On The Dock

It Came Without Warning

“To understand the actual world as it is, not as we should wish it to be, is the beginning of wisdom.”

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Puzzling and puzzling, how could it it be so? 
It came without ribbons. It came without tags
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.”   – Dr. Seuss

Yup, it was an “aha” moment for sure, that moment when a thought, an understanding arises that is new, different… and true. There is usually a healthy amount of wonder in that moment, often caused by the instant realization that this new thought was so simple… why hadn’t I seen it, understood it, until now?


A loon called across the lake. Haunting, yet so warm to the ear. The slightest breeze in the now-brittle leaves of the Junipers and Hemlocks at the shoreline, whispering of the coming dusk, and of the abiding peace of the darkness that would soon follow. The loon called again, and there was almost an echo from the far shore. Farther up the lake, another loon called, equally haunting, almost lonely.

My son, Dillon, on the Lake Burton Dock

I took a sip of my Jack Daniels. It had been a good week. Hell, it had been a great year. I was on top of my game, on top of the world. So at ease in this place, at this moment, still I scanned my recent memory for any problems that might need addressing. “Silly,” I thought. “Ridiculous… Looking for something to worry about. And at a time like this…”

Ridiculous? Oh, maybe. But someone I really liked and respected had lied to me down in the city earlier this week. Their lie, and what it did to my perception of them, was still sticking in my craw.

The breeze picked up a bit, and tiny waves lapped at the side of the dock. I looked over at the water. The little waves seemed to match the light sound of the waves perfectly. I felt the breeze, saw and felt the little waves. They all matched perfectly. So if the wind was blowing a lot harder, the waves would be that much bigger, they would splash loudly over the deck, and… holy shit! Nature’s functions are always consistent, always the truth! The measurements of any action/reaction in nature would be deadly accurate, no matter what!

I realized that probably nature is the only real, pure truth on the planet. I know that humans aren’t. But if we aren’t, in our words, in our actions, is there any part of us that is pure? Ever? Ah, maybe the mind, maybe some ideas. No, I knew my mind was anything but pure, how could anyone else’s mind ever be even close to pure? Monks, maybe? Children, for awhile?

A sip of Jack. The light breeze had died. The heat of the sun was gone and the cool of the night was settling in. Perhaps the answer to any human’s truth lies in their daily life. What do we do? How are we living? What drives most people? I knew a lot of folks are driven by a lot of things… greed, lust, power, hunger, hate. Oh yeah, and love. Of course, love. So why then… why is my life going so great right now? What am I doing? How close am I coming to nature’s measurable truth?

Another sip of Jack. This place, this lake is so beautiful. How very, very lucky I am. How did it all happen? Let’s see… I love my music, and am usually immersed in it. But that can’t be enough. I do put my heart into it, to make it as beautiful as I can… not for money or or fame, just for the fantastic feeling I get from hearing it back, to have other people hear it and approve. So, approval?? Well, sure, a fairly human need on one level or another, though probably selfish, self-serving. Not a negative need, though. Approval means others appreciate you on some level. And if my only intent is a desire is to make something beautiful and appreciated, from the heart… and then it hit me! “Maybe the magic happens when we do a thing with purity of intent!”

I stood up on the dock. It was nearly dark now, the sky had lost its color. My god, I loved that idea. A thought, maybe a discovery, a discovery I could use in my life, or at least understand a small part of. Something wonderful had just happened, and I was grinning. Not sure if it would be important later on, still I was stoked, having just figured out a small element of life I had not been aware of before, yet I knew it was true. I walked up the stairs to the cabin, poured myself another Jack Daniels, still smiling.

The Cabin on Lake Burton

In the ensuing weeks I thought about and tested my new idea a lot, the idea that good fortune, peace of mind, “something positive” came from purity of intent. It turned out to be as true as the wind and the waves on the lake. I knew instinctively that all I had to do to keep my good life going was to not think purity of intent, but simply do it, and if possible, be it… at least stay mindful of it.

My new idea was easy enough for me to live every day, hell I’d been pretty much doing it for years without even understanding it. I now saw it as a naïveté that slowly turned into a new wisdom. My life and good fortune continued to peak… until a few years later, when it suddenly took a hard right.

My Doppler Pals on The Dock – Patti, Jill, Me, Betty and Steve

It was all my doing, all my choices, and the results of those choices. I understood it at the time, and even though the ensuing years became far more difficult, still I knew that my purity of intent would see me through. And it did! What I didn’t know was that life could cycle clear around and give me everything again 20 years later! But first I would have to endure and make the best of the present… or, as a dear friend of mine likes to say, I had to “adapt and survive.”

I did, of course, and 20 years later, “purity of intent” is still my major mantra. Along my journey I spent 4 years studying Buddhism at their center in Atlanta. Their teachings confirmed my theory, though it didn’t need confirming. I had learned that any thought, theory, belief has to, at some point, deliver tangible proof of its validity. My idea of purity of intent has delivered countless times, in spades!

Today, I stand at the edge of this bay, looking over the water to Mount Baker. It’s such a beautiful place, only two blocks from where I now live with my Betty. I hear the soft waves lap against the shore and recall so clearly my discovery on Lake Burton so many years ago. The pure, sweet truth of nature, and the purity of intent has deposited me here and left me wondering for an amusing moment, what in hell I ever did to deserve this…

Steve Hulse

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