Sometimes right action is hard.
It can be a real conundrum.
How do you know the difference between a reflex that is the result of all that has come before, or the right thing? I don’t know either. My vata aggravation doesn’t help.
Awhile ago, my super-smart friend decided that when she got stuck, she’d just ask what Baba and Zaida would do. Her inherited grandparents being Makers of the Right Move, Creators of Great Things out of None, and all-around Rock Solid Guys, it’s a really good question.
For me, there are two problems with that. I don’t know B and Z that well (though admittedly from knowing their son and grandson, i think i can usually figure it out) and b. They work too hard;)
Luckily, i have a little genius who hangs around and who is pretty good at right action, too. It’s practically like having a little Hanuman around to watch the moves of.
What would Portman do?
The answer is almost always: Love. It’s usually be curious. It’s always enjoy. It’s often relax. And do your job.
So, in the absence of a b and z, p will do.
There is that tiny issue of her compulsion to eat goose poo, but that’s a tiny glitch, relatively speaking.
Today I’m going to do my work and lie in the grass, curious and full of love.
(Yes, i sometimes speak in analogies and metaphors. This is not to be mysterious. I am not being an engima. This is not some writing style of trying to hook the guy reading it. It’s because the details of the experience are less important than the themes that you finally find in them sometimes.) Oh how my work is cut out for me. Currently working with: Shenpa; stickiness, locked-in-edness, being hooked, caught up in.
Pema Chodron says this: Emotional turmoil begins with an initial perception—a sight, sound, thought—which gives rise to a feeling of comfort or discomfort. This is the subtlest level of shenpa, the subtlest stage of getting hooked. Energetically there is a perceptible pull; it’s like wanting to scratch an itch. We don’t have to be advanced meditators to catch this. This initial tug of “for” or “against” is the first place we can remain as steady as a log. Just experience the tug and relax into the restlessness of the energy, without fanning this ember with thoughts. If we stay present with the rawness of our direct experience, emotional energy can move through us without getting stuck. Of course, this isn’t easy and takes practice.
So, I missed the initial tug. I missed the second level of it too. I might have missed two or three more. I got really locked into the stickiness that reminds me of a stickiness that reminds me of a stickiness. And this shenpa! It’s of a deep and painful varietal. There are layers of this stuff! I got to spend the whole night in the shenpa, several nights. And then in some strange state exhaustive clarity, saw and could decipher the stickiness and the me in the stickiness and finalement! could see the space in between. I’m going to go be steady as a log now. Or at least pry my hands and heart and mind off of the things they are sticking to. (But not pry because that increases the shenpa.)
Or at least steady my heart. It’s good there.
You know what else I remembered? If you practice, practice, practice from (in?) your heart, the things that take care of it grow and the things that don’t fall away. I might have made this up. Did someone tell me this? If you did, thank you. Love to you and to the things you’re sticking to and to the things I’m sticking to and may all beings be free.
“PRAIRIE. Isn’t that a pretty word? Rolls of the tongue like a fat little moon. Prairie must be one of the prettiest words in the English language. No matter that it’s French. It’s derived from the Latin word for “meadow” plus a feminine suffix.
A prairie, then, is a female meadow. It is larger and wilder than a masculine meadow (which the dictionary defines as a “pasture” or a “hayfield”), more coarse, more oceanic and enduring, supporting a greater variety of life.”
-Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls get the Blues
Oh, Tom Robbins. You hit the nail on the head about so many things.
five however many favourite things about this vast landscape:
The other morning it became Spring.
I could tell because the wild things began to move around and stir things up and were wilder than usual. There were fangs and fur and in the coming to life, deep, other-wordly sounds echoing. Every bird had something to say about it. Even the river rose up to the occasion, covering the walking bridge and pushing us around into the other direction.
It’s nice, humbling, beautiful business to be at the mercy of nature.
Spring was approximately one day long.
Our bodies are all still in winter mode, I think, and there is fire everywhere; the internal heat left over from keeping us warm last season, my friend says. Yesterday morning, on the prairie, in the sun, ten degrees celsius felt sweltering.
We’ll adjust of course. Maybe a few outburst of residual winter extra-warmth; tempers, hot emotions, bodies bubbling with heat.
But I kind of wonder what the repercussions are when Spring only lasts one day. What part did we miss? Isn’t the sweetness in the Spring? I have an aversion to missing the sweetness! That transition has got to be important, no? Isn’t it kind of like missing age five?
Some fox medicine from that one day when it was Spring.
It’s so much easier (for me) to think of living as being a linear process. Linear is tidy, predictable, there’s always an end in sight; a new beginning afterward. It’s pretty discombobulating to think that way, though, since it’s not true.
Maneuvering within cycles is disorienting. You have to tap into your instinct. You can’t get caught up in what’s next or else it feels like you’ve done this before and you proceed accordingly, even though you haven’t really done this before. Not this time around, not this way. Something is always just a little different. There is a fresh opportunity. What a joy.
More annoying still is that it seems like cycles repeat themselves over and over until you get it.
And then, not only until you get it, but beyond that, until they feel like stopping.
And then they do it again.
This relentless winter has been like that.
I’m okay with it, really. Regarding the weather, i feel like it’s funny, can go with the flow. My life doesn’t depend on it after all and it’s usually in the seeming (but not really) life and death matters that
the flow gets jammed up i jam up the flow. Also, i’m in love with Winter, so that might make it a bit easier.
But it’s been pretty intense, the cycling, this time around. We start to think that things are simple. Winter will end and spring will come. It’s happened before. It’s how things go. But then! Just when everyone starts to put away their biggest winter jacket and optimistically takes out their medium one, truckloads of snow dump out of the sky and there is a collective fed-up sigh when everyone wakes up and sees the fourth end of the hope of spring. How silly of us to think Spring would happen how it did before. We are different. The world is different. Isn’t time even made up?
I kind of like the adventure that’s in it.
This time around, i’ve been carefully watching the geese. They came back too early, they got ahead of themselves and now they’re freezing cold and have nowhere to sit. But they’re handling it pretty well; committed to the north even if it’s a little disorienting.
Have you ever read that thing about lessons learned from geese?
They’re very clever guys. Also smart because they’re really in this together.
Maybe that makes the cycles easier? Certainly that makes the cycles easier.
Right now, life is about taking things in stride. That’s it. Don’t push, don’t pull. Goose-like in the perpetual winter. No big deal, man.
I love this picture with the goose prints showing him slamming on the breaks. Snow?! Never trusting the weather channel again!!
Hello little community of beauties,
I’ve been away from here, from home.
I’ve been resistant to write lest it come across as shameless navel-gazing or at the very least terribly boring or at the worst depressing for you and for me.
I’ve been grieving. Or i’ve got the blues. No, grief. Definitely.
Don’t worry. No one died around here. Not today. Not last week. I’m grieving the end of an era. I’m letting something go. I have no idea what it is. It’s the most disorienting feeling in the world. I think i might be clinging to the hope that i have a foundation that is sweet and good and strong like a tree. I don’t have one of those. Tom Robbins says it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I call bullshit. It’s never too late to live grownup-hood with childlike vision, but come on, T.R., there are definitely times when it’s too late to have a happy childhood. (Yes, I’m thirty-five and still grieving this.)
Word is that in order to let go, you have to accept (what?) the things that your brain judge as good AND bad.
This process has been painful in the heart-opening-up-and-spilling-out-of -my-eyes-way. In the everything-i’ve-ever-held-close-running-through-my-fingers-way. It is unusual. I don’t like it one bit.
But, i’ve been accepting my losses anyway. Long ago ones which i have never felt quite safe enough to accept.
Moreover, and more importantly and frankly, much, much, (much) more difficultly, i’ve been learning to accept the ripple effect of losses i’ve chosen to relinquish because of the deep impressions i’ve held onto in my soul. This has been a real challenge. It has been terrifying, to be honest, to see all that i have chosen to lose. It’s been to nice to see all that i’ve chosen to create, but still.
I think I thought that if i began to feel the weight of those losses, i would be crushed into nothing. Or maybe i felt that if i accepted those losses i might have nothing left.
But guess what happened too? The sweet things, and there were some!, started to feel real-er.
If you would have told me that that would have happened, i never would have believed you.
I began to make a list.
It’s a gratitude list of sorts. I would entitle the list the things that put hope into the heart of a tiny girl. Or hallelujah.
Or grow up, kid, it’s not all that bad.
When i was little and medium, i had this theory. All of my theories then were simple and black and white, much like they are nowadays, but simpler even. I’ve since learned that things aren’t that tidy sometimes and that tangled messes are okay and that things are fluid, and that philosophy isn’t the answers to the questions but being able to see the tangled web of questions clearly, all of which makes me squirm and makes me happy too in that uncomfortable way that is -get this- really living.
I used to think that our hearts (or it might have been souls? or selves?) had three layers:
One superficial one on the outside that is a hard edge or a soft cover or mascot costume or a something that we showed to the world around us. It is usually obvious and usually exactly what we want it to be. It’s kind of cliche.
Underneath that was a second layer, imprinted with all the scars and colours and stories that this life has left on us or that we have held onto from life. A thick, complex layer with small layers that we’ve gathered in this little lifetime and that form an interesting little mosaic-cloak around the heart. It’s confusing to move through this part because it’s so intricate and woven and weird and neat and foreign. It would be easy to stop there and assume that to be who the person is, partly because it would be easy and partly because we get lost and forget what we’re doing and usually get stuck on something.
But then underneath that, or within it, is the heart, the essence, the atman. A little and giant unlayer of us-ness where the magic happens. The part that is unchanging and beautiful and doesn’t worry about what comes next or who hurt my feelings or haircuts or gluten or achievements. It just is and it’s totally perfect. It is. Believe it.
And then after a long time, i got a job where people come and peel away their layers and see the little-big essence and maybe are surprised at their own beauty or vastness sometimes and then put the layers back on like a winter coat and a cape and a cloak on top when they go. Or maybe that layer gets thinner. Or maybe we just remember more easily how to navigate through it.
But who cares because we saw it for a millisecond and it doesn’t need to be open to the air all the time and we just know.
And on the good days, if we can first keep it in our minds that we have that inside layer, we might also be able to remember that that other people have it too. And we might even remember to look for it.
And if we’re super, very lucky someone else sees it too, through the imaginary coat and cloak and cape. But that doesn’t always happen. But sometimes it does.
This picture looks exactly like those layers of that silly theory that i used to have and that i’m way too realistic to believe could be so simple now;)
“Here’s what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird,” said May Kasahara. “Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can’t seem to do it. They just don’t get it. Of course, the problem could be that I’m not explaining it very well, but I think it’s because they’re not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they’re not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things.”
I love the prairie winter on the days when it gets all melancholy.
I love it. I love to feel the empty sweetness of a prairie sky when the colour is washed out and the trees are bare and it is quite clear that every living being experiences the emptiness of life for a moment here and there and no one is laughing or dancing and none of the trees in the field will clap their hands, but instead they stand motionless at the unbearable emptiness of being that means you’re alive.
The reason i love it is that they are okay with that.
And then in an instant all of this passes and they- the prairie sky and the trees in the fields that don’t clap their hands- are happy. And the sky gets blue and the birds are singing and things melt and people love and laugh and fall.
I find this to be a real inspiration.
I must admit, I have a harder time with these gaps, these moments of emptiness that tell you you’re really alive. The in-betweens. I feel uncomfortable and get a little twitchy. The melancholy seems like a prelude to a deep and dark pit of despair. Or a who-knows-what? I like to put stuff in to fill up the emptiness. Don’t we all? (Don’t we??)
I think that the people who have the biggest burdens are the ones who aren’t okay with the emptiness and are filling them with things. Pick your poison, you know? Doesn’t the Buddhist tradition tell us that if we hold on tight or push really hard we get stuck with the thing? Who wants to get stuck in the gap? The Buddhist tradition says a lot of things about the emptiness.
But how silly i am. The answer to everything is just be. Or, the secret name of this blog lately: let it go.
Lucky for me i live in the prairies where the trees are holding classes all winter long about being okay with the gap, the emptiness, the sunyata (is that what it’s called? where’s gindin?) and the grief, peace, or space that the gap feels like (to me, anyway.)
I watched the film ‘Take this Waltz” by Sarah Polley yesterday.
And then i watched three thousand interviews with her about it.
There’s a girl-character in it who has to ride a wheelchair around in the airport to get from one flight to her connection because she is scared of being scared of the in-betweens. I thought that was a bit charming.
And this is about the most useful little bit of advice i’ve ever heard:
“Life has a gap in it… It just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it.”
-Geraldine, Take this Waltz
(Which is how the trees and their emptiness gets translated to English i think.)
Ps. I like blue skies too.
Tea and up-with-the-sun friday morning accompanied by a foggy feeling between my eyes and the amazing slow-motioning movements of the mind. It’s caught in a sticky web from some dream of last night that wasn’t bad.
Yellow blanket wrapped around body as i sit in a big dining room chair that isn’t mine-
paying the price for liking to sleep in a fourteen degree house. But what a sleep.
And this blanket (it’s so loafy to sit around in a blanket, i never do that, preferring to waste time less obviously) and this long morning is an ode to the beginning of the declared month of slowing.
And then you know what happened? This sun did. And slowness got bright and we are alive.
On the full hunger moon, may you listen to your heart and hear its stirrings clearly, crisply. Thats what this moon is for; wondering about those things that we yearn for, i think-deeper than any yearning so far.
And may your heart convene with the rest of world and may the path light up or spill open before you.
I think we have to be quiet in order to hear, and not think, and unplug, and not even feel, and not distract, and not focus too hard either , but just be, like space.
Your heart is perfect. It knows everything!