After my trip, what with the jet-lag and all, it has been taking a while for my mind to settle down. I keep jumping from memories of Laos to future fantasies about the next trip I want to take. The everyday life to which I have returned seems pretty flat.

But in Zen practice, everyday life is what it’s all about. Only by developing our ability to pay attention to what’s happening here and now, can we take in anything in a deep and satisfying way.

And while travel makes this attention easier – the newness and strangeness jolt us awake – we can theoretically do it anywhere, anytime.

So this Sunday morning, I decided it was time to corral my jumpy, foggy mind, and try to be more mindful. I sat for a good while…my first decent meditation all week. And then John and I took a walk to Millway Beach.

“Let’s be silent while we walk today,” I suggested. I wanted to to try attend to the subtle sounds and smells of impending spring, and to enjoy some quiet companionship instead of spinning off into ideas and yakking.

Near the beach, we passed over the bridge where the water flows from the harbor side into a deep pool fringed by marsh. We paused and looked over the railing for a moment at the turbulent inflow of tide. Suddenly in the pool below there was a flash of motion. A small dolphin breeched the surface with a huff, and disappeared. About 30 seconds later it appeared again, and then again. We stood for about ten minutes watching it circling the pool in graceful arcs.

This was a marvelous and surprising and anything I’d seen in Laos. I could feel myself starting to get anchored back in the here and now.