Enjoyed a peaceful day in the motherland...even the humidity is refreshing, although I'll be glad enough to leave it behind. The shapes of the hills, the specific arrays of plants, something in the air, all run in me, all a part of who I am and where I come from. I don't know that I could live here, but I have little choice but to visit.

I had a beautiful drive this afternoon out to the boondocks to pick up the family dog, after killing some time at a driving range (I don't golf). On the way back I first saw that a truck was stopped in the road and then noticed that the road was blocked by...cows. I asked the cowherd if I should wait or just drive through, and he said, "Either way, but stay in the middle of the road, they'll try to go between you and the side of the road, and if there's not enough space it can get...unpleasant."

I thought I'd try and make some headway, but since I couldn't without hitting cows, I stopped and waited for the wave of livestock to pass by. One by one they followed each other, meandering along, mooing periodically, bumping the car (and moving it, they're not small). A few made it in the narrow space between the car and the barbed-wire fence, but most who tried decided they wouldn't fit and took some number of seconds to conclude that they would have to go around the other way. All sort of surreal, to be surrounded on all sides by cows, looking up at them from the lowered perspective of the car.

Butterflies enjoy one of the bushes outside, and when I went to watch one, a couple of neat-looking birds flew in, and as a bonus I got a chipmunk and a rabbit.

It's raining now, hard, and the sound and the feel and the smell of the rain are this place somehow, like terroir on a grand scale, the entire place-ness of Western Massachusetts. Between the reality and my memory, nothing can compare.

It occurs to me that, as Zen says, the meaning of the great issue of life and death is very important, and I wonder, not for the first time, why I'm spending my time writing computer programs instead of in a monastery. The first phrase that came to mind was "hiding out in a monastery", which I suppose provides part of the answer: I'm still learning to be a part of the world, to open my heart and see. I also have a certain lifestyle to which I've become accustomed, which involves aikido and sushi--not impossible in a monastery setting, depending on which monastery, but certainly much more available on an engineer's salary in the midst of the Bay Area's sprawl. I go back and forth about how I want my life to be, much to the difficulty of my loved ones, in seemingly unending day-in, day-out mood swings, unable to maintain a consistency of feeling from one week to the next. Even pushing the world away doesn't last, and I find some companionship for a while, often unhealthy, I hang onto it for too long, we're both miserable, it ends, lather, rinse, repeat.

I mentioned all this hesitation and concern and worry, and a dear friend asked if I knew where it stems from.

"Well, that's just the human condition, isn't it?"
And it is. All of my problems seem to boil down to thinking instead of doing; but it's not an easy thing, because when I just act, I feel like I make unfortunate and hurtful choices.

This is, you might say, likely not helpful.

The rain is so pretty.