31 December, 2007

The Silent Treatment pt.1

I am back early from my Vipassana meditation because I got sick and the fever that made the meditation very difficult. Although, I made it until the eighth day, but sadly missing the intense body vibrations that come those last two days. They said I could stay in bed there, take medication they would get for me, or go home. But the sleep deprivation from being in a noisy room was wearing me out. I was very reluctant to leave after already seeing some benefits. First of all, it was nothing like I expected. I arrived with some 4 boxes of tea as a gift, and told to wait outside for an hour. This man who greeted me, I immediately made note of his equanimous behavior towards me and the others. I met two guys outside while waiting, and all of us were awkwardly talked anticipating the unknown.
The men and women were separated in the hall, dining, grounds and at all times. The first dinner after checking in, I spent time talking to a Chinese/ Tibetan healer and his disciple client. He twisted each of my fingers and found the one that was more freer, he announced, “You have a liver problem.” I did not take this too seriously, because I just had a full blood panel done last month and it looks fine. He did inspire me not to eat the dinner saying that this is like the last supper and will make tomorrow more difficult. But all this helped me to feel like I am one of the gang that first evening. The first night, I had 12 men in my room ranging from 18 – 60, I became acutely aware listening to all in their sleep, either talking, moaning or tossing… that we all suffer. As I laid there that first night unable to sleep I tried wishing them well, falling asleep 3 hours later. Sure we all look fine in daylight, but at night it all comes out. When was the last time you spent a night in room with 12 people... not since camp, right? I was thinking it would dredge up all kinds of past hurts and disappointments, but the fact it was not so specific. In the process of concentrating the mind by watching the breath, and drifting thoughts all I could think about is those that helped me. I felt that several friends of mine are a Buddha, because of their role and compassion they have showed me. It only seemed long to meditate that first few days. Then the pain started and work. I enjoyed the 4 am wakeup gong, and each gong sounding. There were several rung simultaneously all around the camp in almost dead quiet setting before and after every meditation. The beautiful chime of the gong, kept repeating in my head at all different times. It was hauntingly nice. Walking down in the path in the moonlight, bundled up in early morn was beautiful, and I am not a morning person. I was embarking on a new insight into my mind. Arriving at the hall at 4:30, in low light darkness, and meditating until 6:30 was perhaps the best time all day for me. It became spiritual, meditating with 300 people in darkness knowing the world is awakening. This will inspire me to do this in my old age. I abandoned my flashlight that first day, feeling it was too artificial and spoiled the moment.
Upon completing this first meditation of the day we walk outside to watch the sun rise. It was as if we commanded to rise for us. Then enjoy our first meal of the day, hot oatmeal, and fruits and tea. We meditate again starting an ending each time hearing Pali chants of good will and Buddha teachings, all of which are translated by the teacher in dharma talks at night at the end of day. I did not find having no food after 12 noon a problem, and even asked my teacher if I should decline the 5pm fruits offered with the tea. I drank the honey ginger tea adding lemon juice and cayenne to clean my system. I knew this work would be hard on my body. Constantly moving my leg positions, because of my knee injury that became worse and so swollen. I had to meditate in a chair the remaining time there, a first, that helped to remind me that everything changes in life.
On the third day, I wished love on all those around me trying to help me work on this heavy meditation while focusing the mind on a smaller area below the nose. We did break almost every hour, to walk and stretch. One break in the morning I saw some signs of he mind sharpening noticing the beauty of a slight breeze on small weed stalks. It left me mesmerized like on an acid trip. I did not find it hard to not talk, by my hyper-vigilance caused by my loss of sensation on left side made me look around more than they would have liked violating the noble silence. They never talked to me about this but I did mention to my teacher when approached in the evening my brain injury caused me to develop other heightened senses. I thought I should wear blinders, and realized there why monks used to wear hoods.

On the third day of watching my breath, I did have one quick moment of dissolving into white space and back into my body. Meanwhile, I found tears flowing from my eyes during meditation. No sobs or other signs of being upset, just a natural way of cleansing your deep soul. And it was never related to any one specific image of past events. We were working on our root mind from which we base every craving or aversion we encounter. If we approach everything in life that happens to us equally we will be less likely to suffer and be much happier. That is the calm mind, I am working towards. We were to take this concept into our body while meditating applying to pains and bland boring areas on the fourth day. That night 3 guys left the room by the time I had returned that evening. My guess two of the younger ones were not patient enough and the other was getting sick.
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19 December, 2007

Chose The Big Picture

I’ve often said that we chose the things that bother us and those that don’t. It is so funny that we will waste time getting angry about being 5 minutes late and blame innocent drivers in front of us. To the point of getting red-faced and cursing their mother. Just look in your view mirror, and you will probably see the driver behind doing it to you. Just like the “C” I got in High School English that nobody cared about, no one is going to remember you being 5 minutes late for anything. Or care. And when I was near death in the hospital years ago, no one talked to me about being late or my grades, as they chose to worry about the big picture. How was I going to survive this and would I ever have a brain left? If I only had a brain! Just their choice to focus on me getting better gave me the life force to accomplish the impossible. I picked up the pieces and ran with it. So, go ahead and chose something with some meaning like helping others instead of focusing on the things we can’t really change. When I started examining myself, I was amazed how easy it is to be bothered by small unchangeable stuff. It is not all gone, but I am working on it in almost every instance. I am happy with who I am and the wisdom I have. And the wisdom I can work to obtain. Happy Holidays!

18 December, 2007

Blowing Off Steam

I have been noticing that I am feeling uneasy. That is uneasy not depressed. It is not affecting my sleep, eating or exercise. I've been seeking small pleasures to avoid seeing the real hopelessness I sometimes feel about my life. This can be brought about by not enough work, or unable to see my partner more. When I see myself craving a little piece of dark chocolate or a cup of good coffee, it is a sign. I am almost unable to do anything, perhaps paralyzed by the fear of not knowing. Sure, I can exercise, see friends and maintain obligations and order. So really, what I am experiencing can’t be witnessed by those around me. Which is fine, my experiences are just that… mine. I will say I am fairly confident that are not unique to me. Meanwhile, I am nursing a knee injury that keeps from running, but not swimming or yoga. I should turn this whole experience I am feeling to use as an exercise in dying. Like the dying of knee or my vision with age, is a small taste. There is more where that came from. We all die, and the sooner we realize this we can focus on the present. So we enjoy relaxing with death. I still can laugh, see the beauty of life, people, and kindness. I heard of a great story of a lay minister helping immigrants in Tulsa unslaved, which prompted me to write a thank you to him. So with the uneasiness, I can still see things as they really are. All of which will be explored when I do the 10 day meditation.

14 December, 2007

Night Moves Me

This is about as much as I can say when I meditate. But, today while meditating, I have come to realize that any anger or displeasure I have managed to lose through awareness and teachings is filled with compassion. This was a new revelation...a light bulb moment. So, changing of my anger even in most innocent forms only increases my compassion. But I can't rest here, I am a work in progress.

Direct Hit from Poem Man

Here is a a guy pecking out a poem for me one day. With one thought or a word he whips out a poem fast and with no difficulty. I wish I could write so easy. Thinking, perhaps he has worked up to this, but I suspect he had all from the beginning. Some of us are like this, some inherent gift brought out by an event or encouragement. So I mentioned that I was unhappy with Bush’s word change ability to escape the appearance of lying. What was stated as, “No permanent bases in Iraq” has been conveniently changed to long term bases to avoid the permanent base statement. Long term can be a couple hundred years or whenever the high tech embassy and pool needs a redo. Meanwhile we have lassoed a new territory, on fake claims.
Anyway here is the guy’s poem he made for me:

An occupation by any other means
would still be as endless as this tired life
like a temper or an airy long term engagement
and saying what you mean doesn’t make you nice
why do they call the average the mean, average age?
less and stay the same more Mr. President
if your words were meant to be permanent then,
why would language be made of the air

10 December, 2007

Night Vision

One thing we often forget is the beauty that is right in front of us. We often want to get away from it all, thinking that by going somewhere else we will find things different. But when we arrive we are still the same person. One way get over this idea one has to find the beauty that lies inside. This upcoming silent meditation, will make me stop the noise of life that I often use to fill my life. When I go into retreat I can see the quiet wisdom lurking in my mind.
I have also found someone who shares my interests in photography while inspiring me to reach higher. They have proposed to me that if I can survive my brain injury, then I can put the same energy to a better use. A calling has not quite taken any form yet. But, at least this photography ignites the flame inside. Sometimes I like to think I am there and we can relax. But do I really? Life is ongoing, new problems will always arrive and to learn and get the most out of our precious human life we have to work hard. Looking at myself, I know I can be better in most everything, including how I see life and react to these same problems. So by going out at night, I hear the ambient sound, and see the slumbering city in quiet seduction. No phones, no net, no TV ...a kind of mini-preview to meditation. My new goal is to try to convey this with what I have always had in me with my vision in photography.

04 December, 2007

Small Treats

On the bus home after going to my Buddhist Temple, a young man was playing a guitar, and he got off on my stop and played on the walk home. What a treat, reminding you of how little you need to change your mental state and make your day even better. This is after a great teaching about patience at temple and a day of rest earlier. On a rainy day, I don’t usually want to spend a day in bed, but it almost ended up this way. My body said, “hello, it’s winter and you need to slow down!” Yesterday, I did stay up late with a dinner with a friend and seeing a long film, Lust/Caution. It was a beautiful story, but it shows the real tragedies of love. When one has expectations of what they want out of love, and it most certainly is not patience. I finally spent time talking to a fellow member of my temple, about our experience of patience and anger, and how much we have learned. But learning about patience and applying, makes it clear that we need it to keep learning and use to practice more. I did get accepted into the 10-day silent meditation and of course I know it will be mental work. Maybe when I done it will take a firm hold and grow like a weed.

30 November, 2007

Cleaning My Mental House

What comes with cleaning my house and seeing past the mess, is a look at myself. I am always hoping to mature with wisdom and grace. This will provide a better example to those around us. I still feel I have too much anger in my life, over what happened to me and how society treats gays. It is always good to look at how you see the world and relate to it. Knowing that it is a whole lot easier to change your mind than the world in general. So it leads me back to wanting to examine myself and how I think. I applied for a ten day meditation, where there is no contact with each other, phone and net. You wake up at 4 am and start to meditate, and end at 9pm with any questions with the teacher. It sounds hard, but mostly when you consider you are examining yourself and how you think. It is my assumption that I will probably be upset for about the first four days when I try to settle my mind and abandon any idea of a clock and outcome. You get to see, I hope, what life really is…a dream.

25 November, 2007

Seeing Through the Mess

A holiday brought down time where I could spend some time on weeding out old stuff and deep cleaning my house. Now, that I am on a roll editing my things I am hooked on it. I will do this in phases, so I can give away or sell my old things. I even packed up some artist samples to send back to him that he sent to me 15 years ago for my work at the time. I joked with him in email it will be like seeing an old friend. I could have sold his samples because he well known, but I think it would bring me bad karma as they sent to me for me to consider using him. It is also amazing how even the spammers go on vacation, as I had such little spam this past weekend. Combined with very few calls I could just obsess on getting this started, by loudly playing new music and going through old boxes. I had a lot to give friends that consists of old photos of them I took, and odds and ends. Funny, that I have been keeping up with this over the years, but when busy it piles up. It felt good to give things away, and lose my attachment to them. It is so hard not to think that we are our things and collections. I look at my art on my walls and ask myself would I still be me without all this that I worked hard to collect. In short, yes.

23 November, 2007

Future Seeing

I have been thinking and want to explore my feeling that in almost every instance when I am doing something, I can already foresee it’s end. It is almost like I am very conscience of future outcomes. I have seen, and not always concretely some future things happening in my life. Even the time when driven to the hospital for my close call with death, I had such a premonition that I told my friend before leaving her car. Of course with most things we are not taught how to explore and implement these feelings. But I want to first take a look at my simple feeling of everything being so temporary, often at the expense of the moment. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy, but deep down I am already seeing it over. There was one thing that sticks out in my memory where this did not happen. It was when I traveled to Cambodia to a hard to get to ancient temple, where after hiking to the main temple, I was blessed by a Monk. Afterward, I was in mental peace, perhaps he prayed to release me from my negative Karma. I sat looking at the view of a huge valley from this unique site, knowing something did happen. Maybe this is caused by real awareness that life on earth is so short. Now if I was really self-aware I could foresee any bad outcomes from saying or doing the wrong thing and avoid them. I will try to work towards this.
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19 November, 2007

Finding Clarity

Never to be one to lay down and rest I saw a couple of South Asian films. One was a fun Bollywood film that kept me occupied for nearly 4 hours, even though it was a camp and silly. The one that made its mark was Sankara, a beautiful, slow, Buddhist film from Sri Lanka. It was the kind of slow that one desires when life seems too fast and hectic. It allows you to discover the subtleties of life through a simple story. I find when life moves too fast you feel unable to make clear, thought out and felt decisions. We seem to be much more happy fussing with simple unimportant aspects of life, rather than examining how we think. We can just be lazy, dissatisfied and complain making us feel like we are making decisions. I am trying to quit doing this by being deliberate and changing how I go about seeing problems and difficult decisions. Most importantly I am trying to stop attempting to change others, but instead looking at why I feel like I need to. Looking for that new age of enlightenment about clarity. This will not happen overnight.

14 November, 2007

Forced Relaxation

I went 100 to zero fast when in the midst of working hard, my knee and hip went south for vacation. Now, this is my stroke side and I kind of drag it along or unknowingly contract the muscle. To explain this, in my first year post hospital, I would find looking in a mirror that my left shoulder was lifted up close to my ear. I was trying to get sense it by tensing it up, but that never worked. Having little or no feedback from my entire left side leaving me to use my past memory of it. So, when it hurts on my dead side it means serious trouble. In the meantime have been becoming more aware of much we waste here the past couple of weeks. Hearing in the news about Atlanta’s water problem, I feel stupid using fresh drinkable water to wash food off a plate. I have tried to reduce my trash and even am using half the size garbage can this year over last year. It means declining all bags and looking to not buy over packaged items. I can see easily why most Americans don’t worry about all the waste, because it actually takes awareness non-stop. If we just saw our trash dumps, that alone, would help us to change. People scream if they miss trash pick-up for a month now, but I remember a time when we just used to burn it. Sounds so crazy now with all the plastic, but this happens in most third world countries. I am hoping to spin an idea out of my concern when I am not working with a client, and I’ll look at this as a small vacation packing my bags to join my left side out in limboland.

07 November, 2007

Reflecting on Conditions

While I am busy, often alone, I am usually deep in thought. Then to top it all off, my computer would not restart. Long, story short, I got it fixed, and I used my Buddhist teachings on patience to force myself to at least pretend that I am calm. A shift in awareness of how we react to problems we encounter. We will never be free from problems, only free from how we perceive them. I acted patient and understanding all while thinking in my head I could be disaster to lose most of my photos and work. Waiting for almost four hours with no appointment. It made the whole process better, and in fact, the man at the Apple store were nice enough to do it free. I made sure I thanked him personally at least twice directly.
I was reflecting on the fact that I lived in an accepting society I would be a bit better off and even more successful. While growing up gay, I would have been less likely to have spent 10 plus years trying to undo the pain I endured in school and adolescence. I felt deep down that I was less than everyone else and it played on who I was at that time. I would have more able to focus on my future and plan even better if I did not get challenged about who I am. This might even sound bitter, but we have to take what we are given and run with it. I have made the best out of extraordinary conditions from being gay to now being disabled. I have learned from my mistakes, and have made the effort to make others lives being gay easier through protest and awareness so that now there is far more acceptance. Having now turned to helping others who are in a similar state whether being poor or disenfranchised, I now feel lucky. I still look at my life with reflection and with an end goal of making the difference and feeling like I contributed to a kinder world.

02 November, 2007

Similar as Different

I revisited the interconnected idea of people while helping my Mom get her house ready for rent. Instead of letting me decide what to keep or give away, she spent a lot of time going through things she did not have will power to go through. Unable to weed things out she left 7 years ago when she remarried and moved away. Consequently this only heightened her anxiety and her ability to make sound rational decisions. So you might ask how this relates to the idea that we don’t operate in vacuum? Well, because we share the same gene pool. How she felt affects me and my ability to help her. She would buzz around unable to focus on one thing and it would only make it harder for me with a brain injury. She has never understood aphasia and how multiple inputs and chaos affects me. But I have to rise to the occasion, and have some understanding of her. We are connected. So I made sure I had eaten, and saw her late today bringing gifts of wine and treats to allow us all sit around and let go of the day. Things happen a lot of the time at their own rate. I can do things alone after she leaves, which for me is much easier. And so we ended this night acknowledging we as similar as different. And use what we have in common to brighten a dark day.

28 October, 2007

Shared View

I have been a bit busy, but never too busy to ponder ideas. Some ideas are fruitful for my business and some are just random desires and fears. I do wake-up with creative ideas of how to solve minor problems, and I wish it would work with major ones, as well. Can’t get too greedy. So my question is, does experience one has alone have any less importance than a shared experience? Looking at my solitary door to the ocean, it is as if was all a dream of mine especially now that it is past tense. Now shared, it can enter into your dreams whether directly by looking at it, or subconsciously later in nightly dreams. But, are we really looking for someone to share in our dreams and experience to bring meaning into our life? I chatted today with a client, about shared life experience and I am sure, if I felt as validated as she then I guess I hit on this. And this what we both wanted: to share pain, frustrations, humor and finally wisdom. Sure it goes back to my idea that we never really operate in a vacuum from an earlier post. That our human life is so important, especially when we relate to one another. This allows us to help others, hopefully. If we were more compassionate and open to the idea of being kind to others in listening and talking, we can share in their dreams. Thus doubling the occurrence of magical moments and lessening of the painful, disturbing ones.
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25 October, 2007

Walking Suspicion

I found this walking stick in all places in a busy city, crawling across the sidewalk to a nearby planter area alongside a house. So I picked it up carefully and moved it to safety, and in the process let everything I had in my mind go. I even talked to two people walking by, noticing that they were not afraid, but instead, in awe, because I had it in my hand. This immediately made them feel comfortable talking to me. All it took was one insect to make three strangers talk. We lose the common shared thing we possess as humans, if we are always suspicious. I think this how the current administration is working our last nerve. If they keep us apart and fearful of everything then we will agree to the absurd policies of spending our way into destruction. The US has spent 2.4 trillion on the Iraq and Afghan wars and we can’t help poor children in this country. We can spend a billion on Blackwater, a para-military force that rivals Pinochet’s Henchmen in Chile. They also just walked into New Orlean’s without a contract and their steroid pumped idiots bossed our people around until Bush jumped in with money for them. Money for para-military, but not to rebuild New Orleans or to help our children? I think we should be suspicious of them not each other.

22 October, 2007

Compassion Biking

What would possess a person like me to again try to go on a 8-hr bike ride? For one thing, because I still can, even after my horrible injury. I can still remember being rolled outside the hospital in a wheelchair to visit with my partner and family. My partner was telling jokes, making me laugh that drove sharp pains in the area where my stomach tube was just put in. That laughter is the best medicine as trite as it sounds. He still probably does not how much he helped propel me to where I now. So today, I visited a lighthouse rarely open, and watched hawks soar while visiting two coves. While biking more than a couple times I wished for a car with a friend to take me back home, but I deep down knew only I could do the whole thing and feel accomplished. That is if I never give up, maybe I’ll just walk my bike in a couple of steep places. Never really frustrated even when young 20-somethings pedaled up while I walked. I only congratulated them and cheered them on. Although, I did this solo, it would have been nice to have someone to share the beauty with. So, I stopped and talked to a horse rider relaxing on a hilltop with an unparalleled view of the ocean beyond the hills. We talked about the harvest moon and the view all the way to the islands that we saw. While biking down to the beach, I remember walking there with friends twenty years ago talking about life at that time. All we have is past, funny? Upon reaching the beach, I collapsed for a half-hour nap lulled to sleep by the waves. Waking refreshed, and clear-headed knowing I had be home in two hours to make dinner for a friend who I having a difficult time with life. That was just enough spark to keep me moving.

19 October, 2007

Cracks in Our World?

Walking yesterday to the park, where I sat on a bench listening to Darshan Ambient and watching the world happen without me. I was reflecting on my dharma teacher who is leaving today, and the positive effect she has had in my life. It was interesting to realize that the world will continue while watching people throwing balls, dogs playing and a mother on a swing with her son. It appears to be independent of me watching it or not. I can affect my world by seeing the beauty in it, or not and I have to continually remind myself to do so. This will make me happier than always seeing what’s wrong with it. Not to be confused by not caring about the health of our planet, but using my energy to affect change instead of just complaining about it. I saw cracks in our world, the huge floating island of plastic twice the size of Texas in the Pacific on PBS. So now I am even taking bigger moves to minimize my plastic use. I no longer buy water in plastic, and reuse my plastic vegetable bags and carry my own cloth bags. I will expand my awareness every time I buy something in plastic and try to avoid it when possible. I think there is a lot to be said about being informed and making the important changes to make sure that our children will also get to enjoy the beauty as well.

17 October, 2007

Dreams Across Oceans

What happens when you have a late dinner of home made curry, and go to sleep less than two hours later? Dreams that consist of a fantastic muddling of things experienced and wanted. I even fell back to sleep twice to continue the journey, and it was not difficult to resume the same “film.” Often I am able to do this, with a strong intent. I generally have interesting dreams, and a couple of them reappear to entertain me. One is going to a far away town on the water with handsome colonial style architecture, and I can see the island a mile off shore I want to go to again. Often I hike to the grassy knoll and say with a sense of relief, “There it is!” like I am trying to show somebody. Now I know this is a combination of Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka places I have been before, but like all dreams it is a mismatch of ideas and feelings. It never appears to me to be unattainable or frustrating, but a true expression of what I know and want. There is a sense of love and understanding, and I wish I could write better about this. I would like to spin these dreams into a short story. Like the time I had a old right hand wheel jeep with a friend tooling around Tobago, and it the middle of nowhere in the rain and mud we got stuck. We made it out later, by just being calm and trying everything we knew of, just in time to watch a sunset on the opposite side of the island. So I have plenty of experiences to pull dreams from, places seen, love found and lost, full of hope and expectations to be met.

15 October, 2007

Are We Really Independent?

It came to me while meditating yesterday that if we are a totally independent self we would never become lonely. Loneliness is a clear sign that we need others. We depend on others starting with our parents, and the kindness of doctors when we are born. Without their hard work and sacrifice (trying losing sleep with an infant) we would not be here. So, we are defined by all those around us, integral role they take in making sure we are alive. Outside of our life there are many people involved as well, sewing our shirts, picking our vegetables, repaving our freeways. We can’t and don’t exist in an independent little world. Just think about the hassle of being without power for a day, or when they are out of stock with favorite wine. We depend on others to make our life easier. I know I depend on my friends to get an idea that I have some value in life. I can bounce ideas, dreams and problems off of them. Even those that are “bad” to us provide a great opportunity to be patient to realize how important our good friends are to us. I Just try think of those unnamed people that make our life better, and hopefully I can be just a little more compassionate with all others.

11 October, 2007

Journey to the Gate

I was, again listening to Radio Lab(Where Am I?) about the brain, and one part was about proprioception. That is the brain's ability to know where anything is at any given moment with relation to the body. Close your eyes and raise your hand, and you still know it where it is located. People who have difficulty with this, also usually have a problem knowing where their body is in space. It can also affect organs and balance, all things we take for granted when we are fine. I had lost mine partially with my brain injury, so I gradually had to learn how to improvise without anyone telling me how to. So, when my arm would hit a table I was walking by, or drop keys that were in my hand, I learned to train my brain by watching my hand. By watching I could learn to compensate what natural proprioception I lost. It was frustrating, when I also had lost half my right vision, with muscle weakness. Doing yoga to learn how to balance, even though I still have no feeling on my left side of my body. No Doctor would elaborate on how to deal all this, but it is a testimony to how well the body can adapt to injury to the brain. In my volunteer job at the hospital, I make it known that the Doctor’s can’t just talk over the brain injured victim. They might as well start to discuss what really they are looking for when the do tests on cranial nerves lost. Explain what is deficient in a compassionate manor, would be a goof start. Looking back it is a gift from Buddha, to find the will power when my whole world was turned upside and all without ever seeing a neuropsychiatrist post hospital. So, if I can myself in this extreme situation, they I should have less trouble opening the gate to enlightenment.
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10 October, 2007

A Natural End

I heard a teaching I have heard several times by different teachers on love, attachment and delusions last night. In the teaching he asked, “What happens in every long term relationship?” The first person who answered said, “Boredom”, the second person in the room said, “Death” which is the correct answer. Now I have meditated on my death and death alone, and heard a lot of dharma talks, but this is the first one where a very important point came into my mind. No matter what believe about reincarnation or heaven, death is the ultimate change one experiences. That means that every other change we experience including watching our bodies fall apart as we age pales in comparison. The Ahh-hah moment happened last night, the real hard fact that will propel me hopefully into accepting all other change. That simple, important fact will lessen our need to feel like we are suffering the change of say, a relationship breaking up or someone is late. If we remember the change of death, and embrace the change of everyday experience we will find patience slowly will become our natural wisdom.

09 October, 2007

Cutting Out Medical Mysteries

I am going on a mission to find out as cheaply as possible how my health is and cut out the medical over billing. I am pretty aware of my body, and I learned this since before my stint in ICU. In fact, if I was not fit and healthy when my brain injury occurred I most definitely would have died. Luckily and most importantly I did not smoke and had good exercise and eating habits. That way when I dropped 33 pounds in the first ten days of hospitalization, I could still survive even though given a death sentence by doctors while in the coma. Now, I continue doing a wide variety of exercise including yoga, and swimming. I have always been on the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, when I found my heart racing at night a few times, it is making me pull apart every possible cause, since I have normal blood pressure. Included are supplements I take, and any chemicals I use at home. If I can deduce by removing anything in my diet or home then great, and if the blood panel is all clear. If I still find it happening and then have to see my primary care Dr I will. Aware of all the brain injury caused problems, but they usually are consistent, and do not pop up for no reason. What is gone is gone(brain-wise), so to speak and has only stabilized or I have gotten use to it.

07 October, 2007

Healthy Trouble

A week of new images and more of those little hassles in life. These two diverse images of man made and nature made beauty. So it brings to a point about man made problems with natural life. It seems to me if you have a insurance plan that it should cost less for services. But what I have found out is retail cost for lab work is less than when billed through insurance.

Funny, I went to get a physical and for my $45 co-pay I get only these things: Temperature, blood pressure, height, weight and a look at my throat and ears. If I want a full blood panel and discussion it costs a bundle for the lab and a new appointment. Wouldn’t you think they would encourage you to be on top of your health? Nope. So I can do it outside of my plan for less money, and just research my blood panel when I get it online. Now that’s sad. But, not a sad as our country’s torture policy. Maybe this is a preview of it!

05 October, 2007

Playing with Tone

I was listening to Radio Lab, on musical language theory and I was brought back to the reason why most people will go “Huh?” when I say a simple word. Apparently most people hear words by the tone instead of he actual word. Which is the main reason that people don't understand me. I am trying to think how to warn people in advance. My problem on the phone, is when I attempt to warn them in advance they often hang up. I almost need a normal person to record a warning for to play on the phone first before I speak. I am not tone deaf, but the area in my brain that transfers the actual word on one side and moves to convert to tone is damaged. Also because I lost all feeling in the mouth area, and tongue, I am unable to teach the tongue with the brain how to perfect my speech. I listen to my speech, and self-correct by repeating it. I tried to delay speech with an appliance during my speech therapy to slow me down and it worked some. But my problem with slowing down spontaneous speech is that I forget my thoughts. I can do it while reading something that is easy. You know the old joke about walking and chewing gum? Well, that is me, now. I cannot walk and talk to people, and even friends get bothered when I stop them to say what I want to say. All these things we take for granted in life, now for me become a challenge. I wish I could somehow breakdown each problem and let them experience it for a second in order to get their understanding.
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03 October, 2007

Flowering Intention

With a glass of wine after dinner with some chocolate, I can wrap up the day, happily. I tried again to help someone who had relationship problems online. I hope that my insights and clear thinking will help set this person on the right track as to what to expect. I also told them about how to avoid this happening again by approaching the next relationship with a rational mind. I am aware at the time when someone asks for help, they see no way out when they are hurting. I again mention that looking outside of yourself for happiness will almost always lead to disaster. I have talked about this before, to casually remind myself as well, that to make anyone the sole source of your happiness puts a terrible burden on them. All I have to do is think back to unsuccessful relationships I had in the past looking carefully at why they failed or changed. Some things repeat themselves unless you examine them and change. Sure, change is not easy for me or anyone but change we have to …to mature. At least I have had several successful ones that I am able to use as a base line when attempting the next one. My current partner has little idea of much internal work and learning of past mistakes I had to do to make ours flow. But this is my gift to a great soul and partner who he has taught me a lot like forgiveness and understanding. He knows, it is all in the intent.
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01 October, 2007

Ride Away Anger

Early, yesterday I tried to get some things done around home before seeing a friend later. He cancelled and instead of feeling down about a change of plans, I took off on my bike to see if I could do a ride like I used to 16 years ago. My disability brings certain health things with it to worry about, but also some “devil may care attitude.” Stopping to help two young Dutch women with as map, and talking to them about where they wanted to go next. I told them an easy way down to their destination. I decided to take the hill, feeling like I vampired some of their youth. I did not push too hard and when things seemed bad, I rested and drank water. I pushed a steep hill slowly, barely passing walking people. Within two hours I stood at the peak, on crystal clear day with a view of the Pacific. I asked a tourist with his wife up there for the first time by car to take my photo. We talked briefly about why I spoke poorly, and where he from since he told me they moved away. He said to appreciate it more. I continued on with a sense of relief for making it this far, which meant it was going to a relaxing, beautiful ride home. I got to ride past some places that meant a lot in my past, so it was kind of like memory lane tour. I find it is important to be flexible when things change, as a way to keep anger away. Perhaps, if I keep doing this, anger will find a slippery hold on me…hopefully. Now, that I can this ride I will repeat it again.
Today, after a full day ending with volunteering I answered an ad for a dinner date. When I informed the person I had speech disability, they cut off any conversation and of course the date. This caused no anger because I had little expectations, and feel it is their loss.

29 September, 2007

Patience, an all-day affair

I was doing some things around home and a friend asked me to go to a book sale. I said sure, and drove there. Not knowing it would be all day affair as he looked for books for his classes where he teaches developmentally disabled kids. So, I quickly put my own self aside and helped him. Every time I wanted to leave and get back to doing my own things I reminded myself that my time for both my friend and his kids was more important than what I had to do. I used this as a test to see how patient I could be, and in turn helped him try to find good books. At the end of the day, I even offered to take his books to his school directly, a long way away. Knowing that two people carrying them would be easier. Then we came back home and I let him nap while I cooked dinner for us both. This was really not in my plans for a nice beautiful sunny day, but as an ex-lover once said to me: “People are not things, and are therefore much more important. Yes, some wise things said to you do somehow stick with you!

27 September, 2007

Pick or Shoes

I have noticed that we people think we operate in a vacuum, alone and fully independent. So this week I have been entertaining friends and new acquaintances I have made. I do this whenever I feel a bit down on myself, to acknowledge the importance they make in my life. All I have to do is remember, that people and family were there the moment I was in ICU. I continue to try to make new friends whether at work, play, or the gym. This is very hard given my disability, but the minute I begin to lay any perimeters on my life, I lose out tremendously. I need people, you need people and we need them more than we often think. It takes many people to enjoy our cup of coffee, or our power, or to make our shoes. If all these people were on strike we would not be very happy without these things. Today, when I called 411 three times talking as slow and as calmly as I could and asked for a business number and they gave me a new wrong number each time. It was hard to not be mad, because I had driven across town to find a business and wanted to call. So, I instead met a friend and dealt with calling the phone company unrushed when I got home. Because I was calm and nice, they apologized and took the charges off my bill. There was no point in showing with anger to the person who handled my call that this really made an hour more of work and put me behind in what I wanted to accomplish. I just talked about the weather on her end and my end and ended it with a calm note. She in turn will have a much better evening with one less angry person during her shift. Knowing the chain reaction we can often cause, because we are so interconnected.
I want to send prayers to the monks and the people faced with bullets in Myanmar(Burma), just to help their fellow citizens eat. They need us now.
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24 September, 2007

Ocean of Memories

I have been watching Ken Burns WWII film series. After the first night was done, I laid awake thinking before falling asleep. One person came to mind was my friend, M whom I dated one night back in 1982. Although he was young he was still forward enough to tell me he liked me but not “that way.” We instead, graduated as friends, and he moved in with me for a few months, after he had a blow up with his parents. He had great plans in life and we often spoke of this. I always thought he was very smart. Later when he moved out, and I became friends with his Mom, running with her on long distance loops. It was less than a year he became very ill in at the hospital. Diagnosed with something unknown combined with pneumonia. He prevented me from seeing him a few times when he was getting his lungs suctioned. One night I drove out to see him, and ended up not being able to see him and in the fog I sat crying. I had talked to his Mom earlier, and I got the feeling he was not going to pull out of it. He died soon after, without me being able say good-bye at the young age of 18, of what we later found out was a new disease, AIDS. This was 1984, and it was all too new to us. Our friendship, although it was a brief two years was rewarding and special. Today, I remain friends with his parents and shortly after his death gave them all the photos I had of him. M, you go on living in me and your parents so don’t worry. I am sending you good thoughts. Cheers!

22 September, 2007

Embarrassment or Enlightenment?

Now, it seems like banks are closing their doors or sub-prime branches bitten with all the new foreclosures. I really don’t feel any pity for lenders who obviously over-looked their client's lack of income to make a buck. These same banks are all calling foul, when they knew from the beginning when they were praying on the poor's desire to have a home. Which brings back to an earlier point that no one will accept personal responsibility in our society. And to make matters worse people think they can profess their innocence loud enough or many times and just absolve themselves of their guilt. Believe it or not, it will come back to haunt you if not later in life…now.
I am proud that the monks in Myanmar have risked their lives in hopes to change their suppressive government. I think they came to the point with Buddhist intention, with death as a given, and that only they can make the change happen in effort to help other poor people. This will only increase their karma by helping to end this suffering. Now, that is the door to enlightenment!

20 September, 2007

A New Moon

Sorry, it has been many moons since I wrote, while getting my home ready for winter. Supervising work and doing some myself from 7 am until 4 pm. So physically exhausting I had to nap, before going to bed at night. I got a lot done in a one-week time span, and of course now I have to pay for it. One of my neighbors joking calls me Mr. Perfect, because I maintain my house, instead of letting it fall apart like some people do with their body. I maintain my house and my car, doing work before it becomes a huge problem. These are important investments, so I can be assured that they will continue to be safe and working. During this time there were several instances where I was able to put my mindfulness to work when dealing with the workers and running for supplies. I saw a few times when anger could surface and I would smile and never show my displeasure. It made people even more friendly and relaxed. This brought others and myself some calmness in the rush to get things before an announced rain…which, of course never happened.

16 September, 2007

Expanding my Bubble

I’m curious, does fear keep one away from being the person we want to be? What I mean is we often think our happiness or our goals are a long way from where we are right at this moment. So what is keeping us from using our power of imagination? Just think of a worry you have that has not even happened! One can seem to hype it up in your mind enough to make an OK day turn dreary. I know I do it time and time again. So I am beginning while meditating to imagine I have a great feeling. It can be something I like, or want that I know in my mind makes me happy and transfer that feeling to imagining I am happy. Like the happy feeling you have when in love when everything in life looks like beautiful and people don’t bother you. I, in effect, prolong the “love-like happiness’ I created and transfer it to imagining that I am the person I want to be. Hopefully I will be kinder and more compassionate in time as I go along. Thus knocking out the huge divide from where I am now to where I want to be. Perhaps, if I keep this up I will expand my bubble of happiness that I found in meditation to my normal interactions by actually being happier longer.

14 September, 2007

You Are Going Wrong Way

People reading my thoughts must think I am a very serious person. On one aspect I am, brought about by my near death experience and disability. On the other hand I find that to write fluff, it would be a waste of my time. So, if you want fun try “The Onion” or “Comedy Central Blog” and come back here for a slice of reality. But rest assured I laugh and smile at stupid stuff, even of my own doing.
I find it interesting that a $315 million powerball winner laments his loss of friends. He also endured his grand-daughter’s death from drugs and his wife leaving him. The article goes much more in depth, but money is not everything and he regrets ever winning. We cannot hold on to it, nor use it to control people. I have to constantly remind myself of this fact while paying for my partner’s college. It is his life, and my input should be only to show I care and inspire. I have my own relative’s story about money and trying to hold on to it that I may tell later. Just remember this when you put money ahead of family and friends or in the pursuit of ‘so-called happiness,” as there is no-turning back.

13 September, 2007

Offering of Bliss

Meeting my clients at their commercial building was a nice break in the day. They were looking at the progress and wanted to say how much they are happy with my work. I look forward to more work with them. They were fasting for religious reasons today, but still bought me tea and snacks. Such nice people to work for making my work easy and rewarding. I got back in my car, and got a surprise call from a senior member on my Buddhist temple saying she wanted to sponsor me for our empowerment in Singapore. I was speechless. It would be a sizable amount with air and hotel for a week. But when I really think of my responsibilities here and to my partner and mother I feel it would be a bad time to go away. It is hard to turn down a good thing, but any money I would spend would be that much less I could give my partner for school. So, I graciously turned it down, aware that these opportunities come few and far between. Uggh, now I have to closet my ego.

12 September, 2007

Peace is at your Sit Bones

Yesterday, my Teacher at temple asked the people there, during a teaching “When were you the most happiest? Has it been in the past or are you working towards that day? The entire class was mute unable to answer or were hard at thought. She continues, "To be quite honest if it hasn’t happened by now, good chances it will never happen." And that with our high tech advantages, health care, cars, computers and toys…we Americans are no closer to happiness. In fact, there a lot more people on anti-depressants than every before; totally stressed out and multi-tasking in a pool of confusion. We have to calm our mind down, accept change, and you can only do this by meditating. I have heard this teaching before but not said in this manner, and it just helped to reinforce my need to keep on this path of learning Buddha’s teachings and meditate daily. I have seen such a huge change already being happier and less apt to gravitate to anger when things don’t go my way. So often they don't go our way, yet we try to arrange our day thinking we can avoid problems, funny, eh? We know we have this on-going dialogue in our head moving at a high rate of speed. Most of time pre-occupied with critiquing others and dissatisfaction with life. Just quiet this down by meditating is a great start, and happiness will follow. Many people make excuses why they can’t do it, without ever practicing, because that is really what it takes. No one is great at anything first try. All you have to do is ask yourself is... are the same old ways of looking for happiness outside of myself working?
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10 September, 2007

Effects or Expectations?

The effect we have on others is often forgotten. Last night my past lover and now a close friend called. He has been busy and I have not heard from him in awhile so when he called I felt relieved. Hearing his voice, I cannot undo the memories of the time we spent together. We, of course have skillfully moved into a rewarding friendship. I won’t say this was easy but necessary because there was still love…maybe in a different form. Thinking, it is something everyone should do when they breakup. This happens when you have solidly developed a friendship when you are partners. I have two other past relationships, besides this one that have evolved into close friendships. Now, they are going on 10 and 20 years. I know it hard to be mature when a relationship breaks up, and feelings are raw. But look to the future and what you want to keep that you still find valuable. Looking at my photo, my father would often forget how the effect he had on me. What mistakes he made or where I would go in my career and when. Luckily, towards the latter part of his life, he tried much harder to be understanding, and compassionate. Sadly, it could not fully undo the damage he caused when I was a boy. But, I had matured in my expectations in the years after his death.

08 September, 2007

Flowers of Love

Remaining in a calm state the day proved rewarding. I made brunch for a friend to save us both money Later, helped a client for free, to show that I care about my referrals. She wanted a darker stain on her lamp parts, and I did it while talking with their family. Instead of charging her and being firm, it was easier to just do it for free. Her husband gave me a beer while I worked on them in their living room, so it was like working for old friends.
I would like to dedicate this day to my partner who has brought me great joy for over 6 years. Hence the two flowers photo. I find it difficult to be apart, but you know the difficulties placed on us gay people and the rights we are missing to marry or get a civil union. This would allow us the same rights as heterosexuals. But, I at least have been instrumental in forwarding our rights the past 20 years, and see progress with acceptance. So, I try to remain positive knowing change takes time confident it does not change our love.

07 September, 2007

A Walk in the Night

It took a night to wind down after a busy week. Last night a couple of clients took me to Pakistani dinner and a drink after being happy with my conscientious work on their commercial building. I worked with another client today helping her finesse some cheap lamps into better looking ones by adding hardware and painting some. Finally at the end of the day, I got a chance to talk to an old friend for an hour on the phone. Later visiting another to get some cheap dinner and talk. Taking photos tonight to find an interesting one for this page. I found it odd when talking to a client earlier and putting some paper trash in recycling, she said, “You are not one of those?” I quickly said “Yes, I am.” I care about the environment and my impact on it. It kind of made her think, but I am sure it won’t change her mind or bad habits. I found it interesting that she has a child, and I don’t.

05 September, 2007

A Dog Day

On Sunday, at a party a Chihuahua was running around among all the people. He jumped up on my lap. I guess he sensed my calm state brought on by Saturday’s all day meditation. He quickly fell asleep even with all the people and noise. It also came in handy today with work and dealing with an uncooperative painter who was painting for my client. He took upon himself to ignore what the client and I agreed upon and make decisions only to make his job easier. I worked in some of his ideas he had made the client agree to, but then when I was firm with my ideas, to make his ideas work he stormed off. I maintained throughout, which is just short of a miracle. I did not raise my voice, nor did I disrespect him. It does point to the good changes I have made in the last three years. I know that I can’t rest on my laurels and need to keep on working for the remainder of my life. The old habits we have are so much a part of us, that changing our mind is an ongoing process.
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