“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing.

Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

Illustration from  BENCH, A Story of Wonder, arriving in late 2020

This morning, like most days, I wake early from the plaintive cry of the Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopaceus. It’s impossible not to. The Koel, a member of the Cuckoo family, has the loudest mating call in all of Thailand. My feathered alarm clock is black, with hooked-beak, crimson eyes, about 18 inches long, and begins his morning perched in the mango tree that grows beside my bedroom. His mating call is piercing, and cadenced, sounding very much like ‘For real, for real, for real,’ alerting me, no doubt, that Dreamtime is over; the day begins for real.

I sit on the edge of the bed, slow-stretching out coils of sleep. Lately, in these unusual days of isolation, I’ve begun a morning ritual, celebrating each day with a mantra of gratitude: Thank you, dear body, for caring for me, bringing me through this long river of time, unfolding into the present, precious moment. A confluence of bones and muscles, tendons, and ligaments keeping me upright and mobile, beautiful winged ribs that cradle my heart, protecting these breathing lungs. I bow to the metabolic machinery, the factories of chemicals and minerals, to legions of soldiers who do the best they can to ward off invaders. Oh, praise to you, beautiful blood, captain of this ship, magnificent and sacred water coursing through every fiber, delivering to and taking away at once what the body needs or doesn’t need. Sea of my potential, feed these thoughts I carry with goodness, hold my memories equally sacred and let me ascend into the ether, touching everything all at once.

I then rise into early morning patterns, herding my daily questions out of the corral where I’d left them the night before. Do I begin a painting today? Do I finish this journal, or repair the leak in my roof? Is there time for the world to begin again?

I make coffee and nod a greeting to one of a handful of geckos with whom I share my small house. Interestingly, and gratefully, their population remains consistent; never more than a dozen reside throughout the rooms, living and hunting primarily on the ceiling, darting behind my paintings on the walls when I move too close. We tolerate each other in quiet reciprocity. They’re proficient at catching insects that are adept at dining on me.

I walk outside with a cup of coffee, across the porch, down the stairs to the garden. My eyes catch a minuscule movement–a reflection coming from within the pond. I lean closer and discover a few droplets of water have settled onto the veins of the lotus leaf, each crystal orb spinning out a universe of light. I lean closer to inspect one drop that appears unusually different from the others–an encapsulating movement I know too well.

“Is that you, Kados?

“Of course, it’s me.”

“What are you doing?”

“The same as you. Contemplating. Ruminating. Or should we call it ‘Fabulating?'”

“Yeah. I like that. Why not?”

Indeed, why not. After all, we’ve become searchers, haven’t we, in these star-lit sands, scratching for clues beneath the surface of our desert. Now we must burrow into these dunes and wait with patience.  Inevitably, hopefully, something new–an infant energy–will descend and light us a way out.”

MAEANAM 70, from MAENAM, Of Water, Of Light 2012

And yes, gratitude for loving friendships.

Blessings from the river,

Galen Garwood