The Value of Letting Go

There is a difference between “JUST GET OVER IT!” and letting it go. It’s weird but one is a problem and the other is a strategy.

“Get over it!” is a very industrial revolution era type suggestion. This was a time when changes were brutal and corporal punishment was the way of the world. Any one who cared about you would caution you against any action you might take with the fire of injustice your belly.  After  all life was cheap, your life actually. Your only hope was to some how move on, get over it. This is a very toxic thing to have to do but probably not much worse than the air you had to breathe, the water you had to drink and the hunger and cold you had to endure.

“Get over it” was something I did hear often enough and young enough that I thought it had some validity. The trouble was there were too many indications that real justice could exist and maybe life wasn’t about just enduring shit. I was born in the 50’s, by the time I was an adult I didn’t believe it and  society didn’t either (although there are indications it has made some major losses in this area recently).

Next: Probably too many words about forgiveness

Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. But so is hypocrisy and we have learned enough about that in the last century or so that the one thing that made forgiveness possible, namely faith is really hard to maintain, if not just plain crazy. When faith was strong and instead of streaming t.v. shows the only stories you had for entertainment were ones where faith conquered over the bad guys EVERY WEEK, I think people might have actually managed to believe in forgiveness. (Lets not hasten a return to the Dark Ages okay?)

I myself have never been good at forgiveness. Forgiveness arises when I am lost in the delusion that I am some sort of ENLIGHTENED SAINT floating in my PERSONAL NIRVANA. It can happen. I might believe I am actually forgiving someone until I wake up from my spiritual revelry and I find am still pissed off. That’s not to say that someone else can’t manage forgiveness*.

As for “crazy” some Christians might tell me it is my faith in science that is crazy. I’d say fair dignum.  I have actually had experience with how limited my understanding of science is and how weird my ideas are so I leave lots of room for possibility, and geez, won’t I look dumb on judgement day!**

But for most people Christianity just isn’t the Kool-aid that makes forgiveness possible any more, myself included.

So Finally “Letting It Go”

The advantage of Letting it Go is two fold. It doesn’t negate the injury you have suffered AND it doesn’t lead to you thinking you have a right to do something equally heinous to the person or persons who made you suffer.

Letting it go requires practice. All of the people who seemed to have the skill for moving past personal injury to address injustice had to work at it. So whatever it is you need to do to let go of the pain, you need to do it over and over. And OVER.

Every time the congealing of space around a thought or feeling arises come back to the breath, wiggle your toes and do your zen practice. You will eventually see this dense emotional state get thinner and more transparent and less of an affliction. It doesn’t mean you will lose your motivation to address injustice, but you won’t be suffering and communicating from a point of anger. Whether you call that “True Nature” or whatever it’s a lot like how it always is before a human gets messed up.

Life! Sheesh!

And you will have information that you can use to address social change and the strength to make real choices in your response to all the stupid stuff people do and say.

*obligatory disclaimer

**you had to be there

Doing the Next Thing

I am in that weird place in life when I have lots of time to just observe things. I see when the wheel on the wagon is wobbling but it’s not my wagon.

Not any of it is my wagon.

I just try to appreciate every moment and applaud every success. “Yay!”

Crazy people, cruelty and all the other painful things humans can perpetuate on each other, hatred, confusion, obscuring the way forward; It is a crazy time. Maybe it is always a crazy time.

I find zazen, sitting staring at a blank wall excruciating, but preferable to action often because I don’t know what I can do in the face of so much suffering. I know I am probably getting my practice completely wrong. I imagine Bodhisattva cringing. I remember teachers telling me not to talk about my practice outside the Dokusan room…

The other day the bus was so full the driver told us to try to get on at the back door. It looked impossible and I was the last in line. All these backs towards me, every shade of skin a human can possess represented before me, me, covered in liver spots and freckles. For the doors to close, fat, thin, male, female, shy, brazen, tall, short, young, old, we had to smoosh together.

“Well, we are all good friends now!” Laughter and smiles, people looking over their shoulders at me in the crush, somehow making room for me where there was none.

That was enough.

It is never a personal Titanic on which we arrange the deck chairs.

Oliver Sacks, born July 9, 1933

Migraine-1-1

What I learned about migraine from his book made such a difference to my life, though not enough G.P.’s read it or understand that a migraine is not just a bad headache! But more, what I learned about being neurologically different, that it didn’t mean you were “wrong” and that the difficulties one might suffer making connections with others didn’t define the value of those connections or the person who often has had to be very strong, very brave and very creative to be known, well, that changed the world for me.

I Find Reading About Neurology Helps Me Feel Better About Myself.

I just finished “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and now I am reading, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self”  by Anil Ananthaswarmy. The first made me feel a lot better about my mother’s death, which was a “good death” all in all. He makes reference to several other books which put me on another path of reading, hence “The Man Who…”

“Thinking Fast and Slow” is the next one I hope to get from the library although I am 369th on a waiting list.

I have had a few experiences and I possess a few patterns, at times frightening and other times  wonderful . But I have never enjoyed being “odd” or “weird” except perhaps when I finally gave up trying and just practiced Zazen and Tai Chi a lot. It is exciting for me to learn that neurology is coming up with some very neat connections; New ideas that sometime sound like Buddhist psychology, Zen, Shinjin.  🙂

A Billion Tiny Flowers

I have been technology challenged for about ten years.  Before that I felt I could hold my own. Now, age, concussion and recently, ambivalence have led me to the shoals, the place where many older adults find themselves, muttering and cursing and occasionally exclaiming “YuReeek Ha!” as some colourful object washes onto our shoal and makes us happy.

I spent an entire weekend, possibly the nicest weekend of the summer trying to sort out why I could not longer watch television (Star Trek) or googly or putz on the various devices in my home! I must say here, if you are patient with the poor techies they are appreciative. I may not be able to defuse racist Nazis but my Zen practice has taught me to be attentive and patient while on hold.

Mostly I want to have Star Trek, any version, playing while I do my sewing. I could put on the radio but sometimes (gottalovem) CBC radio is just dumb and my stitches get tight while my mind boggles. (Star Trek is often dumb but it is Sci-fi, come on!)

Last night while falling asleep I realized my dreams were of a billion tiny flowers, each providing a context for perpetually opening complexity, which viewed as a whole was breathtaking. From my perspective they were the flowers of a quilt that I painstakingly was appliqueing one at a time, made of billions of threads of cotton, manufactured and dyed, all by human hands from plants grown in sunlight and with water and tended by more human hands on a beautiful planet spinning within spinning galaxies.

So as glitchy as these entertainments are from my point of view, some things, important and awesome, never change. 🙂

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When in Doubt: Wave Hands Like Clouds!

So until I can get a loaner brain I am hanging out with babies and family pets and avoiding complex questions, like, do I need to wear clothes?  The last time I felt this confounded I had recently fallen on my face metaphorically, I won’t expand on the subject, suffice to say, falling on your face can take time to get over, even when its metaphorically.

I could however ride my bike, not a metaphorical or even a stationary one like those being ridden by the spin class behind me in my heading picture, but a REAL bicycle  and so my youngest and I rode around Ottawa taking in all the great parks and canals and free stuff that our wonderful capital city provides.  After riding until we felt tired we would get off our bikes, lie on the grass and slurp on some box juices and watch the clouds.

There is a wonderful state under a big sky when you feel as if you are falling, or flying or floating.  And nothing moves in your mind faster than the clouds, in fact it almost seems you are thinking the clouds.

This is Wilf.  He is six months old.  I think he noticed the same thing.

Which brings me to the Tai Chi movement, move hands like clouds. I am still sitting zazen, but I am finding tai chi helps the most.  After doing a short set in the morning I can move my head from side to side without feeling dizzy. When I was studying Tai Chi with a group in Ottawa I met many people, including a man who had been severely brain injured by a drunk driver, who found Tai Chi good for their brains.

I think I was talking about my concussion,

…meanwhile I am so dizzy and this is my day: sit down, think of something I need, get up to get it, start something else forget what I got up for, sit down and remember what it was, get up and get distracted…spin and repeat. After years of looking after my mother while she was in a similar state I am now in that state myself!  I feel like I am fighting through mashed potatoes.

finding myself waiting for a bus in the heat and the sun (the bus shack is like a solar cooker, what is the point of a clear roof?) A nice young woman said she would let me know when the bus came so I could stand in the door of the Egg Smart restaurant.  By that time my head was throbbing and I thought I’d throw up…the medication I am taking is not really helping, I feel like I am reduced to waiting for the moment the yogurt will expire

not original

I don’t see the neurologist again for two months.  The thing about seeing a neurologist is, how do you really know what she has said if you are brain impaired? A friend cut out an article for me about post concussion syndrome.  I feel like I should just carry it around with me as my saying, “I have a concussion” gets no real response other than “Yeah eh, but you look good, your nose is really healing…”  I cut my bangs so you can’t see the lump that is still on my forehead.

This concussion, like with migraine, makes it so I can’t gage my affect.  Am I too loud, too urgent too hysterical or have I over compensated too much until I am whispering, calm to the point of coma, and sitting in a burning house?

Avoid parties, bureaucrats, people with agendas, opinions, and or grievances,  real or imagined, sunlight, heat and humidity, the urge to buy dresses…

Is it an affront that I am asked to get my photo ID for OHIP and told if I don’t my doctor’s assistant won’t book an appointment for me?  How useful will the photo be when I won’t have bandages on my broken nose forever?  Am a reasonable to not want to listen to my doctor talk about how difficult OHIP is making it for her and then tell me that despite the fact that I am crying she has a lot of other people to see and there is no time to discuss what I am upset about?  Or is it my brain?

Is it my brain?

I want to spend all my time with my grandson and his dog. They seem to be the only people who do not confound me.   😛