Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sounds of the Zendo

One of the great joys of doing exactly the same thing every day is that you get to be comfortably familiar with regular occurrences, and more attuned to the things that change. Right now, patches of snow notwithstanding, spring is on its way, and it is starting to get light just before the end of second period in the morning. I am also starting to hear birdsong during the morning sitting. I leave it to someone more versed in the local fauna to identify the bird in question - my usual excuse for my ignorance in these matters is that this is not my bio-region, and where I come from we don't have such specimens, or they look different, like robins, and oak trees. Anyway, I know that these birds nest around Page Street, so it is nice to hear them again, alongside the more familiar sounds.
There are always the waves of traffic coming down the hill on Oak Street, streaming through the green lights, subsiding into quietness when the lights change further west. Usually, right after I arrive in the zendo, I hear a Harley-type motorbike which makes its presence felt with a little twist of the throttle as it cruises down across Laguna Street. There is someone who lives on Lily Alley who gets in their car to go to work at six ten, just as we settle down to second period, and on Tuesday mornings, there is the Green Gulch truck, the rear sliding door clanking shut after the compost buckets are loaded. When there is fog in the Golden Gate, we can hear the deep harmonies of the foghorns on the bridge. Even in the busier soundscape of evening zazen, I measure the progress of the period by hearing church bells striking six o'clock.

9 comments:

Rebecca S said...

Such a lovely post.

Its funny that you describe the sounds, yet it helps me hear the quiet more as well.

beefiend said...

beautiful description

Dennis McNally said...

And yesterday was the first time where there was still just a hint of light left in the sky as evening zazen ended - spring a-coming.

And of regular occurrences, a father walks his two very delightful young daughters home almost every day around 5:10 pm as I wait to go in.

Mike said...

Our little zendo is right in the middle of a small neighborhood of family homes. I hear the same dogs and runners go by (I can tell the difference between runners by the gait of the runner and the jiggling of the dog tags), the guy across the street who's car goes "beep, beep, beep" in almost a hush when he unlocks it, as if it knows we are sitting nearby, the big truck, the birds, the wonderful quality of the changing light, the laugh of children waiting for the bus.

Not that I am paying too much attention to these things - I'm meditating!

Sandy's witterings said...

A delightful post - rings a bit of a bell for me as it reminds me of my granny's old house in Dumfries. It always seemed very silent and an important component of the silence was the sounds that came in from outside.

Shundo said...

Thank you all for your comments and for your wonderful additions to the theme.

Anonymous said...

Matt Vivrett here, worked at GGF on the farm for four seasons. During my years at GGF, it was me on most Tuesdays, though you would've heard different sounds as I refused to take the box truck and instead took the flatbed, which has been decommissioned. Your post brings me back to the place, that time of day, and inspires regret that I never once sat at city center. Anyway, thinking of you all there and picturing Lily Alley as i sit here now in the middle of the forest in Oregon with 5 other ex-GGFer's.

Twining1 said...

Thank you. This reminds me of last summer's practice period at our zendo here in NY State, when every evening we sat with the tinkling song of the ice cream truck!

Dion & Katie said...

Thank you.