29 January, 2009

Finding home, a little history...

When my doctor finally got around to jerking my stomach tube out, I knew it would be all better now. Well, almost. "Aren't you gonna stitch it", I ask?" "Nope" he said. I have to say it was as fun going in as was coming out.
So, I got real busy on finding a new home, since I would soon be kicked out of my first condo. So, I got a friendly realtor to help in my search. If I only had a brain. He would drive me around, and view what you can’t afford just to put me in place. So, he would just drive me to other side of the tracks. "It’s got great bones," he would say. So, after a month or two of this I threw a tantrum. Then he just dropped the MLS book in my lap, finally I could chose! Enee, meanee, miney, mo. My finger lands on a page. Watch out here comes the cripple, and watch him drool out a meek hello. Time was awasting, with a deadline to get out of my old old condo before they bulldozed. I finally found a cute little probate. “I smell dead people.” I was so happy, this is it! I already had signed the papers and was busy saging the house to find that my friendly home inspector missed 100k worth of termite snacking on the house. Oops. Conveniently, the fine print says I can only recover his fee. Silly me, I still can't really read yet. I knew I had really done good, when I find out my next-door neighbor pounds out my wake-up call on our joining walls at 3:30 am. Sally also makes a perfect 10-point turn when she polishes off a vodka bottle. It is cute how the crunch sound of neighbor’s car reminds her to back-up and turn. I would come home, and find her passed out in her car, wake her only to find out she wanted me to help bring her vodka gallons into her house. Occasionally she would ring my bell, and forget why, so she would just rant on the fact that she could not understand poor little old me. Well, 4 years of this and she was found to be just a little expired after 2 months of quiet, but oh, so well pickled. Home free! Not. I forgot to tell you about Billy. The wanderer. When I could see the bed hair at 3pm, I knew I in for a good staring down. He would wobble by without a word, fixating on you. He likes me. Oh, yeah and he was a great parker as well. If not on the sidewalk, he was splayed on our street, like the car just up and died from his bad breath. Charming, friendly Billy used to wander up and down the street leaving his mark in new concrete, BILLY WAS HERE, and a few years later he was not. I missed a good friendship and a free house, damn.The welcome wagon has finally arrived, my humor.
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25 January, 2009

Is That All There Is?

While having a friend over for breakfast, we were discussing the formation of our concrete acknowledgement of our impending death. Joking about it we sometimes feel that the Peggy Lee song, Is That All There Is? will suddenly come to our last conscious thought. But jokes aside, the self-awareness we have with age is also very comforting. One has enough personal history to fall back on to make hopefully better decisions. And if we make bad decisions we can laugh at ourselves easier.
When you are young, you sense what is behind you feels like jello. So you rush towards the future, in the hopes of finding that elusive happiness, thinking that is out there. We were never schooled on our own minds and how they work. That happiness lies within each of us. If we started kids with meditation, they would develop clearer minds and find no need to look beyond for external happiness. It can’t be found in things, jobs, cars, clothing, or techie gadgets. It was a surprise to me coming from advertising who’s whole premise is that we have something you want. It looks like happiness, it feels like happiness and even smells like happiness but once you get said thing it quickly becomes old or worn and leaves you back were you started. I knew back when I did advertising, there were some things I would never buy, yet would hard at getting others to buy. I slowly became aware to myself that I am selling my soul, if I really had one at that point. I may have been developing my soul, amassing enough personal history to make a better decision but still without finding happiness. Personal transformations happen when one is ready mentally. I tried a lot of external ideas of happiness, and they never quite seemed to work. Years ago, when I awoke from my coma, I saw the worried faces of my partner and family staring at me. That gave me enough strength in absolutely the most difficult circumstances I had ever known up to that date. And now, years later, I am aware that it was my first idea that doing things for others is way better than doing it solely for yourself. The power it gave me to heal for them far exceeded any power I had ever had previously.

22 January, 2009

Chain of Events

A great chain of events in history, Obama’s inaug-uration made me recall links of my life.

I was saying to my friends that Bush’s errors enabled Obama to succeed him, and thank him.
When I was 14, I decided to bus across the US with a friend over the summer from Florida to California and back. This had duel purpose to travel see the west and to avoid my father. The first night we were driving through Jackson County, Florida in the panhandle. I saw red lights flashing in the surrounding trees. The bus was being followed by the police. Why, I thought? I heard the African-american driver say he wasn’t speeding and won’t stop in this county because they are well known racists. This went on for a while, and I guess he was blocked up ahead, and they forced us over at which time the police stormed the bus, and forcefully dragged him out of the bus. Some of the passengers, including me debarked to watch what was happening. They were using a bully club to beat the driver, and told us to get back in the bus. A german girl and I, along two other passengers stayed outside aghast at what was happening. Several times we were caught yelling..NO, NO, NO ! Again, with a southern drawl one officer demanding we return to the bus and started to raise a baton at us. I got to see his name badge, he was that close. He said, “Greyhound will have to get you another driver.” I knew from the fear the driver exhibited on the bus before we were pulled over, this is the deadly south. I also have traveled in the south in the 70’s as a boy, witnessed the hatred. So I was on it with these officers, and it was hideous when they dragged him to the rear of the bus so we could not see, so I made a lot of mental notes. I felt so helpless knowing what was going on. When we got to next station driven with a new driver, I called up Greyhound and put my name on for witness to this scene. They took a deposition later when I got to my destination of California, and I returned alone when my friend chickened out. I grew up that trip, and realized that no matter how difficult my life is, there is far worse out there. It enabled me to leave and work away other summers. So, this inauguration moves many of us to acknowledge how far we all have come.
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19 January, 2009

Riding that Wave

Rolling over to the downward phase of life’s cycle in the usual parabolic wave of happiness I biked out in the sun. I am still working on the internal flame of happiness that resides in each one of us. Knowing if I combine meditation with the bike ride I can equalize the external to the internal. It is a process of accessing our internal well. As always, I write this to remind myself. If I stop my habit of piling all the bad or troublesome worries into one mountain you cannot climb. But I do find the more I meditate these slight down cycles are less long and less strong. So meditation helps to me to avoid use of any drugs and helps boost my happiness quotient. I do find that it brings me much closer to reality and to more normal expectations of myself and the view of the world. Today, on Service Day, I volunteered to clean up the beach with a rake and picked up trash. Surprised that there is so much Styrofoam broken into shell size pieces all over. No, I wonder how much is contained in sand when it is reduced by the wave action. I was not alone, as there were at least 150 near by and more way down the beach. A surfer and an older person who were not involved in the clean up, saw me and said Thank you. That was a nice relaxed way of being connected and rolling back up. That looks like a pet muskrat rolling his head back to look at you in the right of my photo.

14 January, 2009

Does it Always Have to be Spoken?

I was at temple discussing a part of Buddha Dharma after a teaching. I was trying to express myself, but like I do quite often, pick words easier for people to understand coming from me than the correct word. We were discussing Buddha’s ultimate truth, which alone is a difficult one for anyone to fully comprehend. I may have said the wrong word, and the person I was talking to probably did not know my intention. But I have somewhat relaxed on being misunderstood as it comes with the territory of my brain injury. Everything is an appearance to our mind. I have noticed in long meditations that I am just what I have in my mind, and the minute I am able to clear it out ...I just exist. In fact, I even sometimes lose the attachment to my breath. But the thing that came to mind was if it is an ultimate truth why does it have to be spoken? If is truly an ultimate truth, then one should be able to be taught, by the pure intention of your teacher or guru. That is providing one in is the correct space both mentally and physically to receive this lesson or any others. In the past I have met realized monks, that at times have felt their pure intention but not being in the correct mental space did fully understand what they were trying to communicate. Nonetheless, I still was changed by the experience of their presence and it was done without any spoken words between us. In one instance years ago, I was blessed by a monk in an ancient Khmer site, and it took me over an hour to get back into my body. I was as empty as space and only now think it might have been a teaching. This helped to start me on my path when I returned. I visited a new friend, who suggested I meditate with him for an hour, having never done it. Surprisingly, I had carried the wish to do so, strongly in my heart and completed it to his and my total amazement. So I have heard that a prayer is a heartfelt wish, so was that monks blessing was a wish or a teaching?

08 January, 2009

That Same Face

It’s quiet, with the exception of the beeps on my monitoring equipment. I know ...I have been here before. I am going in and out of consciousness, and it is getting harder and harder to breathe. My partner is watching me, wondering…I look at him, and see three wrinkles of worry on his forehead. I marvel at his handsome face, his few eye wrinkles, his graying temples, but he is much more, a truth body. Yes, I have learned so much from him. He knows death well, from cremating his own brother when was 18 from suicide, not to mention his parents in the recent past. It is a on to another life that he has prepared us for by making merit and being a monk many times. He smiles. Knowing I am trying to talk, he leans closer to the bed. With a slight smile, I manage to whisper, “I get it,” before slipping into a subtle mind just before death.

Now, back it up. Where or what proceeded this, you ask?

I recently watched Revolutionary Road, and Kate Winslet in a moment of hopelessness of seeing her dreams scattered like ashes…had that face. I said I know that face, and it all came back to me.
My father drunk, sarcastically bitching at my Mom while she was making dinner for the six of us. My Mom’s hands were wet, she had a towel in one hand, and things were burning in the kitchen. She was leaning on the kitchen door frame, just looking at him with the same pained expression, and a tear flowed down one cheek. The four of us kids were avoiding coming to the table to endure, yet another one of his rages. What will he do this time? Mom was torn up, she can never do it, be good enough for him and she had nowhere to go, with the four us attached. She turned around and said, “Fine” and poured herself a glass of wine. She continued on fixing our dinner, tears were flowing down now and falling onto our plates. “Kid’s, you know your father.” Pissed off she would not engage him anymore, he got up from his regular throne, a chair at the table, slamming the door and taking off in his car. Mom would still try to serve dinner, but was so overwrought. I was sick of it, and took off to my room, dinner was not that important. Later my Mom would try to make up for the love that she and us did not get from my father. At times it was too smothering for me, being in junior high…moms were supposed to give you twenty paces, plus I saw right through it. I would say that you can’t make up for him.

Now years later I know what I got from my mom, was the ability to love someone, love myself and this formed my successful relationships. Lucky, I have no kids to worry about having to feed and clothe. I pity the situation she was in back then, and am glad she is happy now. She paid a hell of a price for us kids. Thank you Mom, and I really owe you my life. Yes, I finally get it.
The top photo is by my partner of the cremation of a family friend. A dear father figure who helped him as a child, when his father took off drinking, leaving his mom to raise her 4 kids without him.
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06 January, 2009

Like Clouds

I was in a local bar for a quick beer, and said hello to old man next me as he looked lonely. He said, “I am unlucky in love,” as a lady friend left. Then he proceeded to tell the bar back has pulled in as much $1600 a night at Bingo at a local high school. Playing for 3- 4 hours with 18 boards at a time, those numbers come fast. Wow, I said you are fast and lucky. But his problem was love, but does he spend 3-4 hours working on love or helping others? Who knows, but I doubt it.
What if I told you no one could help you? I am referring to my idea that everyone’s life is different. That is how you grew up, who loved you, who did not and what difficulties you encountered so far. Perhaps my idea of happiness is not yours? How did you approach problems you have had so far? I am curious. Did you see them as impossible to tackle? Where did you start? Maybe you stew on it for a while. Then you start to obsess or you avoid it entirely for a bit. This is providing it is not life threatening. In your mind you can make it worse or better. It is, far easier to go eat…just look all the fat Americans. They and a lot of people walk around with a cartoon bubble above their head full of problems weighing them down. Stop. Just look up in a sky full of clouds…changing, swirling, coming and going. Someone, somewhere has had worse things happen to them, and believe it or not...you are lucky. It sounds quite childish when you say, "But they are MY problems.' Are you going throw a tantrum or just figure it out?

Your problems no matter how severe they are, they just like those clouds. They will dissipate. All you have to do is look back at past problems that were resolved, which at the time they happened seemed like the worst that happened to you. Some of them did it on their own. Perhaps time helped or maybe you made firm decisions to move in the opposite direction of your problem. Or like me, had some tea and worked on someone else’s problems for a while and suddenly yours drifted away. Many of my problems were a necessary trial for me to be more wise. I see clearly once the clouds are gone.
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03 January, 2009

What Do We Get Out Of It?

While shopping today at a grocery store, I saw a women walking up just behind me going for a cart outside the store. I grabbed one for her and pushed it to her, before I got mine, even though I was there before her. She took it, with a small surprised look on her face, but still did not say thank you. I watched my mind at work. Did I do this only for a thank you, instead of being a good thing to do by thinking of others? How often do we do things expecting something in return? Even if it is for a simple Thank you, then we still are doing things with heavy dose of me in the equation. I am trying to mature and look at every motivation, not obsessively, just wisely. If I am to be looked to for wisdom… I had better figure this all out in every detail.

We are, in our core being; beautiful, kind and loving souls, and somehow in growing up, with a few disappointments we throw it all away. Just look at children, you can just see the natural beauty unspoiled at times. I walked out of my garage the other day, and I saw 5 kids and two mothers talking and walking towards me. The first thing a five year old boy said to me was, “Happy New Year!” I was surprised but also touched by his smile, joy and real honesty. It was evident looking at the whole troupe they were all adopted by the two Moms and we all very happy. Looking around someone had left a cool silver headdress high up on a light pole after New Years Eve, and asked the boy if he would like it. So I climbed up the pole and grabbed it and gave to him. The rest said, "Put it on your head", but it was larger than his head, so he put it around his neck and they took off laughing and saying thanks.
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