High, high from the summit of the peak,
Whatever way I look, no limit in sight!
No one knows I am sitting here alone.
A solitary moon shines in the cold spring.
Here in the spring---this is not the moon.
The moon is where it always is---in the sky above.
And though I sing this one little song,
In the song there is no Zen.
My time is punctuated by the ringing of bells.
Five minute warning bell: 8:00AM. One minute warning bell: 8:04 AM. Tardy bell, first period begins: 8:05 AM. More bells, more warnings. Second, Third...Lunch...
I am a high school teacher. I know exactly what time I go to the restroom every day.
In many ways I find it strangely monastic; the ringing bell calls the monks to the meditation hall, the ringing bell later freeing them to reenter the world.
Tomorrow, after my final bell, instead of sitting on a freeway to get home to family, I'm going somewhere else. I'm not sure where. My gas tank is full and my pack is in the car.
Empty running shoes sit in the back, untied.
I'm thinking I'll drive North and hike passed dark. Somewhere close to a river, off to find a cold spring of my own, beside which I'll gaze at the moon (raising a toast to Han Shan, somewhere out there on his Cold Mountain).
I don't want company.
I don't need company.
I don't need a book or music or any other distractions.
I want to stop in a town I don't know and buy beer from a store I've never been in.
I need quiet. I need a sky of branches and stars and space above me, a small bed of coals to contemplate as my eyes grow weary...Wait, don't go to bed yet, savor it. Strong black coffee at first light, boiled from stream water, and an apple as I later begin to walk.
No logistical complications, no coordination or calculations, no expectations. Alone time. Slow, quiet time. Dreamtime.
Time to remember what it is that I've forgotten.