned. Am I ok? Should I stop? I hear myself say ‘bugger it’ as I push on passed my sense of vulnerability. I’m not going to surrender to fear. I notice something else. It’s a realisation. I’m ready. When my time does come, there’ll be no regrets.
Swinging on a chainsaw up the Wakamarina Valley
If my heart takes me
Across the river Nelson Forests are milling near All Nations Creek. I see their machines from the veranda. A machine rumbles up to a pine tree. Its pincers grab the tree. Its saw severs the tree from the earth. It strips branches & bark. The tree is cast aside on a heap. I sense a sudden upwelling of tears. What I feel is bigger than the logging going on in front of me. It’s about the human desecration of the earth. It’s about saws, machines, poisons & burnings.
My connection with the Self is changing me. I feel a deepening connection with the natural world. We’re part of each other. I reflect on the saying; ‘The Self is the essence of every living thing.’ The Self is the essence of trees & songbirds; of sheep & pigs; of fish & whales; of every living thing. I feel the desecration as humans treat the natural world as a commodity to be used and exploited. ‘Every living thing’ is a part of the vast web of the Sacred. Everything is holy.
It’s moments like these
Machines roaring and rending
Among green trees
That I sink to my knees
This is part of a greater desecration
I want to write about the Sacred. I want people to understand how human disconnection from the Sacred, damages both humanity & the natural world that humans are woven within.
I’m ready for another journey. This time, the final destination is a niece’s wedding in Christchurch. In Nelson, I attend the monthly ‘poets live’ meeting. I share a poem on the theme of prophecy. It’s well received. At the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay, I share a poem based on the saying; ‘You are a staging post for the Unknown.’ The poem is about becoming a vessel of the Sacred. I have much to learn. I want to write in ways that inspire and educate. I want to get out and get known.
After Golden Bay, I take 5 days to slowly wind my way to Amberly Beach. I park in isolated camping spots: up the Baton Valley in the Motueka Valley; near Lyle Creek on the West Coast; & in Deer Park in the Lewis Pass. When I arrive I write a poem. I call it ‘The Boatman.’
Within my heart, the boatman rows
Where lotus blooms & river slows
From drowsy waters fish arise
To feed my soul and cut false ties
& still the waters whisper more
Of darkened shores where prophets roar
Of hellish powers that stalk the dawn
& of a cost, that must be borne
Yet, ever on the boatman rows
The ancient one whose lamp still glows
In hearts and minds both great and small
The boatman has a place for all
Roadside Blessings – Kevin – 24/4/16