Ren Powell

When the Storm Pushes You Off the Middle Path

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Photo: Ren Powell

A difficult night last night. Three a.m. text messages are never good news. Even when the news is edged with hope: a turn for the better, an “it could be much worse”.

It’s not the knowing that all things are impermanent that is comfort, it’s the acceptance of this. And I am forced to redefine the concept of “comfort” in my mind.

Again I read in a news article that it is foolish to say we live in uncertain times when the future is always, and has always been, uncertain. …


Tanka Prose

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Photo: Ren Powell

The snow is melting off the roof. I can hear it dripping outside the window. I didn’t run this morning. Instead, I took two paracetamol and emptied the dishwasher. I still feel out-of-sorts. And again this question of “normal” arises.

The more I feel things slip out of control, the more I keep rearranging the spice cupboard.

I suppose it is forcing a sense of order on the world. Filling the salt grinder with coarse seas salt. Consolidating three bottles of cumin seeds. It’s grounding.

No pun intended. Or maybe, intended. The textures, the smells are simple and comforting. After nearly a year of ad hoc meals, I’m cooking again. …


Considering (Human) Nature, Acceptance, and Skillful Resistance

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Photo: Ren Powell

I think this is the third year that I am trying to read a small bit of Rilke each night before bed. I am good at morning routines, but my days always unravel and evening routines have never been something I have managed to follow through on.

But though I am never patient, I am stubborn, and I am trying yet again. A cursory tidying of the house. A cup of tea. A half-hour on the Shakti mat.

These days I’m puzzling over the idea of comfort — over the fact that it is possible to find comfort in surrendering to what is unequivocally unpleasant. I don’t mean looking for silver linings. But acknowledging what is. Comfort need not be defined as providing hope, as I have always unconsciously understood it. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole of synonyms this morning trying to figure out where I got this idea. …


Looking for the Fine Lines Between Conspiracy Theories and The Knowledge Illusion

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Photo: Ren Powell

The well for coffee beans was empty this morning. I love it when that happens. I get to open the new bag of whole beans, and there is very little in the world that smells better than coffee beans at 6 a.m. on a cold mid-January Thursday after walking the dog under a dark sky.

There’s a new moon somewhere out there. The universe playing peek-a-boo with us. Teaching us not to put all of our faith in our senses. Humility, limitations: always be aware of not knowing. It’s funny how we laugh at young children’s gullibility when we play peek-a-boo. We laugh, and (lovingly) condescend to their repeated experience of surprise. …


Letting go of the Illusion of Control in Times of Fear

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Photo: Ren Powell

I haven’t been sleeping well. Though I suspect few of us are these days. This weekend several of the local lakes were declared to be “safe”, then on Sunday two men fell through the ice of two different lakes. On the other side of the country, and an environmental activist fell through and died.

I know that “liminal” has become one of those overused words, but the truth is these liminal spaces are dangerous. The in-betweens and the uncertainties and this continual sense of being on the edge.

Flight, freeze, fight, faint, or f#%&. But before that, the suspense, the suspension of our own unconscious flow. Heightened awareness is exhausting. …


— Considering How Very Far I am from Home on the 6th of January 2021

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Photo: Ren Powell

It is rare that I drive. Technically I haven’t had a car in nearly 8 years. Part financial choice, part environmental effort. I have the privilege of living and working along a rail track, in a country that has good mass transportation.

And I have access to borrow or rent cars when I “need” them.

But I have been driving quite a bit since the pandemic began and the government asked us not to use public transportation.

I can’t say I’ve missed driving. But I have missed being alone in a car. Having lived either in apartments or with other people all my life, it has been the only place I could belt out a “good” rendition of Cabaret in my fantasy production. …


A personal — not political — meditation on the drama of it all.

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Photo: copyright Willie Kommedal

I was beginning to fall asleep just after dinner last night but forced myself awake hoping for a good night’s sleep instead. And right before bed, I checked my phone to see if any of my students had received positive Covid results. And, yes, to see how many of the Republicans in the United States would be objecting to the election results. And, yes, I wasn't alone in anticipating an actual coup attempt. Or an actual coup.

There are very few moments in my life where I felt or was aware of a kind of quantum leap in my own maturity. But I do remember when I realized I no longer romanticized drama. …

About

Ren Powell

Poet & Teaching Artist. Traditional & Handbound Books. Weekly meditation & writing prompts on Medium at Minding My Own Dharma ✎ Website: renpowell.com

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