Did you ever get a second chance?
I still regret not stopping at the empty picnic table that appeared one winter day, out of the blue, along the path where I walk. Rather than stopping to appreciate its rustic beauty, I planned all through the winter and spring to celebrate the summer solstice upon its refuge in the shade of an ancient oak. But when I arrived in June, it had been destroyed.
Past tense and future crumble the present I was given and never received, I wrote about my disappointment.
And then today, straight out of the blue, like a mirage, I discovered another picnic table under a different nearby tree!
Does someone build these in the night and place them in perfect spots for strangers to find? You can tell it’s not brand new by the lovely mottling and sag of the wood.
Where do these tables come from?
When given a second chance, it’s best not to stop too long to ponder the mysteries of how or why, so I reached into my heart’s pantry for joyous gratitude with a generous helping of urgency. I coaxed Chester the white dog into a trot home where I gathered a bag of cherries, a pen, a journal, a book and an idea.
We returned and settled into the shady spot.
Lately I’ve been reading Narrow Road to the Interior and Other Writings by Matsuo Bashō. There are many translations, but my favorite is by Sam Hamill. The book begins with the line, “The moon and sun are eternal travelers…every day is a journey and the journey itself is home.” That last phrase took me several readings to comprehend.
The journey itself… without continuing to walk this path I wouldn’t have stumbled upon the new table and without the disappointment of ignoring the first gift, I wouldn’t have paused to celebrate the second. I love the philosophical soundness and evocative imagery of Basho’s haiku and one of my favorite poems of his came to mind.
leave it alone—hermitage
in a summer grove
This could just as easily read “picnic table” as “hermitage.” Why do travelers on my path leave the picnic tables alone? I love that Basho frequently posted poems for others to find. I couldn’t resist this desire to leave a poem as he did “quickly written, pinned to the table.”
empty wooden bench
sycamore extends her branch
kick off my shoes. home.
Did you use your gifts to celebrate a new opportunity today?
With gratitude and deep delight for your own second chances.
p.s. Visit the Poetry Foundation’s website here to read or listen to how other poets embrace the form. If you’re in the mood to write and enter a haiku contest, check out The Haiku Society of America’s “Harold G. Henderson Awards for Best Unpublished Haiku” here. Deadline is Aug. 31, 201