Sunset: 4:35pm. A bright springlike day with a high of 70 degrees and lows in the fifties. Tonight the moon is full. This morning I flipped open my beaten copy of Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind because I needed what it advertised. Some zen. Some peace of mind. Some enthusiasm for this exhausted world. My finger landed on a heavy-duty sentence I’ve been considering all day: “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

Suzuki emphasizes the importance of doing rather than thinking because ruminating leaves a trace. I like this image of traces, of thoughts that can tint and even stain. And my head is shellacked with so much babble and gunk. I can feel it in my nerves. Maybe even my soul, although I’m not yet sure if I believe in such a thing. Perhaps I must. Otherwise, what is the Darwinian function of all this head noise?

I’ve also started reading John Yorke’s Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey into Story to improve my understanding of how stories work. I wish I’d read something like this sooner. It’s both humbling and reassuring to see all of my tangled plots and narrative cul-de-sacs crisply addressed thousands of years ago by Terence, Horace, and Aristotle. 

And returning to the bonfire, I love the doom-metal energy of this line from Shakespeare’s Richard II: “Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings.”