if I give up, things will come right, so everyone says
if I tell you I have given up on you
if your response to that is to rush joyfully into the distance
if I turn my head to hide my tears
if I walk away

if I am quiet
if I do not speak
if I walk for long enough


if it doesn’t work
if I stop walking and find I am truly alone

if I relinquish my ego to the heavens, but the heavens give it back
if this happens again, and again
if the heavens have decided I need my ego in order to do my work

if I ask, ‘What is the method?’
if I suppose that ‘What is the method?’ is the wrong question
if I know that ‘Where is the Way?’ is a better question
if I think of Leonard Cohen who tried going up the mountain but came down again
if I suppose that the answer is among the houses, not up the mountain
if I look among the houses for a teacher of the Way who can help me


if it doesn’t work
if the teacher has gone ahead of me to the place at the end of her path
if I find myself floundering in her dusty, meandery footsteps
if she left me only one book and it doesn’t contain the answer


if if turns out that this is the Way and I’m already on it, ego and all
if this is the Way perhaps I’m wearing the wrong clothes
if I had known the Way would be this hot and dusty would I have taken it?
if I know myself at all: no doubt I would have

if the Way leads me to a thousand different houses
if in each house I find a little piece of the puzzle
if the people in each of the houses embrace me
if once I have found the piece, I must walk on to another house

if some of the people from the houses follow behind me
if it seems I have become a teacher, incomplete as I am
if letting people call me a teacher is a shameful piece of egotism

if I am always first a student


if only all the pieces were in one house, I could sit down and get comfy

if I found them all, I could build that house and invite everyone over for a puzzle night

if I build the house anyway, everyone can bring their pieces!
if I’m not strong enough to build a house, I can build just one little room
if everyone comes and adds to it, it may be as lovely and surprising as the house of Wikipedia
if there are still pieces missing we can give up searching and just make them ourselves
if there are pieces missing we can still enjoy the puzzle


if in the collective house I will not have a room of my own
if I continue to be afraid that in the collective house I will not have a room of my own, will I ever actually build it?


if the way I arrange my room makes most visitors uncomfortable
if I like my room the way it is
if nobody else in the house has a room like mine

if the puzzle has an enormous hole in it

if I end up being the janitor and doing all the cleaning
if I stop doing the cleaning nobody does it and the house gets in a muddle
if I tell myself the muddle doesn’t matter to anyone but me
if I force myself to leave it someone will eventually do it

if I get sick of the muddle and noise and go back to the road, the search
if I find a piece of the puzzle and come back to the house for a while

if the road, and the house, are both, together, the Way


if you would walk beside me it might be nicer
if you would walk beside me, each of us might be less lonely
if you’ve got some of the puzzle pieces, even better
if you’d give me your pieces there might not be such a hole in it


if you are walking beside me, but my ego is blocking my senses
if you’re talking to me now and I’m too deaf to hear you
if you’re looking at me, but I’m too blind
if you’re holding out the pieces and I don’t take them
if you want to swap them for something even more precious that I am holding on to