When You were a tree, and I was a stream

‘I remember a long time ago when You were a tree, and I was a stream, I changed my course to bring you water.’


It’s one month ago I started my thirty-day vow of six a.m. tea outside, waking up at five-thirty.  I imagined it a constantly changing setting, a mountain one day, a forest the next.

But I discovered a part of me that liked the routine of going to the same spot on the river every morning.  Besides the fact that going anywhere else would mean waking up earlier, I mean.  I found myself walking eagerly every morning to my usual spot as to greet a good friend.

Heraclitus said, ‘You cannot step twice into the same river;’  the water is always changing, and so is the man.  Six a.m., same bench, same view in the camera lenses, every morning.  Every morning different waters, different senses, and, different photos.

It’s been a beautiful time.  I think more often than not, I will still be out there, or somewhere, about the same time, though I probably won’t be documenting it here anymore.  (There are only so many river scenes I can post, and keep your tolerance.  Thirty days’ worth, I imagine, is about the limit.)

My thirty-day vow fulfilled its purpose – initially, to give myself the push to remember how much I love getting up early in the mornings.   Essentially, to strengthen the mind by unswayed practice.   That’s not to say it’s complete yet.  Technically I started a month ago today.  But some three or four days into my practice, I dozed back to sleep, and missed six a.m.  Not by much, but a vow is a vow, and a practice is a practice, or in Sanskrit, tapasya, austerity, one of the important elements of yoga practice.

There is plenty of time to be relaxed and easy-going, but when a word is spoken to be fulfilled, it should be taken seriously.  Lack of resolve to our own word is a kind of disrespect.  It may be only to oneself, but it is a disrespect of one’s own mind, which further weakens one’s will.

The remedy is an extra practice to purify, or strengthen, the mind.  Hiei-zan’s monks carry out a very severe thousand day practice, which, if one day is missed, starts again from the beginning.  On my own far, far smaller scale, I had to do something to compensate for failing my own oath, as simple an oath as it is, and to gain back my faith in my own willpower.

I decided that a missed six a.m. would mean starting the thirty days again from the beginning.  Just four days into my practice, knowing that I wouldn’t let myself doze off again, it only meant an extra few days.

And so, happily, I have four more days, and, be it to your delight, or to your utter boredom, so do you~.