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.

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Watching Comedians in Cars before falling asleep

Mario Joyner
Comedians in Cars

Sometimes I think the genius of the old Jerry Seinfeld show was how his character might think he gets the point better than his other co-characters but the actual point is usually completely missed by all of them. For me, often the whole point of the show was that awesome bass rift. Literally the cherry on the top of the situational sundae.
But I don’t know how much of any of that was actually Jerry Seinfeld. But supposedly on Comedians in Cars the guy really is actually Jerry Seinfeld. He likes to complain and he likes to talk about how he and the people he admires did it better than anyone else, namely comedy but occasionally there is a moment in Comedians with cars when the awesome bass rift should be present, when on some level your brain shifts and you go, “that is actually brilliant, I think my brain is developing.”
When I am tired but can’t go to bed because it is only 9pm I sometimes let The Netflix roll out one Comedian in a Car After Another ’till it asks me “Are you still there?”. Which seems nice, but The Netflix doesn’t leave room for any response other than “click” which is annoying because I think it is a question that requires a longer answer. AM I, am I really?
On this occasion the comedian was Mario-Joyner and it seems he and Jerry Seinfeld are good friends. Its like the going for coffee with friends who completely ignore you and never acknowledge you or apologize at the end for being rude, which is sort of every episode and the big joke might be that The Netflix is passing the cheque to us. But then it comes to this bit:
(First skip the crap about watermelon and black people pleeeeeease.) Around ten minutes in Mario talks about Sammy Davis Jr. and how he could do everything Jerry hits his usual note about specializing in comedy and comedy alone and why that is how a comedian gets better, or at least a seat in the car.

Mario-Joyner says:
“That’s your focus theory. (However) You can get good at anything you can get good at, it’s not one or the other…When you are focused on something you are focused, there is no other thing.”
And he, Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian he is says, “I’ll try to agree on that.”
It is funny because, whether it is just shtick or not we laugh because Jerry, being smart, has still missed the only point in the whole seventeen minutes that was worth hearing and we are sad, so existentially sad that we let out that ‘POP’ of laughter.
Awesome bass rift.
All these thoughts came into focus while watching this video, which was part of Sigrun’s post called, The world as a process of unfolding.

Tattoo: “Born Looser”, typical, sheesh

I once saw a cartoon with a very chest fallen man getting a tattoo. You can see that it is just being finished and there is the common mistake, “looser” instead of “loser” and the tattoo artist is saying, “Oh, geez, sorry man!” and the sad is saying, “Naw, doesn’t matter…”

I used to write long and what I considered heart-felt and thoughtful letters by hand to a friend who moved far away. When I finally got a letter back he said, “it is really annoying how you always write ‘really’ with only one ‘l'”.  In my defense, it was before personal computers and GOOGLE.

So now I have no excuse.

I just re-read my last blog post.

I apologize to everyone who’s eyes bleed when they see such glaring mistakes!

I had a birthday.

Fifty years ago I was given a simple math question, along with the kids in my class, to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. I was eleven and I had the thought: I’m going to die in fifty years.

Well last year was the year my eleven year old self thought she would die and when I had bronchitis and almost choked on a cough drop alone in my apartment and then most recently had a spontaneous hematoma, I thought, “This IS IT.”

And it wasn’t.

So, considering I still don’t really know what being alive is all about and therefore can’t really know what being dead is about either I will just continue on as I have done.

nanabday

But I will eat more chocolate and maybe enjoy a glass of beer more often.

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.  🙂

Being Wrong

I got in an argument when I was a kid about whether a certain plant was poison ivy. I was certain it was a Trillium that was not yet flowering.  “So rub your face in it!” was her response.  I did. I was wrong. Boy was I wrong.

We all hate finding out we are wrong.  We might enjoy the humiliation of someone else, especially a blow hard being proven wrong or laugh at the slap-stick that a wrong premise can lead a character to repeat over and over. We recognize it because we have all known that often uncomfortable realization.

The thing about being wrong, as Kathryn Schulz author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” points out, it feels just like being right. Until we find out we are wrong we can feel pretty good.

Then, after we realize we are wrong we might continue to act as if we are right because we think we have too much to lose by making such an admission.

On the other hand we can believe that they are so wrong we have to bring them to justice, or to the court of public opinion, or just remind them, frequently. We can even feel pleasure from this punishing of others for their stumbles. It is unfortunate because we will be wrong again too.

Being wrong is part of being human. How a character in a fiction deals with the realization and all its ramifications can drive a story but in real life, it is an opportunity for us to learn and grow as a human being, and in real life we get lots of opportunities. Lucky thing because learning to be an adult human being is what your all too human life is about. It really is.