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.