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|The title of this blog, “Apricot Moon,” is inspired by meditations on the Chinese lunar calendar as presented in The Lunar Tao, Meditations in Harmony with the Seasons, by Deng-Ming Dao. In spite of the title, the purpose of the blog is not to convert the reader to an “ism,” require any familiarity with Asian philosophy, or, for that matter, invite agreement or disagreement with any particular point of view. I write this blog because I need to write, and in doing so I hope to encourage myself to continue that writing. There is also the unique pleasure, camaraderie, and sense of community of doing so here, a place where we can share our thoughts with others who try to not only write eloquently but also live genuinely. Here, then, are the recurring phases of the Apricot Moon…|
|Saturday, March 21st, 2020
It feels appropriate to resume writing in this blog today, the second day of the Apricot Moon. This is the month of the Spring Equinox, a time of change, of transformation, at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, the time when day and night are of equal length. As I write today, we are in the midst of a global pandemic of Covid-19. There are currently over 300,000 cases of Coronavirus reported, and over 13,000 of my sisters and brothers throughout the world have died. I live in the state of Washington in the United States; we have the second highest number of cases in the nation, and we have seen the highest number of deaths. The governor has not locked down our state yet, but that might well be coming soon. I am in the high-risk category, and I am feeling cautious but not yet fearful. This is an important time, a good time for introspection, a time for reflecting on purpose, values, and attitudes.
I live in a rural / residential area in Snohomish County near a twenty-five mile long bike and walking path called the centennial trail. You wouldn’t have thought that there is a great crisis occurring from the faces of the people that passed by. There were a lot of bikers on the Trail, whizzing by in their colorful jerseys highlighted by the black of their cycling pants and knickers. Many families turned out for a Saturday stroll, with a salmagundi of strollers and tiny cycles for both young children and dogs. One biker shot past me, the head of a small Irish setter protruding from the top of his backpack. It lifted everyone’s spirits to be walking on a bright, sunny Spring day. At one point, I looked up to catch sight of a pair of red-tailed hawks drawing circles in the sky. Truly, it was a lovely day….
Today would have been a few days past the date of the Spring Blue Dragon Festival. In olden times, the families of Northern China would celebrate this day by drawing water before dawn and making a special offering called “attracting the dragon to the fields” to lift its head and send out rain to irrigate the fields. In our area of Washington, the dragon started early this year by generously sending out rain almost every day beginning in January! By the time March rolled around, many of the fields were under water. Had the farmers been celebrating this ancient tradition, I think they would probably have requested the dragon to please hold back now. Our rivers have been flooding and the fields have been covered with water. Only now is it beginning to recede, another reason to appreciate and be grateful for today’s sun.
Sunday, March 22nd, 2020
I am watching the progress of the epidemic as reported by a great website developed by a seventeen-year-old high scholl student, Avi Schiffman. Ncov2019.live is tracking all the reported cases of the virus world wide. In the past 12 hours, 14,000 new cases have been reported. While I am not paying close attention the number of deaths, I do see that Italy has been very hard hit, and my heart goes to that beautiful country and the wonderful people who sheltered me for seven years during my early life. I am concerned about a friend of mine who still lives in Rome. He is high risk, has suffered a stroke over the past five years, has developed diabetes, and also has epilepsy; he is 80 percent blind. It is all too easy to step back in time to my memories of him, when we went on camping trips in Southern Italy, drove his Land Rover to Sicily in the spring of my senior year in high school, and adventured into the kif-scented streets of the Casbah in Tangiers together. In those days, we were unaware that Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg had all trod along those very same streets.
I currently work from home at the requirement of my employer. The governor of Washington has asked citizens to minimize travel, and those in the high-risk category, like myself, are asked to stay at home. I prefer a course that will preserve lives, with the modification of taking a daily vigorous walk to keep up my energy and shake the cobwebs out.
Having been fond of history my whole life, I have seen and read many accounts of disease and epidemics that have swept over areas, countries, and the world. I do confess that I never thought I would be living in the midst of one! I hear the echoes of British statesman Joseph Chamberlain during a speech he gave in 1898:
I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety.
Hear, hear. Nevertheless, aging, sickness, and death are all part of the cycle of birth and death; I do not say this with indifference but, hopefully, with acceptance. To expect the worst, hope for the best, and do the best one can allows one to step forward without despair. I reflect on all the friends and folks I have known, both living and dead, and I celebrate each and every one of them now. I have few attachments and few friends; I do not long for sickness and death, but they come and go unbidden and unhindered, just like the chickadee outside my window, probing the budding blossoms of the white magnolia. I try to sit still and breathe. may I be able to accord with the conditions at hand.