Archive for September, 2012
I made my way back to Mid City Zen for meditation for the first time since coming back home. About time, but oh how my body ached just trying to sit still and think of absolutely nothing for one hour. Daunting. Though it’s the meditation that guides me there, it’s the talk afterwards I enjoy equally. We are still reading and discussing Genjo Koan, which I had left off of when I left for the summer. The sentence that stopped me this time was:
Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent.
I thought that this sentence stood out for me for the first time this rainy morning, only to have realized it stood out for me back in the heat of June as well. I place it right in line with the forceable removal of my belief in orchestrating my life in lieu of just dancing to the jam session whenever it erupts.
Control is over rated. Just Friday night when we had friends over for dinner, I was sporting one of the bindis that my friend had given me as we embarked for Spain. My friend said she had recently heard that the bigger the bindi in India the more emancipated the woman. So I was digging my bright red tilak and happy with my doctor/friend who greeted me with, “Oh, how exotic you look.”
So if you start with the bindi, or the dot, then maybe you can leap over to this morning’s talk about Genjo Koan and all of us on our knees drawing and visualizing what Dogen meant in his treatise. My orange marker was running out of ink, and I drew dots, lots of them, because my hope was to connect them and show how stories evolve, but instead I ran out of ink before I could draw any straight lines. Now tell me if that isn’t zen in and of itself.
My thought for the day, the next time I wear a bindi, it will be a punctuation, because that time will be different, received differently, and on a different person as I will not, cannot, could not, would not be the same person each time I wore a bindi.
I rewatched one of my favorite movies last night – What Happened Was – a quirky, first date, psychological drama done by Tom Noonan in 1994. The movie moves like a play and it was actually adapted from Noonan’s play of the same name.
The hair point turns of character revelations are so sharp that you (the audience) never have an opportunity to get comfortable with what you assume you know about either character.
I give this movie 5 stars and was surprised to see that Netflix only ranked it three.
We always circle up after Danielle’s Zumba class and anyone who is feeling particularly grateful speaks up. A woman who has obviously been suffering a lot because her husband ran off with another, spoke up this morning. She said she had started reading Sufi poetry and had read a particular passage that said, you can dance to God or be delivered in a stretcher. Fitting for Zumba.
I read this today and was thinking it is sort of odd that this woman was betrayed by the man she loved and she is finding her healing in the poetry of love:
You’ve no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So- I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.
– Jalaluddin Rumi, Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks, p 141
So my horoscope today:
September 28, 2012
Today you are finally coming to a deeper understanding of a task that has been particularly challenging to you. You’re getting a handle on things and feeling more and more empowered about what you need to do. This will be a wonderful day for you — your power is growing and it feels very good. You are starting to think that you could pretty much overcome any obstacle that comes your way. And you know what? You are absolutely right.
Not bad, huh? No, not bad at all. Steve wrote that he is submitting the LaLa for an AIA award, something that I was trying to do here but missed the deadline. Which so perfectly dovetailed to a conversation I had on my power walk through City Park this morning with the dogs and a friend and her dog. She was saying that in thinking about all the challenges that I have faced over the last seven years, I have been successful in meeting these challenges in positive ways.
Wow, good way of thinking about it, I told her. Thanks for that perspective. She also has Hashimoto’s Disease and was telling me that the end result is the thyroid is killed off and that she was diagnosed five years ago and still has to go in and get checked every two to three months so it is a lifelong project. “I wish I would have broken my leg, gotten a cast, and then healed, but this is a screwy, uncertain, and constant thing you have to deal with,” she said. Great, I thought.
She said the hardest part is dealing with the inexplicable weight gain. Twenty pounds, I thought, twenty heavy pounds, and one day at the gym I had gained 10 pounds in four days – seems impossible – but I can tell you that the old ball and chain is pretty severe. It’s like you swallowed the iron ball and you are chained to the earth.
But let’s get back to what’s right about this picture, the truth is that the clouds are clearing and that my thyroid will one day be level and then I can see what it takes to keep it that way and then weight, hair, energy, nails, will all fall in line.
We had a young couple over last night – both bright – both headed to India for six months for an exploration (it’s their second trip). One is going to enter a PhD program on Iranian studies and the other philosophy. Wow, you sit across from these kids and you feel hopeful, because they are thoughtful, open minded, and risk takers. And one of them has an auto immune deficiency and has been dealing with that for some time. Asked what was the worse part of it – inexplicable weight gain! Argh – the bane of our disease.
The truth is this is all a big game of amusement and someone keeps putting these interesting obstacles in my way, and I have to be nimble and negotiate the hairpoint turns like a race car driver or even better, like Secretariat; I need to run my own race. So Victory Lap: I’ve been winning this race for a long time.
We took the bike around the bayou and stopped to visit a friend/neighbor. While Tin was playing with the child, my friend handed me a card and said to pick one. The one I picked said on one side:
“Success Is about the Joy I Feel.”
On the other side it said this:
When you are genuinely thrilled by someone else’s success, that means you are right on the track of your own. Success is not about getting it done: the measure of success in life is not the attainment of money or the stuff … the measure of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.
When Tin started going to Waldorf, I started reading about Rudolph Steiner and it just happened that all of this was happening around the same time the global crisis lit up. Steiner was avant-garde for his time, and sorry to say, even for our time. But he developed the Waldorf School out of a global crisis that was WW1, not unlike the global crisis we are facing today.
I’ve been watching the polarity of politics that has ripped through every country including sadly, our own. Obama – who is he? Seems like the conservatives want to darken his past to obscure the light of his presidency. But I give him credit for this one thing and this one alone – he represents my value system.
I was driving behind a car with an American flag on one side and a bumper sticker on the other that said – WANT TO END SOCIALISM – BUY A FORD. Obama is being accused of wanting to redistribute wealth and yes, that has gone awry before, just look no further than Cuba. But I don’t believe he has socialism or communism as we know it as his end goal; I do believe he wants to get things righted because they have gone so wrong.
A while ago, someone gave me an article by David Orr, “What is Education For?” where he asks about education and says:
In most respects the Germans were the best educated people on Earth, but their education did not serve as an adequate barrier to barbarity. What was wrong with their education? … “It emphasized theory instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstractions rather than consciousness, answers instead of questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience.”
He goes on to add:
… there is a myth that the purpose of education is that of giving you the means for upward mobility and success. Thomas Merton once identified this as the “mass production of people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade.” When asked to write about his own success, Merton responded by saying that “if it so happened that I had once written a best seller, this was a pure accident … I would take very good care never to do the same again.” His advice to students was to “be anything you like, be madmen, be drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.”
The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
The article is filled with insights and history of education and also a vision. Orr writes:
… there is a myth that our culture represents the pinnacle of human achievement: we alone are modern, technological, and developed. … Communism failed because it produced so little at too high a cost. But capitalism has also failed because it produces too much, shares too little, also at too high a cost to our children and grandchildren. Communism failed as an ascetic morality. Capitalism failed because it destroys morality altogether. … We have built a world of sybaritic wealth for a few and Calcuttan poverty for a growing underclass.
Which brings me back to Steiner whose unique contributions to social science was to formulate a set of social laws or principles which connect human consciousness to social behavior and to their social and economic consequences (taken from Christopher Schaefer’s article “Toxic Excess: Wealth Disparities & the Fundamental Social Law”). Steiner states in his Fundamental Social Law that:
In a community of human beings working together, the well-being of the community is the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of the work he has himself done; i.e., the more of those proceeds he makes over to his fellow worker, and the more of his own requirements are satisfied, not out of his own work, but out of the work done by others … every institution in a community of human beings that is contrary to this law will inevitably engender in some part of it, after some time, suffering and want.
Schaefer goes on to say that “The toxic effects of these wealth disparities in the United States express themselves in poorer national health and higher health-care costs, in the highest per capital reported prison population in the world and one of the highest levels of guard labor, in an erosion of our democracy and in the undermining of our economic recovery.”
So I will vote my conscious, I will send my child to a Waldorf School, and I will find value in what brings us together, instead of what divides us.
My avatar has always been Wonder Woman because she was created as a “distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men.” I mean what’s not to love?
But I’ve been a long admirer of Secretariat, a once in a lifetime horse. There is a passage from William Nack’s book, Secretariat that reads:
Secretariat moved to the field with a rush, accelerating outside as they made the bend, without urging from Turcotte, bounding along as if independent of whatever momentum the race possessed, independent of its pace and tempo, independent of the shifting, slow-motion struggles unfolding within it, the small battles for position and advantage. But Secretariat was not responding to any force the race was generating, but rather moving as though he’d evolved his own kinetic field beyond it, and Turcotte would later recall sitting quietly and feeling awed.
Secretariat was a force of nature who inhabited an inner world and spirit that was unflappable and undeniable. A once in a lifetime horse he was called. And he didn’t always win, but when he failed, he came back even stronger. Reminds me of Jane Hirshfield’s poem, For What Binds Us:
For What Binds Us
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD
There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.
And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—
And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.
So today on the day of Atonement, as I fast and contemplate the year that has brought me here, a year of transition, I am warmed by the feeling that the fire inside me is growing stronger. I have spent a year so focused on losing, I have lost sight of winning and that is what has me out of balance.
For this year, for alopecia, for Hashimoto’s Disease, for failure, for going down, for getting back up, I’m most grateful for the hero in me (and all my loved ones who held my cape).
1) You don’t have to shave.
2) No more bikini waxes.
3) Swimming is a breeze.
4) Cuts down on getting ready time.
5) Elicits sympathy in strangers.
6) Conversation starter.
7) No hair stylist appointments.
8) Wig budget goes way up.
9) Wind is no longer bothersome.
10) You look like the Buddha.