I was standing in the kitchen of the outdated apartment we struggle to afford, injured dog across the main room looking out at me from his new crate hoping for potatoes, rubbing the pinched neck that was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.
My sense of time and what I’m running around doing with it, is a wee bit off.
While refreshing my Twitter feed incessantly, waiting to see what will come of the mid-term elections, I began going through WordPress subscriptions, checking on blogs I haven’t really been following, and updating subscription settings. Although I’ve never been one to ‘keep up’ via WordPress, there are a handful of blogs I read somewhat regularly, and a few bloggers whose stories I feel invested in. I was also following several blogs that fell dormant over the last few years, and I let most of them go.
One dormant blog I kept was full of beautiful photos I knew I’d want to see sometime again, and another was very plain, but the writing was straight-forward and honest in a way I admired. The thing about this second was, I wrote it?
That question mark is not a typo. Here’s what I wrote about the blog on Twitter, since I was there:
I just found an entire blog, many posts including more than a dozen memoir pages. I wrote all that, paused, then forgot about it? Entirely?
Then again, it was 2016.
It’s so strange reading pages like these, where I seem pretty clear about things I experience myself as having just figured out.
I’m fascinated. This woman was wrestling with confusion over appreciating some freedoms of being deeply neglected in childhood, and how that seems to have made a link between cultivating being neglected and having freedom?!
Haha, she’s pretty intense.
She was planning to be better to the people in her life, to explain herself more clearly-rather than blaming others for not seeing/knowing the obvious and acclimating to being misunderstood. I’ve done that, somewhat, but she still feels like a different person.
She’s a person I know, but not me.
I wonder who will understand what I mean by placing importance on the year 2016. What happened that year that might have shifted the blogger’s course so much, so suddenly?
I wonder if she would have finished the memoir if she’d kept going? Do I think it’s great, reading it now? In some ways, yes, it has strength and place. In other ways, I see she wasn’t ready.
Perhaps I should write and offer editing services.
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.
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...
“All feelings are positive”, says Jenny Lim, yet so often, by the time I even consider inquiry, fears and discomforts have whirled by feverishly, leaving a mess to attend to in their wake. The window in which to sort through what was felt in any systematic way has already closed, rendering such guidance quaint.
I did okay with it today.
I left work deflated, having been busy from start to finish, wrapping up a series of designs in what I felt was the most efficient way–only to be (albeit lightly) scolded just before leaving, for taking too long. It had suddenly gotten busy just as I’d gone off floor to wrap details. Still, I knew I’d balanced my time well, and that the other person was operating from a blind spot. If anything, they’d spent twice the time with their clients I had with mine, after having come in hours later.
Mind you, I have a lot of respect for this other designer, and know the nature of things when there aren’t enough people to manage a rush. Everyone is handling more than they can, so it’s hard not to think the next guy isn’t doing their part. I’ve definitely fallen into that pattern myself. Still, rather than feeling put upon, it would have been better to ask more detail about what I was working on. I’m fairly confident they would have comprehended the deadline more clearly, but even If not, I wouldn’t have felt quite so shot down in a flash at the end of an exhausting day.
Granted, there was a time I would have cried, and I didn’t, though I am tearing up a little while writing here. That’s progress. And maybe therapy is finally clicking, because a few hours after arriving home, after tea, I was calm enough to ask a few probing questions.
What emotion were you actually feeling? Disappointment. Looked over. Unsure whether it is worth trying to be heard. Why even try? Sadness (I tried my best and still didn’t meet expectations) Pride. **Don’t you know who I am?
This last one is funny, I guess. It’s the gist I boiled down from a longer rant about being taken for someone only capable of, or not even capable of, such a job. I realized how much I wish to be seen in a totality rather than as a body performing tasks. When I feel reduced in such a moment, especially by someone I’ve worked with a while, I’m especially sensitive and prone to catastrophizing.
If everything isn’t perfect, I jump to, “Oh no, I have to leave!”
Why is the discomfort so strong (disproportionate)? Fear. I fear this isn’t the right place for me. Simultaneously, I fear that this IS the right place for me, and I’ll leave prematurely just before things get better. It’s always so close to ‘getting it (life) right’.
There’s more, but you get the idea.
Hidden in the bundle also arose spiritual perfectionism. Looking at the attachment I feel to my role, not just as a ‘good designer’, I see myself taking being an excellent worker and colleague to be a fractal of mattering to/in the world on the whole. I get through my day by seeing what I’m doing as more than what it seems to be a lot of the time.
Perhaps I’m not holding my roles very lightly. “For Hongzhi the whole purpose of practice is to “graciously share yourself with the hundred grass tips [i.e., myriad beings] in the busy marketplace.””
-from “Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi” by Taigen Dan Leighton, Yi Wu
“Looking back, I guess I used to play-act all the time. For one thing, it meant I could live in a more interesting world than the one around me.”
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 dramas evoke emotion and meaning, so I haven’t been able to convince myself they lack value to my life and mind. Many are romantic, but not just; dominant themes are ethical quandaries and chosen family, amidst backstories that span multiple lifetimes. Distinct cultural paradigms. I love especially, exploring different ways of thinking about time, seeing how calculations play out iwhen characters buy into various conceptual measurements of what constitutes virtue and goodness.
It isn’t that there isn’t anything comparable, but very little in Western television resonates with me beyond ‘entertainment value’, whatever that is. When I talk to my therapist about the shows, as part of a ‘bundle of behaviors’ I get lodged into from time to time, she asks “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”
I reply with the answers I just gave, but there’s something else. She knows this and is waiting for my real answer. Me too.
My strongest childhood memories of television find me sitting on the floor of the great room of my elementary school, the space filling and emptying around me. Captain Kangaroo. Feelings around being the first one dropped off to school or the last one picked up, watching the teachers watching the door. The impressions are strong, even though this might not have happened often.
During weekends at home, Shirley Temple was often on TV, Tarzan, sometimes Fred Astaire at night. Astaire in fact, became my first crush, so much so that I teased my ex-husband about choosing him for the Fred shape of his head. I still love songs from those musicals, still feel happiest wearing long flowing dresses that swish and move in time, while as an adult, viewing the productions through a more critical eye. A child doesn’t ask themself what or who is missing from a story, or why.
Shall we dance Or keep on moping? Shall we dance Or walk on air? Shall we give in To despair Or shall we dance with never a care…
Later, my mother would have me videotape soap operas when I got home from school, so she could watch them after work in the evenings. Neither of us could program the VCR program to record correctly, and if I watched, I could edit commercials. I’m not sure if she asked me to do that, or if I liked them; it was more like second-hand smoke.
Saturday morning cartoons were a big thing, for other kids. While staying with a friend I paced restlessly as she watched her favorite show, tortured because she lived in an apartment building with a big pool I’d woken excited to get into right away. Speed Racer broke through the cartoon barrier eventually, though I can’t place what it was that caught my interest enough to wake a full hour early to watch the show before Jr High. The Japanese creator of the manga Mach GoGoGo, self-taught artist Tatsuo Yoshida, was inspired by Elvis and James Bond movies, which makes perfect sense. It was definitely a vibe. I wouldn’t want to watch it now, nor tamper with the early memories.
As soon as I moved out on my own (for certain values of my own), I traded soap operas for CSpan and BookTV, making efficient use of time. There was such an urgency I felt, to become someone of substance! And for the most part, I kept to that going forward, gravitating toward what I could justify as enrichment, with the kids once they arrived, as well. We watched animal and science shows, and there were long periods in which we didn’t have a TV at all, or where I closed it behind cabinet doors, restricting hours it could be on.
As I write this, I realize I may have strongly factored the influence of TV when sleuthing out reasons my mother was depressed, and later, suicidal. Alongside soap operas came Phil Donahue then Oprah, and she, like many mothers then, began to talk about childhood wounds and injustices more, and more dramatically. There was more crying, more shopping and debt. Arguments with my step-father intensified. My sister was born.
Always interested in biographies of suffering, I believe my mother couldn’t always tell the difference between her own stories and the stories she read, then the interviews she watched on TV. She began to re-frame her own narratives with those others in mind; I was captive audience for tales I couldn’t process. Terrible decisions to come would be justified by past-life regressions she learned about through Shirley McClain. Thanks, Oprah. Then, pendulum swinging the other direction, televangelists entered the scene.
No wonder my relationship with TV is so charged! These days my mother watches Fox News for hours, and ways in which I think and live differently are taken as attacks. There’s nothing we can say to one another, although with distance, compassion for her overall suffering is more present. The sleuthing energy is not needed to protect myself anymore, but for inquiry and exploration. Hopefully that exploration becomes increasingly generous, ever more transformative.
Hm. I’ve unexpectedly written into another layer of answer to my therapist’s question “What is it that you are getting from them, that you are not finding elsewhere?”
There is integration and healing going on.
I mean, take the show I watched a few episodes of last night, Our Blues. It’s melancholy, and I’m affected by how direct-facing and sad, yet beautifully too, the relationships are portrayed. Older actors express the disillusionment of aging… accepting one is not getting back some things they’ve lost, not going to become most things they dreamed of becoming. This, alongside of bright youthful memories.
There’s a phrase a wise friend introduced me to: nostalgia for the present. Even our brightest memories are not complete; if they were, they wouldn’t be quite so bright. There are angles we edit to isolate the strongest dose of what’s desired in any given moment as we flip through the channels, remixing impressions. Nostalgia for the presentsees that it isn’t really the past, or redoing of the past one is craving. It’s always about genuine peace with the present, ‘the (current) whole catastrophe’. It’s okay to feel more than one thing at once. In fact we must.
There’s a story to continue to tell here, about the other side of the coin re permeable boundaries, mandalas of connection, and how to love, even so.
I’m surprised! It’s been over a week since I wrote the previous entry, during which time I’ve listened to several Vajrayana related audio books–a few multiple times. Not all the lessons (mostly talks given during retreats) hit me the way Bliss of Inner Fire did, but understanding feels to have taken a leap, integrating the disparate knowledge too easily left in piles all over my mind.
Integrated knowledge comes with such feeling of relief! So much that seemed wasted or lost reveals itself as quite there, within a larger vision. All is re-contextualized as the mandala mosaic finds its flow again.
Energy is freed!
I’m so glad that although it seems indulgent to hunker down into binge mode with these books, I’ve continued. The freed energy contains its own will to follow through, and understands how best to concentrate those efforts. Now, to let it.
A few years ago, I changed strategies about spiritual practice, frustrated with what I labeled my obsessive and indulgent tendencies: staying in learning mode and not ‘doing anything with’ what I’d been learning. But I wonder now, whether that shift was unwise, untrusting of intuition. “Not doing anything with” is a judgement made by someone on the outside, not actually what I believe to be true.
The critical voice has lessened with meditative spacious and therapy, yet I do survey the landscape from time to time, grieve what has been forfeited in pursuit of its pacification. I ask, What would someone who loves me, say? She would say that although my process may not look like that of others, it is worthy nonetheless.
When things come together and open, I’m reminded how fortunate I am, to be on the path I’m on… that even dropped in the middle of a family that could be hellish and frightening, abandoning and cruel, my aspiration stubbornly leans toward compassion, practices of love and bliss and goodness.
From the corner of a room where my mother’s body lay beaten, I wrote this poem.
French doors frame a trapped child frozen In an instant.
Soul split, I walked away, leaving in tact the rest I now return for, with a pen.
The above was written over 30 years ago, dropped whole onto the page. I then read it, realized it was true. Writing has always been integrating, healing. Fortunate are those given (nod to Pullman) a subtle knife.