I was standing in the kitchen of the outdated apartment we struggle to afford, injured dog across the main room looking out at me from his new crate hoping for potatoes, rubbing the pinched neck that was my pinched back a few days ago and getting ready for a job that like all jobs, I both love and loathe (and need even more than I did before taking said dog to the Vet), when I found myself smiling, bubbles of “I love my life” permeating the air.
It made no sense, wonderfully, and that no-sense reminded me ~ spaciousness is always available. There is always room. One doesn’t have to pretend that things aren’t hard when they’re hard, or that there aren’t worries when there are. But that’s not all there is.
In celebration, here are a few more photos of Fairchild Gardens. 🙂
Four in the morning. I’m listening to an audio book titled Stolen Focus in hopes that something will get through my thick skull about the way I draw my world. I’m anxious tonight because the dog seems injured (vet tomorrow), and because I’ve just done a search for apartment prices, not just in my area but in several areas I’d be willing to move to. They’re all out of our range, but here the carpets they won’t remove are adding into intense allergic symptoms my son is having and our continual colds.
It feels so discouraging at times. Fear arises as I try to envision the future and locate better ways to approach things. I realize anew, that most choices are not personal choices; there are always many factors and players. I take responsibility simply because it is mentally healthier to do so, not because that’s accurate. Something whispers, “Since this world and they way you live in it isn’t accurate anyway, why not try some weird new angles?” I wonder what those would be.
There’s a bright sun patch in the photo I’ve posted, taken at Fairchild Gardens a few days ago before I threw out my back and dropped a large metal pole on my foot. There was a rare cool breeze in Miami that afternoon, and I needed to integrate an especially insightful therapy appointment in which I had shared another “mom dream.”
In the dream my mother is seated in the driver’s seat of a car, a station wagon type vehicle with a trunk on top. The car is full, presumably with my sister and her family, and I am trying to fit myself into a large bag of raked leaves in that trunk. The issue is, my foot keeps slipping on the leaves, all quite large, as they fall out of the bag. I notice no one is trying to help me, nor will they look at me. I notice the bumpy path they are about to take will move them through a dry creek, and that the bag certainly won’t be able to stay on the car, even and especially if I insist on getting in.
I stop struggling, and wake without distress, surprised to have dreamed about them at all. It really is the case that grief has dissipated generally.
I interpreted the dream as being about resources. Perhaps the leaves were money? And perhaps I needed to see yet again, that they are not concerned about me, are not going to be anytime soon. Let them leave.
Dr. W. asked me to see the bright spots in the metaphors, though. She called attention to my trying to climb on top of the situation, asked me to give myself credit for that. She reminded me that leaves are also pages, and that my primary mode of healing is writing.
The assignment I was given was to write more about the dream, but instead I got myself to the gardens which were, as you can see from the photo above, overflowing with leaves. The effect of our short cold snap had been an Autumn out of time.
15 days until the end of the year. The usual momentum has taken hold of me to wrap things up, or play as wrapping things up, so I’ve washed the car, sorted through things and gathered donations, and begun the list of 100 accomplishments a friend first sparked me to begin quite a few years ago now. ♥︎
What’s interesting about the list is that what ends up on it are not often the things I strongly set out to accomplish or plan with timelines and detail. It’s more accurate to call my list 100 Appreciations.
There are a few notable patterns this year, ways in which I’ve stepped out of my usual groove, going to more events for instance. I was at the Lady Gaga show that a massive lightning storm disrupted, ending it early and sending a stadium full of people into common wings to sing and pray for the show to go on–to which the universe responded a resounding NO.
I was with one of my grown kids that night, who kept remarking that even with the shortening of the show everything was wonderful–our first grown-up concert together! After years of contraction and concern how could we feel anything but happy and grateful? We were good about masks and thankfully stayed healthy.
And I attended a poetry/comedy show with friends that was in itself an answer to prayer, as ALOK would list their upcoming shows on social media and I would wish “Miami, Miami…”, until one day the date appeared. I invited friends, and for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long, we lingered and laughed and overshared like crazy until forced to call it a night.
If you have never listened to nor encountered Alok Vaid-Menon, it is well worth your energy to do so. Although I fall into the ally category when it comes to transgender rights and activism, and believe myself rather educated on the topic when comparing myself to peers, I’ve learned that my knowledge base is actually quite shallow, and not to give myself too much credit for minimal apprehension.
While it has intellectually seemed a no-brainer to me that if even the heavenly ideal is “no male nor female no bound nor free”, getting stuck in gender binary thinking is an error, my notions can still be unnecessarily limited. Much like praising a melting pot rather than honoring unique individuals by allowing them to tell their own stories, and listening, my ideas have often reflected my own conditioned and consciously chosen preferences.
This year Rubin Museum also focused on an exhibit on site and via SMS which highlighted Buddhist figures that are understood as being ‘beyond’ yet appear as myriad forms. The same quality and name can be represented by a so-called female or male form. Then of course there are the unions of deities who exude qualities as one/both/neither.
What I’m saying is that there’s plenty of room for further understanding.
And last weekend during a holiday visit with my oldest we went to see the musical Hadestown! The show was full of powerful performances and had the intimate feeling of being in a hidden improvisational Jazz bar. Here’s a little animation someone made, highlighting one of the songs:
As for the rest of my list, and patterns I noticed, there were smaller trips too/getting out more, although no real travel in 2022… a famous local farmers’ market I’d never visited before, new vegan restaurants, knitting groups, scattered between lots of work and recovery from work, lots of plugging away at building my repertoire of healthy meals, lots of reading, therapy, and importantly, real attention to the Vajrayana practices I began this year. I’m probably most pleased with that renewal and deepening those commitments,.
Goodness, it seems like a lot when I type it all out (especially since this is surface scratching!), and I guess that’s part of the point of making time to list those 100 things.
It’s so easy for time to go by in a blur and for the aspirations one nurtured carefully to nonetheless fade into background. Some years, that blur is okay, quite natural. Then there are years like this one, where acknowledging the *so much happening* in my little ecosystem encourages hopefulness–energy to wake and be at ‘it all’ again for as long as I’m given to do so.
P.S. Why is WordPress giving me a prompt when I hit the WRITE button? I generally come here when my own thoughts move me, so that was a little strange.
I’ve long been drawn to the biblical story of Mary and Martha, to contrasting characters’ modes of action. I think of myself as having strong Mary tendencies while admiring Martha-type industriousness from a far, but many who know me in daily life might disagree.
Anyway, these two came to mind because with sudden urgency I went plundering a decade’s worth of emails last night, looking for the Buddhist refuge name I’d shared with just one friend. (I’ve taken on practices more comfortable than any in ages, so it seemed right to search for ‘my name’ as a locator…part of a set of coordinates, if you will.)
I’m turning 52. When I took refuge 12 years ago, my name was written on a small card I promptly lost. The meaning of the name was written on the card as well, but I couldn’t read it and was too shy to ask clarification.
Thankfully, although I couldn’t find it, my friend could. 🙂 It’s a funny name really; it’s visual representation would be something like this:
A note I happened upon when searching, regarded the Mary and Martha story. In it, the same wise friend shared the sensibility that we’re both Mary and Martha at different times in our lives, or, he said, “More accurately, we are always both Mary and Martha.” They may be presented as a contrast, but are not truly in competition.
I didn’t see this simple truth when first given this name, I felt I had to not place much importance on what I thought of as trappings of the journey I was embarking on. I was untrusting of myself, suspicious of falling into similar cult-like ‘obedience and conformity’ behaviors as I’d experienced in churches when young. Praise from elders and connection within groups is a deep longing for those who yearn for family, and the idea of available love can be very seductive. Thankfully, something in me always kept some light of questioning, even back then.
[In a a vivid dream of walking down a busy highway with Jesus, I turned to ‘evangelize’ to a group of ‘unsaved’ people my age, Jesus didn’t. When I noticed and looked back, he was still walking, so I abandoned course and jogged to catch up with him instead. It took me weeks to come to the conclusion that I had to question, even go against, what my church was urging. I’d prided myself then, as many seem to now, on being willing to go so far as to embarrass myself ‘for my faith’. Many can recognize this when they see it from others, especially in political buffoonery, but don’t most religions have some version of killing ego? ]
My rebelliousness, what my ex-husband called my feralness, won out. Perhaps the Lama could see that as the case? I like to think now, that he picked up on an underlying ferocious when he chose the name. 😉
“Emptiness and appearance do not negate each other. Just like a rainbow can appear, but doesn’t have to have truly existing entity. Knowing this true nature of all phenomenon is the darshan of Manjushri.” -Dzongzar Kyentse Rinpoche
I described to my therapist the feeling when, after waiting and waiting, with many buses stopping and going, a bus finally approaches that seems to be your bus. The numbers are fuzzy but there are the right number of digits. Then, those digits slowly take shape; their edges become clearer. It’s within this context that I’m willing and happy to take on more structured practices now. It isn’t performative, and if it’s just for a time again, that’s okay.
Speaking of names (I’ve mentioned this before), I work across the street from the bus stop a boyfriend wrote as the setting in ‘our song’. The lyrics describe our second meeting, two years before we became involved–a very long time when young: “Won’t you be my friend, and tell me, what’s your name? Won’t you be my friend, don’t turn and walk away. Won’t you be my friend, believe me when I say, I have hopes that some day we’ll meet again.”
He was a lovely person, and although the relationship lasted a blink, the bus stop is a daily reminder to me that auspicious timing is worth waiting for, and names can be like signs over the doorposts of life chapters. When I later met my (now ex) husband, I asked him jokingly “Don’t you know who I am?” He startled, believing I might be someone ‘important’, which indeed I became to him.
So many worlds in play, none of them ‘me’, Who May be sitting in a garden somewhere, Under a tree.
Waking while dreaming another family related dream. Why now? This time I was visiting my sister and her husband. I arrived wearing clothing very far from my wheelhouse: white faux fur coat, boots, and perfectly curled high-volume hair. I was greeted very warmly by them… except that everything I touched had to be erased right as I touched it, so that my mother wouldn’t have any idea I’d been there or that they’d treated me nicely. When I mentioned something about this, as my nephew handled something I’d either given him or was mine (not sure), my sister behaved as though it was very offensive to point out the obvious.
I love the way dreams spell out true things, things one knows but isn’t saying. In this case how I was welcomed by my family as long as I played along, as long as I behaved as a polite outsider without stakes in anyone speaking in truthful ways about past, present, or future. It was often the case that I’d let my mother tell blatantly unreal stories that painted herself in a bright motherly light, only saying sometimes to my sister on the side, “It really didn’t happen that way.”
I always knew the price for not doing so. And I guess I always knew there would come a day when I would push back, when the cost for not doing so was too high. This happened when my grandfather died, years after my marriage falling apart, and I considered moving closer to them. I knew we’d either have to forge more honest balances, or that she’d be ‘done with me’ the first time I didn’t play along, which I could only do as a visitor, not as someone living nearby, interacting every day, being interdependent with them.
We know what occurred, which is the ‘done with me’ part, but the part I’m still working through is the role my sister played. I had my sister on a pedestal, I think, as someone who played the needed games better than I did, but who would eventually be my ‘surviving’ family. I saw her as the more resilient one, the more strategic one, but as someone who, having been through so much as a child, realized I was there for ‘all that’ too. I learned through this that she was quite happy to be the only child left standing in our mother’s life. Whether anger toward me was in service of the necessity of rejecting me, or its own thing, I’m not sure.
It’s quite a story really… out of five marriages and five children, the only one left for my mother is my sister, playing these games together, doing what’s needed to get what’s wanted. I can’t articulate the money part; it’s a big, but not the main, factor.
I don’t feel upset by all this on a daily basis now. I have thoughts that pass by and I think something along the lines that it would have been so beautiful to have figured out the balances… to have been valued and loved enough to have included as someone worthy of having their voice and stories heard, their real presence around, etc. I wonder about my niece and nephews, wonder if my sister or mother ever wonder about my kids, who they knew and pretended to love for decades. I wonder if I should feel badly for my kids not having the kind of family around them others have, or whether they are fortunate not to be entangled.
Again, as with my in-laws, I chose reality, and it didn’t go well for me.
But then again, it did. Eggshells are scarce, my health is a lot better, and so many things about who I am being are more okay.
I think the dream is saying that these patterns are still there, although I don’t feel them, and that they are working themselves out on their own. As long as I don’t suppress them, I think they’ll gently move their way through, allowing me to relax even places I don’t experience as tense and knotted. This will further help my health, further allow my energies to flow where they are welcomed and needed.
When these kinds of knots let go, one thing I’ve found happens is that I can see farther into what occurred and/or is occurring. I can see back into choices I made to counter one type of longing with another, one type of belief system or influence with either its opposite or complimentary. I am not a mastermind, as evidenced by the way these schemes didn’t work out ultimately, but when I think about what I was saying to my family by my choices, because I couldn’t be honest with my words, there was a lot of rejection of their ways. I was always finding ways to opt-out of their thinking, without expressly saying so. I was always introducing ‘other’ ways to see and do things. I raised my kids differently, without corporal punishment, etc.
This was actually my way of staying in their lives.
Is this why I was so dressed up? Was that how they saw me, coming in as a fancy outsider? I usually downplayed things so as not to trigger those accusations, back then, but I guess here I am myself, playful and “high volume” whether they give permission or not.
The wonderful thing is that the more these underground tensions release, the wider the sky seems to be, too. These are gentle shifts and explorations, not bothersome. When I woke this morning I said aloud, “Why still these dreams?” It felt like I was bored by them, rather than hurt by them.
I’m just not finding this carousel particularly interesting anymore.
The world is perceived as an apparent objective reality when the mind is externalized, thereby abandoning its identity with the Self. When the world is thus perceived the true nature of the Self is not revealed: conversely, when the Self is realized the world ceases to appear as an objective reality. -Ramana Maharashi | Indian sage
Fourth of July. Writing from bed because my back insists I not willpower my body into working the way others work, pushing the way others push. I didn’t do anything to injure myself; it was a simple day. Yet, by the fourth hour standing tears were breaking through–not even from the pain itself, but from my imagining dire consequences around not being able to continue, as though I’ve always done this, every day, rather than part time for the last three years. Although I’ve been considering a new role or change, I want to do so on my own terms this time.
A tendency toward catastrophizing, on the flip side generalizes personal experiences and puzzles as having much larger implications in the wider world. Yes, the personal is political, but the range can reach delusional degrees. “If I forgave my mother, would the threat of US fascism retreat?”
I am “always trying to save the world”, my grandfather would say, not as a compliment. But how can there be a difference between self-preservation and preserving one’s world? A sudden memory of him sometimes surprises me, like the day we walked around property he owned in Georgia, showing me what he intended I someday inherit. There were deer tracks running through the land, which I’d never seen before then, and I immediately began visioning out plans for the space. Excitedly, I told my mother that I would open a home for unwed mothers there. He changed his mind, of course. I wasn’t thinking of property values or neighbors. I was young. When he did pass away a few years ago now, the property he left came with lots of strings attached.
Someone I dated a few years ago:
[Him] You give money to causes and campaigns? I’d rather drive a nice car… [Me] I’d rather drive a crappy car and live in a nicer world...
I’ve doubted this tendency lately, have been suspicious of trying to be good, questioning my deeper intentions. But my therapist says that’s the product of looking to adults for love and validation, yet receiving criticism. If intention isn’t pure, that still doesn’t mean one should not follow a generous inclination. Questioning intentions can lead to greater sincerity.
Building on that, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing wrong with striving for excellence, or even goodness, but to expect perfection is to deny the very nature of our evolving humanity, of openness, of further possibility. It is to become critical, flaw-minded in a negative sense rather than a wabi-sabi appreciative one. One mustn’t turn on themself, abandon themself, even if that’s been modeled.
I remember being a little concerned that the Zen aesthetic I was drawn to could feed into perfectionistic propensities, once I recognized them. I felt thankful to see the opposite occur.
Although as a teen I developed intense stubbornness to show how little I could need or be hurt by someone withholding ‘things’ (by the time I left home at 18, my bedroom and closet were already nearly bare). I’m not afraid of having things, now, and don’t give away everything that comes to me. Back then, that space had been the only space I thought of as my own, and felt most powerful when it was empty.
That was then. Lately when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night, instead of shopping online, I make donations. There isn’t much I can do, but it feels good to try, and generates hope in a time in which it’s deeply important to be hopeful. Last night I happened upon a women/youth shelter, which linked into the memory of my early intentions well. The feeling of finding that shelter was is: closure. I can validate that early yearning and imagining toward saving my world, myself.
It’s difficult to describe how Buddhism helped me come into healthier distinctions, but I think in part it has to do with tantra, and the way one can experience so much on the level of intention and imagination. There is so much to love and appreciate across such an unfathomable range of possibility! There is so much space in things, after all, and so little is actually hindered in the ways I might conceive of when forgetful-of-true-nature.
As for my weak back, and the work that requires a strong one, I don’t know. I find myself writing and dreaming about, my family-of-origin more. Could it be that just as I feel safer having things, it feels safer to tell my stories, too?
P.S. The Maharshi quote at the top of this post came to me via a note Andrew Holocek sends out each night for those subscribed. I’ve only been receiving these for a few days, but it’s a lovely way to signal winding down for the night in a dreamy-minded way. https://nightclub.andrewholecek.com/
I’ve been experiencing such dread on Spanish Class days. Thanks to COVID and other challenges, I slid behind the rest of my group, and have struggled to make up the difference since then. I can handle not being ‘best in class’, but don’t like to be a drag.
I’m taking as my practice the backward step, what a good friend calls sheer appreciation. Even should I drop the class with just a week to go, it has oriented my view differently than before embarking, and has helped me to approach life in Miami with the enthusiasm of viable learning curve and endless opportunities. I turn my attention from the content of the painting, to the paint itself, appreciating a wider, less time-ordered view.
It’s okay to evaluate and revisit a goal, but if one forgets appreciation within that, the goal, meant to be one part of a complex universe of relationships and connections, becomes a sticky web.
In practicing open awareness, I’ve found it helpful to think of existence—the entire play of sounds and thoughts and bodies and trees—as the foreground of life, and awareness as the background.
In the Zen tradition, the shift from focusing on the foreground of experience to resting in pure being is called “the backward step.” Whenever we step out of thought or emotional reactivity and remember the presence that’s here, we’re taking the backward step.
If we wake up out of a confining story of who we are and reconnect with our essential awareness, we’re taking the backward step. When our attention shifts from a narrow fixation on any object—sound, sensation, thought—and recognizes the awake space that holds everything, we’re taking the backward step. We come to this realization when there is nowhere else to step. No anything. We’ve relaxed back into the immensity and silence of awareness itself.
By contrast, the feeling of ‘endless opportunities’ is the opposite of what’s been going on with my work as of late, not just due to management shifts and the loss of an important presence on the scene, but general plateau. I’m still learning, but haven’t shifted gears in a while. I’ve been wondering if this is the restlessness I’ve sometimes felt intuitively, signaling a change of wind direction or something new out on an edge. I can appreciate this open question.
From this stance, I found myself captivated by one of the writer George Saunders’ [excellent!] “Story Club” emails. In it, he described ten ways of approaching endings.
Another way I’ve talked about this is that we want to always be escalating, even into its last lines. So, I’ll spend a little extra time goofing with the ending, sort of, you know, Rubik’s-cubing it, trying to see if I can get just a little more light into it. I’m thinking something like, “Dear story, do you have anything else you want to tell me?’
This is where I’m at with my work in the store, Rubik’s-cubing it. Not a bad approach when dealing with restless edge states. And the idea of tweaking, playing, and backing up to open up to new meanings, brings to mind the Beatles documentary that came out during the last few years. I highly recommend it. Most of the promos rightly center around a fascinating moment when Paul is just playing, like a child in a bathtub plays with sounds and toys, and out of that comes Get back.. get back.. get back to where you once belonged...
From Tuesday afternoon until Friday night, I slept, then Friday night through Sunday, attended an online (Dzogchen) retreat. Today, Monday, I’ve spent restless, neither sleeping nor awake, neither up nor down, watching snippets of things on my computer, half interested. I should be studying Spanish, but feel blurry-minded.
[ Entry: The week of our Covid-19, 2022. ]
Honestly, I’m already looking back on the retreat time, acknowledging the opportunity with a sense of importance and awe, although certainly, I wasn’t able to live up to what I’d envisioned my part of things to be: meditating in between sessions, taking contemplative walks. Quite ill, I had to make an on-the-spot exception, choosing to believe that given my situation, the teachers would have permitted my dizzy slouchy attendance.
At some point one of the Rinpoches did ask those in attendance not to take formalities lightly, not to lean back lazily listening. I was laying on my side as he said this, contemplating the ethics of recording the teachings, my eyes struggling to stay open, stomach cramping. They couldn’t see me, but in that moment I thought, even if they can, let’s just be really real. As my therapist says, life is “Come as you are.”
There’s a discussion to be had about accessibility, but this is a good example of why practitioners are encouraged to meet with teachers individually, address particularities and receive permissions in line with unique aptitudes and situations [a la skillful means].
In any event, I’m glad I made the call to attend; drowsiness and all, it was truly wonderful, and interestingly, my condition may have rendered me more receptive than otherwise. No temptation to multitask nor worry about what needed to be done in the apartment (there was plenty), I lapsed from time to time into vivid little dreams animating what was being transmitted, letting the boundaries blur until ‘I’ was neither here nor there.
It was especially interesting to lose myself into dynamics of translation, where it was sometimes impossible to see where translator left off and teacher began. The process was just so easy and wide open, not like work being done. I’ve experienced this a rare few times… ‘no doubt’ within some relationship dynamic; it can be close to the experience of creative flows one can’t consciously recognize until looking back, like “Man, where was I!?”
It was a loving retreat, focused precisely where my last blog post left off: timelessly luminous nature of mind.
After we closed, I fell asleep listening to a beautiful White Tara Lunar yoga nidra ritual through Tibet House US, feeling cradled and soft. Tara has been active in my awareness persistently for a few weeks now, as Green Tara in a sadhana shared by a friend where I also learned the Condensed Praises; as a friend at work by the same name who has been helping bring more awareness to the way I treat my body with food; to this practice; to happening upon another Lama suggesting Tara practices when praying for Ukraine, earlier in the day. Ah, and actually a few weeks ago I went into Second Life, showing the Green Tara Temple to another friend, and meditated there.
It’s funny to me that my friend Tara is not only not Buddhist, but doesn’t seem to have even referential knowledge of Buddha Tara. It reminds me how disparate our worlds can be, even as people who occupy the same city, job, age group, etc. I made a little comment once, that she was a buddha for me (I’ve learned a lot from her at work as well), and her face hardened a bit, not complimented, so I’ve never brought it up again, although we did have a nice conversation about faith in general.
I think she considers my Buddhism to be ‘belief’ in Buddha the way many Christians would say they ‘believe’ in Jesus. And that’s fine with me, for her to think that. Who am I to say it isn’t, anyway.
A strange thing has happened now that tossing and turning has fallen away from nighttime explorations; I find myself reliving alternate scenarios such as “What if married life with G had taken this turn?” Last night, I was the one working more, coming home to be shown our baby’s head lifting up with strength for the first time, other things. The dream was bright, not magical, but there was contentment.
When I have these dreams, there is often then residue of other dreams remembered, fragments of scenarios wherein I see my true wishes and have a chance to play them out, even if just a bit. They become experiences I have had, therefore are in a different category from pie-in-the-sky wishes. These desires genuinely feel sort of checked-off, although not fitting into what the circumstances of my life say is true.
Exploring virtual worlds was like this, too. Had I kept a journal then, I could have written that I began the day with a morning balloon ride before landing in a field of flowers where a deep international discussion ensued. I could have described dancing in outer space with someone who felt familiar, but I didn’t know, just as I might recount a dream. These accounts would have been true, suspending so-called knowledge that neither balloon nor flowers were real balloon and flowers. But what is real?
In some ways, those experiences felt more real, exactly because of the layer of true-knowing that they weren’t. That’s hard to describe, but neuroscience so far concurs that vivid imaginations and memories can weigh as much, matter as much–if not more–as so-called real life happenings, when it comes to our day to day responses and choices.
I believe we are less alive and awake in our lives when we forget what we’re experiencing at any given time, is not the whole truth. What we know about one another’s intentions, wrapped up in past experience and read-outs of such, is a story we’re actively telling that would disappear if we stopped actively telling it. So really, we have a great deal of freedom.
The starkest of my recent nighttime dreams remains that of mourning my grandfather’s death alongside my mother and sister, generating care and okay-ness, moving into a next, more loving phase of life together. That’s not the scenario that played out, but it has brought me comfort to go back to that dream, and that dreaming self, and say “I see you.”
When accused of ill intentions, or when I imagine that I’m accused of such, there is a deeply rooted knowing there, reminding me of what I really aspire toward when my guard is all the way down, which is love. Forgiveness too, yes, within that, but not a keep-the-fragile-peace forgiveness: an honest forgiveness, wherein people who love each other love each other in full view of failures and misunderstandings and doubts, as well as victories and reliefs and good works/intentions. Who wish each other well, even-or-especially in ways that don’t benefit our (material) selves.
One reason so much spaciousness occurred when my mother exited is precisely that the shaky ground which kept me on-guard all the time, finally just gave way as I feared. Which doesn’t mean I wanted it that way.
For a long time I couldn’t look objectively at my background, because to do so would make it very hard to continue that relationship without some kind of acknowledgement–not for the acknowledgement itself, but what the acknowledgement would mean for our future. Since then, I’ve been able to see that choices had already been made, to build a new life and backstory my existence contradicts; love for me might indeed require risking that construction. Judging by the way I’ve so far kept specifics mostly to myself however, only willingness to risk would be required.
None of this means love itself isn’t possible. Indeed suffering occurs when I try to deny love its place. I want to let love have expression, even when I don’t understand, even when I want to cry “Unfair! Unfair!” Leaving aside individual responses to particular situations in moments which arise, in general, I have to be on love’s side to be happy.
I’m reminded that during my first real therapy sessions, when (the first) Dr. W tried to take me through visualizations of support, building layers of ground beneath me, I still couldn’t find stability. Something insisted on holding out for The Real Deal. Those visualizations indeed turned out to be a kind of priming before the insight of groundlessness took precedence.
“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” ”
― Chögyam Trungpa
Is there a chance the current wish-fulfilling dreams point to something yet deeper as well? What is the territory I’m actually meant to explore? Buddhism loves the concept of the wish-fulfilling gem, which I’ve taken to be (the mind of) Naturally Occurring Timeless Awareness, a la Longchenpa. These dreams may themselves act as objects of meditation, or taken together, as a singular koan.
“Naturally occurring timeless awareness—utterly lucid awakened mind— is something marvelous and superb, primordially and spontaneously present.
It is the treasury from which comes the universe of appearances and possibilities, whether of samsara or nirvana.
Homage to the unwavering state, free of elaborations.”
The loop messages have been playing at high quality, as though a layer has been sloughed off, leaving programming clearly exposed. This time, it isn’t a critical voice, but an even more constant beat, surely affecting the rhythm patterns of movements and breath overall. I hadn’t realized this further layer before, perhaps because when I compare what it was like “before”, mind is deeply open and quiet much of the time. Sill, it feels great to notice the minuscule skips. When the loop is exposed so well I can, as though undoing a mistake in a knitting pattern, easily reach my needle in to release it.
The most common loop I’m picking up on? “I’m tired.” I’m not even tired half the time I notice this! And there’s the feel of a shield of some sort, likely deflecting the previously-expected critical voice that dropped away. So far, I’m able to stop to ask “Am I, actually, tired?” Or sometimes, more accurately, “Are you?” “Who are you, saying you are tired all the time, anyway?” “Let’s teach you some new tricks. What’s more fun to say?” More fun than “I’m tired” is “I’m happy”, for instance.
If I am tired, I might still ask “Who are you talking to?” Is there someone (in memories) I’m trying to get not to exhaust me further, someone I wish would allow more space, rest? What if I offer that? Even just being willing to let go is relief.
Speaking of new tricks and phrases, I had a few ‘proud of myself’ Spanish moments in the store today. An older couple beamed at my attempts to help in their more comfortable language. My heart was so moved by their appreciation. Overhearing the exchange, a co-worker praised our attempts to understand each other as well, adding that she likes to hear the way I use English… “so many different words.” When this coworker was growing up in Nicaragua, no one took much time to help her along, so she too feels limited and is learning from our diverse Miami community, where so many Spanishes are spoken.
Her compliments, and the story behind them, sparked a pause as I reflected on neglectful periods of my own upbringing. There’s certainly a case to be made for my being left to my devices too much as a child, while at the same time, I managed to enjoy many enriched experiences and friendships along the way. I’m so thankful for an attentive early education, for instance. It wasn’t either/or.
A common thread through my journals is the difficulty of weaving contrasting narratives when one cares about being and becoming genuine. There aren’t many heroes or villains in my stories, but there are a few, and I’ve become capable of honest apology alongside becoming capable of giving difficult feedback when needed. Like learning knitting and Spanish and qigong all at once, capacities grow together.