seeing with new eyes

Yesterday I rode my bicycle to work differently than I had in a long time. I stepped through my front door with the intention of truly experiencing my ride; to notice the details through all of my senses. Instead of rushing through the process in an attempt to break my all time record of 35 minutes, I made my ride my morning meditation. I focused on my breath, the sounds around me, the feel of the air on my skin, and the small details that I miss when I’m looking straight ahead.

It helped that it was a gorgeous spring morning in Seattle, and everything had the extra appearance of sparkle. The birds seemed drunk on sunshine and the few people who I saw on my journey had smiles on their faces. Even the bits of trash that littered the sides of the pathway and the graffiti under the bridge looked as if they belonged (maybe that’s a bit much, but I was meditating).

By slowing down and engaging in the world around me, I experienced a shift from peaceful to joy to connection. I realized that I am not separate from the sea birds I pass on the ship canal or the couple kissing in the early morning sun or even the homeless man asleep on the bench under a tarp. Not that I am these people or animals, but that I am connected in a worldly sense. And I had peace around that.

Maybe this was a continuation of my attempt to cultivate bicycle santosha, and maybe it was a temporary sunshine high, but it felt amazing. And it felt like a doorway opened to a new experience. My ride was inspired in a way it hasn’t been for a long time, and I was seeing the world with new eyes. The experience felt less like contentment and more like devotion- to what or who, I can’t say. Maybe to God, maybe to Universe, and maybe to the people, animals, and things I witnessed on the path. It was Bhakti bicycling. And it was pure bicycle bliss.

Seeing With New Eyes
~ Pei Hsien Lim

Yesterday I sat down
with water colours and drawing pencil
for the first time
in a long time.

O how my hands shook
and I really had doubt
if I could do it again.

When I had both eyes
20/20 vision
in my casual arrogance
I took one look
sure that I saw everything.

Now that I have only one eye
I always take a second look
and see with humility.

Slowly the hand steadied
once again
the creative process began

And I saw the whole universe
inside the pink lilies
saw beauty like I’ve never seen before.

the winter in haiku

At the beginning of the year, I committed to writing haiku on a regular basis. It was cold and dark, and I was desperately seeking inspiration (which, apparently, can not be found in the personals section of The Stranger). Often, when I’m depleted of creativity, I search for words or images that stand out for me, and words and poetry can feel like food for my soul. So, I embarked on a renewed practice of haiku.

After just a few days of evoking images through haiku, haiku became a way for me to see the world- envisioning nature in a cadence of five, seven, and five. I found that I more often than not had to set foot outside before finding my haiku voice, and that when I did, I was muttering to myself and taking my hands out of my pockets to count syllables on my fingers (this must be done on bare hands- mittens ruin the experience). Through my daily haiku practice, as I worked the parts of my brain specially reserved for math and poetic inspiration, my heart felt like it opened up a little. The small act of filtering out nonsense and attempting to capture a moment in seventeen syllables was (and is) an incredible experience. And, some might say, this practice can lead to enlightenment (there’s always hope).

So, with the Spring Equinox just a few days away, I thought I would share my winter in haiku (to be read in reverse from present day to New Year’s Day). Some sweetness, irreverence, and nonsense to fill a page. My initial hope was to have enough lines to form a haiku mala, but I decided this was enough. Because it certainly isn’t the end of my haiku love affair. Just another practice that I continue to keep in my toolbox of goodness.

 Shiny drops of rain
Balanced upon blades of grass
How do you do that?
Dreamt of pilgrimage
Ancient forests, distant lands
And woke up inspired
Little pink blossoms
Under stormy winter sky
Beautiful and strong
Another cold day
Anything is possible
With warm gloves and love
Drops of winter rain
Forming puddles in the street
How I long for spring
Tiny hints of chive
Peeking out from wintered pot
Delicate yet strong
Dark clouds hide the moon
Shifting patterns in the sky
Where is the bird song?
 Sea glass colored sky
Exchanging the moon for sun
So begins the day
How the sun still shines
The world moves on and birds sing
Your presence is missed
Glistening water
Under sprawl of snowcapped range
My sweetheart and me
Beautiful sunshine
Glistening frost covered earth
Drink it up and smile
Beautiful morning
Sound of breath mixed with birdsong
My bicycle bliss
Brisk winter morning
Sound of tires in crunching leaves
Love song for my bike
Chilly winter rain
Slowly melting hints of snow
Cookie for breakfast
Early morning chill
Made bearable by music
Shake my hips and smile
Fresh snow upon ice
Upon snow upon more ice
Grateful for warm socks
City sounds muffled
By snowfall and wooly hat
Early morning joy
Multicolored clouds
Laughing at the snow nonsense
Everything changes
Search for snowy owl
In naked winter treetops
Found: my happiness
This feels like winter
Icy streets and garden snow
Memories of home
Early morning snow
Falling softly to the earth
The sky in prayer
The voice in my head
Seems to think she knows so much
And maybe she does
The smell of her neck
Moments after I arise
My heart knows of love
Another sunrise
As unique as this moment
The beauty of change
Frozen bird feeder
Attracts little chickadee
This promise of spring
The frost covered leaves
Capture the light of the moon
This, too, is yoga
Full moon peeping out
From cover of morning clouds
The courage to shine
The city is lights
Reflecting in the dark sky
Why am I awake?
Early morning stroll
Listening to winter birds
Sweet old dog and me
Early morning stretch
Before the rush of the day
Old dog under feet
Under a dark sky
The world seems a quiet place
Kettle screams inside
Multicolored sky
Blazing on a New Year’s morn
Reminder of peace