30 December, 2009

Monk Cheeks

A month ago, while talking to a Buddhist nun about their new temple she remarked you look so bright and young after I told her my age. I quickly replied, “Ahh, the power of dhamma!”
Last week, I stopped by to see my ex-business partner at work and in the middle of catching up he kept looking at my face. Looking at all angles of it while talking about his life, while I customarily agree in silence. He said, “You had some work done,” but dropped it fast when with his observation he saw no scars. I let it go, because he always thinks I am doing way better than he even though I am scraping by, hand to mouth. I have been meditating a lot these last two months, to lessen my desire to be with my partner while he is busy with his Masters. Combined with knowledge that I feel more lightness of being overall. I tell him I am working on myself to be chai yen(cool heart) for him. It would be a feat, but you always have to set your goals high. Chai yen is not showing your anger or displeasure, which for him is now second nature. For me it is a different story, standing up for myself frequently being perceived as an idiot with this disability. But you know—you can't change the world, only your mind.

A couple days later, another Thai friend said you look well, and your checks are rosy. He said you have monk cheeks, having been familiar with those effects shown on monks who meditated. I said, “Really? Don’t say Olay! They got in trouble showing Twiggy airbrushed back to about a 30 yr old in an eye cream ad. So when you think meditating is too hard, just remember it takes years of worry off of your face...truly anti-aging!
añjali Phra Apisit >
* you inspire me

27 December, 2009

Sssh! The Sound of Silence

I was a goofy kid whenever it was real quiet, I would hear a high-pitched, silvery-like sound while day-dreaming in my room. Mom would say I have good hearing, when I mentioned I could hear high frequency of automatic door closers in the market. In Jr. High, I would ride my dirt bike out to the fields to watch the clouds, sometimes hearing the sound of silence there, too. Lately, I have been hearing it more and more, during quiet times at home and it seems like meditation helps to access it. I did not mention it back as a kid for fear of being called again a freak. I had enough problems. And now, because I felt like it might be another side effect of my brain injury, not really tying it in to the sound I heard as a kid, I never googled it. Silly me, I even thought it could be the wi-fi going to our computers.

I went to all day sit today with Buddhist Nuns, having been familiar with them from a past meeting at a monastery. The first hour was working on your body, then walking meditation.
When we came in for the second sit, Ajahn Anandabodhi began to talk about the sound of silence, as taught by Ajahn Sumedho, and she wasn’t talking about that old song. I lit up, and I wanted to burst out and say, there really is one and I am not crazy? She talked about using it to meditate on, either letting concentrate your focus, or broaden it as it encompasses everything in life. This vibration of life I can hear even now, over the drone of my refrigerator. I now know what it is, and with a day of silence I know how to how to find it. It is not something you can look for, because it exists all the time, so you know it intuitively not like a violin sound you listen for. It will come to you when your mind is quiet. It made the remainder of day a breeze to get into if I tapped into this sound. On the way home I told my friend about hearing I but afraid to mention it as a kid and later as a adult, we both laughed because he had the same experience. When I got home I looked at the course title of today’s sit: nada yoga-attending to the mysterious sound of silence and the development of it as a support for both concentration and insight, duh. So, quiet mind means your own tune, not Looney Tunes!

23 December, 2009

The BRAIN test

I can comb my teeth, and brush my hair…all by myself. I really thought I was getting better. The other day, I was online shopping as the bots don’t care about my peetch paabuum. Hummph. So, Avatar really is what your dentist's scrapes off your teeth every year. I learn something new every time I am online. I was in between a porn site Amazing Tatas and Amazon and when I hit upon a brain test. FUN-FOR-MENTALS Search engines seem to speak a language unknown to me. I decided here is my chance to shine, 'cause god knows... nobody wants a brain test for xmas.

You know, the flashing symbols and colors kind. Fingers posed over the left and right arrows, I pushed START. Thinking maybe all this meditation will help me focus. YESSS(fist pump in the air) I’m off and running trying to make my momma proud. Whooped that sucker, and then waited for my score. Computing and computing, waiting for my easy A. Look at my fingernails in the meantime. Then shock and awww it comes back with 35.8% score. That is 35.8% percent of normal folks score. Whaaaa? So, I thought maybe that glass of wine with dinner slowed me down. Cracked my knuckles and sat up straight in my chair and I cranked it up again. Ready, Set, Go! I’m off and feeling like I got the feel of this test. Is it the shape or the color? Not any hard calculations involved, or mysterious lingo. It came back with 35.9%! I guess the learning curve is set high.

I slumped in my chair, poured another glass of wine. Geez, I am that brain dead, and all the nice things people say about have far I have come ...they must be talking about when I was a coma…duh! It is a god-damned miracle I can smile anyway, so forget all those brain tests. They are a distraction to keep you from noticing they raised your health care premium yet again. And you got better things to do like last minute shopping buzzed on 2 double peppermint lattes. So, I just want you to know that even when it all seems like a waste of time and it is so damn impossible to get that unique gift that says YOU…take a breath, stare at your nose and make sure you are still attached. Whew! Yes, you can still hold it altogether to say Happy Holidaze!

18 December, 2009

Inside Your I

I have always had good taste and eye for art. Sometimes making it my living or a least an interesting hobby. But, my main focus in creativity lately has been my mental experience. Putting that first above all, to clear out the garbage we often call the stresses of our lives. Notice the “our” part of it? No one is immune from the feelings of stress and worry. They only take slightly different forms for each of us. It takes a leap of faith to approach it differently and dissect it all. Enhancing the observation with daily meditation. So, I am now creating my experience.

We all have problems from big to small. Sometimes many small ones dumped into a huge pile to make them bigger and thus seem often too big to conquer. They seem to beg for being unloaded in the company of others. I will be so glad when I will cease complaining as a way of bonding with others. It is a common habit with me. Along with my anger and frustration even in its minor forms. Adding space between my ongoing thoughts and shazam throwing the switch to allow me to channel it into a better end result. For all of us, me and you. It, for me, would not be possible without the two or three times a week with sangha listening to dhamma following meditation. I am creating the peaceful experience of all us have in our brain. It lies like a winter bulb before spring waiting for a planting when you finally get tired of the same old way of thinking. So my eye is less likely to fall upon my strong sense of I, instead the peace that is growing and creating a sense of lightness about life. Something worthwhile to fall back on.

14 December, 2009

Missed Action

I encountered more airport fun on the way back, when an already hour and half late plane, was crammed with stand-bys. Taxied out and ready for takeoff, when a guy came out of the rest room only to find a passenger in his seat. It was just a two rows back from me on the opposite side of the plane. Neither party was mad, but the woman who was rushed in the plane by the agent did not have a ticket for her seat. The pilot came on the intercom to say we have to go back to let a standing passenger off. Meanwhile, this extra passenger explained what happened to two flight attendants as we took the plane back. They were bit miffed that she had no seat ticket, so they started to attack.

She was a standby nearby the gate when the agent said, go, hurry! The temperature was rising, as you have a late plane full of unhappy people. I really felt her embarrassment, and see she was a bit red in the face. The man standing was pretty quiet to not add fuel to the fire, since he was in the bathroom when he was no supposed to be. I had no place to be in hurry, having missed my meeting with the late flight. I had volunteered earlier to take a later flight if need be, when I found out the plane was going to be late. They did not use me. I thought this would be a great time to offer my seat to the lady, and get off in her place. But the most difficult thing with my speech disability, it times like this the flight attendants will we be so focused on her, that when I speak…they will say, “Sit down, sir! or What do you want?" I know these situations so well, having had people before never taking the time to let me speak. I just had the limo company when I called to say I would be late, hang up on me. I was tired, and exhausted so my speech would not be at its best.

I was thinking it be a proper ego-busting situation to get off the plane for her, even though she was just trying to get an earlier flight and no emergency. I did not speak up to the attendants, because I knew they would be so focused on who to put the blame on when they write up their report. I failed because I had myself to think of me first, which we all know is way too easy. Thinking about it, is not an action. Everyone thinks, few act. Next time I will act. I am sorry I let her down.

12 December, 2009

Avoiding the Storm

I find it interesting to have a bunch of things happen in a row, when you least expect it, giving you a chance to use all you have learned so far. I had a chance to talk to my driver to the airport about how anger affects us, and we compared his findings with mine agreeing on all the points.

Upon arriving with enough time, looking at the mess we all know is any airport during the holidays, I tried to check in on the computer terminals. The confirmation number did not work, and I was put in a huge line to see one of two agents for all of United in a major airport. Next to my line was a huge line to go through security. I waited for 1/2 hour in line, helping other people get help and find their way, because no staff was all that helpful, and it kept me for being worried about time. Laughing to keep it light. Then my bag handle broke which made me laugh harder, I got busy quickly trying to make the shoulder strap work in its place. Doubling it up over the two loops riding conveniently above the broken handle, I figured I would fix when I returned home. Or wrap it around the next surly agent that I came into contact with…just kidding. I had to check my bag, only for the liquid restrictions on carry-on for my shave cream. $20 wasted there. It is getting so crazy that it is almost easier to travel with nothing and buy when you arrive. While in the security line, I let a woman with a close flight time jump in, and tried to help get her closer to the screeners and hopefully get through faster. The “me’s” where out in full force. I like it when everyone around plays deaf when they think they might lose their place in line.

The man behind and I were trying to rush her through, it became so chaotic that in packing my trays, and removing my shoes …my camera fell off my shoulder and hit the ground. The guy behind me said, “Not good!” but I smiled and said, “That is life.” I got through, but my hat did not, it fell out of the bins in scanner. I think it was struck inside. I asked around and no one found it, so I bid adieu to my favorite hat. So, I just made it on time through the checkpoint only to find the plane was late, and then also sat 45 minutes on the runway. Now, I know I could drive faster than taking a plane, and less hassle. All that transpired in two hours would drive anyone nuts, but I decided not to be angry or frustrated. For someone with aphasia who when I speak to anyone, I have to repeat myself many times with them looking all crazy at me. Just dealing is twice as hard as normal people experience. It takes work and constant monitoring how I feel and tweaking it towards the wisdom that you know will produce the right outcome…patience with life’s unpredictability thus avoiding the storm of anger.

10 December, 2009

09 December, 2009

What Ego?

Many times I will encounter a new person not familiar with me, and upon speaking they will get very uneasy, because I don’t have any real obvious signs of physical signs of brain injury. And then if receptive they immediately wish me well, like I am dying or getting sicker. I really can't win. I just laugh knowing, I was a sicker bitch before the brain injury and they don’t know how lucky they really are.

Losing a little touch with my ego, that fragile house of cards gradually has brought some lightness of being this past year. I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself trying to whip up some bitch about something to prove how smart I really am. It doesn’t mean that I am 100% successful in letting go, but it is a process rewarded with laughter. When I am my aware of when I experiencing the dis-ease with life and catch it before it transforms into anger, or dissatisfaction. It feels, at first, like I am denying myself the right to be angry – the ego is that powerful. If by chance, I am right this time, what do I really stand to gain? We often get angry and don’t think beyond this instant to the aftermath of the tornado. But now with daily meditation I have downloaded somewhat, each day, the myriad of worries and stuff that we file to use at a later date. This gives me the 2 seconds I need to take a better path. For instance I see the object of my anger(often times someone else) walking away unscathed and unaware of my metal turmoil, by laughing at myself. Not always out loud, but at least loosing the belt a notch, a little sigh and big smile. My father got me hooked on being right as a means to live and make your self seem better than others. But being right is tightly wrapped around your ego, that same ego that if looked closely at it, it is a mental construct held by you only, not the world.
DISCLAIMER: I got plenty more ego where that came from, this is to inspire me and recognize I am on the right path. I know I will never become ego-less, but I would settle for half of its current power.

05 December, 2009

More Connected to Our Physical World?

Are you talking to me or your damn airline ticket?
More things to keep you busy, and thus not being present. Cool, but hella distracting! Just when you thought blue-tooth headsets were annoying! HA!

04 December, 2009

Testing My Path

While moving along the Buddhist Path, I can get kinda cocky with a bunch of meditation under the belt. Feeling the wisdom slipping through the crack under the door, I relax on my self- examination.

Then a nice friend will do something out of the blue and you realize how selfish you really are or just not giving enough. That is one thing that can quickly be a splash of coffee on your white shirt.

But even tougher is when a sibling emails you to tell you how much you have screwed up her life and spews hatred that drills right into your heart. Sure, it all made up and just shows how the mind can quickly write a great fictional story. I am talking about my sister, who is amazingly bright and was very close to me for years.

Sadly, she is paranoid schizophrenic and this can be expected. By now my Buddhist teaching should be strong enough to carry me over this assault from a sick person. When I read her email everything flys out the door. I am first pissed, then, incredibly hurt. Why? Because I still love her, or at the least the person I used to know.

Can I still love her, after nearly two years of very elaborate hateful emails that cut through the very heart of who I am? And before that, almost 20 years of a very rocky road while she was in and out of hospitals, and never knowing if I am hated or loved. All the times I have cried about her unlucky roll of the genetic dice, has never changed all the pain she has gone through. It comes a time when your own self-preservation rides higher in the saddle than her sickness…she has forced me to totally cut her out of my life. She is that sick, even with her drugs. Any kind of success: be it financial, or in my case spiritual is a threat to her. She even thinks me being gay has affected her relationships.

After alienating my brother about 10 years ago, and now me…she is chopping the men out of her family, as a vendetta against my dead father. One can clearly see her mind works, and with a master’s degree she can spin a story so believable to herself. There is no doubting it for her. She has been moving further and further away from what is left of her family. Now she is far, far, away on the other side of the globe running from her mind and I will probably never see her again. She found her mind still follows her. No matter where you go, there you are! I do now and will continue to send her love during meditation and dedicate my merit to her, but it takes only one email and it quickly shatters anything left between us. You will probably say have a heart, she is not well…just give her a break. But, this will continually test everything I have learned so far on the path, and will keep me working diligently.

30 November, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

When dinner was done on Thanksgiving, I convinced the owner of the place to take the homeless guy a plate outside, since he had plenty of leftovers and wasn't really attached to keeping them. This same homeless guy welcomed me when I arrived from his chair in the sun, so I felt he must be fixture in the area. I said to the owner of the house, you should take it out to him, to be a face he sees everyday. Another friend chirped in to restate my reason, and managed to get the owner out the door with it, in hand. He returned quickly, saying something about how it felt good and looked a bit touched, and said thanks to us...his friends.

Later in the evening we took off for the movies, a yucky blood and guts horror film. I arrived earlier than the rest and another homeless man came up to me and wanted me to buy his writing. His body language was kind and gentle. He told me he needed money for copies at kinko's. Quickly summing up his intention as he had just walked up to me, Martin Ross seemed to be a kind soul and all he needed was three dollars, so I bought it. He told me he used to do Yoga, when I commented your ideas are close to Buddha's teachings. My friends walked up and all pretended like he did not exist, avoiding him and us. This was very telling, it showed lack of simple respect for another human being. But I cannot tell people how to be, as I am no where near perfect and have done the same at times. Here is Martin's piece and it borders on the nature of life that Buddha came to:
"From Body to Spirit" 11/09
Brothers and sisters the true purpose of life is to free ourselves from our dependency on the earth's resources. The main resource that we use on this planet is food. The food that we eat, that comes from the earth, brings us into contact with the earth and its resources. Our physical body is made of the food we eat on this planet. Our physical body is made is also known as our gross body. Our true purpose is to transcend our gross body and develop our fine body or spirit. Our spirits are immortal, omniscient, omnipotent, and are not dependent on the earth's resources. The way we transcend our gross body is by restricting our diets. When we eat the food on this planet it covers our spirits with matter and causes us to become dependent on the earth and its resources. This is why we must try to compose our diets of lighter foods, and also try to eat less, less often. If we practice eating this way we will eventually shed our mortal shell or gross body and become our true self which is spirit.
These do not refer to "the mission" in Finding Gratitude below.

27 November, 2009

Finding Gratitude

What if you woke up, with a little bug in your ear to do something that was good? It was far stronger than wanting to make myself happy. Like eating breakfast. How rare! The previous night at nearly midnight just as I was wrapping up the day, I got an email from an acquaintance about his father’s death. So, I stayed up to send condolences and to tell him what to expect. Recalling it like it was yesterday(my own father's death) I hoped to share some of my wisdom. It made for interesting dreams, but it came back how I could make someone else happy upon waking on Thanksgiving. Perhaps, it can be contagious once you stop thinking about yourself. At least I hope so. Anyway, I won’t go into details about what I did Thanksgiving morning because it would sound too self-congratulatory. When my mission was completed, I had no plans after serving lunch to a friend of mine. It was funny how as soon as I completed doing something nice for someone else, the phone rings. Another friend called to join his friends for a great Thanksgiving dinner. I was welcomed as old friend, going on for hours, relaxing and very tasty.

I wanted to write what I am grateful for after I spoke about it in my new dhamma meeting on Tuesday. These people don’t know me or are familiar with my injury. I am well aware that at first glance I appear to be totally normal, but once I speak the freak comes out or more appropriate my brain injury shines. I tried as best I could to say that I am grateful for my injury, coma, and my family’s love to help me see the way out. I wanted others to hear, that people suffer in ways they can’t even imagine…I know personally that being aware of others whips you out of the self-cherishing hell we all obsess on. That is why I volunteer to help others see there is a life... out of the hospital, when they return home and answer any questions they have about that transition. I try to convey the remainder of life should be seen with gratitude. It not easy to maintain all the time, but to reel back in when your view snaps back to worries and fear about yourself. You have to find resources within you that you didn’t know where there. This ability that we all have, I am so grateful for. It makes me more human.

23 November, 2009

The Choice of Suffering

“need new blades”

I post in advance when I go to see the monks once a month for lunar observance, in hopes of finding someone interested enough to come. I have asked many friends, and acquaintances at yoga as well. They say the third time is a charm, and I was contacted by man living a spiritual life(similar to a monk) out of his own choosing. I won’t go into details as to why he chose this path, but it involves some difficult suffering. We talked about the fact that the idea of the suffering is much more difficult than the actual occurrence. It made for an interesting ride there and back, and to watch someone else’s change upon leaving. We both came to the understanding it is not necessary to become a monk for our individual spiritual goals. I added that if I did it would be because my wisdom would naturally dictate I should do it to serve others better. When we arrived early, I wanted to rest, as it is a lot for a brain-injured person to drive 3 hours and talk in a car. But I tried to rest until I heard the gong sound of time to talk to the monks before the evening meditation. I asked in my stilted tongue of the head monk, “Is suffering was the quick path to wisdom?” in a joking manner. The idea came out in our discussions on the way up there. In his answer he pointed out that suffering is not the path, it leads us away from it. Talking about the arrow sutta, where if you were shot with an arrow(physical pain or getting sick, for instance), then the second arrow would be the mental suffering. You can choose to feel only one arrow, the physical pain. If we enjoy the self-created mental turmoil then, we chose to suffer the second arrow. This was one quick way to remind myself how I think about any kind of suffering. After that causal talk then we started the chanting and the evening meditation. Two hours later we were lucky enough to hear the Buddhist nun's individual stories before continuing on until 3:30 am. They are opening a new monastery in San Francisco, which will soon be up and running by the New Year. Curious, I got a chance to talk to one particular nun about her ideas of a sangha for their new monastery. I was, of course tired at 4am, but felt really mentally awake and calm. And whether my company talked to me or slept... I was content.

19 November, 2009

Surprise Ending

Our Buddhist Meeting is at a large church because you know that they have lots of space. Tonight, I am finishing up my last immediate meditation class, and hoping to snag a happy face sticker(kidding). We have some great talks among us in this small class. And it is beginning to feel like a real sangha. We have covered the The Four Brahma Viharas:
1. Metta: loving kindness
2. Karuna: compassion
3. Mudita: sympathetic joy
4. Upekkha: equanimity. We are going overtime talking about our experiences with equanimity cutting into our usual 40-minute meditation. Finally breaking to meditate in this different room than we meet in normally, as there is another meeting/seminar taking over much of the space. The eight of us with the teacher settle on our mats or chairs, and close our eyes. It wasn’t even one minute into it a guy in the hallway from the other group bursts out in a hilarious cackle. A hallway posted with meditation class in progress—please be quiet. Once, would be fine, but obviously he talking to a few others and it continues in developing bursts of sillyness. It is so unique that it tickles you rather than annoy you. We continue our meditation each of us fiercely trying not to keep from joining him in laughter, because his is so contagious. That is, until we simultaneously all burst out laughing with tears flowing and red faces. What a funny way to end an interesting class with real Mudita. I thought about how laughter is as contagious as anger. To meet laugher with laugher is a hell of lot more fun than to meet anger with anger. The man’s laughter was similar to this one.

18 November, 2009

Painting the World with Right Intention

In one of meditations which I did at Buddhist monastery last night... it came to me, why my partner and I met and carry on to this day 9 years later. People assume it was because of attraction... say like I like his smile, lips & calm ways and say he likes say my eyes, height and do it mentality. But what really makes us work well comes from his Buddhist teachings from birth and have since inspired my path. In particular, in the wisdom of the eightfold path, the second one is right intention(other names are right resolve, or thought) and forms his decisions from actual wisdom. He felt much the same as I did that our individual intentions originate from a good heart, which weighed a lot more than our physical attraction between us. This lead to right action to continue the relationship against all odds. The first time we departed, there was loss from both sides of the other's good heart and thus formed a real base to come back to and work from. Now years later, even we have disagreements and the few times argue, yet we know deep down that they may be misunderstandings or delusions on either side that caused it rather than and intention to hurt the other person. We all have expectations not met and delusions surrounding them, but with right intention we can climb any hill. This is not written to whittle down our love to simple facts, but these same facts help develop a mature loving relationship.

13 November, 2009

Warm Fall Chill

Busy editing photos and getting over being sick, so I am lazy to write. Shot this while walking to get paint to faux my door. Yes, I still can move.
I thought I would jazz it up to reflect my warm heart. Enjoy

12 November, 2009

Wisdom from Grandma

I really wish I had these techniques down when I first starting dating.
It would have saved me from buying Disco shoes and party favors!
I guess what I really needed was....a good talking to.

10 November, 2009

Finite Reality

My brother said once to me when speaking about his kids he adores, "Not only I have I given them life, but also disappointments, heartache, illness, and death." It was a very aware statement, and not meant as a curse, but these all come with life. Part and parcel. Spinning off this I thought about my finite time on this planet. My family is close, and we talk a lot. My brother and I talk a couple times a year and email a handful a year, unlike my sister who we talk quite frequently. It is understood how busy he is with work and his two adorable kids who take much of his free time away from him. It is not a matter of love, and if I happen to die tomorrow I will do so knowing he loves me as I do him. But what does come to mind, is I can actually count the number left of his calls before I die. It becomes a very finite small number, whereas my sister’s calls seem infinite. Let's say 80 more calls providing I don't die tomorrow for the sake this argument. Then what I should really do is make every conversation we have free of petty worries, and normal bitchiness about my life. It will be difficult, yet mindful awareness on my part. Thinking back to the monks I met last June, they never complain about life, and are always inquisitive about you. It is not about them, so now I will work towards making it about my brother and his kids…for my brother.

08 November, 2009

Children of The Pyre and Bombay Summer

Coming out of Children of The Pyre, one thing that keeps coming back to me is how can the filmmakers walk away? One boy when interviewed said they work there to eat, and help their families ... “send my family 5000 rps($106) a month and I'll stop everything!”

Then Bombay Summer which offers a sensual slow pace of character development with none of that multi-tasking frenzy of CNN's Situation Room. Refreshing! Showing that some choices in life are made for us and we have to work with our karma.

Murals in my Life

After living in the mission in the 80’s and early 90’s it was a natural for me to go to Book Launch of Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo Friday night where I shot these four. A great collection of Murals tracing their post-war origins to present focusing on the last 30 years. I was busy trying to find a good shot, and the guy reading the book that ended up being the last one. I asked him if he was going to buy it, and if not I would... so I could get several artists to sign it. That was luck, and an ironic shot. Leaving, I shot one of my painterly photos seen here. Feeling happy while walking through the park, I practiced my Pali chants, accidentally dropping my phone case in the dark. By the time I noticed because it was in my unfeeling hand I was in a nearby neighborhood. I was feeling around and a guy said, “You dropped something.” But he never saw me drop it, and it was only reading my searching body language. Which left me a little puzzled why he would offer this useless info. But I was determined to remain calm, retraced my steps in the street lit area. Not finding it, I got to my car to get a torch and ran back and found it deeper in the park. It was never a problem, because I did not let it become a problem.

03 November, 2009

Dimming Opinions

After last week’s response when I chirped in my opinion to another woman working too hard in yoga, I have done some reflection. I got a few opinions, in fact just a little too many and maybe I can use this as jumping off point to try to narrow giving them like candy. How about a reasonable goal of 50% less? Sure, I know that I should never give an opinion unless asked for, really. You and I know, friends and others rarely ask for your opinion unless they know for sure it reinforces theirs. I won’t repeat that old cliché. But I honestly thought that the 50 years on this planet have given some authority. Just a smidgen. Oops, maybe this is an ego problem. (shuffling feet)
Anyway, if I truly want wisdom, I have to be hell of a lot more understanding of people and the world. Each of us walks a different path, and nobody really wants my wisdom by repeating the suffering I have gone through to get it. Cry me a river, you say. I know my suffering always pales in comparison, especially now writing this over a glass of wine after meditation. So, I will go to sleep knowing I have more work to on now and in meditation for a long while. The brass ring of wisdom is always just out of reach.

02 November, 2009

Our Love is Easy

A fairly recent graduate of N.D.U.(Near Death University) of which I am alumni. Here she is with Herbie Hancock talking about her healing, and singing.

This is a treat, someone said Billie Holidayesque. Today, while meditating and totally into the peace in my mind, a 1/2 hour into it at the gym someone came right in front of me and jumped up and down. I guess it was done to see if it would disturb me, but alas, even I was shocked...never a flinch, nor did I open my eyes. I never know who did it, because when the mediation ended I did not care to find the person looking into faces. Yet, another relaxation level for me working on the fact that I may die today. Our Death is Easy!

30 October, 2009

Are You Worth It?

Fall has hit big time, a chill that never seems to fully disappear even with a sunny day. I went to a fundraiser for LGBT Historical Society looking for a new museum space. Funny, I feel like gay history now, since I have donated a few interesting pieces to them. I participated, but like a boy in plastic bubble with all the noise, it made it almost impossible to talk.

This week, I have been busy with my refinishing my front door. It is still a good weatherproof door but subject to sun, and the clear coat was screaming for chapstick. I am trying to figure out the best way to make it last longer and make it fun and interesting. Meanwhile, it means a cooler house, and I don’t want to buy a new door, as it seems like such a waste of money. Not like I really enjoy sanding, but trying to introduce mindfulness to it. I began to think of my Dad spending hours sanding his boat or a piece of art using the fine touch of his hands to feel the surface. I thought that all he sanded and all the time he spent is lost. Now, why I am I sanding again? I guess to save some money, and the environment by not throwing, yet another, thing away.

Earlier in the day, a neighbor finally contacted me about doing some color consulting on their house. The husband likes to joke about everything in a dead pan sarcastic way. And has for years. He said some neighbor hates my exterior color without telling me who. But I think it is said to knock me down a little, because they have watched me fix my house for years. Or maybe it was his wife’s idea to call me and not his? Never the less, I feel like I have to prove my worth, but I am using this one as yet another patience test.
Like most people I contact, they want free suggestions about everything. But upon seeing their interior, it had never been redone in over 20 years. So, I said you are wasting your money to ask me to do a color in rooms that have never been updated. Honestly, they could use any color and it is not going to make the room better. They aren't a clean slate when you keeping old stuff. They confessed they would rather travel then fix their house. I said that's smart, and we talked about ideas where to go next, to relax the husband. Later, I said lets do the outside, because I have come up with a few ideas that will hide the mismatch of a cheap 70’s redo on lopped on a 30’s house. That is one thing that will make the presence seem like it is together. But in the process we talk about where next to live and agree that our houses will soon be someone else’s problem. So, I leave our meeting in a light mood, and hopefully next visit we can finalize colors.

28 October, 2009

Ragin' or Fishin'

If life were truly fair, would we have anything to be pissed about?
I have been called a faggot since Junior High School, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago. While waiting at a bar for a beer in Washington, the waitress leaned over and said "faggot" to the bartender. Little did she know that because of my speech disability, my hearing ramped up along with sense of smell. Well, I smelled a rat, and watching the bartender serve others that came after me. Now, I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt after a day on a boat, very regular. I am not a "Liberace" kind of faggot. Well, I just told my Mom and her husband quietly, and we just left even though they just seated us for dinner.
I have used my anger about things like this to work on our rights for over 25 years, but now I am feeling like backing off and let the next Generation take over. Not wimping out, trying to approach things on a new tack. For me to be relaxed about injustice and fairness is new to me. I know I am trying to lean towards wisdom over outrage for my my own mental and physical health. And it is a great relief. When I saw this post tonight about a store selling Nazi crap, I could feel the rage and questioned whether this was the right way to approach this. Never-the-less, I could also appreciate what Jack was trying to point out. Thank you, to those out there who never relax.

25 October, 2009

Independently Stranded

I overheard someone talking at my gym while I started meditation, about going home to her parent’s house when she will has surgery and to stay there when she recovers. That, of course sounds logical because of where they live they have no stairs which is better after she has knee surgery. But it also says a whole lot about your supposed independence and your friends who can't take the time to help which she said was more of the issue. We often think we can be independent of others. We were raised with help of our parents, and we need people at every step of the way; from getting a job, to eating vegetables we did not pick, to having a partner able to share their love. We need others even if it is just to be an ear to our problems.

In yoga you look for community, it is not done alone independent of others as a workout in a class situation. Today, I offered a suggestion to a woman who is my class, but after class and not in front of others. I said, “Don’t work so hard, when out of breath, rest and watch. We all are beginners at our own level.” It is the only class she takes, and it is kind of advanced, and I fear she will hurt herself. Many poses if done when tired you can get lazy and do damage to your body. Someone told me this when I started 10 years ago, and I relaxed about keeping up. I still rest now, when I get tired. Sadly, a lot of people feel ashamed if they rest no matter how many times the teacher tells them it is, in itself, a natural pose.

Well, she took it all wrong, and was offended. I guess she thought why would a stranger tell me this? Because she said, “Of course, I am not a good as you, but I do fine.” The look on her face said, I crossed a line I should not have. Now, should I just let it go or write my intention down on paper was to be helpful to her not judgmental? In class quite a few people of all ages talk to me, so I am not some odd man out throwing this out there. I just don’t want her stranded or discouraged which can happen if you jump in without getting the body conditioned to the moves and positions. Or should I learn from this not to speak until spoken to?

22 October, 2009

When All Else Fails

When the whole financial house of cards unraveled last year, I started to worry like most people did and still do. Even though I thought, a year earlier, that this real estate boom couldn’t possibly continue, so I should have been more prepared. I just gradually tried to relax, and think about what is most important to me. It would be the love of my partner and family and having my health but most important… would be the realization of Dhamma. So, I immediately started a 1/2 to 45 minute meditation every day. Sure, I had a meditation practice but not so regular. I would have days where it would be easy, and other days when worry reared it’s ugly head when I thought, “How far down can this market go?” I would laugh at myself trying to put faith in something that I knew deep down was never really a source of happiness in the first part. The economy or even the market never really loved me, even when things were great.

So, I would watch my thoughts everyday, some days accessing where old dreams are stored or the subtle sense of the blood flow to my eyeballs and lids or just finding peace in the midst of chaos. And because I would do it most days before yoga in my gym, found that it made my practice easier in spirit and breath. I actually felt like I cheated, because I had the heads up on most people who walk it and go right at it. Try to balance with a busy mind. During the class, I could also hear the frustrated breath of others, and so I offered the room a smile or a chuckle. As people came into the space while I was meditating, I would notice, that even with people who were not conscious of me or cared, it would still gradually introduce a peaceful element. I was amazed after a time how much noise people make and it would never make me flinch. And so after a while more and more people would try to meditate. And the ones who didn’t became a little more considerate….all without me saying a word. Not even a frown.

20 October, 2009

18 October, 2009

Ring My Bell

Doorbell, rings…half expecting a friend to drop by, I answer even though in the middle of doing two things. Uggh, it is two people trying to sell me something. I immediately say to myself, don’t look pissed and let them do their job, using every bit of my patience, with the man talking a mile a minute. He says in the beginning of all this, saying he is not trying to sell me anything, doesn’t want any money… just to earn points. But he has nothing in his hand, and I smell a scam. The woman with him is just smiling nervously, saying occasionally, “that’s right!” He is a young and handsome, and she is a little worn on the edges. If I had to guess she was a former drug user, but life has not been too good to her. While he was still talking, I watch her, looking back to him hinting I need to know what you really want. He stops and says, “We are from the projects and just trying to get up in the world and by earning points we can… with your help!” I still don’t quite understand how I am supposed to give him points, and voilà, he reaches in his back pocket to whip out his tattered program. Pointing to my supposed neighbors on his sheets that gave him points, he tells me that by signing up for magazines, I earn him points. I say I really don’t need any more magazines, especially at inflated rates, scanning his list noting they are ones I don’t read. I scan his program pages, looking at the hokey company page. Nothing looks real to me. The whole thing is so round a bout that is totally confusing. Maybe his boss (if he has one) designed it this way if it is real. People will give anything just for them to get out of your face.

So, I say how else can you get points? I really want this to end soon. He tells me you can buy points, and points to a check a neighbor supposedly written in his receipt book, which he kept in his other back pocket. I look at him, and say I really can’t. “We are trying to get out of the projects, and looking for a hand up. You got this house by help,”looking around, he says. I say, “Wait a minute, are you assuming that I am rich and did not work hard for my house? This house did not fall out of the sky for me, and yes, I came from nearly nothing and had a tough life, too. That tactic won’t get you any further, I say to myself. “Well, there is not much I can do for you, I am just not interested and yes, money is tight like you said.” (referring back to the myriad of points he made in his spiel) He got the idea, and then asked me if I have any food for them. I said, “of course,” giving them my last two Clif bars. I wished them well and off they went. e saiHH

17 October, 2009

Things I Am Grateful For

I am grateful for(not in order):

Having a close and loving family.
Still having a sense of humor even after the shit hits the fan!
A simple hello from a stranger.
A cup of tea while watching the sun rise(see photo).
My partner saying "I love you,"
knowing that when he lives a life of truth.
News reports of someone doing something kind.
(i.e. The autistic kid who saved his teacher)
Having a brain injury, and getting better,
but still disabled enough to be humbled.
My ability to overcome any self pity with
a mental turnaround of a workout or a sit.
Learning Dhamma and applying it in difficult times
to overcome anger.(I'm a work in progress, still not perfect)
The blessings of having my sanity
with a mentally ill family member in mind.
A handful of close friends who understand me.
People and especially dogs notice can sense
when I meditate and the afterglow.
Having a disability that is a quick read
of where people's hearts truly lie.

11 October, 2009

Carrots in Front of Donkeys Does Not Work

I can't tell you how many times I have heard on the news, the financial giants saying they have to reward their CEO's and talent pool to the extreme...to keep good people working for them. They said they just can't afford to lose the best talent. But we all know the best talent got us into this mess.
Well, here is proof that this reward factor does not work, and this was done by the Federal Reserve Bank, ironically. We just can not afford to make this same mistake twice if we want America to have a future.

10 October, 2009

Essentially No Fun?

When I went to the monastery to meditate all night, one of the most interesting parts of the dhamma talk I heard that night was an explanation of the value of the precepts. What you do when you take a day off to meditate with the monks, you are really taking the precepts for one day. To live like the arahants do. This voluntary practice allows you to tap into your heart. It is with the recognition that Buddha dhamma has provided some help with your life.

The first five are fairly easy and make sense. Take Number 7 for instance, which is (Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami) I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics. If you think about it, it means no Ipod, movies, clubs, bling bling, or moisturizer and essentially no fun. This is done to get your mind back under your control, void of external conditions and things(often called distractions), and ease your access to your own peace. If I am looking for a nice tune, great food, a large rock or a splash of wine to be happy, then I am seesawing between happiness, neutral feelings, and unhappiness. Tipping either way depending on whether I like or dislike a particular thing. The thing we love is really not the music, taste, rings, or the views but the place where it takes us in our mind. If I want wisdom, I have jump off this ride to access it. Back to more meditation and the thoughts of where I want to be mentally, using loving compassion with myself. This is not a punishment denying me what I “truly deserve,” from being a medical guinea pig that resulted in my brain injury, but really a natural offshoot of the fact that I survived it. And now, how best can I make the remaining time I have left? In the pursuit of more wisdom seems to be the final frontier for me.

I have to say Many Thanks to the two strangers from Macau that stopped me to ask for a smile when I was wrapped up trying to find a gift for a friend. Not unhappy, but I have to focus on task at hand with this silly brain injury. It is funny, because I bought lip protectant to help to smile more, and chocolate bars to give away on my walk downtown. I was in heaven with the funny conductor on the trolley, smiling a lot, just a few minutes before I ran into these two. Over glasses of wine we covered many topics, but how we as people have so much more in common than not. The others we are so afraid of want the same thing out of life as we do…to be happy.

05 October, 2009

The Key Never Fooled Me

Mystery only really happens when all the facts are not known. The minute I saw this news story, the DEXTER key looked wrong. It is only for a door lock set and not a padlock to be found on a chest or a similar item. Common sense might finally get me a job. If I am wrong I will gladly take this down. Now, if only we go as crazy looking for a sound mind as we do gold.

“Patty Henken thought she was just buying an antique chair at an auction in New Berlin. She got the chair, all right -- and a hunt for buried treasure in the bargain.

While refurbishing the chair, Patty discovered a slip of paper folded in half inside the horsehair- and straw-stuffed cushion. “Finders Keepers!” was typed on the front. She opened the paper to find a key and a mysterious message.

“This DEXTER key #50644T will unlock a lead chest …” it began. The message went on to describe the place where the chest supposedly was buried and what was inside -- eight $20 gold pieces, six $10 gold pieces, five $5 gold pieces, three $2 1/2 dollar gold pieces and two $1 gold pieces.

The note was signed “Chauncey Wolcott.” ”

Mysterious note leads to dig for treasure hunt,

Dave's email reply when I posted this:
Thanks. When we were at the dig that Sunday afternoon, someone suggested that key should be taken to A-1 Lock and have it analyzed. That probably would have shown what you knew, that this sort of Dexter key doesn't go to any type of chest.

I do think it was a nice touch on Slaven's part to tape that key to the note. Gave it a more authentic feel….

We heard today that Ripley's Believe it or Not is going to use this story. Probably -- "Man's Last Practical Joke Sprung 30 Years After His Death!!!!!!!!!"   Believe it or Not. I believe it.

Dave Bakke
The State Journal-Register

04 October, 2009

The Odds of Being

I was fixing the butcher job my contractor did, by sanding and priming today. I thought I might as well do my washers in my shower, after I heard some water noise when I was turning it off. And that usually signals time for a new kit. Patiently, making numerous trips to the hardware store, because the repair kit I bought did not have all the parts I needed. I still have to find one washer that I could not find from two hardware stores. It always takes twice as long as originally planned. But today, I did not let frustration rule.

But all this aside, as it isn’t what came to mind. In the middle of this, I thought what will I be known for after I am gone? It really doesn’t matter how clean your house is, or what kind of car you drove or even how well you could cook. Or even how good the details are on your house.
What seems to matter to me, is how consistent I am and my drive for truth. I sometimes push others to not be vague or flaky. A man of my word, but I am, of course, not without my failings. I know I have a hard time taking compliments and giving thanks in a really heartfelt manner in a few instances. When someone is nice to you, regardless of giving you anything ..it is a signal of where their heart lies. Their intent is not to hurt. They might living compassionate life. Even if they really do not do anything more than being consistent when they see you. By not letting their own frustrations in life, get in the way. There are times when I want to pull them aside and say, “Thanks, for always being consistent, and lending a smile.” Oftentimes, I am embarrassed to say with casual friends, only to read wrong when I would say it. Because with my kind of brain injury, I can’t say meaningful, emotional things with getting teary eyed. It would be so awkward for the other person. I wish in turn I could crack a big old smile, all the time but still hard with some facial paralysis. I do manage to laugh, say “hi” to people a lot, so I am not withdrawn in actions only in appearance. I am still outgoing, and I just want to project the internal happiness and wisdom I found so far. If anything, I will known as having had never given up against incredible odds. With wisdom still in my line of sight.

03 October, 2009

Grabbing at the Wrong Things

Watching Inglorious Bastards, one thing stayed with me. Pvt. Zoller wanted Shosanna so bad, even though besides saying no, she practically spit on him… and for good reason, of course. Why is that we want something so desperately, that it can drive us crazy? We like attachments to things we can’t have. And then what if we get it? Well, it becomes suddenly undesirable, so damn fast that it will make your head spin. This only proves it was not a source of happiness to begin with.

I am working with a contractor on my house, and the man will tell me anything. He is so dishonest, that he can’t bring himself to make one heartfelt attempt. All he wants is the money and to use me. He is driving me crazy, that I can hardly wait until I am finished with the job. Maybe that is his tactic. Yesterday, he stopped by after he left, to ask if he can use my bathroom. It was only to photograph my tile work(I designed it), to show his client. Then we he came out he asked if he can photograph it, when I knew damn well he already had. That was why he stopped back by. I can read people like him. It is not very difficult; they try to apply some fake gesture of kindness that is unlike their personality. So, right now he is my Inglorious Bastard at the moment and has kept from writing, while I watch his hired help butcher things. It is only outdoor trim, and soon enough he and his flunky will be far enough away and life can resume.
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