30 June, 2007
What if I told you one of the great things that meditation brings you is the ability to see small miracles in the world. That is, things that you are too busy or angry to possibly experience. Yesterday, it was a handsome straight man who was returning to his seat at the bar after smoking outside. I was standing by his stool while ordering a quick beer before going to a friend’s house. I was near his seat, paying the bartendress her tip, he walked towards me smiling, while saying, I paid for him. It was just a friendly joke just to show he was not hostile, that made me comfortable. His smile was that miracle. It was nothing more than this.
Today a friend, called to invite me to join him in getting old political art we produced 17 years ago. We made history and now our work is held hostage in a historical society. Fancy that! And while there, I joked they should have a freezer for our remains, which will all too shortly be there. Gay cryonics on display with disco music playing, a revolving disco ball and the atmospheric scent of Armani. I’m there already, just missing a few more mothballs. Going through history that was not in our own closet, but in the collection of an important historical society gives me a sense of purpose when I saw the art we had originally produced, contained there. We spent time laughing and talking about what brought us to this point. I have been letting life happen to me, with no or little expectations and I am happily pleased. Today, was one of those examples.
29 June, 2007
Last night I volunteered to help at a dinner-lecture for at risk kids to develop skills in the new century. That is, after they are out of jail, instead of being tempted or bored, to fall back into the same bad circle, they get fun education in the high tech world. This will make them have marketable skills like computer design. After hearing two kids talk who are in the program it seems to me they probably had got in trouble because they had some innate skills that were untapped. They were excited, which that alone helps to keep them out of trouble. Yes, give them new computers, programs and instruction and they fly! I was proud to be involved even if it was on a minor level. But, maybe I should commit a crime to get updated computer skills! Now, that’s an idea.
Today, I awoke to face a dishwasher repairman. I have an old but well-made machine, that I am trying to keep her from a hot date with the Tinman. I'm talking about the throw away culture based on planned obsolesces. Mark my words it will be too soon when IPhones become tired as soon as the batteries die. Truthfully, I really don't want to spend $2000 to replace a good 10 year old $1000 dishwasher. Anyway, He was back with the heater I needed to make her warmup. Silly me, had searched on the net, and was floored that they were charging me like double the cost of the part. Now, this in addition to 2 hours of service that totals the price of roundtrip tickets coast to coast. Should I contact BBB to say they are scamming the disabled? I had to think and rethink how I would confront them. Luckily my Buddhist teachings helped to put my mind at ease about whether this was directed at me or not. So none of that “why me” we all like to toss in our heads. I talked to his boss on the phone, who bullheadly rationalized the price and clearly not the nicest person in the world…so I quickly passed the phone back to the repairman. The repairman was a very calm and genuine person, so he did not embody the crime. The repairman said that with the high cost of gas and yellow pages ads, they have to charge more for parts. This softened me some after being in business and experiencing this first-hand. The boss talked to his employee, and he offered $30 off the job. I took it even though it was only token, because I could use the peace of mind more than the money that was involved here. She was fixed and purring, so that fun morning was done. So, I was pretty happy at not getting too upset, and to deal with the money loss…hell, I’ll just eat ramen for a month!
28 June, 2007
What a beautiful day? It was sunny and at least I am happy. Maybe is it the fact that I am running on 5 hours sleep, and punch drunk happy. With my brain injury, I need at least 10-12 hours a night and a nap in the afternoon. I guess it is to download more information on my hard-disk. Or perhaps it is like a little man with a can of “Bondo” trying to spackle in the holes in my brain. I tell people that with them a little less sleep means they end up kind of spacey, but with me it means confusion and inability to form any words. So, when I am under any pressure or trauma, I virtually cannot speak anything intelligible. Which reminds of the time when I called the police to report a crime in my own business, where two guys distracted me, which was easy and made off with my hand-held computer. I called the regular police number not 911, and they showed up about an hour later. While telling them what happened, in my stroke impaired voice, they immediately said, "You are drunk." That only added insult to injury, and making it even harder to speak because I was so mad. Floored that I had to explain that I while I am at work, and it would be foolish to be drunk. They did not even have the skills to see if my pupils were not dilated and eyes clear, so they seemed so stupid. Later I filed a police complaint, and saw a judge and commission board six months later. The judge came out and concluded it was my duty to warn them that have a stroke. I told him if I say when I first call in to dispatch they hang up, thinking I have the wrong number. If I tell them in person they(the ignorant police, in this case) would think I am hiding something, and I can’t win. That experience was one more indication that I need to meditate and learn Buddha’s teachings, because it was a test. Later I found a well-written brain injury plastic card from Great Britain that I carry around. Of course when I show it now, people immediately get mute unable to figure out what to do next. Just chill!
26 June, 2007
I walked home from Temple, happy but thinking how I should present the reasons for the following videos Fight Hate Crimes! and Lift the Ban. I could tell you many stories, some quite sad but I'll just make this short and sweet. School for me was pretty traumatic, only because I was different than most other boys. I was fairly masculine, but not enough for the others' satisfaction. In junior high I had friends and my dirt bike, which allowed me to get out of the house and to work. All through school I got teased by a lot of bullies and even one high school coach, calling me "faggot". One time it was enough to make me fight back with a bat in baseball when my pants were pulled down. Sheesh, did I feel alone that day when no one stood up for me. That helped me and combined with my Dad who helped to get me out of P.E. He did this only because he hated P.E. and not because had real revelation as to who I was, as an individual. My friends left a lot to be desired, and a few of them ended up stealing cars. I passed on this, which that alone made me a sissy, but saved my life when one ended up dead. One friend was shot in the back by the police while he was scaling a fence fleeing from the crime scene. Thankfully, I had my job, some good sense and kept fairly busy. I wanted to be approved by my peers, but in almost all cases I never really was until I left high school. So by being assaulted all through school, many times in life and at jobs, I can identify with Hate Crime victims. Plus I feel that I have made a significant contribution to society, paid my taxes, and never been arrested so it is time to Lift the Ban!
Today, I was treated to a nice reply to an email from a person whom I replied when they said they were questioning life. Whether in person or on the web, I try when I think can get an ear. I use my experience to help expose people to my worse case scenario and what I tried to work on. Part of me wanting to die happy, is the realization that one can always be a better person. I was not awful, but I still could use some work on myself. As a young man exposed to many people, some of whom were Buddhist. I knew I would become one, when I had time. A lame excuse, but it works when you are young and think you have all the time in the world. My near death, quickly put this to rest. Later, my partner being born a Buddhist exposed me to his calmness and seeing how well it worked for him. He makes it very clear that anger has no place in our relationship. My first experience with meditation was with a friend who was a proficient meditator. I so wanted some mental peace, that I was able to do an hour my first time. It really helps to have someone else to do it with during the first year, and will thus enable you to work it into your routine.
A few years later I went to my temple nearby to hear teachings, and I could see where this would answer my questions about being happy, calming your mind down, and finessing the “better person” out of you. Now I don’t want to convert people, but only show them what works well for me. Perhaps later, I can be an inspirational talker…if I can ever talk! But watching some people I have been in contact with, it still seems like everyone progresses once they see their limited time on this earth.
From an interesting, sunny weekend, that Saturday brought me downtown to do free outdoor yoga in the sun. I went to support my yoga teacher, and brought a friend along to watch and join me for lunch afterward. Of course, my being fit and the role it played in my survival and recovery does not light a fire under people. At other times, it has been mentioned by some people I talk with, that it might make a good career for me to inspire others to be fit. But I would rather inspire people intellectually by prompting them to find out what it is just inside of them. Back to yoga, which was hard to do in the sun looking up while practicing hard pavement, but I still did it. I would rather die trying, than be at home in bed feeling sorry for myself. Then on to enjoy a nice lunch with my friend that I felt was earned. Because we were downtown, I wanted to show him what had changed since he had recently returned from leaving here in the early 90’s. We saw new outdoor sculptures, and new well done renovated and rehabbed buildings. We walked around along the waterfront past the Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Cupid’s Span” and through downtown. It was kind of dual purpose, making me fall in love with the city again, too.
24 June, 2007
It’s late now, I am home after a party put on by a friend I have known for twenty years. I enjoyed myself meeting new people as well as connecting with old friends. I bought old photos of a few us to the party and someone else did as well. It was so amazing looking at photos taken nearly 20 years ago, and I was still mature and worldly looking at that age. The host said I have not changed a bit, and that I look as good now as I did then. All I can attribute it to is not smoking and being physically fit…and perhaps a few good genes thrown in. In the middle of the party while eating a pizza someone brought, suddenly I was choking. This happens occasionally when it is noisy or hectic and I can’t concentrate on eating and swallowing. One of the many carryovers from my brain injury. Panicking and unable breathe, I found myself trying to cough it up. It was frightening that no one tried to help, although they were looking at me. Funny thing is a few people are in the health field. Luckily, I was able to cough up what I did not properly chew. It is nice to be relaxed enough among friends that I can do what I need to do. A few people asked where I was from, not knowing I have a brain injury. But no one was interested to find out how it happened, so I was spared having to explain. Most of these people that needed to know, did not pursue any more conversation. I am fine with that! I still had love from my good friends, and I am not greedy.
23 June, 2007
Drove home at sunset and watched the colors unfold over the Forty-five minute drive. It was dimensional with high wispy light golden clouds above, long horizontal light purple clouds in the middle, and deep orange clouds that hid the remnants of the sun. I thought about how I have changed, but mostly how people’s perception of me changed. Now, I am talking mostly about new people I meet, not old friends. Few people go as far to find out who I am now, and who I have been in the past to get a full-rounded version. They get either a fixed idea as a disabled person, sometimes pathetic or sometimes compassionate. With my speech disability, I came to the idea that if a person’s heart was good and their own issues were on the back burner then we could quickly become friends or at least acquainted. Some people use my speech or lack of it as a jumping off point, to use me as a sounding board. So, I realized that I have to become more patient, just for my own sake. Along with this is the old adage, “Why am I here?” Now there was no quick way to figure this all out, I spent many a day crying, getting angry, sleeping(with any brain injury) and occasionally laughing. The laughter at myself helped to give me a clue as to how I should approach life. I had to set goals everyday, sometimes way beyond I could possibly go.
21 June, 2007
A jump start for you all. I had a simple cosmetic surgery go horribly wrong. That combined with an anesthesiologist who was high and a negligent doctor in a clinic setting who allowed me to seizure. In a post-surgery nightmare, the anesthesiologist napped or watched TV all night and the doctor left to go home. Ten hours of being trapped in my own body in a traumatic state going in and out of consciousness, someone got the great idea( I heard phone calls between the doctor and anesthesiologist) to wheel me to ICU, luckily across the street. At that point I heard a nurse say to the anesthesiologist…“What the hell did you do to this guy?” While being intubated, I passed out again. Waking somewhat when the nurse was doing CT brain scans at which point, I left my body and traveled high above near the ceiling and was half-way down the hall. The nurse, saw my eyes roll back in my head, and called my name to make me come back to my body. I slipped into a coma, to awake in a little over a week later, to a shocked family and partner staring in a very concerned manner. I checked in enough with what brain I had left to know that I have to work on making them feel better. The doctors told my family to prepare for my death, or if I survived, I would not be able to eat, walk, or talk. No one told me how bad it was. Six weeks later, I hobbled out of the hospital, speechless and with a stomach tube. Thanks to the love of my family and partner.
Along with this journey, I had come the realization that I needed to change to hasten the healing process and it all helped to launch me on a dhamma path. One cannot really fully heal until you take responsibility for your life and not blame others. And this came after falling down in the years after, stumbling on my anger. Part, out of a normal effects after brain damage, and part of my conditioning as a child. It was a much needed gift, and I would not go back to my successes and my ‘complete’ brain of the past. It was a waste...I was not really conscious, anyway. I never wanted to be pathetic person, yet was projecting this, for awhile. In the years that have past, much of what I thought I was burned off as I slowly leaned towards wisdom. Rewarded in small doses, as I learned more, I could see more. Now, hopefully I can inspire others.