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Monday, April 4, 2011

Many Things I Have Been

I have been many things in my life: schoolboy, water puddle breaker, drifting on boards in the red marsh, revolutionary and reformer, fallen sinner, convert to grace and wanna be saint.  I have been gainfully employed, unemployed and hippie. Journalist and poet. The guy reading a book next to you on the bus, and the guy running two bus stops for the bus.

Today, thumbing a book I remembered something else I was, a hermit. Wang Wei, Chinese poet of the T'ang dynasty wrote, of sitting  alone under bamboo,  playing a lute:

"This deep grove's unknown to other men.
Bright moon, when it comes: we shine together."

Years ago, around 1970, I lived for a while in a plastic covered geodesic dome on a dirt road in the Santa Cruz Mountains, off Old San Jose Road. The dirt road I lived next too used to be the original path of the Old San Jose Road, running across a creek, down by an abandoned station stop in the middle of the creek and up the hill next to the remnants of a saw mill. Somewhere along the roadside were a couple of acres belonging to my friend Lou Benek, but he had inadvertently placed his dome on the wrong place, and I was unknowingly trespassing.

Years later I read a book. by one of the beat poets who had been a hermit in the Santa Cruz Mountains and I was started to discover poems describing the same scenes I had sen along the road.
There was an abandoned persimmon orchard that provided me me fresh fruit in the winter, and a pure, small pool of water from a water fall that provided me safe to drink water, I stored my firewood in trees or under roots to keep it dry. I had a dog that wandered the hills and came back to me every couple of days. Every few days someone would come down one of the roads I walked up and down`. If no one came by after a wek I hitched hiked into Santa Cruz to visit friends

I  discovered that I needed people, that I was not Wang Wei, happy alone with the moon. And yet when I returned to urban living, I discovered how much I missed the hermitage. Many sensitive souls have a longing for both people and solitude, and I am one of them. 

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