I know there’s a place you walked
where love falls from the trees.
My heart is like a broken cup,
I only feel right on my knees.
– Pete Townshend
Not truth, nor certainty. These I forswore
In my novitiate, as young men called
To holy orders must abjure the world.
“If …, then,” this only I assert;
And my successes are but pretty chains
Linking twin doubts, for it is vain to ask
If what I postulate be justified,
Or what I prove possess the stamp of fact.
Yet bridges stand, and men no longer crawl
In two dimensions. And such triumphs stem
In no small measure from the power this game,
Played with the thrice attenuated shades
Of things, has over their originals.
How frail the wand, but how profound the spell.
– Clarence Wylie, Jr.
Since the laws of quantum physics are reversible in time, we shall have to consider computing engines which obey such reversible laws. Feynman RP. Foundations of Physics, Volume 16, Number 6, 507-531, DOI: 10.1007/Dec.
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. — Albert Einstein on the occasion of his friend Michele Besso’s death…and three weeks before Einstein’s death.
Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh yes! I am confused.
Other men are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Other men are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.
Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.
– Tao Te Ching
I would like to be in touch with any of the following people:
Kim Ok Gi (alternate spellings or forms: Kim Okgie, Kim Ok Gie, Ok Gi Kim, Okie Kim, Okgie Kim)
born February 19, 1963 in Seoul, Korea
Kim Yung Ai
last known address:
#760, 22 Ban
Mr. Kang Jae Woo
Hung nam dang jae kwa so
Mr. Han Hyong Shik
Jang Woon Sang
Kim Jin Ho
Sue Jung, 4th-Dong, Dong-Ku
Please email me at:
keith AT keithflower.org
In battle, in forest, at the precipice of the mountains
On the dark great sea, in the midst of javelins and arrows,
In sleep, in confusion, in the depths of shame,
The good deeds a man has done before defend him.
Once a queen, who though possessing great beauty or perhaps because of it, desired the rare things of the world. One night in her castle of gray stones and carefully laid lines she dreamt of a magnificent elephant with glowing eyes. Her dream elephant strolled calmly and quietly through jade forests, moving trees gently to one side with pure white tusks that shone in the moonlight.
Here was rarity. The queen awoke and could not forget her dream nor her desire. She wanted the pure white tusks. She asked her husband the king to find the calm elephant and the pure ivory.
Although it seemed to him an impossible task, the king loved this beautiful queen very much. He sent word throughout the kingdom, asking for anyone who knew of this great elephant to report to him. He offered a bountiful reward to any hunter who could bring the tusks to him.
Now it happened that there was indeed a great elephant living in the endless, deep green forests nearby – an elephant whose heart was as great as his very being. This elephant wandered the forests and highlands, searching for a purity and a grace. He roamed the beloved land, gently touching what he found there with his long, delicate trunk, searching and learning.
It turned out that during this elephant’s long meanderings, he had once saved a hunter who had been lost in the forest, guiding him from the dangerous parts of the forest back onto familiar paths leading to safety. The hunter returned home. But as coincidence would have it, this same hunter lived in the kingdom where a queen dreamt of an elephant with glowing eyes.
Hearing about the great reward the king offered for the tusks, the hunter forgot the elephant’s great kindness, and set out on a journey back into the magical forest. From his previous contact with the elephant, he knew the elephant was a seeker of truth, so he disguised himself as a wise sage.
At dawn the elephant emerged from the forest and walked quietly into a clearing, where the hunter waited. Seeing what looked to him like a kindly sage, the elephant bowed, his beautiful white tusks gently scraping the ground. When he did this, the hunter quickly pulled and drew back his bow, and sent three poison arrows like lightning into the body of the great elephant.
The elephant felt the arrows pierce his body. He looked down and felt them burning and he knew they were poisoned. He felt his heart beat faster and his legs weaken. He knew his end was near. Other elephants nearby heard his cry, and came to investigate. When these other elephants saw what had happened, they were overcome with fury and attacked the hunter.
The great tusked elephant, however, knew the hunter had been overcome by desire.
He sheltered the hunter within the protection of his great limbs from the terrible anger of the other elephants.
Then when it was safe, the elephant quietly asked the hunter why he had done such a foolish thing. The hunter wept and looked at the ground in shame, and told of the reward the king had offered. The hunter confessed that he coveted the pure tusks.
Though weakening rapidly from the poison, the elephant immediately struck his great tusks again and again on a tree trunk. The tusks made sounds like thunder as they broke off. The elephant knelt, then turned slowly. His eyes shone, and as he turned his long trunk gently caressed the earth. He gave the broken tusks to the hunter, saying to him: “By this gift I have completed my search. My gift to you may vanquish the three poisonous arrows that have already pierced you – arrows of greed and anger and ignorance.”
– adapted from BUKKYŌ DENDŌ KYŌKAI
(Wherein we try to quote Erich Marie Remarque from memory, for nights when such words will be needed):
A clear voice utters words that bring me peace, to me, in big boots, belt, and knapsack, taking the road that lies before me under the high heaven, quickly forgetting and seldom sorrowful, for ever pressing on under the wide night sky.
A clear voice, and if anyone were to caress him he would hardly understand, marching with the big boots and the shut heart, who marches because he is wearing big boots, and has forgotten all else but marching.
Beyond the skyline is a country with flowers lying so still he would like to weep.
The morning after the storm is just for returning north along the coast, but the next exit is east to Ojai and I remember I have someone else to thank. Coleus from the farmers’ market makes a small gift.
I’ve never been here, but do know this has been his home for more than fifty years. A low stone fence. Beyond the back gate a young woman walks the lush green toward me, and I ask after Mr. David Essel. She points to a man already walking with care, slowly and unafraid down a path from the house.
He is dressed in coat and knit hat on this sunny day in Southern California, although the warmth I remember across decades is still right there inside. He asks after me and my life and talks to me softly, some of science, some of India, and some of Krishnamurti and Christ and a certain Tibetan monk. Compassion. I tell him I remember his lessons.
In his mid-eighties he cares for his ill wife in their home. As we part, he tells me, “she will die at home.”
I thought I knew all roads there, but found myself inland driving through what felt like open doors. Soft light and emptiness, snow on far peaks, and a sky to fall into. Then a crossroads: east to the freeway and the fastest return. Or West. Back to the sea on a road I’d never traveled.
Effortless curves winding ever upward, then a plateau where horizons vanish and the day is full of sun. Hardly any other travelers in this stillness, but then just up ahead a car is swerving around something standing right in the middle of the road. Up close I see it’s a goose. Up closer, I see the long slender beak and know this is no goose. It looks to me like a brown pelican.
Even before curiosity, guilt flows in like a tide. What’s that about? Obviously something has gone wrong when a seabird is trying to hitch a ride along what amounts to a high desert highway, sixty miles inland. I’m tired. I want to go home. What am I supposed to do about it?
How comes a seabird here? I drive on and think about it. Along the coast I’d driven through the leading edge of the fierce storm two days before on my way south. Black, pelting rains and hail and winds lifting against the mountains, winds that made my truck shudder and slew near the summits.
Minutes and miles go by, and when I finally sigh and get turned around I’m no longer sure where I saw the bird. I slow. There is nothing in the road. No cars. Nothing. I drive back and forth, searching the shoulders.
Then I see, just out of the corner of my right eye, down a steep ravine to the right. A large bird has flown out just high enough I can see his head as he falls.
No shoulder. No place to park. A quarter mile down the road I pull into a turnout.
I can’t see anything. No movement. No flight. I watch the stillness. Nothing. Nothing.
Well I tried, I think to myself. The guilt recedes, and it’s an easy walk back to my truck. Out the window, there’s where I thought I saw the bird. Nothing. Accelerating, I start to think about where I might stop to eat.
I drive north. Twenty miles of high, soft grasslands, and a day like a dream. But also the thoughts of the seabird I’ve left there. Thoughts of storm and cloud canyons, and winds like walls in the sky.
When you fly in storm, lightning strikes are strobes that halt and hang raindrops before you, motionless, filling an infinitude.
Thirty miles on. I picture the separation of bird from flock and sea. I remember Terry Tempest Williams and wild geese passing in front of a full moon, their great hearts beating in flight; of the storm’s unexpected fury and the sudden parting from the flock, of the panic and calling out, of endless tumbling. I remember how she found the goose there by the lake and cleaned and arranged its broken body, covering the golden eyes with small dark stones.
And I thought of the times I have been alone and afraid, in the air, or at sea.
Turn back. Forty minutes later I find the little stretch of road with its small, lonely tree. Walk along the shoulder. At first the seabird is hidden from my sight, then all at once so easy to see. Wings drawn in tight. Head on chest. Eyes open. He seems to be waiting.
Walk back to the truck. Drive it closer. Park. This may take a while. I put on boots and jacket. Sort gear out of a big black duffel.
He is calm at first at my approach, then stands and spreads his wings. He makes a little hop and glides down clumsily a few feet. There is bewilderment in his eyes at a sky which no longer buoys the graceful long wings. I move above him and he stumbles on feet made for ocean swells, struggling ever down through sand and sage to the bottom of the ravine, the small dark stones all about our feet.
Shimmering heat – we watch the other’s eyes: golden; blue.
At my first try at covering his head with my black bag, there is the clack of beak and the feeble cry. The long, lovely beak catches my finger, but I realize then how defenseless and weak he really is, for he can’t even break the skin. A few more tries as he, master of sky and wave, tries to walk away from this danger. I drop the bag and we stare deeper into each other. Quiet words of a longing for horizons that recede forever, for winds laden with sea mist, for the thrust of surf and birth. Calm, calmer, open. I carry him out of the dry ravine.
We drive together a few hours. When the cell phone signal appeared again, I called the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, and with a few more calls I reached their sister facility in Morro Bay. The saints there will wait for me late beyond their usual hours on this Sunday night.
Over the hills and out of dryness, now the sea mists makes soft cones of light beneath road lights, and then I hear surf behind the power plant at Morro Bay. The pelican stirs in the front seat with a low, liquid calling.
They are kind and gentle, as I knew they would be. I think they will let him be at rest at least for this night, here at the sea and the end of all things. I drive on again filled with a quiet elation. Maybe we both can return to a home.
Then back on the freeway near Cupertino, the call comes. They’ve taken him to a vet, who has found a shattered wing joint. It can’t be repaired. The talk on the phone is of what is best, and I am left to drive on with my quiet grief for this son of the sea, and the sky.
I think of another someone I want to thank sometime, for teaching – so much a Haiku, who was strong in life and who would have chosen all things be always in motion, just for the delight of it. I think of hope, and how meaning comes from dissolving into the world. And I wonder how many times I have given up too early, and too easily.
Who hath desired the Sea? — the sight of salt water unbounded –
The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded?
The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing –
Who hath desired the Sea? — the immense and contemptuous surges?
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve, as the star-stabbing bow-sprit emerges?
Who hath desired the Sea? Her menaces swift as her mercies?
The in-rolling walls of the fog and the silver-winged breeze that disperses?
Who hath desired the Sea? Her excellent loneliness
Rather than forecourts of kings?