Tag Archives: buddha

“smiling on the inside (holding on)” #poem

[poem about where i was, where i am, now – and not letting go, for various reasons & dentistry]
+ Smiling on the Inside (holding on) +

Dave Thorvald Olson

Closing loops of past lives
errors & eras alike
epochs – at the time
now, defunct addresses on file

Accidental safe houses
Each with a similar go-bag
Essentials: postcards, pens, inky stamps, pipe, various disguises
Importantly: toothbrush and floss

Despite all of that,
a goofy grin'd & metal-free mouth
now features a Grand Canyon
- verily, unwanted

“Oh nimble fingers of well-educated and highly-skilled women, patch me up with porcelain and drills"
Then maybe dust off the front
so i’m not biting my lip in snaps
[Yes I know: late night snacks, Chinese medicines, endless cappuccinos, something something]

Yes, I disappear from time to time
I pretend to share it all,
But I don't – this of course is obvious
There are parts of me unreconciled
“i'll assume you are the same, because assumptions are underrated”

For your correspondence:
“country by country”
Former ‘homes’ (mostly demolished), crash pads, storage lockers, mail drops, way-station, guest-houses & occasional warm-water bed-sits

I collect the items and artifacts
file into files
despite Buddhist insistence about "letting go"
Blerg! Ole Buddha, i’ve seen you on the currencies of temples and banknotes

Yay, I am a maximalist! A curator of ephemera
{justified by creating things from the materials cast aside}
*Everything* has many lives until reaching a perfected exalted state, ergo:

The hotel stationery, the coasters, the match packets, well-stamped postal covers with such dreams and intentions written in my native language yet a script which I can't quite figure
These were created with affection and I would be unaffectionate to cast them into a bin or decomposition

Amongst, most salient:
Notes to future self
The "when written, unaware"
When opened, the ringing of a bell
the thwack of a read stick imploring zazen posture
when legs are too numb to carry-on

So i composite
Substrates upon items
In reverse
though various, nothing is random
Everything is an intentional act

Little Bay, Pacifica, Olympia (Washington and Greece), Esquimalt, Alas Manis, Victoria Drive, Phitsanulok, Pokhara, Aqaba, Karapitiya, Thrippunithura
– all not lost yet certainly un-found
Until Tsuchida

So, paid the ferrymen the extra cargo charges
willingly, for safe return
of memories & materiel

Artifacts required to answer:

How well did you love?
How well were you loved?
How well did you let go (of the things which did not serve)?

I say rather, "how well did you hold on?" Or “did you *at least* hold on?”

Letting go is easy, I try often-desperately daily to "not let go”
(ignoring the incident at Royal Jubilee)

You've heard me scribble,
"We are the stories that we share"
As such, “through chisels in Tenino, pencils in Providence, scissors and glue in another hospital and so on” are all measured with the same weight

I've made a song and you have too.
Old Uncle Walt call it "a song of yourself”
Yet "letting everything go" means that even old Gautama's musings would've faded with
an unapplied patch, without indexing, without copying and pasting

Without required updates in communication medium,
The message is not for simply: Existing

So, well-stocked with what appears – at first blush – easily replaceable shoeboxes
Requiring labels, folios and drawers for sort-ganizing
I remind: I’m here forever, my address will remain unchanged
I'm not going to come visit, but turns out the ships and planes both go both ways


Last night before bath
I wrote shodo ink for wife
teaching beloved tea ceremony
in English (practiced several times exactly a year ago with folks who came to Okayama rather than just asking for "what are the best things to do in Japan in three days")

Accompanied by a tiny version of me
Rambunctious, swinging with thoughtful inquiry
[We eat cheese and crackers, warm milk and sit close together in the bath, 42° C]

Rocking gently, magnetic smile
“reminds me of his mother and his grandmother” the one he won't meet,
and reminds “me of me” as reminded by bold love
and packing a variety of poses which he declares as "Mine"
// off-limits to use without permission, only verbally granted

Now for me (and you in my satchel in a field notes book)
after oatmeal, comes a bus ride, earplugs and an eye mask


The items are sequestered
In a solid storehouse
Blessed by a Shinto priest
white robes and a fabulous hat
Awaiting katazuke
best with records and incense

Yup, less pretty for a minute
“nothing is temporary, nothing is forever”

Sure Love, be loved,
and – critically – “You Must Hold On”


53 years, a big goofy grin
A mouth, proudly full

“Personal Archeology” – Postcard #88 (+ via audio &/or video)

Riffs about the glory of journals, diaries, notebooks full of musings and importance of turning off inner-critic and not overthinking while savoring the process of transcription, curation and further creative wonderment from Kura barn in provincial Japan. With evidence with my own process.

Items are Marty Thurston’s backyard studio for “Personal Archeology – Postcard #88”

Plus sorta re-cap how far I got about Circumnavigation poetry book project, tips and tactics for enjoying and “doing something with” your diaries, scrapbooks and so on, having multiple books on the go (and mixing up with all manner of stuff all at once, notes about semantics of freeverse, lyrics, short stories and prose poems, and probably a riff about remembering to forget, questioning “who are you making this for” and where I place the ghosts.

Finally, I read straight from some barely legible poetry scribbles with meanderings about sensory depravation chambers, menthol smokes with Leonard Cohen, Pan Am flights with Zeus, Buddha, Glen Canyon, and solving algorithms with nuclear fusion.

“Personal Archeology – Postcard #88” audio
43:33, 256kbps mp3, 84MB

With special thanks to all who bravely step out with creative endeavors and extra for following along with my projects and what have you.

Namechecks for:
Rogério De Freitas
José Naranja
Jason Emde
Austin Kleon
Gord Downie
Henry David Thoreau
James Joyce

+ Julian, Derek, Diego, JoBot
& others, maybe you

Let’s “Embark on Personal Archeology”

Note: “Personal Archeology – Postcard #88” is available in audio-only via all normal podcast channels.

Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87 via video

Ambient video version of a Postcards from Gravelly Beach podcast “Nepal Stupa Choruses” with a cycle of poems written on a lake heading towards a temple and tea in shadow of Annapurna – the audio in the *actual pod* is much better but just happened to film whilst recording and added a few snaps from the journey for amusement and colour, so here we are, in my kura barn studio in provincial Japan, ergo:

“Washing dishes and busted spectacles lead to rowing a lake in Nepal figuring out deity, enlightenment, peace and power with choruses fresh from diaries – plus Royal hospitals, poetic devices and question mark eyebrows. Your turn Buddha, your turn.”

Note: “Nepal Stupa Choruses” is available in audio-only via all normal podcast channels and elsewhere in this library.

Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87

Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87

Washing dishes and busted spectacles lead to rowing a lake in Nepal figuring out deity, enlightenment, peace and power with choruses fresh from diaries – plus Royal hospitals, poetic devices and question mark eyebrows. Your turn Buddha, your turn.

Let’s enjoy: Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87

Don’t climb the mountain: Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87
(39MB, 21:02, 256kbps mp3, stereo)

Continue reading Nepal Stupa Choruses – Postcard #87

Field Notes: Kyoto’s Gingaku-ji (6 instax-views)

Japan is a land of photographers and places to be photographed. Truly, there’s an endless variety of both the photographers (and of course their equipments) and the places to be photographed.

Among them are the sites of The noted “old capital” Kyoto, usually overrun, quite literally, with photograph-snapping holiday-makers going from Shinto shrine to Zen Buddhist temple to Imperial Palace to endless Torii gates to the Gion district seeking kimono wearing ladies and contemplating water business restaurants gingerly tilted on stilts over river since forever.

This is all to say that you will see much finer photos of the Ginkaku-ji aka “silver pavilion” which, isn’t really very silver unlike it’s cousin the “golden pavilion” which is very gold.

No matter, the buildings are inspiring, the grounds filled with nuanced detail and various stations to write prayers on wooden tiles, have monks inscribe books (or in my case a Cascadian passport) sit for a while on a bench, spot the leaves grass and possibly fish.

And yes, I took some photos both with a Fuji Instamax pictured below as well as a few others with a pocket robot which really should be retired (not really, i’ll use it until it totally stops).

I added the results (commingled with other ephemera, tickets, brochures, cards, scribbles etc.) into a scrapbook – and in my usual recursive documentation, filmed the making of the analog scrapbook, with the luscious sounds of cutting paper and the silence of glue along with punk rock records in the kura barn studio.

But for now, here are six views of Ginkaku-ji. Poorly lit, off-center and perfect. ^^

Effectuating positive change from heart (with ukulele)

Just back from cleaning the grandparents’ graves and regrouping in century+ old barn studio, i riff a few things in my head about communities, hubris, restitution, sincerity, safety, life and death, empathy, seeds, cycles and children and everything.

As well as attempt a few chords on ukulele and talk about an air conditioner.

Healing Journal: 7 years, so much between

As it goes, a photo from 2013 popped into rotation today: me as usual with beard, specs and art in the background so… I snapped another quick similar pose and noted that despite the hard miles of these last seven years – all the hospitals, all the treatments, all the medication, all the stopping medications, all the loss (name it), so many dear ones passing, at least four concussion level falls & crashes (Vancouver, Adelaide, Pacifica, Chiang Mai), so much being gone gone gone lost (not wanting to be found), finding myself in harms way intentionally and otherwise, some terrible decisions, some great decisions, looking anywhere for home, not wanting to be home, forgetting about home – so many > too many places – and then somehow found – with all of “that”, I don’t look all that worse for wear.

The Buddha is quoted as saying, “to gain anything, first you must lose everything” I did and then found out that Buddha never said that – (dang *experts*). Regardless, some of what I lost, I picked back up, other parts I left behind.

Seven years which felt like 17, and i’m only scratched & dented gently & mostly on the inside. It’s good for poetry if nothing else.

70 more to go. Still. At least.

PS Noting that there was a lot of damage and a lot less smiling in “the between years”. Might share at some point, but just came here to say thanks for all your kind words and support. Almost convinced I’m worth it ?

Diary: Closing Circles with Stones ~ Grandmother to the Ohaka

Buddhist monk (handsome!) and me, Father-in-law Takushi, Mother-in-law Junkyo and wife Ryoko with baby Ichiro at Grandfather Ichiro’s ohaka / grave, now with Grandmother Tomiko

Aug 19th was 49 days after Ryoko’s Grandmother Tomiko passed away at 94 years old, 6 days after baby Ichiro was born, and the night he was registered on the generational family register (koseki tohon) at city office with the same name (but different kanji characters) as her husband – Ichiro.

As such, in the Buddhist tradition, her ashes were put into the ohaka (crypt) with dashing Grandfather Ichiro who died at 49 years old, many decades ago.

Note: Throughout the pregnancy, we often visited grandpa Ichiro‘s ohaka (grave) as going to a cemetery it was easy to reduce risk while having a pleasant walk and while there, clean his grave, light incense and have a conversation.

Buddhist monk offering prayers/chants at family alcove/altar before taking ashes to ohaka

In early July were four days of various funeral ritual/ceremonies at the house (adjusted for current health protocols) before she was cremated, and since then, her ashes sat at the family altar with daily incense, prayers and so on. 

this smouldering incense was part of the ceremony at the house, pinch, put to forehead couple of times…

So as it goes, the remarkably handsome monk offered more incense and chants and led family in scripted prayers and incantations. Baby Ichiro rolled with it all.

the cemetery man opens up the ohaka crypt for first time tis century… (Father and Monk look on)

Following, we took her ashes to the cemetery where a kindly tall specialist removed the capstone of the freshly cleaned ohaka allowing us to briefly see grandpa‘s urn, before adding the new jar & gently sealing back up.


the sealing sealing removed by hand…

Then we burned more incense, gave regards to other graves and left a lovely lunch to take her into the next journey.

special lunch to take Grandmother Tomiko onto the next part of journey

Note: of course there’s more to share of the story (eventually, perhaps), and if you’re curious, see the wedding picture of grandpa Ichiro and grandma Tomiko, plus notes from Ichiro’s first month and an Ichiro card with her casket and his basket.

wonderful mother in law at the cemetery, what a huge couple of months she’s had!

The circle is complete, the family continues, I’m very proud to be part of this clan. We’ve had seven weeks of birth, death, (re)birthdays, and so much transition in real time. i’m privileged to be a participant.

So very gratefully,

for a brief moment only, we could see Grandfather Ichiro and Grandmother Tomiko reunited in their urns, then was sealed back up… what a treasured experience!

Ichiro: card #13 “generations” #Tomiko / 5.7

Ichiro: card #13 “generations” #Tomiko / 5.7

Ichiro Olson, card # 13
“Generations” / 5.7

The past few days we’ve witnessed a powerful transition of life as Ichiro’s great-grandmother Tomiko Fujita left this realm at 94 years old.

She is the widow of grandfather Ichiro who died over 4 decades ago at 49 years old. She passed a few hours after we formally registered the new lil Ichiro’s name at the City Office.

Her body went through the traditional Buddhist rituals in the house with monks, attendants, preparers and so on coming and going over 4 days with relics, artifacts, momentos, flowers, altars and so on / conducting prayers & chants plus bells, incense… all in the same tatami room where Ryoko & Ichi had rested hours before.

There’s more to say about this whole experience and the incredible dignity and respect and intention with which she was treated – but for now, I will say: as in the Buddhist consideration, her spirit lingers here for 40 some odd days after the body diminishes and feeling the life force transmitting between generations was undeniable.

PS watching my dear in-laws’ graceful tenacity during the scant days between dropping their daughter at clinic to give birth to baby coming home & settling in, then FiL’s mother passing & ceremonies… was a revelation of love.

See also: Ichiro and Tomiko’s wedding photo

Misquotes (various) / vol. 1

 Misquotes (various) / vol. 1

Inspired by cloth prints – often sporting papyrus typeface – spouting dodgy quotes which may or may not have been said (or accurately translated) by Dalai Lama 14 (or otherwise), Gandhi (which one?) sold at beachy templey gift shops (cough Bali cough), and by frequently misquoted analects attributed to Gautama Buddha (propagated by *experts* on PBS documentaries), i scribbled a few non-sensical mis-quotes in a notebook somewhere in Indonesia (or was in Thailand or Philippines?). No matter, just for momentary amusement. There are others, maybe i’ll find somewhere.

In the meantime: (Don’t judge me) Make your own, print em in papyrus font and see them hang in coffee shops and Malibu beach homes. 

To gain anything, first you need to lose everything
Lost in translation