Tag Archives: change

Changes

It’s September! Usually this month energizes me. I associate it with back to school and new beginnings, despite the fact that school starts in mid-August here.

“Even as we fret about the changes our progress wreaks in the air and on the airwaves, in forests and on streets, we hardly worry about the changes it is working in ourselves, the new kind of soul that is being born out of a new kind of life. Yet this could be the most dangerous development of all, and the least examined.”

– Pico Iyer

The above quote speaks to how I feel about the times. And alas, that’s all I have to share for this moment.

Standing Still

It’s been a year of change, and for me this has shown up as being the one who is left behind.

Shortly after my mother died in March, I learned that four unrelated close friends of mine are moving away. One moved three hours away, another back to Texas, and a third one, today, is leaving for Colorado. My fourth friend is still searching for somewhere out of the bay area to land, and I’m confident they will be gone by end of summer.

It happens to us all. Having been left, and having twice been the one leaving, I know it is harder to be left. The person departing is focused forward, on new adventures, on change (most often) of their own design. I know my friends will miss me. It’s just that I feel acutely, right now, how immobile I am. I don’t even necessarily want to move anywhere. It’s just that this pandemic has stopped everything.

My mother’s death still feels abstract. She was 3,000 miles away, and I couldn’t travel to bury her. My friend who is leaving today used to be part of my daily life, but the pandemic shut that down. We’ve still connected by text, Marco Polo, and a few socially distanced walks. The first two options remain.

It’s just hard to wave good-bye when I’m the one standing still.

So it’s time to be gentle, let myself feel sad, and important to not attach to the feeling and get stuck in this story. And maybe it’s time for a little chocolate.

Risk

“Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won’t help you. …I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it.”

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Brief Notes of an Adventure

I just returned from my first sesshin at Hazy Moon Zen Center. It was fruitful. I’m tired and glad to be home. All that I experienced is settling, so I hesitate to write extensively about it. Here are some brief reflections. The first one is from my drive down, when I stopped at San Luis Reservoir for a break. The entire drive leads through two mountain ranges (the Diablo Mountains with the Pacheco Pass and the Tehachapi Mountains with the Tejon Pass) and the central valley; it’s beautiful country. It’s a six hour drive (one way) — which is just right.
—–

Brief Notes of an Adventure

The lake — a bowl of glitter!
Winds whisper to water,
waves murmur replies.
A crow flies, snail snared
in its beak.
—–

Rooster crows, broom sweeps.
A car growls to life.
Helicopters thump the sky.
Pigeon wings slap air.
Sirens keen, dogs bark.
Zazen in L.A.
—–

My food – Advil.
My nectar – water.
My balm – sleep.
—–

Now the cushion
Now the breath
Now the work.
Samadhi does not
come in a box or book.
It cannot be imagined
or conjured.
Bells, incense, bows, chants
bring dignity and form
to the formless.
But above all,
it is about the work.
Breath.
Samadhi.
—–

Cresting the mountain,
valley a blanket spread low;
slices of miles served –
feast towards home.

–Kathryn Harper

There Is No Place Too Small

I’m healthy. My daughter thrives. My marriage is happy. The weather is sunny and mild. We’re not in the middle of a mortgage crisis. We can pay our bills. I have a good social network.

So why have I grown tired, sad, and teary over the course of the day? I was prepared to chide myself for ingratitude, but then I remembered. Tomorrow is an anniversary. It’s been three years, but time doesn’t erase the mark completely. I feel fragile right now. (And my daughter has changed –yet again — these past few days; the cues that used to communicate hunger and exhaustion have changed, she’s eating just about every 90 minutes, and I feel off-kilter in my competence.)

I wrote the following poem a couple of years ago regarding the event.

No Place Too Small

It is easy to know how to meld with so much grief.
With joy there is blindness, rose-colored ignorance,
No body to tend, to anchor one to the earth.
When the world remains intact, you move nimbly,
Caressing the surface of things, noticing little.

But grief burrows in.
It needs only the exposed, wounded soul
To dig in as a tick under skin.
Grief bangs around the cellar, shrieking,
behaves unpredictably, hijacking your eyes
When the store clerk asks how you are. Clutching your
throat when you call the dentist’s office for a cleaning.

You walk now among oblivious humans,
an emotional leper
With lesions rotting your heart.
All of existence has its own death,
It too could slip into a tumor-ridden coma
Adorned with catheter tubes,
And gasp last breaths to the sterile beat
Of a monitor, attended by loved ones.

Since there is no place too small
For grief to infiltrate,
You lie down, surrender, pull it
to every cell of your being.
You take orders, as a dog obeys commands
From an owner; you honor and bear it,
And in this way, endure.

–Kathryn Harper

Change Of Plans

Due to a family emergency (that I’m not at liberty to provide the details of, since it’s extended family), my mother-in-law is unable to come as planned tomorrow. Other family members need her support right now. She still intends to come help out here in December (though I feel for her, as she will have traveled many thousands of miles by that time).

We’re doing all right, although I’ve been carrying my tension in my face such that it feels as though I have lock jaw. Claire awoke at 4:30 a.m. today. She had been starting to consolidate her sleep sessions and become more regular (awaking at 5:45-6:00 a.m.), but aims to keep life interesting instead.