Patrick Tomby

Patrick Tomby

I was twenty-four when I met him
I was full of spit and vinegar
Had lots of false bravado
Secretly, I was oh so confused
Didn’t know left from right
Couldn’t tell which way was up
And which way was down
Patrick Tomby was old and gray, north of seventy
Wore a blue baseball cap, carried a cane
He had a limp, drank gallons of black coffee
Ate peanuts by the pound

We sat around down at Sambo’s
Every Saturday night
During the summer of nineteen seventy-nine
He told me tales of climbing mountains and crossing deserts
Did a stint as a merchant seaman
Was traveling trader a time or two
Served in an army, raced cars for a little while
Talked to Buddhist monks in Tibet
Saw the red square and Tiananmen
Said he was always looking
For what he did not know

Along towards the the end of July, I confessed to him
‘Said, “Patrick, I’m lost and I wander
I always have a longing
A hollow and empty ache inside
I don’t know what to do or where to go”
He said, “Well, I know that son.
So I’ll tell you that one day I was walking
South of a little village in Uzbekistan
The grass swayed gently by the roadside
A sparrow sang from a bush nearby
And I realized that whatever it was
I’d been seeking all my life
Was already in my heart and mind, with me all the while
And the only reason I didn’t understand
Was because I’d never bothered to look at myself
And take an adventure deep inside”

If you don’t know what life is all about
If you are a seeker, always longing to know
Then look far within yourself
Find the paths to the bright center inside
You might be surprised at what you see
When you come out on the other side

Dewey Dirks
From “The Questioning Way”


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