Garbage and Flowers

For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why.For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why. Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese term for finding the beauty in imperfection, and accepting the cycle of birth, growth, aging, death, and decay.I’m 66. It’s about time.The Buddhist teacher and writer Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this cycle when he speaks of seeing the garbage in the flowers and the flowers in the garbage. “When we look at garbage,” he writes, “we also see the non-garbage elements: we see the flower there. Good organic gardeners see that. When they…

Time: Visible and Invisible(and a Halloween trick-and-treat from

NOTE: Trick-and-treat after this essay extracted from a book-in-progress about the impact of a near-death experience I had 25 years ago.My first experience of time as a continuum occurred when I was about ten years old. Before that, I think time was invisible to me.I was riding my bike past Johnny Sybulski’s house and I stopped, suddenly, for no particular reason. I looked at the simple brick facade, the white trim, the unkempt bushes, and I became aware of myself looking. I thought, “This is just one second in my life, and I’ll never remember it again.” But that moment is one of my more vivid memories from childhood. It marked the beginning of my sense of myself as mortal.Both of my grandfathers had died that year. In each case I had seen them nearing death in the hospital some weeks before and had seen their dead bodies in the funeral home. Perhaps that’s why I noticed that moment, or perhaps ten is when most boys begin to understand time and death; I don’t know. What I do know is t…

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is!

A recent trip to Vermont reminded me that, although I’m still enamored of the mountains north of Santa Fe, NM, New England mountains also have their particular, softer charm.Some views of the Green Mountains, north and southP.S. If you find what you read here helpful, please forward it to others who might, too. Or click one of the buttons below the blog entry.
Comments always appreciated!Books:
Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas
52 (more) Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Stress Relief
52 Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book for Inspiration and Stress Relief
Paths to Wholeness: Selections (free eBook)Copyright 2017, David J. Bookbinder

Love Lives On

The gaze of love is not deluded. Love sees what is best in the beloved, even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light.
– J. M. CoetzeeWhen I was 25, living in Manhattan, and trying to jump-start a career in writing and photography, I visited my parents and brothers in Buffalo two or three times a year. On those trips, I also saw my maternal grandmother.It was painful to witness Bubby’s decline. Though only in her mid 70s, by then she was legally blind, mostly deaf, unable to manage on her own. She had a room at a Jewish nursing home downtown, an institutional environment where I always felt uneasy.On one visit, as I was leaving I noticed two of Bubby’s former neighbors sitting in folding chairs on the lawn. I went over to them. Mr. Klein’s recent stroke had paralyzed one side of his body and frozen half his face; his attempts to talk were unintelligible. Mrs. Klein, however, seemed virtually unchanged since I’d last seen her, more than ten years before. S…

Electrocuting the Ants

I did terrible things to insects as a child.Like many other boys growing up with nothing better to do, I tore the legs off Daddy Longlegs, incinerated pill bugs with magnifying glasses, and set fire to more than one ant hill. But I didn’t stop there.I was a kid scientist. Spurred on by the early space program and largely ignored by the adults around me, I dreamed of one day voyaging to the stars. Meanwhile, to prepare myself, I read Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, and other SF masters of the day. At the same time, I plowed through one field of scientific inquiry after another, beginning with magnets and batteries – I built my first lead-acid battery when I was seven – and moving quickly through fossils, geology, chemistry and electronics. But entomology was my most enduring interest and bugs were my favorite experimental subjects.The insect kingdom was convenient for testing ideas that came up in both my scientific and science fictional pursuits. My interest was, I believed, purel…

How to leap tall buildings in a single bound

The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible.
– Arthur C. ClarkeDuring much of my childhood, I lived in the realm of possibility: machine intelligences, aliens, mutants, future worlds, alternate pasts. Infinite possibilities.My first science fiction book was Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. I was 10 when I found a copy at a Temple Sinai rummage sale. It opened the universe to me. Soon, I was wandering over to the adult section of the library every week, taking out as many science fiction books as the librarian would permit. I also haunted the local pharmacy’s rack of science fiction and mystery novels, trying to figure out how best to allocate my 50-cent allowance. By my early teens, I had amassed a collection of several hundred science fiction books and had read many more.Around the time I discovered Asimov, I decided I wanted to be a “space scientist,” a dream that carried me all the way through my first year of engineering school. By then, I had …

The Cast of Characters

NOTE: I’ve been working with an illustrator on the characters in my forthcoming book on balance and thought you might be interested in what we’ve developed. Here’s the cast of characters and a brief introduction to them.Know thy self, know thy enemy.
Sun Tzu, The Art of WarThis is a book about balance: What disrupts it, what restores it, and how to keep it going.It is also a story, and like any story, it has a cast of characters.Some are friends and fellow travelers. Some are enemies. In the pages of this book you will come to know them well. But first, some introductions.Al/Alice
We are the heroes of this saga, an epic battle not only for balance but literally for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.UnBalancerThe villain in our story is the nefarious UnBalancer.UnBalancer is a fearsome and sometimes deadly force. It strives single-mindedly to unseat us, and sometimes it wins the battle – but not, as we’ll see, the war.BalancerOur chief ally in combating UnBalancer is Balance…