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Archive for September, 2009

Trust, Promises & Time

September 25, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Love, Meditation, Valet Battleship Parking

Some people find being trustworthy so hard. They’ll make a promise but have their fingers crossed behind their backs. I have never done this, but have seen so many others do it and get away with it that I wonder if there’s some liberating quality of going back on your word that I’m missing.

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I’m not trying to blame or be cryptic, I’m just actually asking. People have always said of me that they trust me without hesitation. This makes me feel very good. But then, as the years progress the promises they have made to me suddenly start to bend and, in some cases, break altogether. I look at how these folks have changed and they seem… happy… free… while I’m stuck in the past holding on to the promises I made to them that are, as a result of their actions, hurting me terribly. These promises sit inside me like thorny stones, tearing me apart little by little. It’s torturous to hold these things that seem to not mean anything anymore. But that’s the question: do they still mean something if the relationship they were developed within no longer exists?

What’s the secret? Is there one? Do promises have a statute of limitations? Or are they made void if the other person breaks their promises to you? Can an emotional contract be broken? Part of me thinks that it can’t, that no matter how tortured I am, my word is my bond and I build my relationships and my life around providing that certainty. When things go sour the only one that’s hurt is me–a relatively low casualty rate. I just to move forward with the hope that one day I won’t care about that person/situation anymore and so keeping the promise doesn’t hurt as much as my life changes.

Ugh, I don’t know…

Thoughts, anyone?

President Barack Obama’s Healthcare Speech, 09.09.09

September 10, 2009 By: admin Category: Uncategorized

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This is Part 1 of the video of the speech on YouTube. The other parts can be found along  the right-hand sidebar on the same YouTube page.

Read full text of speech here.

MoveOn.org Does It Again

September 09, 2009 By: admin Category: Health, News, Obama, Politics

For those who haven’t yet seen this incredible video, here ya go… Just in time for the president’s healthcare speech tonight…

Targets

September 09, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Meditation, Valet Battleship Parking, Yoga

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One of my favorite lines from popular culture comes from the movie “Dances With Wolves.” The main character, a Union solider living out on the prairie just after the Civil War waits in anxious anticipation for the neighboring Indians to, basically, come and kill him. He waits and waits, shores up what he can of his one-man defenses, sleeps fitfully, and waits some more. When nothing happens he finally stops waiting and gets angry at himself. What have I been waiting for? he seems to ask himself. And with that he dresses in his finest uniform, saddles his horse, and sets off toward the Indian village. The line he says then is “A target makes a poor impression.”

I get stuck in waiting and hoping. Maybe that’s one of my patterns. I’ve had so many forces in my life trying to get me to see my patterns that I should hang a shingle. I seem to attract pattern-teachers. Anyway, I know I should be taking this forced convalescence to scrutinize my faults so I can attempt to see the patterns so as to be better in the future, but my mind is justifiably preoccupied with wondering if I’m going to be able to keep the house or not. No jobs have yet responded to me about permanent work and I only have two months’ of mortgage left. I don’t write this so those of you who read it will leap into action, I write it as someone would write a journal–to bear witness to this time in my life. I find it easier to write for public consumption than for private because I worry that if I write only for myself I will lie and that won’t help the future me at all…

So, the quote… Meditation is my doorway to the patterns within me, and I know that staring and staring and staring at them is the same for me as getting up on his horse was for the character in the film. I have to give up everything that’s safe–which, sadly, is everything I know–if I want to move forward. I, by the way, barely even know what I’m saying here. I just have these instincts that this is my one, last BIG shot. This second horrendous Mercury retrograde this year is my chance to either put up or shut up, either face my patterns and deal or be forever ruled by them and never know love again. Oh yes, this is all about love. Anyone who says it isn’t is full of shit and you should back slowly away. EVERYTHING we do we do for some aspect of love. That includes things people do that are evil. They’re afraid of losing love so they perpetrate evil to hang on for dear life to what they consider safe. I’m doing that right now, although the evil that I’m perpetrating is on myself by not looking deep enough. I slacked off my meditation and yoga practices in the last few days and maybe all this is a result of that. I won’t know until I start it all up again, which I plan to do immediately because… a target makes a poor impression. :)

For those interested… below is a video I did while at Oxygen Sports. The woman was on the USA Olympic Archery team…

Kathy Loesch of the USA Archery Team from Alexia Prichard on Vimeo.

Day 1

September 06, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Faith, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom, Photoshop, Running, Valet Battleship Parking, Yoga

I don’t know if this is Alanis Morrisette’s response to the breakup of her engagement to actor Ryan Reynolds, but she’s always been an artist I admire for her emotional candor, and with this new song she certainly speaks word-for-word for me. It’s been a struggle, but the clouds are starting to part. Discipline and faith, family and friends are getting me through what will likely be the toughest breakup of my life. I doubt even Mom’s death will have had as much impact as this last relationship and it’s subsequent demise.¬† There’s so much still to look at. I’m going over it all, step by step, from the beginning, and just “facing” it. There’s no value in hanging on to the desire for revenge even though I want to. The knee-jerk reaction is slipping away. Sometimes it tries to make an appearance… I’ll be reading and it’ll pop up, but I won’t notice it for a few moments. After a bit it’ll bounce up and down: “Look at me! Look at me!” it’ll yell. “What…?” I’ll ask, annoyed be pulled away from my book. “You’re upset. You want to do something,” it’ll continue. “I am upset, but all I want to do is read my book. Now go away.”

See, Depression & Revenge like it a lot better when you drink or perform other acts self-sabotage. They hate it when you evolve…

So, like Alanis, I’m putting my experience into my work and every day life. Making practical use of all the pain. Every day I meditate, do yoga, run, eat well, make something in Photoshop and/or edit something, read at least 2 chapters of my book, and spend some time conceptualizing a part of the house design. I don’t ignore what’s going on at all, I use it against itself. After all, it’s energy, right? :)

New Perspective

September 03, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, India, Living, Love, Meditation, Valet Battleship Parking

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“When we trust our creativity we encounter a supreme kind of enjoyment –
an amazement at the natural unfolding of life beyond our ordinary way of looking at things.” –Kongtrul Jigme Namgyel

The painting above, as well as many other wonderful abstracts can be found at Rinpoche’s website here: http://www.kongtruljigme.com/index.php This is the mane I went to hear speak last night. I love that a Tibetan Buddhist on his path of teaching Westerners about mindfulness and compassion, is also a painter. :)

So, the talk–called a ‘Dharma Talk”–was terrific. I expected it to blow my mind but was still shocked it actually did. The topic of the talk was fear and fearlessness. He began the way you’d expect, talking about fear’s root being in attachments. We all have fears and the task is to meditate on them in order to discover their origins. Their origins are always in attachment. We have attachments to people, to moments, to things, to an idea, etc. Fear comes when our attachment becomes too strong, like we want to win something. We are so attached that we lose the ability–in that case–to be rational, and that leads us to get all twisted up and we feel bad. So the key is to identify our attachments and then work with them…

Part A: Attachments

Once you identify the attachment you sit with it, look at it from all sides and try to see how/why it’s affecting you so much. This isn’t a fun part of the process because you eventually come to realize that you could do without the attachment. I’m still fuzzy on how to release the attachment altogether, but there’s probably some merit to that. Or maybe not, maybe we just become comfortable having the thing in our lives with the understanding that we can’t allow ourselves to go too far with it.

Anyway, while you’re stuffed with attachments, you’re fearful. You’re so attached/invested in so many things that that’s where all of your energy is going. Your blind to other things around you, or your perspective is distorted from fear. In this state you can’t help anyone, and helping others is the crux of compassion…. so the idea is to clear your mind of all that muck so you can become strong. This, obviously, will take a long time as we will have to spend years identifying all of our attachments. I don’t think enlightenment stays at bay during this time, I think you can have moments of enlightened joy at every stage–realizations–but overall things take time.

Part B: Awaking To Fearlessness.

There is strength in fearlessness, and Rinpoche emphasized that we not think of fearlessness as being “toughness.” Fearlessness, I think, means having courage in the world, having the courage to do things for the greater good and not for the self. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, but I haven’t quite figured out the meaning of fearlessness just yet. All I know is that when you release a whole, whole lot of your attachments you “awake,” are reborn as a new, fearless person. I like that. :)

Part C: Compassion Toward Self

So, this is the part that I think will take years: learning to love and have compassion for yourself. Again, these teachings seem to be only about 75% linear, you don’t have to follow Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. I think you get realizations along the way and, in the bigger picture they could stack up to look more linear. But we’re not supposed to think like that, is my feeling.

Anyway, so once we’ve achieved a certain comfortable measure of fearlessness, we then have to focus on loving ourselves and giving ourselves compassion. I don’t even know where to begin with that so I’m just going to leave it alone. I just know that in order to be able to have compassion for others and do good in the world, you have to give it all to yourself and that’s just HARD. maybe it’s a Western thing, though, because I see many, many, many more Americans having trouble with self-love than most other cultures. It may be because our sense of the core family has died off. We run away from our families when we should stay with them–or at least the ones that aren’t self-destructive. For some this is much, much harder than for others.

Part D: Compassion Toward Others & The World

This is what it sounds like. Rinpoche seemed to say that this is not you running around all over the world trying to fix everything, it’s just you by example, I think, following the path of peace and living your life in a peaceful way and having that be your biggest impact on others. Obviously, though, you could teach the dharma or, if you’re my friends Alison & Bryan, you could open a computer and job training school in Kolkata, India for low-income and low-caste folks. THAT’s walking the path if there ever was one.

You have to have a lot of confidence in yourself before you can have the strength to do something like what Alison & Bryan do.

Part E: Enlightenment

This is the big payoff. I have no idea what this looks like, feels like, etc. I don’t know anyone who’s enlightened. So, if you get as far as this stage let me know what it’s all about… :)

So, I was very pleased with the talk and with Rinpoche. I’m not a buddhist, but no one was or is asking me to be and they’re still all very generous and open about non-buddhists coming to their classes and workshops. This is phase one for me: realizing there’s an avenue other than pain. For now, for me, it’s about perspective and self-reflection. Those aspects affect everything. I move more slowly these days so I can have time to take things in and try to understand them, and I wake up early–6:00am!–so I can have even more time in the day. Meditation certainly does give you more energy, that’s for sure.

I hope this offers something to anyone reading it. I had a very good time at the talk and look forward to learning more. :)

Valet Battleship Parking, Part 4: Wide Open Spaces

September 02, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Meditation, Valet Battleship Parking, Yoga

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If you’ve never been to New Mexico drop whatever you’re doing and high-tail it.

When I was just out of college I went to visit one of my mentors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She had moved there from rural CT so it was a big change for her. Still, she took to it like a native. LOVED the open space and the feeling of the West. When I arrived and had the same reaction to my first trip to that state she told me she was relieved to hear it. Apparently, her first guest–another old friend from CT–FREAKED at the expanse of the desert all around. She said all that space made her feel lost and small. As much as I ponder that feeling of her friend’s I still can get my mind around it…

Wide open spaces to me are one of the gifts of this country. Free meditation centers. You can choose your landscape: desert, mountain ranges, wide fields of farmland, long, quiet valleys, grassy plains, or the beach. Each has something to offer, it’s own kind of peace, so I’m always befuddled when I think of my friend’s story…

Maybe the woman was afraid because she couldn’t hide in all that space, and hiding is something most people like to do a lot. We all do it at various times, but some folks live there and that’s just sad. Hiding = holding on, and while holding on in many cases can be the right decision, most of the time what we’re holding onto is something that we think will keep our fears away. Doesn’t work. Never will.

I’m actively trying to go into wide open spaces. It’s easy given where I live but none the less still an emotional challenge, even for someone who WANTS to face her fear. I guess what I’m most afraid of now is death. I’m afraid of being killed. I’m afraid that, in my still fairly vulnerable state, I will be taken advantage of and won’t be able to recognize the messenger because s/he comes wearing a smile and speaking in a tender voice. I am not at all good at identifying manipulators, so I’m ripe for the picking. And I’m afraid of that.

Tonight I’ll meditate for a long time and then will listen to a wise man speak. I have a question prepared for him: if meditation is about This Very Moment, and we are to release ourselves from judging the thoughts that come into This Very Moment, do we become emotionless? Emotions come from judging/evaluating something that comes into our experience–they are our reactions to this thing. If we succeed in being present, doesn’t it stand to reason that we will lose our ability to feel?

Just Be Sure Not To Lose Your Mind

September 01, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Valet Battleship Parking

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The danger for us all, but especially for artists, is believing the myths we create about ourselves. Myths are fine as long as they stay where they belong: in our dreams. When you find yourself too consistently fantasizing about the future, you are doomed never to achieve it.

I got some very bad news today. No one died, but a friend has become lost. Hopefully, it’ll only be for a time. I can’t predict how long, that’s up to her, but I fear it might be long enough that I should worry. But how do you tell a cocaine addict they should stop snorting… especially when it feels so good? There’s no argument that’ll work.

“She has to come to it on her own.” Yes, I understand that, but still can’t help wanting to hang a lantern in the bell tower–one if by land…

Everyone needs someone to stay awake… and keep a light on.