Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I had been proud of my awareness, aware of my pride, and proud of that awareness again. It went on like this: How clever I am that I know I am so stupid, how stupid I am to think that I am clever, and how clever I am that I am aware of my stupidity etc.

Janwillem van de WeteringThe Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery


Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Image Source: Zen Masters

Walking. With Jack Kerouac.

5:50 am. 35° F.  299 consecutive days. In a row. Cove Island Park. Daybreak morning walk.

Three cars in the parking lot. Mine. A pick-up, with its occupant with a baseball cap over his eyes, car running.  And her subcompact Subaru, hatchback up.  It’s dusk, but I can see into the boot. Overflowing. Blankets. Boots. Boxes. Some spilled to the ground. Homeless? Living out of her car?

Late 60’s. She’s struggling to put on snow pants, one hand leaning against the car to keep balance.  She catches me staring.  “Good Morning,” I offer. She replies in kind. I turn away.  Give her her space. 

I walk.

I can’t shake the image. Alone? Lonely? Cold? Hungry? 

Warm morning, quiet, windless. Now, Heavy. It would have been easier to stomach if she was male and younger.

Mary Oliver: When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, or splashes into the cold river, or pushes through the ice-crusted snow.  Anything that touches.

I walk.

299 days. In a row. And I’ve not encountered this. I’m on the backside of my loop, and there She is. Left hand swinging a metal detector in a wide arc. Her headphones, over her blue wool hat, listening for the cackle of buried metal.  She stops, pokes at the dirt with her pole and keeps moving between the rocks on the shoreline.

I swing my camera from my right shoulder into position. Adjust the focus, once, and then again, and again. I slide my index finger to the shutter button, where it lingers for a split second; in that same split second, the metal detector rests, and she’s now staring at me through my camera viewfinder, through the long zoom lens, her face, her eyes, all bearing down on me. Damn!

She lifts the metal detector and continues — swinging the metal detector in a smooth, quarter moon arc, now with her back to me.  Myopic? Nearsighted? Has to be. No, she must have seen me.  [Read more…]

Driving I-95 North. T.G.I.F. (Almost)

 

5:29 a.m.
Cruising down I-95.
Left lane open as far as the eye can see.
David Sanborn is blowing his Sax with The Dream.
Waze estimates 21 minutes to the office.
I put Sanborn on repeat. Wish I could play the Sax. Or have the talent to play any damn thing.
I arrive 2 minutes early.
Building is quiet but for the shuffling of the Security Guards an hour from a shift change.
Floor is silent but for the buzz of the overhead lights.
I get settled.
And get after the backlog of emails.
No phone calls. No meetings. No interruptions.
I glance at my watch, 90 minutes. Wow. And, Mailbox Zero achieved.
I lean back in my chair. Close my eyes.
It’s going to be a good day. No, it’s going to be a Great Day!
I stand up to stretch.
Take a few steps around my office. Something is off.
Take a few more steps. There’s an imbalance here.
I look down, and the buckle on my right shoe has detached and is flopping from side to side.

I check my calendar to see how many meetings I have outside of my office. Too many.

I walk to meetings. I’m lopsided. Clasp is banging from one side to the other. I can feel their eyes on my shoes.

I walk back to my office. Like a horse training for dressage, foot up, pause, trying to avoid the swinging of the buckle. This can’t go on much longer. [Read more…]

there’s something in us that calls to us, that pulls us out the door


Here is entry number 208: ‘I was out walking one night in busy streets of Glasgow when, with slow majesty, at a corner where the pedestrians were hurrying by and the city traffic was hurtling on its way, the air was filled with heavenly music, and an all-encompassing light, that moved in waves of luminous colour, outshone the brightness of the lighted streets. I stood still, filled with a strange peace and joy … until I found myself in the everyday world again with a strange access of gladness and of love…’

Psychologists and psychiatrists are moving from their traditional hostility to ecstasy to an understanding that it’s often good for us. Much of our personality is made up of attitudes that are usually subconscious. We drag around buried trauma, guilt, feelings of low self-worth. In moments of ecstasy, the threshold of consciousness is lowered, people encounter these subconscious attitudes, and are able to step outside of them. They can feel a deep sense of love for themselves and others, which can heal them at a deep level. Maybe this is just an opening to the subconscious, maybe it’s a connection to a higher dimension of spirit – we don’t know…Ultimately, there’s something in us that calls to us, that pulls us out the door. Let’s find out where it leads.

~ Jules Evans, excerpts from Dissolving the EgoYou don’t need drugs or a church for an ecstatic experience that helps transcend the self and connect to something bigger (Aeon Essays, June 26, 2017). Adapted from his new book: “The Art of Losing Control: A Philosopher’s Search for Ecstatic Experience” (April 25, 2017)


Photo: Brian Travelling. Photo of South Frederick Street in Glasgow

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

hossein-zare-which-one-ladders-climb-learn

Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

~ Ryan Holiday, excerpt from his new book “Ego is the Enemy” published June, 2016.


Notes:

 

 

that hot itch of indignation

olena kassian drawings dressing 1, 36- x 36-

In this era of information overload and PC, authenticity is a beacon which cuts through the din.  Here’s Sandy Wyatt with an excerpt from her wonderful post titled The Hot Itch:

The daze turned to anger before I left the parking lot.  Are we in the Middle Ages, I fumed.  What was next?  Burning at the stake?  Dousing?…I met with my meditation group later in the day and felt righteous satisfaction in their outrage as I told the story.  It’s a hot itch, indignation.  It gets under the skin and festers. So, as we sat together in silence, I took a step back from what I was feeling.  I called up the part of me that observes my thrashing around with gentle curiosity.  What happened? I saw that I’m not as tolerant as I like to believe.  What does it matter anyway?  I tried to look a little deeper. My ego hates to be misunderstood.  It hates to be dismissed or categorized.  And it really hates to be discredited.  I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked to regain some functioning in the world.  Proud. Ah … If I could nudge my ego aside, there might even be A Teaching Moment. Coming home from meditation with my friends, I turned up the music and sang down the highway.  The ego is a stubborn little cuss.  Mine can be paranoid and hysterical if the mood is right.  Anything can offend it, and it defends itself with teeth and claws.  But, like a mediocre poker player, it has a tell—that hot itch of indignation.  When I feel that under my skin, I know it’s time to back up and look again.

I’m glad for that signal, and I’m glad I know what to do with it.

Thanks, Ego-Girl.  Keep raging.

~ Sandy Sue Wyatt, The Hot Itch


Drawing: Olena Kassian

And, Peace

painting,art,back,woman

If you could only keep quiet,
clear of memories and expectations,
you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events.
It is your restlessness that causes chaos.

— Nisargadatta


Credits: Quote – Here & Now. Bio for Nisargadatta. Thomas Saliot Painting via Art Sponge 

Replace the tape with a new one

NewImage

Michael Brown prompted the wheels to turn last night.
And the wheels on the bus go round and round.

The thing is, I could choose to replace the tape with a new one.”

But what tape is playing?
And what tape will be playing?
The Good Enough tune?
The Patience beat?
The Acceptance rap?
The Gratitude melody?
Or does a sharp gust of wind blow it over.
And scramble it all up.


Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over.
— Marjorie Celona, Y


Credits:

Sit Still

stephan vanfleteren portrait

“We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?…In Vipassana you concentrate on sensation in stillness, sitting down, not necessarily cross-legged, though most people do sit that way. And sitting without changing position, sitting still. As soon as you try to do this, you become aware of a connection between silence and stillness, noise and motion. No sooner are you sitting still than the body is eager to move, or at least to fidget. It grows uncomfortable. In the same way, no sooner is there silence than the mind is eager to talk. In fact we quickly appreciate that sound is movement: words move, music moves, through time. We use sound and movement to avoid the irksomeness of stasis. This is particularly true if you are in physical pain. You shift from foot to foot, you move from room to room. Sitting still, denying yourself physical movement, the mind’s instinctive reaction is to retreat into its normal buzzing monologue — hoping that focusing the mind elsewhere will relieve physical discomfort. This would normally be the case; normally, if ignored, the body would fidget and shift, to avoid accumulating tension. But on this occasion we are asking it to sit still while we think and, since it can’t fidget, it grows more and more tense and uncomfortable. Eventually, this discomfort forces the mind back from its chatter to the body. But finding only discomfort or even pain in the body, it again seeks to escape into language and thought. Back and forth from troubled mind to tormented body, things get worse and worse.  Silence, then, combined with stillness — the two are intimately related — invites us to observe the relationship between consciousness and the body, in movement and moving thought.”

~ Tim Parks, Inner Peace


This essay by Tim Parks is worth reading in its entirety.  You can find it at this link.  Parks references his book Cleaver in the essay.  The book was chosen as a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year.  It is one of the funniest novels that I have read.  You can read my review of Cleaver at this link.


Credits: Portrait of Phara De Aguirre by Stephan Vanfleteren. Quote: Inner Peace, Aeon Magazine

Half way home.

epictetus


Epictetus (AD 55–135) was a Greek sage and philosopher. He was born a slave in present day Turkey, and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life.   Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.  Suffering occurs from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, it is our duty to care for all our fellow men. Those who follow these precepts will achieve happiness and peace of mind.  (Source: Wiki)

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