Friday, June 26, 2009

Pat & the Lad

I had a nice rant the other night after I saw this:

It provoked potent, immediate reactions in me. I expressed those feelings, and knew I'd want a more considered response to something that triggered me so hard. Watch the video, and then come read my story, the considered response to what I saw and felt.

Pat and the Lad

Once upon a time, there was a peaceable world where people of all colors, shapes, sizes and identifications lived in harmony with the land, each other, and something else that nobody fully comprehended, despite claims and best efforts. On this world, there were many tribes of folk who had chosen to occupy the same time and space because they derived pleasure, comfort and joy from the company of like-minded folk. Not everyone in each tribe, let alone the tribes themselves, agreed with all the others. Oh, no. Some people called common things by different names, and this did tend to cause disputes. But the people knew how to communicate without taking differences personally, so they worked it out. Harmony and individuality within a group are not mutually exclusive.

One of the most common disagreements--so common a disagreement, in fact that there were jokes about it that made everyone laugh--was what to call It. Consciousness, Divinity, Spirit, God, YHWH, Jehova, Allah, Krishna were some of the names that had glibly marched down through history like a whole parade of clothes without an Emperor. After a very long parade, the people agreed that there was something Else, that it seemed possible for individuals to interact with it directly, that time spent in Its company could provoke astonishing feelings of love and balance and that the rest was pretty much up to interpreting breadcrumbs left in the woods of ignorance by the denizens of the forest themselves.

After that long parade, it was pretty easy to just go ahead, agree to call it It, and to agree that the individual was free to decide what relationship one wanted to It--if one wanted a relationship at all (which some folks in the pub up the road thought was enormously amusing because to choose to not have a relationship is a relationship).

Though it was usual for the like in mind to congregate, the people did a fantastic job of getting along in the form of collectives almost as well as they got along as individuals. But one day, a very poor arguer decided that in lieu of proof of stated beliefs, assertions of faith and heart-feelings was enough, somehow, to make the other people involved wrong.

Just plain wrong.

Though a poor arguer, this person (whose name is lost to the shadows and time but whom we'll call Patricia McKinney just for the sake of convenience) was terribly charismatic. Her beliefs and her faith were so very, very strong that people who lacked their own strength of conviction came from far and farther to borrow some of hers. And all it cost to borrow conviction was a little bit of soul. Only a small bit, and for a thing as spacious as a soul, it didn't seem like much. Thing is, though, when you don't know how big your own soul is, a small piece can seem like a whole lot. When one pays for something with soul, they tend to treasure their purchase because, somewhere, even if they don’t know it, they understand that they have paid dearly. Once you have something that cost so much and is so cherished, holding on to the thing becomes more important than holding on to what one paid for it with.

Eventually, Pat had enough friends to make a tribe. They all got on famously, holding the same faith and borrowing from the same branch office for their conviction of belief. Oh, sure, that kind of externally-originated imposed homogeny caused some trouble behind the scenes, but that was to be expected.

A child was born into this tribe. He was raised by Pat's folk, parents who loved him, and a community that held its children to be precious and who educated them thoroughly. They loved him. But then he entered puberty, and things began to change.

Some of the changes happened on the outside--like hair in new places, and a funny croaking voice. Some things happened on the inside--like realizing he didn't want what he'd been told he should want if he wanted to be a good man and a good lover and servant of It. Having been so taught, the lad assumed that there was something wrong with him (even though if he'd walked up the road a spell to meet Harvey's friends he'd have learned he was perfectly normal and that the messenger, Pat, sent to deliver Love and Compassion had gotten the message a bit skewed). The lad took matters into his own hands and set about to change his ways. But he couldn't. Every thing he did to combat his rising terror of wrongness was just that: an action. It in no way expressed him, his nature, his being. You see, changing what you do gives others the impression that your insides have changed, But if it doesn't come from your insides, the outside only changes in appearance.

The lad despaired. He went to Pat. He begged for succor and aid from the hideous plague of longing for the proscribed, aligning with the forbidden. He got down on his knees, a supplicant to a human, a human just like him. Pat's heart swelled with love and pity for this child of her tribe. She had to help him, she knew it. But how? She turned to one of the rare books, one that had been transcribed through at least 6 languages and copied by many different hands to the point where one could easily value it as an exquisite work but knew better than to interpret literally. She looked into the book, searching for something to help her help this child of her tribe. Her tribe. The tribe that had come to her. She began to think of her tribe as beginning with a capital T. Then her thoughts turned back to the book. She found something that seemed suitable, and then some other pieces to weave together and before long, she had it. She knew what to do for the lad.

"Child, I will help you. Come to the Grove at dawn, just before the sun is born, and we'll fix you right up. Then God will love you again."

The lad beamed, kissed the back of her hand with the enthusiasm of a swashbuckler offered 10% more free booty and skipped from the room.

He entered the circle in the Grove before dawn. Thin light trickled through the mist. He felt like the world was a ghost and he was the only real thing in it.

Pat told the lad what was to be done. Gaining a shade of pallor with each revealed detail, the lad nodded his head once at the end, too weak to do much more from loss of blood to the head. He assented to the torment, in the name of love. The circle closed in, and they began.

There was yelling, shouting, flailing, poking, puking and proselytizing. It was traumatic. Pat told the lad that he had a badness inside him and they were going to get rid of it. The lad was dubious, since how he felt seemed so thoroughly natural and organic to him.

When it ended, the lad was tired. He felt bruises in places that weren't of his body--at least that part of him was relatively unabused. He searched around on his insides to see what was different, to see if he could find an empty spot where the badness had been, but there were no empty tables in the diner of his mind; no empty stalls in the restroom of his soul. It didn't seem like anything was gone, or different. He was just tired. They took him home, fed him warm broth, wrapped him in a soft blanket and put him to bed, promising they'd come see him tomorrow. They left.

Outside the lad's window watched one of Harvey's folk who went by the name of Mary. Mary had witnessed the whole thing in the Grove and was stunned, appalled and pissed right the fuck off. Making sure the lad was alright, she went home to seek the collective wisdom of her tribe. Some were just as appalled as she was and even more outraged (because they felt that being more outraged than the outrager gave them more cachet, somehow); some stood calmly, hearing the whole tale from one perspective and choosing their relationship to the story they were hearing. They discussed it. What should be done, if anything? How to choose?

They thought back into their own tribe's past. They could remember well-meaning folk with extra shares of conviction to sell that ended up doing not so good of a job at running things. From there, they were able to find their compassion, and see Pat as no different than they were--just carrying a few extra issues. They could see that Pat was just as much a part of It as they were, no matter what either of them called it. They decided to go talk to her, to truly hear her side of the story.

She was not moved. They talked to her some more. She still was not moved. They asked her how she would feel, needing to have her badness removed just because she was around people who didn't share her values, ideas and worldview? They kept at it for hours, with no sign of a dawning of recognition anywhere in the sky of Pat's eyes. Even though they disagreed with her actions, then knew that Pat deserved the same love and justice as anyone else. Unable to sway her conviction, they at last decided to leave her in peace but with this caveat:

We congregate out of love and affection for one another. Love need never make another being wrong or bad, so the next time you see one of your tribe suffering, direct them to those whose actions as well as words will be a compassionate gift and an act of love that aligns with the nature of the sufferer’s being, not yours."

When Harvey’s people left, the lad went with them. He's there to this day, with Harvey's tribe on the other side of the Grove, manifesting the glory of love, harmony, and authenticity. His husband comforts him at night when he wakes with bad dreams.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Raccoons & Brooms

Many thanks to all my FB coupins who answered the call for a question as a blog prompt. I now have fodder for at least the next week!

But this one jumped out at me for today, from Leticia Arvizu:
"Have you ever met a two and a half legged raccoon that could stare even YOU down?"

And the answer is 'no.' The one that stared me down had all four legs.

We'd been on the road a lot. It was summer, when traveling gigs come easier. After a few trips out of town with only brief stops at home in between, the coons discovered the cat door, the cat food, and the cat's water (as well as the toilet, the sink and anything else they could reach. We'd come home to a paw print encrusted kitchen and bathroom. There's something to be said for the survival aptitude of determined, hungry creatures with opposable thumbs.

We were gone so much of the time, even with the neighbors keeping an eye on things, that the little bandits got brave. Or stupid. Or addicted to whatever crack they put in organic hippy cat food. The cat door was across the room from the bed, in plain sight. We could see them poke their adorable little noses through the catflap, whiskers aquiver. If we made a noise, the coon would retreat. If it was just my nancy cat, Tux, standing watch, they'd waltz right on in, flicking their tails in an apparent gesture of "Yeah, bitchcat, that's right. We're the coons, and we've come for your food, so backoff!" And Tux would let them. He seems to have a very clear understanding that the obligation for providing food is not his. He only has to eat it. Supply is obviousy a human problem, as is dealing with raccoons.

One night, assuming we were alseep, one of the buggers ambled right on in and headed straight for the kitchen. Fed up with the mess, noise, and extra cat food expense and charged with the adrenaline surge of an urban dweller conquering some part of the mighty wilderness, I flung off the covers, sprang to my feet with a warrior's "ah HA!" grabbed a broom, and cornered the fat bastard in the kitchen, where I held it at broom point while it tried to evade my menacing sweeps. It sat down, looked at me, and did that funny little raccoon noise that's cute unless they're looking right at you with coonly menace deep in their beady eyes.

I hear graciously suppressed laughter inflecting the syllables of, "Hey Babe? Whatcha doin?"

"I got me a coon! I got it trapped in the kitchen with this mighty broom!"

"Oh, really? Now whatcha gonna do with it?"

Between the flush of successfully cornering the coon and irritation at its devouring my cat's food, I had indeed neglected to formulate a post-capture plan of action.

Made me wonder what other areas of my life I run on surges of adrenaline, frustration and a mighty warrior vibe without any solid, considered, intelligent after-the-sacking plans. Where else in my life do I pursue a perceived adversary without any idea of what I'm gonna do if my pursuit results in capture? Where in my life do I target what appears to be the cause of my emotional surges (eg., raccoons) instead of dealing with a broader, more encompassing issues (eg., the cause of raccoons being in my house)?
The raccoon just stared at me. It knew. It knew that, despite my enthusiasm, larger brain and supposed intellectual advantages, it had bested me--and without a gol-durned broom. I lowered my eyes in defeat, having been thoroughly stared down by a four-legged raccoon. Having vanquished its foe, the raccoon dropped down on all fours, speedily waddled to the cat flap and was gone.

Maybe, if I ever rewrite this bit, it'll be a two and a half legged raccoon--you know, for dramatic effect. I dunno--I'm not sure that the ratio of my silliness to the number of raccoon legs involved shouldn't be kept a little higher; is it more pathetic or less so to corner a coon with fewer legs?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Everything Is a Mouse Turd

Due to a deepened comprehension accompanied by a major shift in the material world, it has come to my attention that I am not to begin graduate school in mid-August as planned. I am still to begin graduate school; just not yet.

Or not.

You know what? I dunno.

See that quote over there, in the sidebar? The one from Joseph Campbell? Yeah, well, that's about right. Everything is perfect. And sometimes life throws you a curveball (but only when it needs to get your to turn your head and look at something from a different perspective). The specific curveball here is not moving to the Bay Area to begin grad school in August.

Having been the recipient of what I feel is an unusually high number of curveballs over the course of a relatively short mortal existence, I can say that this shift--though one of the most major in terms of life shifting--has been one of the easiest to deal with. While profoundly invested in my work and deeply attached to the idea, I am not now nor have I been profoundly attached to the outcome. That lack of attachment and its attendant projections, speculations and subsequent investments of my own chi (read: personal energy, life force, etc) has made this shift easier than anything else like it that I've done to date.

As a friend of mine once warned me, one should not pole vault over mouse turds. Pole vaulting over mouse turds is an unnecessary expenditure of effort to attain a desired result. As long as the result one's desires is outsourced or exclusively material, one can nut the fuck up when things go "bad." Don't get me wrong--I have my preferences, and my ideas about how this should work. I have also somehow miraculously acquired enough good sense to know that the evidence (things not going as planned in spite of enormous amounts of chi, time and will applied to it) points to the fact that my ideas were probably not the most beautiful ideas possible. Like Einstein said, and I paraphrase: "If it isn't beautiful, it probably isn't true." My ideas not being the best ones to get the job of my continued academic education done does not imply in any way that my goal is faulty. That message would come under separate cover. What this redirect means is that I, the thinking me-ness, did not come up with the most beautiful, elegant way to go about my mission.

I'm fine with that. My mind is hardly the be-all-end-all of minds. Though I am the center of my own universe--the little dot with an arrow pointing at it that says 'you are here'--I am most decidedly not the center of THE Universe. I actually like the idea that I don't have all the answers or final say in the Universe. I'd be worried sick if I thought that my finite capacities had to be enough to run the whole show. I am learning in this where I have deficits that prevent me from being fully prepared to undertake my mission. I have learned that I am no longer willing to put myself or others at risk to force my dreams into being. I no longer cherish nor am I defined by the bitter, excruciating self-inflicted pain and drama of pushing even a "good" thing too far, too fast. I didn't even know I'd gotten that far until I got this far!

Until and unless I get word that my goal isn't right choosing, I'm sticking to my course. It's just going to take a bit longer to arrive at my destination (and only if I choose to believe that there was an itinerary I had access to in the first place which, obviously, I didn't). Meantime, I will have the privilege of serving my community in Humboldt for a little while longer as I hone my already mad skills into an even finer tool. I refuse to allow the tyranny of my goals to undermine the reason I set them which, in this case, is to help as many beings as I can come to an end of suffering. I can do that from anywhere.

Obviously, the ending of suffering begins with me. If this had happened even a few years ago, I would have been an a terrible state of suffering right now. I'm not. I don't feel bad. I feel a little sad, which I think is normal, and a tad disappointed. I'm deeply grateful that I got to move through this with grace and without undue, inappropriate pain. What I mostly feel is peaceful; even in the face of rapidly and dramatically shifting circumstances, I have not lost my center. I'm still on the right path. Maybe someday my experience will prove useful to another being who is contemplating a pole vault when all that's really needed is a gentle, elegant step over the mouse turd. And maybe the secret here is that everything--when seen from the proper, perhaps larger perspective--is no more than a mouse turd. It's the choice of how to be in relationship to the mouse turd that matters. I choose to keep walking, and to save the pole vaulting for when I really need it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

5 Words Meme

My beloved Alesia posts this last night on FB: Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" in the comments and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.

So I shouted, and she worded me thusly, replying: Hm, let's see if I can reduce the clamoring avalanche of Deborah words down to five: spider, journey, mask, will, reach.

While I am tempted to include 'clamoring' and 'avalanche' in my package, I'm sticking with the five for now.

Spider: In some Native American stories, there weaves Grandmother Spider, the Weaver of the Web of Life. She spins, and we all scuttle about this enormous web that's made up of tiny, heartstoppingly thin yet breathtakingly lovely threads. We are all connected. I was part of a hook pull once, and at one point all of us had lines tied to the large hooks in our chests the threads where then clipped to a central ring. If one person so much as took a deep breath, everyoen else felt it, through the strings running from individual to the central point of connection. Whetehr we see it or not, everything we do, everything we are affects everything else we're connected to, which is everything.

Also, spiders are some of the most successfully adapted creatures in their niche. I pray for that kind of success. They also have eight legs, neat parts, and the feamles run the show vis a vis mating then killing. But the males don't feel anything; I kinda like to think that the venom shot that puts them into lunch wrappers helps them feel only their mate's sweet kiss as they dissolve back into the system. Spiders produce thread from their own bodies and, proportionately, this substance is some of the toughest in the world.

I weave webs of people.

Journey: I'm so on one. My life is the trip of a lifetime. My destination? Yes. Everything else: A pleasing, fragrant blend of "Ow!" and "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!"

Mask: I spent the better part of my life pretending to be things, exhibiting the surface states & conditions I believed would reflect most strongly in the eyes of others so that when I saw me in them, I would see my big, important self. Whups. We all wear masks of many types. I strive to be aware of whatever mask I'm wearing in any given moment, and to make sure that I know why I'm wearing it. My masks hafta be a reflection of my innards, not an artificial projection so that I can identify myself with false reflections.

Will: I haz it. In spades. My will is like a hammer: I can use it to build a birdhouse, or bash in some brains. It's a tool whose application is evaluatively significant. It's the bear I'm training to dance instead of maul innocent bystanders.

Reach: If this was free association, my answer woulda been 'toilet brush.' I had to clean the bathroom when I was a kid with whatever trendy new product was available, and at one time that was some spoogy lookin crud called 'Reach' (I also had to clean the bathtub with Comet & a toothbrush, naked, so I didn't get my clothes dirty or ruined from cleaning. If you're thinking 'Mommy Dearest,' then you get the idea). Reach was marketing-spiffy because of its curved neck so you could squirt the spooge up under the inner rim and clean the hard-to-reach places. But even though it was supposed to do the cleaning work all by itself, I still had to scrub it with the toilet brush.

In a non-free-association kind of way, my reach is the expansiveness of my arms, my heart, my spirit. My limit of my reach is the limit of what I can hold, love, expand into. I'm working on a longer reach so that I can hold, embrace, touch more, without coming off center or bullshitting myself. I stretch, I reach, I seek. There are things within my reach, but I can reach so that I might expand my reach, and that's no stretch.

Thanks, Alesia! I love you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

addendum to Holding patterns

...and then Brezny chimes in:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): "I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things," says actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo. "The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth." As witty as that thought may be, I don't recommend you make it your approach in the coming days. My analysis of the omens suggests that reality will be especially malleable. Even more than usual, it will tend to take the shape of your expectations. So please, Aquarius, try hard to see the lovely, graceful, unbroken glass as half-full of a delicious, healthy


Holding patterns

Quantum mechanics predicts and physics experiments verify that the universe is made of things moving in patterns. It's all one big ballroom floor, with some things waltzing here, oh look--some tango, a bit of foxtrotting over there, a reel over there, a stately pavanne over there. Everything's dancing with everything else, within predictable, expressable rhythms and patterns. Patterns are everywhere, and then the patterns interact with other patterns in even more patterns. It really is exquisite. And mind you, I'm not talking about a closed system in which the absolute predictability of patterns makes variant outcomes impossible. Oh no. Even with all the predictable, magnificent patterns in play, variability always arises in the interaction between the patterns. The designs produced by the certainty of patterns combined with the uncertainty of their interactions is our world. Tasty.

Some patterns I like better than others. A nice Fibonacci string, for instance, rocks my world. Some patterns don't rock me quite the way I like; some patterns seem to think I'm a cat that it's fun to pet backwards. I'm one of those right now: A holding pattern. This depends on that (which I don't know) which depends on this other thing (don't know that either) which means this looks like that (unless something changes and ACK!! I'm paralyzed.

Except I'm not. I am my own chaos agent. Carolym Myss puts it like this: "God loves a verb." She means that when we are in action, moving, things happen. And it's true. So I push this button, I pull that trigger and things change. It's like dropping a pebble in a pond--there will be ripples. It's the effect of the ripples in toto that's impossible to fully know, and some part of me really craves knowing that whatever I'm doing is the 'right' thing to do, all the way out into the furthest ripple.

Waiting isn't living. Patience is one thing; being present to unfolding, observing and participating in my own becoming. The other thing is watching for the patterns and hitching my wagon to the star in motion that seems most likely to get me where I'm going.

Patterns there are, but this holding pattern is my own construct. I dunno what to do, particularly, but I've got to keep doing, and my actions must emerge from my being, not from an attachment to outcome. So I choose, and choose and choose. I watch, I attend. Chop wood, carry water and see what happens next. It's not the holding pattern that's the problem; it's what I hold on to (and, conversely, what I release) that matters.

[airplane raidio noise; click:] Alvaraddington Airlines flight 69, requesting permission to land, Tower.

Tower: Sorry, Flight 69; everyone's out to lunch. Hang tight a sec, and we'll get back to you when we know more.

[flap flap flap]

Roger, Tower. Flight in progress. But man, are my wings getting tired! Nice view, though....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Monday!

That's right. Happy Monday. Even with a yoga practice that wracked my weak-sauce knees. Even with me being a raging bitch. Even with grocery listing, marketing, cooking (ha!) and the bank and the this and the that and all of that other crap.

Monday. Happy. Makes me wonder how many of my other days during the week that I treat with the same accord as I do a nice, big, fat steaming Monday. I was thinking to myself earlier, "Self, you don't want a day job. You want your life to be your day job!"

I was very self-congratulatory over that spiffy realization. So, how do I make my life my day job and then proceed to love it if I treat it (or any other day) like a steaming pile of Monday?

I can't. And see, I get that on one level, but those creepy bits of hereditary dislike for a 'workweek' crawl into my brain and nibble. Don't get me wrong. I got a metric shit-ton done today. And there's more tomorrow. I mean, we're supposed to be moving in 2 weeks, and there's hardly a box in sight. It all needs to come together now, and they need to play like nice (if ADD/manic/bipolar) children on the playground so that everyone gets to participate in a solid round of my favorite game, We Win.

I guess I get to be content with the fact that, even though we never made it to the park, I got all the "kids" on the bus, anyway. It all showed up for Monday, and so did I. Some days, that's grace enough for me.

At least Tuesday reminds me of Lena's cat, who liked to be tied up and spanked. Uncanny. Never seen anything like it--in a cat. So here's to Tuesday. Be gentle with me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bacon in Junuary

A quiet, grey Sunday in Junuary. Baconscent wafts from the kitchen, which means blueberry pancakes are soon to follow. Lots of work is tempting--I could just do a bit of this, or work on that so I'm in better shape at thehead of the week... you know, the ususal.

But I'm applying discipline today. I'm not dealing with that stuff. I'm sitting, being, organizing in my head, noting what will need more attention this week. After all, we are supposed to be moving in 2 weeks, even though I still haven't heard about tutiotion and have little direct clue about where the rest of the funding is coming from.

But that's okay, cuz it's Sunday. It's be still day. It's refuse distraction and be present day. It's remeber how good sleeping in feels and then eat some bacon day.

Mmmmm, bacon. I can be present to bacon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A River Runs Through Me

I'm not much of a meditator. Can't hang. My hands crave something to do; my mind is a humming bird, only interested in the candle flame for long enough to see it isn't a flower and move on. And my chiro tells me that my days of sitting crosslegged are over; that hip I cracked while roller skating when I was fifteen has finally caught up to me. Along with meditating poorly, I don't visualize well. There's something in my nature that distrusts and dislikes the notion of visualizing. Part of me says, "Hey! That's' not present moment! Get back here!" Problem is, that's not true. A visualization is a present moment activity; it's just one more engaged in the field of potentiality, where the virtual particles are, rather than the real. Ahhhh, the sweet smell of neutron clouds in the morning... they pass over the surface of the river by which I sit (crosslegged and comfortable). The small, poofy clouds of vapor disappear over the surface of the river when the sunlight touches them. They go happily to union. Me, I sit by the river. Not doing. Not babbling. Just being. Sitting. I don't always look like me; sometimes I look like a wizened old Zen monk, in a simple brown robe and a shiny bald head. Sometimes I look like Marie Antoinette in full court regalia. I have come to discover that it doesn't matter who it looks like is sitting at the river's edge, as long as I remember it's only just me.

It's me, sitting there by that river. It's a bend in the river; it curves gently away to my left, and to my right. And I sit.

This river is full of things, from the requisite old tire, antique & sodden brown leather boot to my thoughts and my feelings. Some things have shapes, like a giant crawdad/mutant lobster thingy or a metal dustbin with legs (at least 3) or a butterfly with a beehive hairdo, hornrimmed glasses and a ruler. Some are like the puffs of mist that vanish with the touch of the beloved sun. Every thing's in the river, and the river just keeps right on rolling by, easy as you please.

I am serene. I have pristine posture. The sun is good on my naked pate. Something pulls me from my enlightened reverie. I focus my eyes on the river and something emerges; it's headed right for me. Might be pretty, might not. Might be pleasing, might be frightening. Sometimes I want to pull it into my lap and snuggle it, sucking the comfort from it. Sometimes I want to grab a stick--I wouldn't want to touch some of these things--and fling it way, way away, to the other side of the river or beyond.

Instead, I treat each thing that emerges from the river in the same fashion: I pick it up as gently as I can and put it back in the river. The hardest things to put back are the things I want to coddle in my lap and the repulsive things I don't want to touch. But they all go back in the river, as I watch them arise from my consciousness and return to it.

I am not the things that emerge from my consciousness. I am not that which arises. I am the river, the trees, the mud, the water, the monk, the stick. When I let something emerge from the river and come right for me, I'm being shown elements of my consciousness that would like my attention. But they all go back in the river, and I remain serene, unattached and, well, meditative.

It's a nice day by the river today. So far, it's been pretty easy to put it all back in the river. But my life will keep heading right for me, offering me endless opportunities to identify myself with one thing or another. Or not. As the part of me that must function in this world gets up from my seat by the river, a part of me sits there still, watching things arise and recede, manifest and dissolve. And the river flows. I can't wait to see what happens if I ever get good at this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cat: A tonic

Yesterday was one of the Not-So-Good days, what with all the balls still hovering, damclesian, in the air & my fixations. At the end of a day--especially a N.S.G. day, I like to indulge in a bedtime snackytreat. My favorite is gummy bears. I can tell you which of the 3 grocery stores in town has the best bears (Wildberries, by far--the ones in the little bags above the bulk foods) and who has the worst (Safeway. Ew). I savor the textures and flavors of the gelatinous ursine delights. It's a good bag when you can really taste the pineapple in the clear bears. I'm on a mission to find me the best bears ever; suggestions appreciated.

At the end of my N.S.G. day yesterday, I was ready for some bears. I'd have even been happy just to have the Safeway kind. But no. Adding insult to injury, I was bear-free. And cookie free, and ice cream free, and muffin free and vanilla yogurt free. None of the things I enjoy as snackytreats were in the house. I fwumped myself on the bed at this discovery, which happened to be put me partially atop my cat, Meeser Toes (you can call him Tux). I was feeling very sorry for my poor little bear-free self, lemme tellya. A day like that, and not even one damned bear. Ugh. Typical. Damnit. This is stupid. Nothing works for me. Why do I bother. Fekkin bearless existence. Bargh.

Can you hear the rising grumblings as they fade into the horizons of despair and chagrin?

Over the sound of my own dissatisfied grumblings and foot stompings, I heard a sound. It was Tux, purring from underneath me. His buzzbox was in fine fettle. Still obsessing on the treats I didn't have, it occurred to me that Tux did have his stash of healthy cat treats, even if they do smell like they've already been in the litter box once already (I got the fishgut and innards variety this time; next time, it's the less-stinky lamb variety). He loves them. I think they smell like kitty butt.

Since I'm assuming that neither you nor I has any interest in eating kitty-butt flavored snackytreats, you may be wondering why this matters. Here's where I tell you. I didn't have any treats (waaaah), but my cat did (hurray!). And since there's only one of us here, I decided to see about unifying myself with my cat so that, even though I didn't get to have the direct experience of eating my beloved gummy bears, I did get to experience the joy of my cat getting his beloved fishgut & innards stinky treats. I got to experience joy in treats, even though it wasn't "my" bears or "my" belly. It was lovely. He radiated happiness and I got to soak that in. I felt better after that. I got to experience gratitude that one of the creatures in my house had treats. I got to experience joy in treat consumption. I got to pet a purring cat. I got to get over myself in a kind and slightly humorous (if smelly) way.

When I'm more enlightened, I'll be able to tell you that experience was just as good as eating my bears. For now, let's just say that it was almost as good, even with the kittybutt smell.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baptismal Blog

When I was a kid, there were 3 things one simply did NOT discuss at the dinner table: Sex, Politics and Religion. So far, my career path has encompassed 2 of those, one of which I'm about to pursue in grad school.

I got accepted to the GTU at Berkeley fro my MDiv. Right now, we're in the middle of attempting to sustain the structures that provide us income, prepare to move, sort, clean, reduce, maintain, sleep, eat, poop regularly (you really can't afford to underestimate the value of that), make more money so that we can move, walk the dog, clean the cat's ear, do the dishes, pack, cry (me mostly--Lawrence is holding up like a champ) and generally hold it together. So whadda I do? Start a blog, of course!

There are many delightful, tasty, challenging aspects to this major life transition. I'm trying to make sense of them. As a mystic, I believe that there's really only one of us here (a notion supported by quantum mechanics--individuation in unity) and that there are ways to function as an apparetnly discrete being while sustaining unitive states. And because there's only one of us here and we are all connected in a profound web, net of life, it behooves us to get our acts together and learn how to do this human thing a little better. Me first.

That's my goal. To become all of who I really am, without judging any of it, and use that beingness to help end the suffering of all beings. Suffering, in mysticism, is not getting stuck in the illusion of "I" or the illusion of "that;" suffering is when one gets stuck in the illusion that there's any difference between the "I" and the "that." Part of how I've gotten to this point has been through alternative sexual modalities. God wears black leather. To hell with the head of a pin; how many angels are dancing on the tip of it as it's inserted beneath skin (okay, so that'd be a lance or needle instead of a pin, but I'm hoping you get it anyway).

Pema Chodron wirtes, "Discipline is the conduct that de-escalates suffering." Right now, I'm suffering. I'm suffering from the illusion that the way I feel right now is permanent and will never change. I'm suffering from fixating on the details that I think are necessary to the upcoming transition. I'm suffering from a rising anxiety centered around a feeling of not-enoughness. I'm suffering from my own PR. So, technically, discipline can de-escalate my suffering. Believe me, I thought about going out and finding someone to discipline, til I remembered that the kind of discipline she means is self-discipline. If I can get myself to consistently do something I love, who *knows* what might happen!

I've tried as many encourage-self-to-write experiments as most overweight, over privileged Americans have tried diets. None of them have worked. But I mean to end my suffering by seeing the true nature of things (pretty Buddhist in that department) and by disciplining myself to do something I love doing and somehow manage to constantly talk myself out of. My thanks to Lee Harrington for the idea that writing when it's scary is good, and Janet Hardy's reminder that one can get hooked on writing scary.

It may suck.
It may be boring.
It may be irrelevant.
It will certainly be irreverent (either everything's sacred or nothing is, like Einstein said about how you can live your life--like everything's a miracle or like nothing is).

Tellya what. I'll just write, and not worry so much about saying the right thing in the right place and see how it goes, mkay? At least I did it today, and I liked it. That bodes well for tomorrow.