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.
Or you can give it some context.
Women over 60 share their coronavirus stories—from becoming a grandmother to dancing in the street.
via Jane Ganahl, et al: Elder Women Speak about the Virus — Vox Populi
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?
Call me the Grouch
Where do we put the poems
as hard as stones and as fragile as robin’s eggs?
Do we nestle them in skulls
laid in tidy rows on shelves
or do we push them
into mass graves?
Do we wrap them lovingly in cotton and hide them beneath the floor?
lean from our balconies as Rome burns
And toss them to strangers?
Do we give them away with sex?
allow any act and
ask only that
our audience refrains from applauding
until we are done?
And all the poems still being written,
shitting like dust mites under the furniture,
gnawing like rats in the middle ages,
dealing Like brokers on Bay Street,
Growing like multiple embryos
in our wombs,
what do we do with them?
While waiting in a bus shack
I had my nose twisted by this Haiku:
A poem sleeping
Like a fawn in the woods
Wrapped in a sleeping bag.
This one I retrieved and rewrote, finally understanding the answer.
This is not new except in its present form. I am afraid if you compare writing poems to making bread I’d say mine is never actually past the “I’ve got the ingredients!” stage.
At one really difficult point in my life I read Cat’s Cradle. I fell in love with Vonnegut. He had characters that were people I had met, crazy people like the ones I grew up with. So after reading Cat’s Cradle I read everything he wrote. Then I read everything that Kilgore Trout wrote. Then I read other science fiction authors and even tried to write a bit.
He was a true human being. He is not unaware of the cruel, and stupid in humans, but he is himself neither cruel nor stupid. He lets us sigh as we acknowledge the damage we have done as a species and laugh at our own folly as we stumble towards kindness. And laugh. And laugh.
Check out the Shapes of Stories a hilarious lecture on how to write a million dollar story: http://youtu.be/oP3c1h8v2ZQ
Dr. Suess made me want to read. Vonnegut made me want to write.