The Visitor


The Visitor

I wasn’t going to stay long,
I realized,
So instead of unpacking my bags,
I removed all the things
We don’t use when we are here
Just for awhile,
Things that came to me
Via love,
In their own place and time,
Things that have found their way
To me,
And which I can love
Inside of me at will, forever,
Because forever has nothing to do
With this kind of duration,
Of my time here.
I took all of those things,
And put them in a box
Destined for a place where
Goods that are needed
Go to those who need them.
I felt so much lighter,
But not yet light enough.
Knowing I wasn’t going to stay
Longer than awhile,
I wondered,
How much can I excavate
From my own heart,
How many emotions
Have outlasted their welcome?
How many thoughts are tired
Of circulating through me?
How many patterns
Desire their liberation
From the cage of my unwillingness
To understand I can be free?
I wondered about the life spent,
So far, collecting a history
I could no longer recognize
Myself in, and vowed,
Knowing my stay is short,
To give away all that I could,
Of myself, until all that remains
Is what I have been seeking,
Here and there, and always.

– Tammy Stone Takahashi


Many Skies, Many Selves


We call it the sky,
but have you ever seen
the same one twice?
Do we ever get
the moment back again,
even in memory?
Do we not, rather,
confront something new,
something that glides
gracefully through time,
that can never be caught,
and shows itself as ever-changing,
our precious symbol of rebirth,
and endless possibilities
for what is and can be?
The gift of time is that
we learn we can transcend it,
cut through its borders
by awakening to the vastness
that resides in a single sunset,
the uncurling of a flower’s
very first spring petals,
the unveiling of the night moon
in a night that seems
never to end, yet slips
through our fingers as soon as
as we reach to know it.
We call ourselves by name,
but do we love our many selves,
as we do the sky’s infinite faces?
– Tammy Takahashi

To Fly, To Land


Where do we rest? And land?
Do we soften into our surrounds
The way a few pieces of wood,
Lovingly brought to size
And placed in the new garden
to make a walking path,
Which at first tremble and shake
Under our own hesitant steps,
Soon meld into the ground,
Become stitched to the fabric
Of both Earth and time,
So that we, too, may walk
With the strident ease
Of an eagle soaring in the sky?
Do we land with the determination
Of a moth arriving at the light,
Of a fly buzzing at the table,
Where there is a grain of sugar
To sustain and entertain it?
Do we, like the butterfly,
Flit, and fly, almost as though
Stopping to rest and feed
Is an afterthought in a life
Defined by agility, grace,
And an absence of the burdens
Laid upon us by our gravity?
But to see, to witness
The path of the butterfly
As she dances, floats, sways,
And finally chooses
Her sacred place of landing,
To approach as quietly as possible,
So as not to disturb a moment
So rare it must be filled
With the deepest significance,
To take in the velvet intricacies,
The colours richer than gems,
Is to know: no landing is forever,
And might only be a moment,
But how incredibly sweet it is.
– Tammy Takahashi

Change (art poem)

I was thinking about the nature of change, and how we tend to assume there is a continuity of “us” that, when we really probe the matter, turns out to be essentially untrue.

Do you keep journals? Have you ever gone back to read really old entries, and found yourself visiting an exotic place all but unknown to you? Who is the “you” who wrote those entries all those years ago, or who appears in the old family portrait?

We want to cling to who we were; we are perhaps afraid of being adrift, or more adrift that we already feel. But is this really so scary, or is this maybe the very key to our freedom and happiness, that if we really try, we can begin, and begin again?

I thought it would be interesting to flip to random pages of old journals to see what I could find, and I found this on the first page I flipped to …


Authenticity: When “I” is Hard to Come By

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

Authenticity is an inspiring word.

For me, it conjures images of vulnerability and nakedness, being stripped of the means we have for hiding and self-delusion.

I long for a world where we can be our beautiful, imperfect selves and freely express who we are; I recoil when I feel I’m encountering deceptions, lies, or affected fashioning of selves. I’m absolutely sure I’ve been too judgmental, but since I was little, I’ve been very sensitive about what I perceived to be disingenuous behaviour.

I didn’t quite know what to do with that feeling as a little girl, or why I was reacting so strongly, and the last thing I had the instinct to do was examine my own behavior. For a long time now, I’ve been turning this sometimes oversensitive gaze to myself, and I’ve all but frozen, paralyzed by remorse over my own culpability in this authenticity arena.

Know thyself.

Knowing who we are—our sense of self—is the basis for everything that we do. The catch is that knowing ourselves down to the core is a long, arduous task that can take a lifetime to achieve, yet we have to embark on the task of being ourselves out there in the world long before we might reach the desired level of self-knowledge.

What an interesting situation! We try to be ourselves all the time, and watch these selves disintegrate over and over. No wonder it’s so difficult to be as consistently authentic as possible. We know that we are changing all the time. This is theory, it is science, it is Dharma, it is incontrovertible truth.

Change, however, happens at so many physical and psychological speeds that are so often at odds.

At the molecular level, we are zipping by in a state of ever-changing flux; we are a dance party of frenzied motion, unable to be pinned down. There is quite literally nothing to lock into place for scrutiny.

On a grosser level, we have our bodies that we can observe with our bare eyes, which despite the ever-present changes, remain familiar to us over time, even though our baby-selves and older incarnations actually and seemingly bear little or no resemblance to one another.

Have you ever, like me, been shocked to take a real look at yourself in the mirror and find that what’s staring back at you doesn’t at all appear like the younger, more glowing image you have in your head of you-from-years-past?

Our minds and psyches are what allow for our perceptions of continuity, and this both enables us to get by in a functional way and also gets in the way of our growth.

How do we reconcile the deep-rooted need to accept and embrace the realities of change, and our love of the more “permanent” aspects of ourselves and our relationships?

How do we remain authentic throughout the turbulent ride of inner and outer forces influencing us?

It’s strange, to think of being able to watch my own cells under a microscope, to say nothing of my thoughts, in meditation, coming and going at an alarming rate, and simultaneously speak of an “I”, a person who loves mountains and sitting under trees, who savours that first sip of coffee in the morning, who loves green more than grey, who revels in picking up a pen to begin a journaling session.

How much do I sacrifice by letting go of these identities of self, and also how much do I sacrifice by holding on?

This is all still (fascinating) theory. In Buddhism, we learn of the principles of anicca (impermanence) and anata (no-self).

Theory aside, I was inspired to write this because of a much more personal and intimate feeling—at this moment, I feel authenticity ebbing away. It comes as a muse, flirts with me, dances between the words I put to page, but then, to my eye anyway, all but disappears by the time I finish working.

I feel I’m running after who I think I am—who I’ve been, who others see, who I want to be—rather than actually experiencing, and then sharing of myself authentically.

All these selves are blending and authenticity seems far removed compared to the simple feeling of unity I have when I’m unplugged, out in nature, communing with trees and mountains. In this state, the fragments threaten to fly off into oblivion and “me” starts to feel like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book—not that those aren’t fun.

Maybe this sombre feeling comes from a jagged mind in need of rest, or even a longer vacation (from myself?) so that the heart has a chance to assert herself, find her deepest connections. The heart is unencumbered by fears of self-annihilation, but I don’t listen to her enough.

Sometimes I forget I’m even looking for her truths.

The heart is where everything must spill forth from, where the problem of authenticity has no reason to exist. It’s scary, the idea of putting these ever-revolving thoughts and fears aside when I have been so sure they could lead me toward the solutions to riddles that have teased me.

I do know I’m not afraid of silence, even when it attracts fears in their wildest forms. The storms will inevitably pass, and on their way out, hint at the vibrant self in their wake.