Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter and God Bless America

America is still a work in progress. From Washington's first days in office through present day Obama debate has never ceased. While Capitalism is reducing the middle class to a point of nonexistence and while the Supreme Court appears no longer so, we seem no closer to unity now than at the birth of our nation.
And perhaps that can be seen as a good thing
Freedom seems under attack from fictitious foes and real alike. The founding fathers implemented a series of checks and balances so that no one authority could run roughshod with their own agenda. With no unity in sight Washington now slogs through political mud and who can say where progress lay? In their wisdom, the founders designed that the Senate balances the house; the presidency the Congress; the judiciary the legislative and executive branches, the states the federal establishment.
And most important of all?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.........
Of the fifty five delegates of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants with at least two Roman Catholics. Present were Congregational, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists. The Constitution was sent out to the states for ratification to a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, German and Swedes. They in turn were made up of Catholics, Lutherans, Deist, Calvinists and Quakers. There was also a small yet growing Jewish community. It's important to remember that all came from lands where people were told what to believe and any dissent against the established religious authority was unlawful. And it must be remembered that the union of church and state constructed the Divine right of Kings leaving a Monarch beyond question or reproach. Government of the king; not of the people. The Divine right of kings was worldwide. Only in America, imperfect then and imperfect still, could a man believe as he wills without the fear of persecution or punishment.
I am pleased, grateful and excited that I, who will not attend church this day, can do so without fear. But for those who attend in praise of the risen Christ, I am thankful for their ability to choose and thankful for the wisdom behind the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
There is no Taliban here. There exists no one favored religion. And in the light of the right's push towards creating a religious state the founders attempted to thwart that possibility as well.
As James Madison wrote, "A religious sect may regenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy, but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source."
And so may our freedom continue!
Happy Easter.
Blessed Passover.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The three phases of life

In my late twenties with two growing boys, I bought a home and proceeded to add two girls to the family. All four are grown now and I am divorced from their mother. Yet I remain in the family home for another year ( my 3rd or 4th, I can't remember) longing for it to be sold. The market has hammered the price lower than what is imaginable and the many lookers struggle over the busy road that lies without the door.
Sure, there are good memories mingled with the bad but the time to move is now.
This home (pictured to the left) calls to me. The points to the positive are almost magical. And we all know how I like to avoid magical thinking!!
I've sweetened the pot by adding the modern washer and dryer to go with the house. Plus the Vermont Castings wood stove which is irreplaceable. I'll even throw in some chickens if they like.
The new home is less than half the size of my current home. It's private and quiet and it's a rental. Everything that I want. The plus far outweighs the negative. In fact, I'm not sure there is a negative. I'm confident that this move will happen but I admit to secretly stashing a fear that I might have to remain here for another year. And that makes me sick.
From many of my earlier posts you can see that my ex needs to be far from me. Even now, as I work in town as does she, I squirm every time the ambulance goes by. I think that her death, either by her own hand or by some act of fate will come to fruition within the next few years. I take no pleasure in that thought other than knowing that she might find peace. And sadly so will many others.
Several times an hour horns toot a wave as friends and acquaintances drive by the house. It's a nice feeling. In the new home that part of it will sadly be gone. But it's time to move on and transition into the next and final phase of my life. The breast feeds and nurtures but in time dries up to be a source of pleasure alone for the squeeze and the kiss of a lover. I need to nurture me. To quiet my being and explore life.
Many cultures recognize and divide life into phases. This is not a thesis, so look it up yourself. :) In modern terms the first phase is referred to as The Path of Personality Development. The second, The Path of Growth and the third, The Path of Higher Self. Hinduism divides life into the Four Ages of Man. The point is, I raised my children and had my career. It's time for inner growth and the honing of wisdom. Leaving this house closes one door and opens yet another. I shed tears for the good and the bad memories. I've experienced growth, pain and all that life can throw at us in this home. It is time to go.



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Awakening




The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. GKC

 Sometimes the anonymity of being a tourist lends a temporary comfort; a comfort that eventually leads you back home to where you're left with a feeling that you haven't gone anywhere. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

There be chickens!!


Chickens are becoming as commonplace as back yard gardens these days. I've come to think of them as extended family. My relationship with each is different from the other. Katie is my temporary substitute for a dog. Big Fattie McChicken is a great conversationalist albeit very opinionated. Cassie is sweet and beautiful while a few are just plain douches. On the whole they are fun to watch and the eggs are a bonus. They capture the wisdom of early to bed, early to rise. Something that I've envied yet never mastered. Being well fed, well cared for, they enjoy roaming the yard. And the neighbor's yard. And the neighbor's neighbor's yard. They don't stray too far but their world is big enough to keep them content.
With the house up for sale I'm concerned for their future. Will I be able to take them with me? Finding homes for them is simple. Parting with them is the difficult part. I enjoy my slice of an urban homestead yet I am all too aware that with life comes change. I am content in knowing that life is fleeting. Everyone will die. Good health comes and goes. Yet, I feel that I've dealt with many years of self sacrificing bullshit earning me rest and peace for the remainder of my days. But don't we all? 

Silly little human beings.... 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A poser I may be


Society is not changed by example. Society may reform itself, it may bring about certain changes through political or economic revolution, but only the religious man can create a fundamental transformation in society; and the religious man is not he who practices starvation as an example to impress society. The religious man is not concerned with society at all, because society is based on acquisitiveness, envy, greed, ambition, fear. That is, mere reformation of the pattern of society only alters the surface, it brings about a more respectable form of ambition. Whereas, the truly religious man is totally outside of society, because he is not ambitious, he has no envy, he is not following any ritual, dogma or belief; and it is only such a man who can fundamentally transform society, not the reformer. The man who sets out to be an example merely breeds conflict, strengthens fear, and brings about various forms of tyranny. It is very strange how we worship examples, idols. We don't want that which is pure, true in itself; we want interpreters, examples, masters, gurus, as a medium through which to attain something - which is all sheer nonsense, and is used to exploit people. If each one of us could think clearly from the very beginning, or reeducate ourselves to think clearly, then all these examples, masters, gurus, systems, would be absolutely unnecessary, which they are anyhow...
Krishnamurti

My introduction to the East began as part of my recovery and physical therapy for a severe back injury. My therapist, an Australian gal with hair like Amy Winehouse was teaching me Feldenkrais.  She also gave me two cassette tapes produced by her husband. The tapes gently walked me through several levels of Taoist Neigong. This began my long slow crawl back to health while it also opened the doors to TCMQigong, and forays into both Taoism and Buddhism. 

Like many children of the 60's and 70's perhaps due to the influence of the Beatles and shows like Kung Fu, I have been captivated for many years by the phrase "Meditation." My quest for better health was nourished by many teachers and mindfulness meditation soon became my anchor. Yet slowly meditation became more of a coping mechanism attempting to deal with a very troubled marriage and other mounting tensions. Beginners Mind became Ku. What has been spoiled has replaced mindfulness practice and I've reached a stalemate. 

"When I get to the bottom, I go back to the top of the slide, 
where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride, 
till I get to the bottom and I see you again....... 
Yeah, Yeah Yeah

It's been suggested that perhaps my path lay elsewhere as my grasping for what used to be is clearly stalled on the tracks. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Peace at the Pagoda, peace at TaoSpring

A moment not measured in time. The kind of warm day when you forget about the weather. A breeze only noticed by the caress of her hand. The prayer flags mimic her movement. Slow, without purpose; but purpose abounds.

Climbing the hill for the first time, slightly out of breath, anticipation and a call to exercise find the lungs in labor as the trail slowly clears.
 The temple not yet complete, the Buddhist monks found one more lesson in impermanence. A large portion of the temple had burned. And judging by the date of the fire and that of today, progress was slow. While on the ascent down the trail, we noticed the rocks for the first time. Laughingly we joked that our eyes were, "opened."

Some years later I explored the hill with my love Gaia Girl while on the road with my other love, the Ghia.

As I was saying, the weather was as perfect as the Tao. One rode the day as a baby in a stroller. I remember the sync and the laughter. She is earth. I am sun. Tea leaves in a cup cannot reveal enough about this combination. A wood horse. A water rat. A Buddha adorning each point of the compass.




A jet chem-trailed moving from west to east marking a hemisphere that by it's very height made it unclear if you were seated in the northern or the southern half. We closed in on each other. She leaning back onto me. Our faces forward, our bodies forming a comfortable chair. We talked as if we knew each other. As if we had been separated through time. Familiar. Easy.


Our days at TaoSpring are herb filled as Gaia Girl broadens her healing skills. We like to spend time on our New England byways discovering medicinal plants hidden in plain view. Many of them brought over from the old world, some of them native. Our chickens entertain while laying eggs that most often are given away.
We planted a small garden this year. Cucumbers abound, beans and cherry tomatoes. The later being plucked by the ever illustrious Katie Chicken. The healing hand of Gaia Girl present is in all things.  Loving, wise, wicked smaaaart, healing. A unicorn in a field of horses.

Wherever have you been Gaia Girl? No matter. You're here now.                  

video







Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Having children, having angst


Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Tao Te Ching

We see him sitting on the back stairs or hanging over the railing with either a cigarette or a "forty" in his hand. His body emancipated, eyes protruding and his sockets are sunken into his skull like craters on the moon. The large house in which he now resides hosts twenty single rooms, a shared kitchen and a few shared privies. It lies at the edge of a small shopping center looming large as a Steamboat lodged on a sandbar just twenty paces from the alcohol store operated by a jovial man from India. It all seems surreal. This house was the place that I warned him about when he was a boy. Jokingly I would tell him and his younger brother that we should go uptown and trace out a spot so that they would know where to stand when they behaved errant. I would point to the wretched refuse as a deterrent. This is not, I told them, where you want to be.

He lives there now. 

Heroin was the train, pleasure the conductor. I never believed that he would have his ticket punched. There was enough evidence that the train was one way and that the road back was longer than most could endure. I believed that if the time ever arose he would up and walk away.

He did not.

His mother was recently hospitalized for the umpteenth time for cutting herself, carving deep wounds under each breast. And now his brother, younger by two years lost his job after a depressive breakdown. He spent time in the same hospital where his mother was two weeks earlier and spoke with many of the same people that she did during her stay.

Fantastic.

Like most fathers I want my children to do better than I did. More happiness, security. Asking myself, "but what does that mean?" I arrive at no conclusion. I've heard it said that chemical imbalances are fictional. But family trees are not. This family tree, my family tree, has produced the fruits of depression and all the associated tag lines. Alcoholism, hospitalization, addiction, in all it's myriad forms.

It creates in me an itch of angst that is hard to locate and tough to scratch. I seek ways to escape it and I seek ways to let it be. The feelings that this produces weighs down the smile, the bounce in the step and it drags me away from the now;

Past/future - future/past. It offers nothing, it takes everything. I look about for easy sailing. Respite. A blessing. Instead I hear the hermit calling.  And retreat is at times the proper course. It is not to be confused with flight. Know when to hold, know when to fold them. Press forward, pull back, Wu Wei.

A friend with her two small children came by today. While I played with the little girls she said, "You want them?" I told her, "No way! Have you seen my brood." With a laugh she said, "Hey. They're all alive and kicking. Like mine. If they're breathing then I've done alright."





  

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