Dead minds don’t think

Mountains touching sky
beetle marches unobserved
in prairie grasses.

The haiku wrote itself while I lay in savasana last night, my body gratefully giving itself over to ‘corpse pose’ after 75 minutes of hot yoga.

I know. I know.

Dead minds don’t think.

But my mind couldn’t help itself. When it wants to create, the muse awakens in the silence and has her way with me.

In my search for quiet mind, I wondered if I would remember the words, or even the fact that I had fallen into haiku thinking and, there it was this morning. The moment my fingertips hit the keyboard and I gave myself over to the process of writing, the words appeared.

I am amused.

I don’t recall ever being fascinated with writing haiku before. One month after hitting the yoga mat, my mind is stirring in unusual ways. Perhaps it isn’t a goddess awakening within me but a Buddha!

Somehow, the vision of a fat, chubby Buddha laughing and rubbing his belly in contentment is not as stimulating as a svelte, sensual goddess dancing with her seven veils unravelling my psyche.

Perhaps though, it is fitting.

Life is funny.

We humans are funny too.

Yesterday, a man I knew from my days of working at the homeless shelter, dropped into my office unexpectedly.

I’d run into him the day before and he’d asked if he could call. “I’d like to talk to you about writing my story,” he said.

And there he was, the very next day, standing in the lobby of our offices.

“I need to ask you something,” he said after I’d lead him into a private meeting room and sat down. “I’m in a real bind financially. Everything will unravel if I don’t get $500 today and put it in my bank account. If you lend it to me I can pay it back tomorrow.”

And he went on to explain his financial predicament.

I stopped him.

“You don’t have to tell me the intimate details of your story,” I told him gently. “I can’t lend you the money.” And then I gave him a suggestion on how to deal with his financial emergency.

Instantly, his entire being deflated. He looked lost. Frightened. My suggestion won’t work he told me because he had to pay the first $500 to someone else in order to borrow the next to pay off the second.

What happens when you get to your last person on the list? I asked.

I don’t know, he said. I haven’t got there yet.

When I worked at the shelter, one of my co-workers called it, The Hail Mary Solution.

Pray for a miracle. Pray that if you keep putting one more grain of sand on the pile it won’t all come tumbling down. And even though you know it can’t last, you keep adding one more grain, one more grain, building it up and up until that one grain is added that the pile can no longer sustain. And it all comes spilling down to earth.

Mountains soar to the sky. Prairie grasses blow in the wind. And there, at my feet, is a tiny beetle slowly crawling along the earth. Unnoticed, he is not concerned with what the mountains are doing. He doesn’t care if the grasses grow or the sky falls down. He is only concerned with his journey. Slowly, with intention, he keeps walking. One step in front of the other, moving forward.

I have spent many days piling sand, trying to fix a problem I’ve created by adding more of what I did to build it up.

It is only when I stop focussing on adding a grain of sand to keep the sandpile growing, that I start to awaken to what is evident right where I’m at. Grounded in my body, my feet firmly planted in the now of my being present, I discover the truth of where I’m going is not built on adding one mistake to another.

It’s created when I stop doing what I’m doing that isn’t working, and start becoming aware and accountable for what I’m doing – and choose to stop destroying my path with steps in the wrong direction.

A man asked to borrow $500 yesterday. In his request, I was given the gift of awakening. No matter if part of me wanted to help him. No matter if part of me wanted to relieve his immediate anxiety so that he would feel better, it wouldn’t have helped. The relief would have been fleeting.

And in its passing, we might both have been swept away in the tsunami of the sandpile spilling down to the earth.


26 thoughts on “Dead minds don’t think

  1. Louise…you just radiate enlightenment!! I gain so much by reading your posts…not to mention just love the way you write! Thank you, Thank you! I am so happy you are in my life 🙂


    • It is a scary place Diana — and having known this man in the past, I also know how familiar he is with this place. I too wonder — but in over 8 years, it has continued to play itself out this way, again and again. Maybe, this is the opportunity for him to find a different path? When the pain of where we’re at grows greater than our fear of where we want to be, we shift…. Hugs


  2. so … let me get this straight …. this guy comes to you, needs to borrow $500. You say sure, but then after quizzing him, you withdraw that offer and tell him your loan won’t help him. I’m sure he could have gone to any bank, anywhere, and got the same answer – only they wouldn’t have offered the loan, and then withdrawn it. Banks don’t take chances like that. People do. You said you would, and then didn’t. I appreciate your well written piece explaining the lesson you learned from all of this.

    What is the lesson he learned? Perhaps, once again, someone offered help and then did not.

    Maybe I’ve missed some cog on the wheel in your story.

    I’m not particularly flush with money right now, but I’d like to help that guy out …



    • Hi Mark, I never once said I would offer to loan the man money. I never quizzed him. Nor did I withdraw an offer after making a commitment.

      My question to you is — what are you reading that isn’t there? What lesson can you learn from your mis-reading of what I wrote?


      • You wrote … “I can’t lend you the money.” …. I, perhaps reading in haste, or perhaps reading what I expected you to say – reat it as “I can lend you the money.”

        What pesky little apostrophes and ‘t’s can do.

        My bad ….

        What did I learn?

        My inclination is to help when help is asked for – because I know how hard it is to ask for help. Your position, notwithstanding my misreading, is to determine what kind of help someone should need and offer them that – which is your judgement of that person. Perhaps you have history and information that supports that as a wise decision. I don’t have that information. My thinking is rooted in too many memories of asking someone for help, something I’m loathe to do unless really in a tight spot, and then getting instructions/lectured and/or interrogated rather than helped.

        I think help is over-rated by those who say they want to, and so often never seem by those who need it, perhaps seen even less by those who ask for it … because kindness usually has strings attached to it – even if those strings are just innocuous questions. Yes, it appears I’ve tarred you with that brush. I apologize if I am wrong.



  3. Love, love, love the beetle analogy.
    Like you, I never imagined I would write poetry. But this is the language my heart speaks in now. The journey is ever changing.


  4. I remember many years ago in a cash-flow crisis I was juggling payments between bank accounts and credit cards (and of course gradually clocking up interest in all of them). Eventually I had to sit and face where the deficit was coming from. I empathise for the man in your story.


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