31 December, 2008
Waking up in the middle of night when a guest in the other room was snoring, I began to think instead of getting upset. The distance my partner and I have right now allows us to distill our relationship to what is really important. The time apart has matured it gracefully. He has just graduated BBA with 1st honors, and I am proud of him. I thought I was helping my partner with the tuition, because I know his salary even while working full time does not cover anything but the basic costs of housing and food. I was trying to put me out of the equation…it is not always about me. Reflecting about this I am really not helping him, but instead just not getting in the way of his future plans or happiness. Many times we get in the way of others trying to be happy. It might be a simple as letting them in first in line at the store. It actually takes more energy making your Me more important and not thinking about others Me. Like a gear turning and I was not something stuck in it, thus jamming it. I am trying to think of his happiness is not contingent on him performing for me in any way. I do enjoy his excitement and feeling of power after doing what was the impossible just three years ago. It was an idea back when I saw him not happy, and when I finally put myself aside it became obvious how I could change things. He had completed his degree, while working overtime in most cases. He never gave in to the idea that was too hard, because he thought of this as a rare opportunity. And now he did so well, and was inspired by a Professor to go for MA and on to perhaps a PHD. I will again step aside, and let his potential shine into the New Year. Meanwhile, when he is busy, I will quietly work on developing pure love and wisdom through meditation and contemplation. So, I ended up a couple hours later with an Ipod on with quiet music playing until I fell asleep again with good thoughts.
27 December, 2008
A bus driver named Reggie was talking to me outside the pool before it opened. I said that this is the first time back after being sick with a good cold. He asked me how did you get over it? I told him that I made a conscious effort to be happy regardless of how I felt this time. Instead of surrendering into self-pity and moaning about being sick, I just dealt with it with a happy mind. Of course it did not end faster, necessarily, but was less of a mental wallop where one normally piles all of life’s little miseries into the same pile. Reggie was quick to say this is just he wanted to hear, and when he first started he was told this way back. I told him that they are a lot of unhappy people in this world, but it up to you to not get on their boat. Maintain a smile, and it will make you a wiser person. I say this to remind myself.
I carried this idea on when I flew right into an airport closure full of unhappy people during the holidays. Waiting for my flight that was extremely late, when they had cancelled all flights when the agent kept our hopes up that we would fly out. Then they ran out of deicer. I maintained my relaxed attitude through finding my luggage in piles of bags with tons of unhappy people, finding a taxi, a hotel, etc in the snow. I made the decision to get out as fast as I could to avoid spending the night at the airport eating over-priced high fat foods and lots of sugar. The food alone would drive anyone crazy. I listened to several stories of three nights at the airport from others fortifying my position to remain happy or at least neutral about all that was happening. And in rapidly increasing difficulties as thousands flew right into a mess with no hopes of it being resolved fast. Being calm as I could possibly be, helped to maintain my overall happiness.
17 December, 2008
I ventured out, knowing a little Dharma never hurt me and perhaps they need help at temple. Even though I emailed earlier that I was going to stay home sick with a good winter cold. Now most smart people stay in bed on a cold night. I enjoyed the talk and meditation, reinforcing the need to work on my weak points. Missing my bus coming back, and thought it would be smarter to walk than to sit in the cold and wait. About a mile I came to a bus stop, I found a old man hanging on to newspaper racks, obviously having trouble. Nearby were at least 8 people and more walking by. At first I thought he was drunk and I am sure many others did too, but his desperation to hang on to stand up...spelled “help me”. It was the way he was trying(and his intention) and the way his hand got caught in the door. He wasn’t trying to get a paper, he was trying to just get vertical enough to stand. My heart went out immediately. He never said help, but he did need to go home on the bus, that I got it out of him when I approached and talked to him. It is funny how in these situations my speech problem does not get in the way. I saw in his bag he was trying to pick up from the ground contained breakfast cereal and an umbrella. I just let it unfold, being as clueless as the next person. So I helped the guy to get to the stop, then on to the bus, even to sit down. Then I rode with him, trying to ascertain how he makes it, and how the hell did he get there in the first place. He never complained, and mostly what he talked about was feeling sorry for all those people that lost their jobs with this economy. I thought he really needed help, and this was a new problem for him even though he was old. Asking him where his house is, he was alert enough(an obviously not a drunk), so I rode with him to stop near his house past my stop. He did not expect me nor ask because it really caught him off guard. I thought there is no way he will get home, from the bus stop in this condition. He said thanks, we talked about where I live and what music he liked…jazz. I told him I have seen Ella and Sarah decades before when I was a “kid”. He said, “Saw Billie Holiday, and what a voice she had!” Expressing to him, that I could see me in the same place he is, and needing some help. He replied, “Age, creeps up on you fast!”
I felt bad for him while walking alongside him in slow pace, because it was very difficult on him. I supported him as much as he would let me. He was trying to rush to the safety of his own home, obviously. I carried his bag and his arm...carrying most of his weight up to his apt and unlocked his apt building main door that was even for me a difficult heavy door. Thinking he would never make to his room, and collapse in the lobby, so I came in, practically carrying him up two sets of stairs, unlocked his apt with him and led him all the way to his bed. He was very winded, but so was I. He was drooling, his heart racing from trying to make it home, but still ok enough to say, “I don't need help," or don't call anyone for him. I put his pillow under his head, unzipped his coat, got some tissue for his face, and asked him if he wanted water(although water after a stroke is not a good idea). As I took off his hat and laid his head on the pillow, there was a small fresh blood stain. I also asked him if he wanted me to call his lady friend or god daughter he spoke of on the way home. He replied, "No, god bless you and take a pen." Looking around a an apartment looking very spare, I guess it was the only thing he had that he could give away and I was touched. But knowing the weakness and the drooling were quite possibly a sign of a stroke, or head injury, I moved the phone close to him, so he could call, but I just not did feel right leaving him there. Even though he would probably want to die at home. It did not seem he was thinking of dying just yet, maybe his fear of hospitals or his financial status told him to say he was fine.
Walked out, towards home still not feeling good about this. So even before getting home, I called the police while walking and had them come to see me to explain the situation arriving at my home as I walked up. They proceeded to his home after seeing me. Why did I see him and others nearby did not? There were quite a few people walking by him, like I was. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why I survived my near death to come to help him and others.
13 December, 2008
In process of living with a broken computer, and doing everything in my power to not let it bother me. If it stopped working, I would try to do something else, until I was able to ascertain the cause. I even bumped up my meditation practice, and tried to smile more often to more people or help them. I was trying to keep the repairs reasonable, so that happened to hurt me in time. But how can one see the future? On one hand not turning it over to Apple to repair, cost me a week without it. My alternative was to give it to a local repair shop with a great reputation. Who would know it would not repeat the same error and sleep a lot for them? I just laughed. In the one day it was ok, I was able to run a disc repair program quickly before it failed that told me what was the error code that caused this, which jived with what the help at Apple genius bar had said. So I took it back to the same place after emailing him my results. I kept the emails cordial, trying to hide my frustration. Then they, lucky for me, replaced the part and did not charge me the labor, since I paid the first visit when it was never fixed. I maintained my cool, because this whole process took me over a month without full use of it. I really have to praise them for being honest and fair which sadly is now a rarity in the U.S. That really is the point of telling you the boring details, as well as to remind myself. By being cool headed and trying to understand both sides, I actually ended up happier by not getting upset about things you can’t control. These are a just a few of great things that happen when you change your mind. It is not so much a religion but more a practical way to live your life. My idea is to hopefully become that wise soul that people come to for help and ideas, and to die peacefully not holding on to my existence in this body. I will only expose them to the Dharma …nothing new.
29 November, 2008
Well, I have been plagued with computer problems and took it in for a week. They tried to figure it out, as it was sleeping too much and I brought it in while it was doing this. Of course with my luck, it never did it again. Ah, ha! It turned out to be yet another way to work on my patience.
I found out that an acquaintance who I saw last summer, killed himself at age 20 over his girlfriend rejection. Sad, but mainly for those left to deal especially his mother. I respect decisions as severe as suicide when it is used to take control of your life, but not in this immature way. And he had such promise and seemed like he had goals. But you can never know what is in people’s head.
While I was computer less, I was busy fixing up a bathroom in my house, and doing handyman work for friends. I also saw a nice moral kids film called Raja Siri Raja. It is from Sri Lanka, and having traveled there twice it brought back nice memories. You can find it on Youtube and I wish I could it to buy for my nephews.
My partner is close to finishing his BA, and is busy working overtime to complete his projects. With a happy sound in his voice that shows there is light at the end of his tunnel. But now he is on a role he now wants a MA and PHD to elevate his marketability. I told him go for it, while you are in the mood and I’ll help. At least he never asks for handout, and he works hard for everything. If I can help him it gives me a real sense of purpose. I joke with him that he will be more educated than I.
I try to do work and when I have time off get out and do exercise. Today, I biked 33 miles, through some of the most beautiful parts of the city. Along the bridge to another city and back home. Riding back I caught one of our beautiful fall sunsets with orange and red. I helped to get me out of my funk, that often present “why am I here” feeling we often have. I tried to smile as I rode, saying hello frequently and let any annoyances go. That allowed me to find a 5 dollar bill along the way, my lunch for the day!
06 November, 2008
I was very offended to find Yes on 8 ads on my blog, so I pulled Google adsense. The mormons were busy spreading more hate, taking away my rights to marry. And I thought there was a separation of church and state? This will only strengthen our resolve to have equal rights as this went straight to our loving heart. You would think that it would be a good thing for us to be married, as we provide more dollars to the economy. And in the worst case of divorce we will provide lawyers a fair amount of pocket change. But with Obama’s election it kept our mood higher and made us way more hopeful after he mentioned us in his speech. I can say I am still speechless after his clear victory, signaling a real statement after McCain/Palin's hateful champaign that people saw through.
The following day, I was doing some handyman work for a stranger, and upon finishing she promptly gave me a check. I frowned a little, but wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. So, I left her house and went straight to the bank, only to find out it was no good, and overdraft could not even cover it. I still had to hear the bank teller's pitch to sell me on an account there, all while I lost face over this bad check. "You sure you don't want the stuffed pony with a new account?" I have to get back to you. I decided to keep calm, while I rushed back to her house again, accessing the peace from every meditation I have ever done. I got there and rang the bell, called her name, because her balcony door were open….no answer. I called her number from my cell…no answer. I was feeling dumb, but resolved to get my money. Should I wait there until she left? I could not, because I had to meet a friend at my house. I looked at her balcony, should I crawl up? I said, that is an opportunity to break my neck and get the police called on me. I thought hard while looking around her entry. Ah, hah! I saw her electric meter, and killed her power…she came right out. I said, without getting mad, sorry your check is not good, and yes... I turned off your power. She said turn it on, and I will come out and drive you to the atm to pay you. I said fine, and in the awkward moments in her car we made small talk. I got my money just in time to get home to meditate twenty minutes before my friend came by to take me out to dinner. Whew!
31 October, 2008
I had one small cup of coffee on Wednesday at 4pm while rushing around. Then later I had a visit and a great talk with a friend about what is important in life later at 9pm. I went sleep at midnight only to wake up at 4am, for whatever reason. I tried to force myself to sleep only to realize that was pointless. I then tried to meditate upright in bed for 5 minutes, when I came the realization that I can’t change nature. I then got up turned on the computer, put on soft Indian Buddhist chants, made some herbal tea, and just figured I would make the best of this. Aren’t most problems really how you see them? Things change for whatever reason and you will drive yourself crazy trying to again make your way. Of course this the go with the flow idea, but it is a much more a real conscious effort to watch how you treat every situation in life...constantly observing. I looked back this week to a meeting with an older friend who constantly complains, almost to the point of each word that comes out of her mouth. I first thought well maybe I should distance myself from her to keep me from joining her in negative speech. Then on further reflection, I thought she might in my life for a reason, as a constant reminder of what I should avoid in myself. They are never directed at me anyway, so why take them personally? Perhaps by example I can help her and if not her…so many others.
The photos I took when I felt lonely, but instead of getting down I got out and again tried to show the beauty that is right outside your small world. But I am helping build my partner's future, a creative process just like my photography. I worked hard this week getting a huge album of photos of our last trip to my partner's mother and mailing it off. I know how Mom's are, they need to know their kids are happy!
29 October, 2008
Who will we be this coming Halloween? Something scary or comical? A joke now, perhaps temporary, and we fall back into the comfort of our lives filled with worry, self-doubts and frustrations. A real lack of peace that we strive for when we eat our favorite meal or your partner says you look great and they love you. Oh sure, we be happy when we enjoy our friends and work hard, but inside our head is a little voice that reminds us that things are not always are they are supposed to be. That is, if we don’t use our ability to watch our mind when we meditate. And then turn around when we awake and use the real peace we found there to make better choices to eliminate minor frustration or anger. Just watch how often we are displeased with common occurrences when driving or just doing normal things like shopping. I am only speaking from my own experience. I am not really sure where we got the idea that everything has to be our way, and if not we are going to get upset and make a stink. I came home and a potted plant outside my house was shattered and most likely by the school kids who wait for the bus and sit on my house wall. It was broken and done and getting upset about it will not magically repair it or justify why my stupid pot is broken? I just decided to move the plant to a spot by the school, because what will a silly jade plant matter when I am close to death in old age? NaDa, you only worry about those that love you and the short time you spent with them. So lets get busy and work on how we see our life and the world, right? I write this even to remind myself what to do because even in the short 4 years I have been practicing and meditating I have seen great progress.
25 October, 2008
I find that my sense of what I consider the world expands with my learning Buddha Dharma. In other words, my world expanded much beyond what I would have normally considered important to me. You know attractive people, and things I desired or care about before. It started just after traumatic brain injury when the natural evolution healing process caused me to look at everything in life. Assign importance to things, and change perspective on other things I would have in the past tossed aside. One important huge mental shift was seeing that others suffer, and sometimes much more than you in the present moment. Of course it meant having to stop comparing yourself to people much more beautiful and better off. This mental shift was instrumental in my healing process, and it did come to me like in a light bulb moment. I had to put aside my self-pity, which was so easy to fall into when ever I encountered exhaustion and still does now, but rarely. This is not to say that I was careless about our world as I was still active politically and socially, in the past. But now I see and feel more people I care about who I see and perhaps encounter in life. My actual caring circle expanded nearly doubling. I find myself talking to others when I think I can be of some help to them. I am not perfect, but I try to engage others when appropriate. I saw a new person at yoga that I could tell was struggling with the flexibility. He was a huge man, in both muscles and size. I told him you have to relax your ideas of being able to do it all right now, rest and relax and it will also help you dealing with life. Perfect the poses that come natural to you. Then I told him that before I even did yoga I used to sit on the floor and work on the stretches. Then when I started which was nine years ago and I still cannot do a lot of complex ones. I said it is great for getting your mind ready for meditation and will save your life in ways you never would have thought. My discussion with him included a note about how far I have come, from limping to my present good balance. And with my speech disability that gave it some real gravity to him. He said thank you and he was worried about his blood pressure so maybe I helped launch him in a new way of thinking.
16 October, 2008
I often see the damage that self-hating does to one, looking back at my own history and those of some of my friends. Being gay there are few positive role models as you grow up. Often gays are not able to talk to anyone growing up. By the time we come out the damage to our self image is already done. We might jump on the “critical boat” of finding fault in others to make ourselves feel better. Worse yet, the self doubts that can cripple our pursuits in our career. But at the minimum, we have the nagging feeling that we are just not handsome or smart enough. Later we might mature, after having close relationships where that same self doubts play such a big part showing cracks. I am here to say, stop. One spends precious time spinning in circles when you could be out just enjoying life or perfecting your niche. You can never really be pretty or smart enough for others. Most people operate on an advertised ideal person that absolutely no one can every live up to. If we approach loving our partner with the idea that they will make us happy, when in fact, we can’t even make ourselves happy …we will fail. Work on your mind and love yourself first, even when society in most cases does not. Then proceed with a real relationship not based on demands, but instead honestly wishing them love purely. Love not with the attachment of what you will get out of it…that's wisdom. You will be rewarded with long lasting relationships, even if they might break up. They will stand the test of time, because you are wise and accept the changes that invariably happen.
15 October, 2008
I was out on Sunday, deciding to go out with friends while waiting for my guest to arrive. I did not have a firm time from him, and I was not going to waste a beautiful day waiting around. So I went to Open studios in Marin Headlands by bus which is a hell of a lot cheaper than a car and better for our planet. Walking with my friends to see artist’s studios. I got fascinated by Walter Kitundu both playing and talking about his work and thoughts(see link posted). Stayed there about an hour and lost my friends, but it was all good. It left me with hope, dreams, admiration and it slowed down my fast paced existence. When he talked about watching and photographing birds and that they will let you know what they are doing. He also spoke about how standing or sitting quietly in the park the police were called many times on him. It got so bad, he had to put a sign by him that explained what he was doing. I was outraged and ashamed, but not surprised. Bringing me back to the idea that we are missing so much of what is good in life, by defining life by what we already know or fear. We think that we have it all figured out. In our little “me” world, where we originate the idea that the world happens to us, Defined by what we like or dislike. But if we just it go and view life with equanimity we will be happily surprised at how much less painful it appears to be. I rushed back to dinner with my friend, who in waiting at a bar close to my house, had met the owner of a restaurant. The owner had invited him and me to have dinner at his restaurant. Three hours of eating and drinking wine all on him! I tipped the wait staff and once home wrote a nice Thank you card, an often forgotten courtesy.
"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives"-Albert Einstein
09 October, 2008
I am waiting for a new US government brochure on “Saving for Dummies.” Soon to be followed with a Health and Human Services brochure, "Sharing for Dummies." In a country built on greed and self-cherishing we were never really ready for all this. We are great at saving old stuff, even when we know people go without all over the world. It would be in everybody’s best interest to be more accepting and friendly to your neighbors and people in general. We may not agree on a lot of things, but when you might find yourself asking for a lot more than a cup of sugar. Sooner than you think. Wouldn’t be nice if this turmoil results in more kindness between people. A real dream that I meditate on to help me generate some compassion towards others. Wishing them to be happy. Perhaps, now there might be a backlash on technology, knowing it really entirely depends on the originator. Garbage in, garbage out so as to speak. Who do you trust? Looks good, smells good, but does it feel deep down to be real and from the heart? I am not talking about art and music, but the information that we use to guide our lives and give us as sense of well being, albeit somewhat false. Have we neglected our most important sense, intuition? Shouldn’t we depend on the truth we know in our heart? That all life changes, and that the only we can change is our mind.
04 October, 2008
With the work it takes on my mind, so I don’t end up being a grumpy old man ...I sometimes see my progress. This week one day, I went to yoga and arrived early to meditate a 40 minutes prior to the class starting. I had my eyes closed, so I did not see that my normal teacher was not present, and a substitute started class. This is how I usually come out of meditation, and hearing music I was unfamiliar with I knew it was another teacher. I assumed she was trying to get her IPOD list for class, but it was really what she was playing. The music was not a “death jam, ” but it was still did not go with yoga, actually fighting the relaxing flow normally associated with it. I tried to deal with it as best as possible, but with my brain injury could not figure out what was going on. It was bugging me, so I put on my own IPOD thinking that I could do it visually …but again too much input for my brain. I thought should I tell her the music sucks? I decided I would not, because it is arrogant and most likely someone else would. I looked around at several students that I know to see if they looked unhappy. I stopped doing yoga, and tried to just be still, but I was bothered. My eyes while closed were buzzing, showing me how much anger affects the body. I was doing my best not to get angry, but still? I am not happy? No, I thought. Or is just the wrong music? Yes, and it could easily be fixed by leaving. So I quietly put my shoes on and left, without making a scene or a face. The old me, would have walked up to her and told her the music is not appropriate. But not now, thinking of the other members of the class, they would have felt my vibe and it would have rubbed off on them. I would be spreading my anger and really it was just one hour, and I could do something else. So, I hopped on stairmaster until the class ended. Later three of my friends came up to me and said the music was awful, and they complained to the teacher. She said, “It is my playlist.” And one friend even went to the management and complained.
My friend later said, “You left.” I did not say to her that complaining does make one happy, but thought of it in relation to me. The process of letting go of trying to control the outside world is one I have to practice every day. I have to also reflect on my errors while in meditation, because I will forget often. But this one instance showed signs of anger slipping and wisdom’s potential.
28 September, 2008
Walking home, I came across two trash cans that where blown out into the street and picked them up and put them back on the sidewalk braced by a pole. A car drove by and the man inside driving it yelled out, “You’re a good man!” Flattered and surprised, I said, “Thank you” and continued walking. I made me think, not about me, but whom in my life I could say that to. Immediately, four friends came to mind. This is not discounting my partner who to me is a firmly placed as exceptional, so I can put him aside in my thought wonderings. I have at least four good friends who without ever saying it always project an intention to love and care about me. I have more good people in my life, but these shine. They can be miles away, and I still know where their intention lies. This known intention allows me to have strength when the chips are down or when hard decisions have to be made. They are part of my bailout, which also includes mediating, that I use to combat any self-pity or worry. My bailout does not repackage old fears and mistakes and resell them to my friends.
24 September, 2008
I went on Monday to watch a friend's swearing in ceremony to be a US citizen with 1077 others from around the world. While I set up to photograph from above, I stood up from my seat and a Chinese man took it. It made no sense, because he had to sit directly behind my ass, and I wasn’t very far from the seat in front of it. I used my Buddhist practice to let go and not yell at him and took the one next to him. It was a conscious effort as usual. Then I proceeded to talk to him about cameras, some small talk just to clear the air especially for me. The ceremony unfolded, the guy from immigration was entertaining with his address and his ability with at least 5 languages. And I thought there were no signs of intelligent life with the current administration. Then we had to watch two “B” hallmark style films about immigration, then the killer of the whole morning: Bush’s address looking sadly like a worried Alfred E. Newman. Next was the swearing in, proceeded with the roll call to stand up by each country A to Z. Of course China was #1, and Mexico #2. The oath was embarrassing to me with the request to bear arms for a now corrupt government for illegal war ("....so help me God.")
I really had to relax, but was rewarded when I saw the lines and excitement for Obama and the Democratic party registration table outside afterwards. Two pathetic, unhappy WASP women ran the Republican table with very few visitors leaving them very grumpy. I took photos of multi-raced people posing with the Obama’s life-size photo cutout. The atmosphere was so happy and charged up that I even photographed a woman when she did not have a camera with her and wanted a shot. I emailed it to her. Seeing all this made my proud to be an American again.
21 September, 2008
We are still traveling down the road assessing likes, dislikes and neutral objects when we encounter a boulder that appears in the road. It was fine until the bugs, the heat, the other idiots on the road, and now a boulder. It slowly becomes obvious that you are a reactive state to things that appear to be coming at you. So if you dislike that boulder in front of your new sports car on your first day off in a month, you may get agitated or even angry. And with this you may start to add other things you don’t like about the day, the car or your life. I have often said you are really asking for more misery to help( right! help?) you to understand why this boulder is really NOT making your day. You’re so focused on this boulder, all else falls by the wayside. It does not make any sense if you break it down, but we do it (or at least I do) more often than we care to say. Now, put this boulder aside, you are barreling towards with blinders on and you have not at all noticed the beauty that is on the periphery of your journey. You may have earlier when the going was smooth, easy only because for one hot minute you forgot your dislikes. Likes: the wind blowing through trees, the sunlight reflecting on leaves, the wisp of fog burning off. Or one of my favorites – the smell of impending rain(yes, I smell it). Oh, and that person saying hello to you for no other reason but to share in the beauty of the day. And snapping back to your current upset state about that boulder and you are hard pressed to grunt “hello” back. The world is much more than little old me, and will show its beauty to someone a bit more awake than I, if I don’t change. And now for some reason, I am much aware of how little time is left in my human body. I want to view this world like I did at 12: big, amazing, beautiful, fantastic and ever changing. I like it.
18 September, 2008
So, I have been trying to monitor how I perceive this current crisis and life in general. If I look back at my life and my family’s lives, I have watched my grandfather die trying desperately to hold to money and life. He did not like dying, and he wasn't prepared. We lose it all, and we die just as helpless as we came into the world at birth. All we can do is make wiser decisions on our path, and try not to focus on dislikes. We really cannot change to the world to be our way, and have everyone view it through our eyes. Nor can we shut down and go into a corner because we don’t like the way things are right now. What we can do is change how we see the world, and with our wisdom view it with a lighter mind. This is not to be confused with a positive outlook but seeing things as they really are, always changing. Try not to hold on to the disappointments of dislikes, there are way too many. They have the ability to change when we think we have it all arranged the way we like it. Look at the financial mess, we have enough history I hope, so that we remember when it was all good. Now a disaster…temporarily. It seems like we find ourselves constantly disliking something or someone, even to the point of looking for more things to dislike. Now think about it… we are causing our own misery one dislike at a time. For instance, even a neutral view of someone alone can prevent us from meeting the right person. We might walk by and not say hello to someone who can change our life immensely, holding to our narrow view.
15 September, 2008
I was meditating in the gym before yoga, and this came to my mind. Some people have the need to make noise. It is kind of like the “I am here!” drop of keys, a mat or a ball. It can be done without thinking, but I think it is done to get attention. I have noticed in Asia people are less likely to do this or be engaged even casually in someone else’s business. I know my partner is so quiet, almost in stealth mode. So, these noisemakers would be considered rude there. I know several times I have groaned while doing exercises, in the hopes of getting some sympathy and perhaps a smile. I just know someone is thinking the same thing, “Why am I here? Of course, I am not immune to these same things just becoming more aware. With my awareness I am saying hello more to strangers, instead of slyly making noise. Changing.
I will be meditating and the person next to me will have a friend who just happens to have some new gossip, and will come talk to them, quite audibly knowing I am quiet near them. I have now gotten used to every noise and refuse to let my brain go there or listen. Or to get bothered. It took time, and even patience with myself to not be engaged in noise or conversation. I can…with intention. I do think that when I die, people will continue to talk and make noise and I won’t party to any of it. Better get used to it.
10 September, 2008
I was recalling Monday all day Tuesday. Mainly, because it was an important event whenever you see a friend that still loves you. Well, on the way home transferring buses, I ran into a guy who is homeless that I see ever so often. He looks kind of Cro-magnon, and carries himself like dangerous person. When I first saw him years ago, I would avoid him to the point of walking across the street. At that time I figured he was mentally ill, and a bit violent. In reflection it is probably self-preservation on the street. Later in time, with the things I learned with Buddha’s teaching I had relaxed enough to say “Hi” whenever I saw him. Regardless what mood he is in. Well, guess who walked up to me while waiting for the bus with two books in his hands? Him. One book he had was a hard cover literary horror book with great well-known illustrations. He was showing me the book, and even liked the high quality work. He did not want to sell it to me, but he wanted to give it to me. I was not present in the moment, and said why don’t you sell it to get money? He kept showing the book and again offered it to me unconditionally. Sure I did not need it, but his intent was honest and good…and I was being an idiot in my own world wanting to get home quick. A day later I said to myself I would be doing the best for him by just taking the book and honoring his pure intent. I know now I owe him an apology when I see him next, my wisdom was playing hooky that day. Love does not always come in the form we expect especially when we are guarded. Tonight, I took more sealed lunches (left for me by my crossing guard angel) that I heated down to people I found hungry on the street. It was easy to find hungry guys not too far away. The oil painting is done by my friend mentioned in Monday's post. Dedicated to Michele, a homeless advocate.
08 September, 2008
Monday, I was busy seeing a friend from out of town. Running around town, seeing museums. When we stopped at my house I leaned down to pick up 5 small lunches and soup left for me by my local crossing guard. My friend said, “What’s that?” Thinking I ordered it. I mentioned this in an earlier post. I did not need the extra food, and it would foolish to see it being thrown away. At least I could not do it. So I heated them up wrapped in a towel, and took off to find homeless to give them to. Within three miles I found people living on the street to give to. They were happy when I asked them. I rarely throw food away unless it is bad, knowing there are people going without all over the world. I have seen people while traveling without food. It was a carryover from when I was a child. It made for a nice night-cap to a great day, so I can sleep easier in my skin.
06 September, 2008
While I drove there I picked up a hitchhiker, which I do whenever I see them providing they don't look scary. I vowed to, back when I would find myself begging for a ride at 19 on a hot, dusty, country road when that was my only transportation. Surely, there is that first hesitation on both parties… a combination of the hitcher needing it, and the wariness of not knowing if it will be ok or not. The area is sort of rural just like the area I used to hitch in. I met Ricardo was on his way to his brother’s house after his car broke down. He was about the same age I was when I used to hitchhike. Talking about motorcycles and driving just enough to make each other bond and put the strangers inside of us aside. I dropped him off where he wanted which was on my way, and he wished me a safe life and a great day.
Shortly after, I found the trailhead where I was supposed to meet the others. I arrived ten minutes early, so I looked around for people gathering for a meeting before taking off. I paused seeing two other groups and asked, but they did not fit the bill and I had no idea of who to look for. I tried not to be upset, meanwhile looking around until 10 minutes past our meet-up time. I saw someone with a worried look and eyebrows raised. I asked him if he too was supposed to meet for this. He replied yes, and we had he same contact phone number, so I had someone to join me. He seemed a bit nervous, but I thought it was he just uneasy until we find the people, take off and get acquainted. We waited around an extra ten minutes, and I just said, “I am going to go, do you want to join me?” He said yes. So, we took off up the trail, with me making small talk in hopes of trying to bond. I talked about travel, and so he asked about baggage allowances, because he was going to Japan. He got into the particularities of baggage and his fears after having not traveled for over ten years. That was fine, but then it quickly became obvious that James is a nervous person when he kept going over it. And yes, that worried look never left his face all day. He complained about the heat, the inability to meet the gang, and do I know where we are going? I took a deep breath, I jumped on the wrong pony. We continued, and while walking I explained things I know about the area, stopping to harvest bay leaves for cooking. He could not be bothered to even smell them, but said watch out for poison ivy! He just wanted to walk and get there. I really wanted a relaxing day, where time was not a factor, and fatigue is never apparent because you are in the moment. If I stopped to enjoy something or to photograph, he reluctantly paused. Realizing that I was not going to get rid of him, I quickly settled my mind on the idea that he needs me there and what a better way to re-learn patience. Every time something bothered me about his inability to enjoy this great day and location, I would take a deep breath. Not audible to him of course. When I talked to him I was kind and smiling, and with no sarcasm. Maybe he would relax. We finally arrived at the arch spot that was advertised, thinking that while eating lunch the others would walk up and rescue me. I was taking photos and asked him if he wanted his photo taken and I could email it to him? He declined, but never asking me if I wanted mine taken. I had stopped three different times, when other strangers asked me to take their photo with their camera. I found it interesting that when they did they only addressed me. Wrapping it up, I said, “ Hey, I am continuing down the coast trail and will hitchhike back to my car.” Thinking he would take the same trail we took up back. James said with the same worried face, “ The same old trail is boring, I will just stick with you. I have never hitchhiked before. Is it ok?”
Patience comes rushing in with a late package for me and it is always bigger than we originally thought. I said to myself, this will be interesting. He is worried about ticks and funny, I have right now on me! Thinking, I will enjoy this day, but I will also do what he wants, to feel comfortable. A perfect stranger that I don’t like or love and I have to treat him with respect. Pulling teachings from my Buddhist practice about Universal Compassion that I had meditated on the previous Saturday we continued on the trail. Walking another two hours in hot sun, we talked less frequently, his curiosity ended hours ago... but when we did it was mainly to reassure him that I know where we are going for the tenth time. One time, I said we are there, it all depends on your mind, to hopefully lighten his mind, but this went over his head. He asked a couple strangers who crossed our paths to ask them how far to next parking lot. The old me, would have said why don’t you just go your way and I’ll go mine with total sarcasm, but I actually felt bad for him. He could not relax and enjoy a fairly easy hike in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The trail finally got down to a branch, where one way went down to the beach and the other straight up a hill. I told him that the beach is longer, but who wants to climb a hill in the heat? He agreed and while walking down we saw a whale flipping his tale playfully while eating in the distance. I said that is why we go this way! I filmed them, but even on zoom they were too far away to really get clear. Arriving on the beach I take off my shoes to cool my feet in the ocean as we walk towards the exit to the parking lot 2 miles down the beach. He continued to complain about the heat or the distance, or to voice fears about the ocean. I just told him if he ever gets caught by a wave, the rip tides are powerful of course, but just don’t fight it, relax and swim only when the wave moves towards the shore.
Finally two hours later the parking lot where one should hitch a ride back appeared in the distance, but it was obvious in talking to him I could not say ok, see ya! And I really wanted to stay at the beach and meditate and swim, even if it was in my underwear. I knew he would stay not liking it, only because he needed me to hitch for him. Even though I told him it is easier if we go alone and it is better if you take off your hat. So I left my desire to remain there on the beach for him. And here I am with a speech disability, but I got right to the road and jumped up to first car I saw, smiling. Thumb out. It was a convertible with a lady driving not too unlike my mom. I said here you go and I’ll take the next car, but he wanted me to go enough, to ask her if she could fit me, and I had not even put my shoes on! So, I jumped in the back, and off we went. Bye, bye beach. She was nice and tolerant of his worry, so I just shut up. When we arrived at our parking lot, she drove us right there, I asked her if she wanted to join me for a beer, or if she needed money for gas. She declined, and I said thank you and off she went. Driving back around to exit I yelled, Thanks again!” James and I shook hands and departed, he did not want to join me either for a pint of beer before our drive home in our respective cars. I smiled as I drove home alone relaxed after such a long patient hike.
05 September, 2008
Meanwhile, my partner has been having some medical issues around his hereditary blood disorder. A close call when he was 20, and now it seems to have come back after an over the counter flu drug made him turn yellow after a two pills. Now he is healthy eater, works out, and doesn’t drink but this goes beyond a fluke. This is a sign his liver is not functioning well, so I said you have to get a blood test to measure your red blood cells. This will determine the course of events for treatment which my include transfusions and/or iron chelators. But his work health insurance is lousy and the doctors mean. I think they work against him, so he can’t depend on them to give him the correct diagnosis. So I sent money to him to go to a private hospital, which I have been to. The many problems of the developing world, people’s lives are dispensable. It is so hard when you love someone and you not right there when they need you. Hopefully soon enough I will be, meanwhile I will make sure he gets what he needs.
31 August, 2008
Earlier this year, I found a blog of a guy doing what I wanted do. Bingo. To sail around the world. Wow. Reading it I could feel the salt air blowing on my face, and time stopping effect of sailing. Even reliving the way your legs feel when you finally walk on a dock. I wanted to be there. And this is not on some whim. I have sailed a bit, on boats similar to his on a very difficult bay, and come from a line of sailors. Maybe not an old salt myself, but I am familiar with a lot. My father built a sailboat from scratch. I was thinking I could join him while in Thailand, because he was nearby. Fly to where he was, and join him for a month as a member of his crew. Mind you this was a shared expense journey, and has a daily rate. Knowing my partner would be busy with school and work my second month there, it sounded like a good idea. At least it did to me then. So I contacted him when he had a spot. To introduce him to who I was I sent him my blog link, and wrote him to apply for his open position. My blog profile mentions about my brain injury, and he quickly replied no, that I would handicap him. From his experience with previous crew members with less serious issues. What he did not know that I lap swim an hour, do an hour yoga, workout in gym plus stairmaster each three times a week. But now really all I could say is I respect your decision and good luck. So this fictional letter is to him.
You don’t know how many times I could kicked myself, when I was 29 and vacationing in Mexico I met two guys who had a yacht. I went out for a day sailing with them after talking to them. They said, “Why don’t you crew with us to do sail through the Panama Canal, and to the Eastern Seaboard. And the next season sail from there to Europe?” I so wanted to do it, but had just taken a job in my desired career(at that time) that I worked so hard to finally get. After much consideration I declined and the rest is history. One of the many dreams to help speed my recovery after I got home was about sailing and to do the trip I had so foolishly declined when I was at my peak. Maybe a month on a boat, someway, to find out if I want to set a long term sailing adventure like yours as a potential goal. That dream kept me going nearly 4 years after coming home. But dreams change or evolve.
I do have thank you for not taking me this time. It turned out to give more quality time to spend with my partner that I would have spent on the boat. It is really funny how things turned out to be better than I would have thought. Happy Sailing.
Things do happen for a reason, and maybe I was not meant to sail that time. But I made the choice in my head to not be angry. It turned out to be this time, another gift of love. Sure, I was disappointed but once he said no, and of course he would not change his mind. He had formulated an opinion of me, (right or wrong)that seemed like a logical move for the safety of his boat. I really can’t blame him.
Very much like a typical reaction from most new people I meet with my speech problems, of fear or disgust. The reason for most is unfamiliarity, or misunderstanding the cause. Or maybe it reminds them of their own passing? I have learned slowly over the years to not take it too personal, by imagining I am on the other side of fence. You know I was once, and perhaps in will happen in another life.
28 August, 2008
On the flight back, I settled in my aisle seat with an empty one next to it. Tell me the airlines are not hurting. I tried to read, but being too tired to, I put on music and watched the sun set on the Pacific. Looking around the plane at other empty seats, I thought that it was curious that they announced it would be a full fight. I guess that is American optimism for you. Then, my eye caught a glimmer down at my feet, I looked next to where the seats are anchored to the floor, and saw what I thought was a diamond. I calmly reached down to see if I could pick it up. At the same time I was already imagining selling it and dividing the proceeds in my head. Perhaps dividing it between my sister and my partner. The mind was on a trip, fantasizing, and it never involved turning it in. It was wedged pretty good in between the rug and where the seat anchor was, in a pile of dirt and dust. Like a carnival game I would try to pick it up and I would push it further away as my fingers where too big to tweezer it up. So I reached into my bag, and found my little keys to a luggage lock. I used it like a doll spoon to reach under it and pull it out of its hiding place. I was feeling very lucky which was a great distraction from the sadness of leaving my sister and nephew. I continued the mental calculation of size and potential worth as I brought it close to my eye. It was looking kind of dull for a diamond, so I placed in my hand in the sunlight streaming in the window all while maintaining my hope. Then as easily as I found it, it dropped behind the seat next to me. Clink! Lifting it up I peered under and saw nothing. I said to myself, why didn’t you put it in your pocket? Stupid! So not to look like a total idiot, I ordered a glass of wine,already spending the dream figuring I would find it under the seat on the floor after the folks behind me disembarked later.
I was drinking, and thinking, and waiting and waiting. I would vacillate between "spending the money", and cursing myself for dropping it. I even pondered the idea, that I should let it go, as with my luck it will probably turn out worthless. But you never know. Jeez, shut up brain and just relax. Looking between the seats to see behind my seat if those people caught my foolish move and heard the clink I heard. No, they were oblivious and in love…a nice older Hispanic couple. Good. Feeling slightly dumb, but still determined to get my jewel, I thought back to a time when I did find one, damaged on a cabin floor I was vacuuming at 19 yrs old. The clink that time made me empty the bag on the street digging through it until I found it. It was damaged either by the vacuum or the setting it fell out of. So much for tough diamonds. That one I ended up getting re-cut, and selling to finance my first apt in my city, when I moved here broke. So, back to the plane, we land smoothly and the folks get off behind me and I am trying to calculate how can I find it and not look like a terrorist planting a bomb. I jiggle the seat where the seat divides, using my plane ticket. Not there. Then following down where it was most likely to fall, and it was quietly resting in the same place on the opposite seat anchor next to the window. I quickly lifted the banding on the carpet and grabbing it, and putting it smartly in my pocket. I casually walked out with the passengers from the rear of the plane towards staring and curious, but polite stewards saying good-night. I got it! I arrived home from the airport to survey my new treasure. I put in down, got a loupe and quickly found that I had picked up a rhinestone. My dreams quickly vanished as fast as they just started an hour ago.
Now haven’t you had a similar experience that you build up in your mind as unsurmountable? And a year later when recalling the event, just seems trivial as a rhinestone? Approach life with some fore thought. Advance your mind to a time ahead when what you think at the present moment seems to big too handle. You will be surprised how easy you are able to move past hard times. I used this back when I was in the hospital with breathing tubes and doctors hovering around me with sour faces, imagining a time when I would travel again. And it came true because the real diamond is inside of us waiting to be found.
27 August, 2008
I was away in Miami, busy with my sister and my nephew and unable to post with no spare time. I went with the idea of helping her while she worked by taking care of her son. I arrived a bit sick from the flight, catching a cold during a screwed up flight. I started out at the airport killing time meditating, so when the flight was cancelled and then postponed three and half hours, I calmly got up. Actually walked away in the opposite direction of the angry people in line for my flight waiting for answers. I walked to the next flight and did stand-by making it by hair let in through the closing doors at the last minute. I made it to my connection within three minutes, so I arrived on time as scheduled, just missing my luggage. I think if I were not so relaxed at the point where they announced the huge delay after an extra hour of waiting I would not have made a smart quick decision that day. That is what concentration does for you, avoiding the pitfalls of anger. So I got my luggage the following night, but I got there on schedule and just in time for a tropical storm! So my sister got two more days off, when schools were cancelled. This gave us more time to talk and do things together and me to assess what I could do for her and her house while not busy with them. I painted, trimmed trees, and did miscellaneous repairs to make her life easier. It was sometimes daunting because I never felt great, but I maintained an intention to do as much as I could before I left and keeping the complaints to a minimum. When I returned was treated to a loving thanks and the knowledge that we had a good time although it was way too short. It is hard to be away from family, but as I get older I get better at making the best out of it when we do see each other. The more I have positive experience of mindfulness brought on with meditation the more it enforces the need for it on a regular basis.
14 August, 2008
Throwing down my arms, I settle into a patient stance when all hell breaks loose. A real ho-hum, whatever, look and feel, as if there is no other way to be…grudgingly. But no, really having patience is not—not putting up with it. It is an active mind constantly reviewing past mistakes and upsets to reform your reaction in a sensible way. A way to look beyond the ‘crisis’ moment to how you want to see yourself and the outcome after all the smoke clears. This is a mature and wise way to be. Surely you have met people in your life, and end up saying to them, “You are so patient, I could not do that!” You marvel at how things roll off their back, but never realizing all the while that this is an active choice to be wiser. It is foolish to think that we can arrange our whole life to be free of problems. In a brief ‘light bulb’ moment, I know that there is many more things that I will encounter without patient acceptance they can possibly destroy me or my spirit. So the more I work on the practice of patience, actively choosing to remain calm and level headed, the better. Then as the body slowly wears out it will be less of a shock, hopefully saving me from becoming a grumpy old man. It will allow me to reflect on the times I don’t and compare with times I did. I know one good instance where a careless truck hit my house and caused some damage. I remained calm throughout, never getting angry, even when I had to do all the work to get the funds from the driver’s company, including going there with photos on two occasions. The end product was cash in hand, having it repaired myself, the way I really wanted. All without stressing my body, which would actually hasten my departure. A few times I have reflected on this, when I get mad over silly things and remind myself, practice. And it starts here with patience with yourself.
10 August, 2008
Well, a famously photographed arch fell in Utah. Big deal, time marches on. I can tell you a lot more has fallen than my arches in the time I have been alive and photographed.
I have noticed more people in the US have that obsessive-compulsive disorder of not being able to throw out stuff. They end up with rooms of things they will never use clinging on to them in hopes that the memories contained within will keep them alive.
This is not even addressing the need to buy and have more things as an exercise. But only in futility. While you out buying more things, people are living in this world without the basic necessities of life like food and water. Not to mention housing and healthcare. So let’s put a little effort into thinking about our own passing and help others around you instead of leaving them a mess to clean up. And a big dumpster bill. That is a start. (photo thanks to Arches National Park)
06 August, 2008
I am trying to weed myself off the news, and not because I don’t care. It is more like there will always be bad things happening with a few good things. It brought to light that the world will continue without us …whether we get out raged or not. This is not a defeatist attitude, is just seems real looking at this big huge world. Now, this is coming from someone who has been active in trying to instrument change for about 30 years. After I noticed that when a famous person dies, that it is noted for a day or two. But after that, everything surrounding that person’s importance falls by the wayside, it appears. The world, in my view, will not bat an eye when we are gone. This does not mean that we should not have moral discipline. If we don’t think before we act we actually jeopardize our future happiness... while we are here. This sound is very self-serving but if we create the world in which we live, even though it is smaller than we first thought, we will be happier. Within our little world if we stop lying, watch our speech, being kinder to strangers and friends we start to work on the world we really want to exist in. It turns out to be within our grasp, even if we start, at first, with an intention. So, when we no longer exist, the people in our ‘world' will be the ones to carry memories of us around with them. If we leave behind us a positive ‘wake,’ then we are much more likely to inspire continuing good will and actions among those close to us. This will, in turn, create the world we really wanted working from inside out. My idea, real reincarnation are the positive memories that we leave with those around that love us.
04 August, 2008
It would be good if we could wait for things so casually. Hopefully, with a relaxed attitude we can accept each moment as it comes. This does not disturb our desires and goals, but allows free passage when the time is right. Meditation helps one to see where the mind travels quickly to what we like and dislike, running over our built-in relaxed peacefulness that rests dormant inside. I often will begin a meditation, with mind in hyper-mode of multiple thoughts jumping quickly one to the next. I first start to notice what I am doing. Next try to bring my focus to the breath, then sometimes sidetrack into another silly thought. If it becomes clear I am not focusing solely on breathing and just being in the moment I change the tactics. Instead of getting angry at myself, I just to make it my intention to change it each time to bring it back to the breath. If I still find it difficult, which happens when I have coffee or something is really bothering me. Then I will change my focus on wishing people in my life to be free from suffering, and envision myself taking their suffering away pulling it towards me like imaginary dark smoke. This works well with Type A people, which I am. You know we got to be busy! Propelling my thought train onto a positive track which leads my mind on a much more relaxed ride. Often times leading me back to my breathing naturally.
03 August, 2008
I think we are doing a horrible disservice to our young people, by not teaching them about death. It’s mainly a problem in the USA, and not elsewhere. This would entail, showing them the aging process, and maybe a trip to an old folks home. It would be important to show them how beautiful and young they were in their 20’s, to compare to their present state. Combine that teaching with the idea if we age, then we need to save for aging, and not for botox. Years ago my own dermatologist said that botox will make the muscles slowly cease to function and your skin will smooth out. Nope, I actually bought him more time to sell more to me. What you see walking out, is quickly erased in less than two months. Like any junkie you are back for more. I wish I had the money I spent on it back then.
Now, I am paying a hell of price, sitting here with brain damage caused by my pursuit of a flat stomach. Elective surgery is just that, you elect to risk your life all for what? Sure, I got a flat tummy(then) as a side dish, but also a coma and bi-lateral strokes as my main course. No matter how I rationalize this, it was still a foolish move, and I have paid tremendously. Fast forward to now, I have tried as best as I can to turn this around. To learn from my mistake. So what does a wise man faced with extraordinary circumstances do? Become wiser( I would like to say, Become extraordinarily wise!) But that will come later. This came to me, perhaps I should tell my story to ladies or gay clubs? And the sooner you find a partner who accepts you as you are, and is conciously aware of the aging process ...the better. Read my earlier posts below to see I have moved beyond this.
31 July, 2008
28 July, 2008
My next thought is about the very American way of talking about others to paint a funny picture. This enables us to feel better about our self. We are each are different people, so how could we ever compare? Each person has a unique history and family, full of odd characters and small tragedies. So then why do we feel so bad about our self, why do we even bother with poor self-image? Perhaps because of advertising, or peer pressure or just ennui. I am very guilty of this, and while recently hearing friends or family talking like this made me want to be more aware. It does not make one more interesting to talk of others, instead it almost better to talk of ideas and passions. So changing this, will help me to become a more interesting and less sarcastic person. As a son of a sarcastic father this will take some doing.
24 July, 2008
Often you think you have the right answer to help someone or shed some light. But more often, others do not align themselves to your individual progress or wisdom. I find it difficult, but know it is best in most circumstances to just be quiet, instead of “helpful” when it is not wanted or does not seen to be the right time. It is energy not wasted, it is way better spent on those that ask honestly or just need some help. The world does stand still for us, ever evolving… with each on their own path. Paths cross when two people happen see the commonality we all share.
That ours is a life of suffering, from minor inconveniences like sore feet to our individual expiration date. It happens that we die alone, regardless of how the movies show it. We know this deep down and avoid this realization, and continue to hurt people in our quest to think we are better. Wise friends will show up or call when I need them, offering their ideas only when prompted. Can I be as wise to others? A few times I have and been told so. But I feel it was the natural thing to do. Could it be that wisdom and compassion exists in us untapped? Do we have to suffer to understand kindness? My idea is to take suffering and transform it into Buddhist wisdom.