Alyson Lie

Being the Being Who knew spring couldbring such surprises—
sparrows excavating beak-by-beaka grapefruit-sized hole in the crabapplethat grows between two 3-familyhouses on Franklin Street,
the last jab of a miracleserum that so many others aredying to get, and others whohave died waiting for.
And I—after living five years underground—feasting on the view of tiny,chartreuse leaves on the zelkovatree across the street;
starlings, house sparrows, bluejays, robins, and mourning dovesstrafing past my 2nd floor windowon their flight paths back and forth.
Who knew those five years ofbasement dwelling so molded me,
shaped me like a recluse, a contentedshe-bear sleeping 10 hours a day,never knowing what the weather wasdoing, what visions I was missing?
Like the surprise snow on April 16dusting, then completely covering the purpleand yellow pansies I’d so uncharacteristicallyplanted in window boxes the week before.
Who knew I’d ever be cloaked againin this shawl of optimism, this “blithe spirit”that comes from living with the living,seeing the seen, being the being?

Hiking Lone Tree Hill What was significant wasn’t the trails, the evergreens and the leafless maple and birch, the view of surrounding hills and the patched blue and white sky.
What was significant was the terror she felt as she prepared to leave her apartment—alone. Navigating the streets and highways leaving the city; stopping a few times for errands and entering the stores—alone. Searching for, finding, and buying what she needed and exiting—alone.
It was the anxiety of getting to Lone Tree Hill, of finding it, never having been there before. Parking the car in a vacant lot across the road from the trail head then worrying that it might not be there when she returned. It was the indecision regarding which trail to take among several, and the worry that she might lose her way.
She never stopped to question that she—an adult with decades and decades of life experience—should have these fears. Instead, she held them, watched as they lumbered about the chambers of her heart, and then, one-by-one, exited—leaving her alone again.

The Lobelia The lobelia is dying. Its tiny bluish-purpleblossoms curling inward as though they aregiving up, the stems slack, lifeless. It seemsdepressed. She would ask if there is anythingshe could do—but it’s a plant—and she doesn’tspeak the language of plants.
She bends down, takes the lax stems in herhand and holds them the way she holds the handof the elderly woman she cares for when theyhave run out of words left to share.
She’s new to this. She has not been fullyresponsible for another living thing in many years.
There was once her dogs that she finally had tosurrender that time when she was in Californiaand wasn’t sure whether she was going to admitherself into a psychiatric hospital or take a last walkhalf-way across the San Lorenzo Bridge.
And there were her sons, whom she left behind ontwo occasions because she was going mad inMassachusetts. When the pressure grew too great andher resources too thin she rushed out to California toget away from it all and both times discovered she’dbrought all her problems with her.
The last time was her Road to Damascus. Shefound the dharma at a local meditation center andbrought it back with her. Minus a few difficult hurdles,she has been equanimous ever since.
She looks at this once resplendent lobelia drooping overthe side of the planter on her deck next to the pansies, so fullof themselves, and the indifferent alyssum, and she wondersif she can help it live. Or—if not—can she help it die?

Alyson Lie has been an Insight Meditation practitioner since 2012 and has taught meditation to adult education students. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.