mingling molecules and attitudes sinews and desires platitudes and functions nervous circuits and circadian rhythms pure crap and masterful conceptionsMichael Gregory: This is your mind as green slime mold — Vox Populi
I won’t worry about my grown children,
or think about why I ache when I think of them.
Today I bake.
Inhale the frothy smell of yeast rising like magic.
Throw the dough on to the board, flour filling the air with clouds.
Wipe my hands on my apron then
put my shoulder into it,
Kneading. Kneading. Kneading.
My mother would kiss the dough and tell me as she formed it into buns, “Like babies’ bums”.
When I close my eyes I’m in her kitchen.
The smell of baking filling the house.
And then the timer chimes and I wait like a child,
impatient for the bread to cool:
My own mother now,
my own child.
I find writing excruciatingly difficult but it feels so good when I stop. And just having someone take the time to read something I’ve written thoughtfully is huge for me.
The idea of making enough money to live on from my writing is like comparing me, stumbling along with my bundle buggy to the grocery store, to an astronaut in a rocket shooting for the moon.
HOWEVER, I don’t think there is an astronaut who doesn’t see the same moon as I see when I am happy to sit by my window and stare at it.
And is that going to be what decides how we respond to the challenges we face? I worry that we are getting tired and want comfort above all.
I’m tired. But I am also clear eyed. Some where recently I read, when we are uncertain of the future, take smaller steps. The truth is we are always uncertain of the future. If someone tells you they know what it holds be clear enough to see their self-delusion before you make it your own.
I take smaller steps because I am older, my knees are bad and I am not as fast as I was in catching myself from a fall, but I am clear eyed and I am accustomed to what is uncomfortable. I also have a history of what seemed impossible becoming possible.
I have an idea of what the world can be because I have known love, I have witnessed courage. So my small steps remain on a path towards a world we can live in because it’s possible.
I owe a lot to many black people. In the last century, the one I grew up in, some of the greatest writers, activists and leaders, political, artistic and religious, came up against the odds and made us better as a species. Made me a better person.
It hurts to learn how black people have suffered and continue to suffer in ways I can barely comprehend.
Sure I had my troubles, I had to learn to swim hard but it wasn’t always against the current day after day. And I was so ignorant that at times I thought myself better, stronger and braver than I really was. I really was not aware how my white skin was the current carrying me.
So it hurts and some of that hurt is shame.
And that’s okay. Being ashamed of privilege is point of attention. As humans we should always be thankful for these reminders to pay attention.
It’s how we learn to live in a world worth living in.
Awareness is always an opportunity. When you see this you can see that it is continually arising As Your Life.
And all fabrications will wear out.
There is no separation between self and other that is not a fabrication. All separation is a lie, a covering, an obscuring of the essential truth.
So what are we humans to do?
Don’t hide in a comfy nest of made up stories of us and them. Answer all suffering with compassion and continue to practice. Do what ever you can when you see an opportunity to end suffering.
I sat “virtually” with the sangha last night. It’s becoming a regular Wednesday night thing with the Oak tree in the Garden.
A “sangha” is a gathering of Zen practitioners.
I am finding myself slipping in to some very dark places, and not the actual ones that I should, like the one under the stairs that could use some cleaning and reorganizing. Instead I am slipping into a place where I get lost in thoughts that propagate really paralyzing inertia and despair.
It is good to commit to practicing with others. I doesn’t matter the context. The important thing is to just sit practicing Zazen. Which is the context of ‘NO CONTEXT’, (forget about getting your intellect around that!)
I’ve done a lot of sitting lately, lounging actually.
But sitting Zazen we gradually gain (or regain, again and again) the ability to see thoughts arise and dissipate. We learn how to return to this breath and this moment.
And you can also clean out the space under the stairs this way, although, dust bunnies, spiders…that homemade mask is going to come in handy.
Here is one last poem for the month, rewritten.
the jeweled dew glistens
in the morning light.
So, we made it through the month, I have followed advice on Facebook and marched around my two room apartment like a F—ing Champion. I have kept some sour dough starter alive for two weeks, I have no idea what to do with it but it is alive and I have already made arrangements for it should I die…
There’s talk that enough is enough. Freedom and blah blah blah, lets get back to “normal”. Normal like baloney and American cheese!
Right so, Should I die? YOU TELL ME.
I am past my “best before date” and except for making a bunch of masks (by the way I have run out of t-shirts to re-purpose for ties) I am pretty useless… I am not THAT OLD, but I have had cancer twice, I have asthma after having bronchitis last winter and now use a puffer and I have a blood disorder that they haven’t figured out yet, so I am a pretty good candidate for not surviving if I get this Covid19.
Maybe you don’t like clowns?
All beings without number I vow to liberate
Endless obsessions I vow to release
Dharma gates without measure I vow to penetrate
Limitless awakenings I vow to unfold!
I have this so ingrained that I find it really difficult to chant anything else. It is very grandiose isn’t it? But I think that is the point of Vows. I think we might be embarrassed to make Great Vows but for fear of what? Of seeming egotistical? Of failing? What?
And this is one of those times when we are exerting ourselves for all beings aren’t we? It is a big deal. Nevertheless even when we do something that is just an everyday sort of thing, like when we pick up after ourselves it is a big deal too, because we are liberating ourselves from the conceit that anyone else should have to clean up after us, and from the idea of our own permanence by remembering we might not have a better time to do so. To open our awareness of what is arising within the space that somehow we have the shear luck to occupy and that we are not alone even when we are alone.
The next vows all follow fairly seamlessly if we get the first right, or even if we don’t, even if we fail when trying hard enough to say “I vow” and then blush to be so bold.
People are dying and even small efforts are of benefit, not the least because we care.
I wrote the following in response to a friends utter despair over the lack of concern for the plight of Syrian refugees before this Covid19 shook the world.
Now, more than anything, I am glad to see that we are voluntarily self-isolating, and socially distancing–lessening the impact of this virus. And more than this, we are doing it with humour and love for one another.
It is a good sign. I hope too that it registers in the hearts and minds of us all that we are capable of more than we think. That not being self centered and selfish can actually change life for the better, even giving rise to real economic activity. The sort of economic activity generated by working to protect the well-being of all beings instead of just inflating imaginary numbers for the benefit of despots. Anyway, my friend just reminded me of this conversation recently and I post it here.
M: Here. These are some of our fellow humans. Their displacement has been enabled by our collective unwillingness to confront Assad’s Atrocity, Russia and Iran’s regional aspirations, the USA’s famed proclivity towards abandoning its allies, and Turkey’s Machiavellian maneuverings. It has been enabled by Fortress Europe. And it has been enabled by our utter global lack of outrage, which has given tacit permission for the Atrocity to continue, for nearly ten years, in the face of incontrovertible proof of war crimes by a variety of parties.
M:This is Orwell’s moment: surveillance, disappearances, detentions, torture, cluster bombs, the use of prohibited weapons (including gas), against civilian populations, the targeting of hospitals and first responders and medical personnel and doctors, perpetual war, all tools of Big Brother. Power for its own sake, twisting and shifting, old enemies becoming friends, old friends betrayed. Newspeak scribbling over the most well-documented betrayal of a people in history.
And we have responded with, “Do it to Julia. Not me.” The rats are coming for you all.
Rio: I think I read or heard that Hitler was emboldened by Europe’s lack of response to the genocide of Armenians, so much so that he said, no one will care if we get rid of the Jews…it is normal again to turn a blind eye. Have no doubt that there are Evil minds watching and waiting to put that into play for their hateful advantage in your own countries people. But going further, it was also considered that the grinding debt forced on Germans by their enemies for the ridiculous hubris of blue bloods, namely the first world war, created the the dish of slop in which Fascism grew…So, in my opinion, the only way forward and off this wheel of pain is to focus on stability, moderation and a preparedness to sacrifice for the benefit of our neighbours, even if they might be inclined to hate us or take advantage, to care for the weak and have that care entrenched in law. Here and now in Canada.
I am guardedly hopeful.
Every cloud has a silver lining!