December 2005

December 31st, 2005

This will be my last journal entry for the year of 2005 and I don't really have much to say about this year in retrospect but I'm glad it's over and I look forward to writing mm/yy/2006 on my checks from here on out. Actually, that's not entirely's just that I wish I could quantify everything I've learned and share it with you here. For better or worse all I can offer you are the cliff notes.

I must admit as well I'm not publishing this entry on the 31st but instead the 3rd of January. I wrote a series of notes, painted this snazzy 80's-ish looking picture, and had it all ready to go...then I spent the evening making strawberry margaritas, playing clue, reading tarot cards, and enjoying time with my friends. So I'm going to take this one bullet at a time.

One of the things I've learned (or have finally accepted) is that human beings are projection machines. Put another way, we're active creators painting our world one stroke after another. I mean, you can sit still, not say a damn word, and people will make you what they want you to be. If they're afraid, you'll somehow reflect that. If they're joyous, you'll somehow reflect that. Hell, you don't even need to exist, they'll make you!

I've learned that this is okay.

Another lesson that 2005 lead me to accept, that we choose our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ills and our miseries. We choose to smoke, we choose to eat poorly, we choose to be afraid of old age. We choose to complain or talk behind each others backs--then worry that they're talking behind ours. We choose to be in control or not be in control, to be addicted or not-addicted. We choose what to put into our bodies, minds, and spirits, and we choose what to release. We choose to allow fear to control us or not to control us. We choose to live in the past, in boxes, insane.

We choose whether or not we can see this.

I have seen my daughter put herself in so many boxes. She does it all the time. "I don't like that," she'll say when we're looking at a restaurant's menu or at clothing at a store. I love it when she does this because it reminds me she's human--and that I am too. I stick myself in little boxes, I don't wear those types of clothes, I don't watch those kinds of movies, I don't hang out with those people, I don't, I don't, damnit I don't and you can't make me!

The more attention the "I" gets the smaller it becomes until it is completely bound. Do you understand?

I am thankful that I am able to see the boxes I put myself in almost immiediately--and often beforehand. It makes life much more playful, though not as innocent. C'est la vie, can't have everything.

I have learned that I can experience any emotion without acting on it. I've learned that I'm not perfect when it comes to this but I've discovered it's okay to simply experience any emotion, no matter how intense...and to be patient, there is no hurry, there is no need to act now or even ever, perhaps. When my mind is calm then I can decide.

I am learning to be passionate without tripping over myself.

I knew most people were afraid of sorrow. I have learned that most are just as afraid of joy.

It is better to be alone and in peace than surrounded without.

On New Years resolutions I have this to say: if you want them, have them. If you do not, don't concern yourself.

I personally believe one of the most powerful tools you can have in this life is living in the moment and that skill isn't date driven, it is not mandated by your age or what's happened before or will happen. It's the place that makes us equal, the place where we have just as many advantages and disadvantages, the place where we have the choice to recognize what resources are at our disposal or not, the place where we choose to take action or not.

So you want to loose weight? Do it now! So you want to make more friends? Do it this year! Do it now! So you want to be more successful? Learn that computer language? Write your book? Center yourself? Become more fit? Benefit those in your life?

Well, stoopid, Get'R'Done!

I am slowly loosing my hair and though I will miss it, oh well. I'm growing it out so I can enjoy it long, a second and a last time before the final hurrah. Do what you can with what you're given then shave your head :)

Oh, and good luck trying to figure me out this year! It's going to be interesting!!! :)

Until 2006--which is actually as I write these final notes and publish!

Your friend,

December 30th, 2005

Vipasanna likes renting DVD's with those leaves held up like two arms around some kind of film award like "Audience Favorite, Cannes Film Festival" or "Best Director, Berlin Film Festival" or "Oscar? As if!". Those two branches are like two lovers taunting us from the labels, the more lovers taunting the more curious we are to share their joys and sorrows and awakenings.

The label on the movie we watched tonight said something like:

"...a poetic and penetrating look at how everyday people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating modern world."

Actually, that's what it said and that's what it was, about people struggling to connect with one another. I mean really, it's okay to make films without pseudo-fucking or CGI-explosions, really it is!

I like a film that reminds me I'm not the only one trying to make connections, usually with mixed success (Me and You and Everyone We Know). I like a film that reminds me I'm not the only one that's felt the depth of passion, seen myself fuck things up, and learn to accept it (Closer). I like a film that reminds me I'm not the only one who feels like he's in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but somehow manages to make the most of it without giving up or giving in (Lost in Translation). I like a film that reminds me I'm not the only one who feels and sees and experiencing Karma flowing around me lifetime after lifetime (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring). I like a film that validates my reality (What the Bleep Do We Know?) and a film that challenges it (Coffee & Cigarettes).

If I were framed right and the lighting were right and the script were right I'd be beautiful. I'd be beautiful and you'd want to watch me sitting here writing. You'd want to watch me watching those films or watch me bake a cake or watch me drive to work. You'd share my joy and my tears and you'd feel like you knew me, were close to me, could almost slip inside of me.

P.S. Makarowknee!

December 29th, 2005

I couldn't even say, "Ouch!" I mean, there I was, mouth wide, wide, open, and somehow they squeezed a belt sander with the roughest grit in there and started pressing up against my rear molar then every bone and fizzure in my skull vibrated like a jack hammer and I didn't know if I should black out, scream, or make silly faces while allowing dribble to run down my chin. Not being terribly creative I opted for the latter.

Over six hours later my head still feels like it's vibrating.

Had a few strong psychic experiences lately. Someone close to me's been thinking about me the last few days...maybe not today, I can't tell as my teeth feel like they're still being raked across a chalk board...but yesterday was pretty damn strong and the day before. Felt like they were following me, trying to figure out how I was doing, what my true motives were.

How can I explain what that's like? Muggles have these experiences a few times a year. "Well," they might say, "There was this time I knew the phone would ring and who would be on the other end." How can I explain what it's like to have things like that happen every day and sometimes moment after moment after moment like I'm watching a movie I've already seen one or two times?

And it's not always like you see it in the movies or tv. Some people see spirits and some people know your motives and some people's noses itch when you're thinking about them. When someone's thinking about me, for instance, I'll see them all day long. Seriously, I'll turn and there they are driving a car and they might smile or look all pissed but it'll be them--until I blink my eyes and then it's someone else. That's what I call psychic-empathic reflection--not to be confused with psychological projection which can cause the same effect.

So muggles, mud bloods, and full bloods, clear your mind of cobwebs!

Seriously, it can be disorienting. You know what someone's going to say or do and they do it and you don't know whether to say, "I knew you'd do that" or just laugh and nod or put out a hand and tell the universe to "stop doing that, I've freakin' had enough already!". Of course the thing is if you want the universe to stop it will, it's pretty funny that way. And as I was saying before, it's not like what you see on tv. When someone challenges you with the cliche challenge "tell me what I'm thinking" chances are you were picking up something else--typically what people are "thinking" isn't the most important thing happening in the universe on a psychic, psychological, emotional, or any other level. Hell, the part of the psyche that asks that question is usually the ego and the ego isn't worth much in the long run and it doesn't take a psychic to tell you that!!! And we're all emotional creatures, we'll see snapshots of faces, emotions, smells, you name it, and we have to be clear headed enough to put all that together and interpret it correctly and communicate or not communicate that to others!

What a huge undertaking that can be!

Wanna take a ride?

December 28th, 2005

"I have an idea," shouted the little monkey excitedly as he lifted his right index finger into the air with a grin, "and you will hear it will you?"

The monkey then sat silently for a long while as if he were thinking deeply, silently. If he were indeed doing that I might indeed share with you his thoughts but his silence was genuine and his mind clear as he grinned and breathed and sat stairing back at us as we sat stairing at him wondering what his idea was (or in fact if monkeys could have ideas worth listening to).

"Ah," he said at last, "now that I have your attention I'd like to tell you a story, a story most tride and true, a story about me and you! Let us sit here you and I and talk and share and dare to let our tears join with the soil and our hopes soar with the clouds! There is more than one story and more than one ending! Choose, jump, choose, walk, choose, climb, choose, run, choose, sit, choose, sleep, but do so with your eyes open."

Then he laughed the kind of laugh you'd expect a monkey to laugh as we're always expecting monkeys to laugh a certain way no matter how they're actually feeling. And then he raised his finger into the air a second time and exclaimed: "Monkeys have no parachutes!"

December 27th, 2005

Sometimes I want to be loved. Sometimes I want to feel attractive, I want someone close to me, someone who will love me, cherish me, always be there for me. I want someone I can share my deepest thoughts, hopes, and secrets with. I want to go to sleep with them in my arms or me in theirs and I want to wake up in the dead of night and feel their warmth against me and I want to wake in the morning and make them breakfast or find it has already been made for me. I want to meet someone who has my best interests in mind. I want to feel their lips on mine, their eyes connected to mine in a gaze focused within and without with strength, love, and purpose.


"I can't afford to dream about something that will never be." I hate to admit it but I stole that quote from a line in Xena, Warrior Princess, a show which I have never quite understood people 's fascination with--though I can't argue with the fact that there are many who love it. One of them is my eleven year old daughter who loves playing at sword fights and won't be caught in a dress for the life of her (until she discovers boys--if indeed she one day has an interest in them!).

Sometimes life is about accepting the things we must, like watching hours of Xena with our children, instead of reaching out for what our hearts desire. And so now on those occasions when I sit alone late at night and I look over at my empty bed and I know that I will be alone there tonight, tomorrow night, and perhaps many, many nights into the future, I think on all the reasons I chose to be alone tonight, tomorrow night, and perhaps many, may nights thereafter.

I have not chosen anything great. I have not sacrificed. I am just learning to do something I should have done a long time ago.

December 26th, 2005

Gift giving is all about balance--or at least we humans tend to prefer making it about balance whether we recognize it or not. Last week, for example, a new friend gave me a beautiful purple cup and a a Tinker Bell sticker and I hadn't thought of getting them anything (having been overwhelmed with gifts and cards for many others). I had a moment of guilt over this which I found clouded my acceptance of the gift. I pushed the guilt aside, made some tea, and enjoyed what I was given. Some day I will, of course, return the favour but not today or tomorrow...when the time is right.

Too often we make gift giving about karmic balance, psychological balance, and about emotional balance. Often we cannot receive a gift without immediately reciprocating with something of equal value. You write a letter, they return a letter, you send a card, they send a card, you buy them dinner, they get you lunch, and so on. You compliment them...and they almost seem uncomfortable until they've complimented you back.

Doesn't it seem a little silly to you?

The most difficult gift giving...and to give or recieve without expectation that balance will or even needs to be restored. It means being able to give and receive without accepting the illusion of an imbalance. It means being able to...well, just be.

Do you understand what I'm trying to say?

Give without expectation. Give when it is in your heart. Give what you can, as much as you can, whenever you can, with the depth of thought and love and kindness and creativity and all that makes you the person you are.

Accept without expectation. Accept whatever is givin whenever it's given even if you aren't ready...some day you will see the value of the gifts that end up in your hands. Live for that day, it is like no other!

Take care,

December 25th, 2005

Sometimes a monkey will meow and sometimes a monkey will pooh and sometimes a monkey will spread dharma for bodhisattvas to pick up like fresh fruit from the tree and sometimes a monkey will be full of chocolatie goodness.

Accept the gifts that are given you and you've got something most are only beginning to learn. Use the gifts that are given you and you are truly appreciative of your life, your actions, and your breath.

You never know until you bite in.

Of course the Buddha said:

"Like a monkey in the forest
You jump from tree to tree,
Never finding the fruit--
From life to life,
Never finding peace."

What he forgets to mention here (though he mentions it in other ways) is that a monkey has monkey nature and it's only through its monkey nature that it eventually finds peace. That peace is encouraged by that jumping from tree to tree, branch to branch, that is the rhythm that pushes the monkey towards such wisdom.

Movement is not the key, however. Sitting still is not the key either. When you understand this then you'll understand and no more will need to be said.

Something my dad recently sent me in an e-mail. I'd like to share it with you...


15 Things You Probably Never Knew or Thought About:

  • At least 5 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
  • At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
  • The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
  • A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
  • Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
  • You mean the world to someone.
  • If not for you, someone may not be living.
  • You are special and unique.
  • Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
  • When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
  • When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
  • When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.
  • Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
  • Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
  • If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

P.S. The monkey's name is "Fluffy". He has two purple hearts and meows when you squeeze his leg.

December 24th, 2005

My favourite part of Christmas growing up was the Christmas Eve service at our family's (Our Savoirs) Lutheran Church. Friends and family would all come together. Our pastor would give a speech and especially as a kid this speech served as a count down to Santa coming down the chimney. It wasn't that, though, that made these memories so special. It was the moment all the lights in the church would go dim then completely dark as each of us held out a candle and sang Silent Night the way it was originally meant, in the dark with family and friends.

I am no longer a Christian but those memories still hold a special place in my heart and it is the one day I miss church. Sometimes I wish I could go back there with family and friends but those are only memories now, good memories, and they have a good home. Now there are new traditions. Christmas Eve comes and I start a big fire in the fireplace. Those of us that are here at the homestead roast marshmellows and enjoy smores after which my daughter reads her Christmas list and we burn it symbolically sending it out to Saint Nick.

Actually, it is now 12:42am on the 25th as I write and the day has been full from one end to the other and it's not over. After I finish writing this paragraph I'm going to go downstairs and grab my laundry hamper. In with my clean clothes I will sneak the stockings with care up to my walk in closet, stuff them, then sneak them and the Santa presents down under our tree which is, though seven/eight feet tall, somewhat too small for the load of presents (most likely all socks) residing under it this year. I will then come back upstairs, complete this journal entry with Roseanne running in my second monitor, take a quick shower, then hit the bed. When I get up in the morning I'm going to enjoy a nice hot cup of Irish Coffee which I am looking forward much, much more than the presents.

And that is how you know when you're getting old.

Finding gifts has been a rather unique experience for me this year. Typically I know exactly what I want to get people and putting a lot of time and thought into a gift is something I have felt rather skilled at. This year? I feel like I'm relearning everying, stumbling about in the dark. Whereas I used to be to just almost psychically find the right thing this year I feel like nothing I've purchased or written or made is "right"--they just "are".

And on top of that I typically remember all the gifts I've purchased for each and every person. For some strange reason this time around I forget what I've gotten almost as soon as the gift is wrapped. Needless to say, half of the surprise tomorrow will be finding out what I got everyone! Sure, maybe this is a side effect of shopping a month ahead of time but I think it has more to do with the changes I've made to myself over the past year, allowing things to happen as they may, not hold onto emotions or ideas too long. Do you understand?

On the other hand I'm curious to see how I'll react to getting gifts. As I mentioned before the thing I'm looking forward to the most is a nice hot cup of Irish Coffee. Yum! And of course seeing my daughter's face light up (before she gets the typical Christmas morning sugar high after which it'll just start twitching in a sorta funny way).

I used to be terrible at recieving gifts and for several reasons. For one, I spent a great deal of my life very depressed and socialized myself to receive almost anything the same way Darlene Conner might (yeah, I'm watching Roseanne but some may be able to understand where I'm coming from). Another problem was I usually knew what I was getting usually through straight forward deductive reasoning and psychic empathy. And then there's just this problem I have with letting my emotions show and when I see something and think "WTF?" that's exactly what's on my face--needless to say, this doesn't go over well.

I think what I'm experiencing, these changes, this evolution, will also allow me to be more receptive to gifts. I'm not attached to any outcomes, I don't have any hopes about what I may or may not receive. I just want my Irish Coffee, that and to spend a day with people I care about and who I would die for.

Oh, I've received one gift so far and I've been too busy to thank the person that gave it to me. It helped me transform some rather strange perception of paw prints I've been having lately and I've enjoyed some very nice hot cups of earl grey tea.

And to all a good night.

P.S. Apologies for rambling, mispellings, and grammatical errors--I'm freakin' tired! :)

December 22nd, 2005

I'm writing my journal entry tonight under some duress. You see, I ordered a replacement laptop computer from a company that continues to be nameless, The machine arrived yesterday so while cleaning the kitchen then making dinner for everyone I configured the second machine -- no small feat in man hours and most people hate computers so much they hire others to do these kinds of things. Get everything setup, fine, it looks great, right? Then I start using it--to make a long story short it's a tablet PC and 'using' means sitting down and writing on the screen instead of using the keyboard. the pen doesn't been to track quite light and... well, the two machines "should" have been identical in all ways except the new one "should" have a non-faulty display (it does ) but that isn't the case so I sit hue writing (by hand) this entry on the new machine tying to be patient as I ash myself if I'm just being anal and overf particular or if this machine beeps fritzing out on me as I write. And I'd have to say I don't recall the other one (with the fault display) dosing the window I was writs in over and over and over again. but, I think, I want to be fair! d want to be objective! I don't want to be a wines who complains over a scratch or something superficial like that! tout then I think of all the years of my life that I have accepted so much less for the...

I gave up writing on that machine and shut it down. As you can see I didn't use Microsoft's handwriting recognition software with built in spell checking to change errors--it was a pain on this replacement machine so I finally just threw in the other shoe, e-mailed the company, and said I'm done.

What I was going to say before is that for most of my life I'd have put up with something like that (there are exceptions but they're rare). I'd buy a product and if it was slightly damaged I'd accept it because I knew it would either be thrown away or passed on to someone else. I'd accept friends into my life who didn't have my wellfair in mind. I'd give people second chances and third and fourth--instead of really trusting all six senses.

2005 has been a hard year for me. A lot of changes, a lot of little struggles and tests, a lot of accepting and moving on. A lot of being on my own. And growing up.

What did I originally want to write about this evening? The Winter Solstice. So tomorrow I will write about it in celebration as I, for many, many reasons, look forward to longer days!

All my love,

December 21st, 2005

"Where's my page?"

I know, I know, you haven't asked yet but you will. Sure, I can't always see into the future but sometimes all I need is a little knowledge of human nature. Monkey see, monkey do, and Santa Monkey says, "Hey, your stocking will be filled when it's time not on a certain day so wait, be patient, and you will find gifts of truth and honesty and friendship and sharing!"

Yeah, yeah, I know, it sounds too good to be true and it probably is. I mean, sometimes what we're looking for isn't what we're going to get and that leads to dissappointment (I think someone wrote a song about that at some point). And sometimes that's all that Santa Monkey can offer you, a stocking full of "OMG you are so freakin' spoiled" dissapointment!

So in honor of magical places like Narnia and Middle Earth and the like Santa Monkey is hanging stockings around The Temple. Do you have one? Would you like one? Don't fret, you don't need a magical decoder ring to find yours. Here's how:

Browse to<YourNameGoesHere>. For instance, if I had a magical stocking I'd go to and there I'd find, well, whatever Santa Monkey felt like sharing with me!

Merry Monkeymass!

December 20th, 2005

I'm allergic to grass, juniper, mold, and mildew. I'm allergic to cats. I'm allergic to walnuts, pineapple, and banana mixed with any type of citrus fruit.

I love the smell of a freshly mowed lawn and the unique character of each gnarled juniper tree, though I steer clear of mold and mildew. I have four cats. I prefer chocolate chip cookies without the walnuts and pineapple juice is my favourite (followed by a few antihistamine) and a smoothie isn't a smoothie without bananas and fresh picked strawberries.

I'm allergic to talking heads. I'm allergic to Fox News and Rush and Air America. On my worste days NPR causes me to sneeze--take a stand goddamnit it itches!

I have to admit I get the giggles when those bobble heads open their big mouths. Fox News is cracker TV and my day can only get better after listening to Rush's oratus vomitus. Air America is the karmic payback, balance the scales. When I stop being amused by the talking heads I dial the knob back to NPR--so they won't take a stand but at least they're covering more, more evenly and if I want someone to take a stand it's easy enough to find someone with an opinion, an opinion, another opinion, blah, blah, blah.

I'm allergic to dishonesty and bullshit. I'm allergic to passive-agressive behavior and beating around the bush. I'm allergic to words without meaning and meaning without truth. One sided conversations make my lymph nodes swell up and ego blindness causes a sort of temporary asthma. If you think you're always right I think I'm going to be sick.

On my worste days I'm allergic to myself.

So I tell the truth, the truth as best as I can see it, as best as I can articulate it and if you lie to me (or worse, to yourself) then I've got better things to do, come back later, k? Wanna play the emotional tripping game great, I'll hop and skip your rope and when I leap around the bush you'll look and I'll be gone. If you're talking just to be heard or rant or take or ego boost of whatever then sure, I'm a great listener, but I'm not going to pretend we're connecting. Done pretending if that's alright with you come back when you want: me.

When I look in the mirror I remind myself that I'm not perfect. When you make me itch I remember looking in the mirror. Then I rub in some skin cream.

Ah, soothing menthalyptus and with aloe vera!

On my worst days I'm allergic to Republicans and Democrats, blacks, whites, and hispanics, my family, my friends, and strangers on the internet who think they deserve the chance to earn--cough--be automatically given my trust because they're the most trustworthy person they know and I should just accept that and not be influenced by something like, say, my six senses. I'm allergic to one-sided arguments, one-sided news, one-sided storylines, one-sided lives, so I open my eyes and lift my arms and rise up, up, higher and higher so I can see all the continents and the oceans and sometimes I'll take my binoculars and look down in one area then another then another then at the whole globe and a sense of "...oh, okay, I understand now..." comes over my heart and mind and soul and it all makes perfect sense.

Cafe Above the World, I hope we can all meet there for a cup of coffee someday.

December 19th, 2005

I've got this horrible rash and it's all over my body--at least my arms and legs and back. It started very subtly a few weeks ago and having sensitive skin in the first place I thought the chemicals in the hot tub might be off or maybe it was the detergent in the laundry or the cats sleeping on my bed or all of this combined with my diet. So I've been very careful lately and it's helped a little yet I continue to itch almost uncontrollably at times.

I had a similar rash once. Much worse, mind you. It was so bad my skin was red and the doctors couldn't figure out what it was and said only one in five or one in ten get over it. Then one day we realized I was allergic to a wonderful chemical sludge put together to supposedly help keep me clean: Zest body soap.

Now what you don't know is that I've spent the last month meditating on my mental and emotional states at younger and younger ages. I have the memories of those times but sometimes memories can be like photographs, flat and emotionally empty. So I asked myself: what would it mean to go back to an earlier time before hell broke loose, before my faith and hopes were challenged, before I was thrashed to within an inch of my life? So many more answers lie back in this past and so I'm off to--wait…itching--towards deeper truths!

So what am I allergic to, what's causing my skin to flare up so terribly now?! One hint: There's a motorcycling analogy around the corner…

December 16th, 2005

This morning on NPR they had a story on mid-life crisis and I must admit I'm envious of anyone who has a (singular) mid-life crisis.  "Wow," I think to myself, "Wouldn't it be just grand!"

The symptoms of a mid-life crisis include but are not limited to:

  1. Discontent with one's lifestyle or "station" in life.
  2. Being bored with things that used to bring one pleasure.
  3. Wanting to do something completely different
  4. Questioning the meaning of life, the universe, and everything
  5. A sense of confusion about where one's life is headed

Every year or so since I was seven I've experienced these symptoms.  It's just "normal" for me to at some point ask myself if I'm headed the right direction and to me it doesn't seem any different than tuning a piano or a guitar, it's just something you do if you're interested in staying (or getting) on the right track.  It's normal for me to pick up a new interest of study or a new hobby or what not.  It's normal for me to (daily) question the meaning of life and it's normal for me to be open to the fact that I don't really know what tomorrow holds.

I had someone recently say they didn't want to end up in a "funk" and I felt so incredibly envious.  Funks are even more common for me than mid-life crisis.  How do I describe a funk?  Getting up on the wrong side of the bed, not being quite "in tune", thinking, "There's so much to improve about myself and there's so little time!"  I realize that most of my funks now are due to a little impatience--life is so incredibly short and I'm never going to reach my ideal self if I'm sitting around writing a web journal!  Seriously, though, I don't mind being in a funk, it helps clarify myself to myself and it's nothing compared to my "funks" of the distant past.

Why don't we all question our station in life, why don't we realize we're stuck in a rut and get out, why don't we try something completely different, why don't we question, why don't we kneel in humility and admit we don't know what lies down the road ahead?  Why don't we challenge our fears and reprogram our brains and treat our bodies, minds, and spirits, with just a little more love and compassion than we did yesterday?  Don't you ever just want to say, "Hey, I'm stuck in this way of life, these thoughts, these habits, these patterns, I'm so done!" and don't you ever just do something about it and then look back and ask yourself if you were successful and if not keep on tweaking until you've made the change you meant to all along?  Do you really want to die knowing you followed your own hidden status quo and that was "good enough"?  Are you willing to live this one life without really living in the first place?

I can't make you want to explore and change and grow--it's scary and some people would rather die a slow death staring at the tv and that's okay, it's a choice like any other and I won't be one to judge (anymore).  I can't make you want to talk or to write or to dance or to sing or to paint or to run or to whatever it is that will help you learn to live and breath and express yourself vibrantly and without the fear of stubbing your big toe--because that's what happens when you get off the couch and open yourself up to this thing called life, you hurt your damn toe and that's just the way it is so keep band aids around and stop whining, laugh it off, and bring joy into your life!

What I can do is tell you that you've got a choice.  You have one right now, in this moment.  Actually, you've got quite a few this moment.  So do something for me:  Take out a piece of paper, write down choices you could make this very moment.  Better yet, write down ten things you believe you can't do and the reasons you can't do them then cross out the reasons and replace them with reasons you can.  Then choose one of the things on your list.  Highlight it.  Hang it up somewhere where you can see it.

Then do it.

December 15th, 2005

Have you sat down and simply observed how much time you spend thinking about the things you have direct control over and the things you do not?

I spent most of my life overly concerned with what other people were doing. That person lied, that person is abusive, that person is a jerk, that person is ignorant, that person is a hypocrite. I could have instead devoted all of my mind to myself, to being an honest person, to being a kind person, to being a thoughtful person, to being an educated person, to being true to my word.

Sometimes my daughter says to me, "Dad, I've got this problem at school." We talk about it for a bit and I listen and she finally summarizes her problems asking me how she can make someone else behave the way she'd like. What do I tell her? "That can be pretty tough," says dad, "but you can't change anyone. The best you can do is communicate whether or not you want to be around the behavior and if not, walk away. In the meantime, figure out who you are, what you're all about, and learn to accept people for who they are--without giving up who you are in the process."

Why do we scream and holler to change the world at large but sit on our hands when it comes to the people our lives touch every day? You tell me, I don't understand it, I don't. I want to have a bigger effect on the world, a positive effect, but if I'm not completely there and in the moment for my daughter or my best friend or my co-workers then I'm simply living a fantasy, masturbating my thoughts on an idea that if I do something out there I'll make a hug difference--while ignoring the difference I can make right now, right here, with the people who touch my life, with the people who want to be touched deeply by my life.

WTF are we doing in the interum?

December 14th, 2005

You'll forgive me if I don't have a lot of time to write this evening. You'll also forgive me if my thoughts don't seem to be terribly coherent as I can assure you it's merely my desire to share my thoughts in a completely coherent fashion that's lacking. And perhaps, I wonder, if that's something I should concern myself with one way or the other as we choose to see what we're able and the rest, well, it'll either come when the time is right or it won't, d'ya know?

And so this week has been busy, busy, busy, as I get a lot done at work and attempt to work with a very famous online company who has been incredibly unhelpful (if they don't straightened it out I'll be sharing their name here as a consumers beware). I've been exchanging e-mail and phone calls with a dozen or so people regarding a few items I'm selling. One, my Nikon N80--well, not mine anymore--I sold to a guy named Eugene who used to be a photography teacher which is great because I wanted to share it with someone with an eye for pictures in Eugene--that's one more for conscious intent! ;) And then the last couple of days things have been going wrong left and right. I'd checked the camera top to bottom but this morning accidently left it on so on delivery the batteries were dead. Then there's just the constant breakage at work. For instance the automated e-mails I set up years ago just stopped around 1:30 today and I'm thinking SHIT what did I change? After a few frantic phone calls we got hold of the "I.T. Guy of Love" who determined it was the updated virus scanning software that was breaking my stuff and that was quickly resolved. Jogged tonight, run, run, run, beautiful sunset, cold nose, frozen nipples! :) I've decided it would be a good thing to be celibate for the rest of my life and I'd be very, very happy and content (well, most of the time--sometimes I do miss emotional and physical intimacy but then it's been so long since I've experienced that in a genuine form I've forgotten what the hell that's like). Gotta shower soon and someone's dropping by at 7pm to look at the mountain bike (I never ride anymore, I've turned into a 3-4 times a week joggin' junkie). I've got some more last minute christmas shopping to do (if the backroads aren't too bad--Satori likes to sprint around the corners). Maybe tonight I'll get a christmas card done? lol Probably not, I'm not someone to simply grab a perty card and sign it, I gotta have my say and eat it to! :) So everyone be very very patient, I've got a slow noggin. Then there's a certain relative who is down for the how many'th time and I'm more than a little concerned about this cycle as I used to do that too and I'm not one to sit idly by when people choose hell over heaven--but of course if that ends up being the final say, I'll respect it 'cause I've learned (the hard way) that's all you can do when people prefer illusion to the breath.

Did I mention it's a good thing in this life as an adult to play with toys? I'm serious. Find something that would have brought yourself joy at three. Find a similar joy with a similar toy. If you can do that then you've found something amazing. If you can't you don't understand the difference between being 3 and 43.

Asta la kookamunga,

December 12th, 2005

It's time to start tossing pebbles again, maybe even find some good skipping stones and get them to hop, skip, and jump over the pond.  Actually and in all honesty I have collected a few, they're sitting on my desk (at home) right now under my prayer box.  I am, though, somewhat nervous about throwing them.  You can put all the effort in the world towards a good throw but put the wrong spin on a stone or aim at the water at the wrong angle and a well meant toss merely hits the water with a sploosh and ineffectively sinks to the bottom where a few fish react with minor irritation as they move out of the way.

Life is about skipping rocks.  As bodhisattva's we understand this.  We also know that our actions cause ripples and sometimes splashes and sometimes we can get wet or if we're not careful hit a bird or a fish or what not so we're careful about the rocks we pick and we wait until the wind is right and the water is calm and then we take a deep breath and throw and wait and watch and listen.

You know what makes me most nervous about rock skipping now that I'm a little older and wiser?  No, it's not that I don't have control over the outcome once the rock leaves my hand; I've accepted that as just being the way things are when you're interacting with a living and breathing universe.  And it's not that I'm attached to any specific outcome; I've accepted that I can only do my personal best and once my effort has been put into the choosing and the throwing then the rest is left to the universe and how it reacts to my stone toss.  What is it then?

Sometimes there's a lot of light so it's easy to gage how well you're throwing, at other times it's completely dark and all you've got is your sense of hearing and maybe a high powered flashlight and if you're fast enough to throw then shine the flashlight on a flying rock then you'll know where it hit the water and how much water splashed and how far it got.  Hearing just lets you know how many times it skipped and that's about it.  I am, for once in my life, content on simply listening to how many times the rock skips and letting it be yet there's still this sense of nervousness that comes from the fact that I can't see the ripples at night but I know they're there.  Do you catch my meaning?

Perhaps there should be more intent than the initial one, intent towards a specific outcome?  Yes?  Maybe?  Perhaps I should throw harder and say, "I want you to skip ten times and I'm going to keep throwing until that happens!"?  Yeah, well, did that, done that, and I'm fine simply tossing pebbles with a simple arm attached to a simple heart and maybe the splashing will create a song through the forest and the moon will light up the ripples radiating out towards all the shore and maybe sometimes I am the lake and the moon and you are the thrower. 


December 11th, 2005

Sorry, no picture for you tonight, I'm being pathetic, a flake, a lazy twat just barely having enough motivation to sit here and do my daily journal entry and I'm almost of the mind to say, "There, I wrote a sentence, I'm freakin' done!"

This is, needless to say, what happens sometimes after Christmas shopping. Normally all the people and the lack of parking and the mumbling cro-magnon's working at the tills don't bother me, it's just the taste of modern life, but today for some reason everyone was getting to me. Why, I'm thinking, can't kids working at stores these days do simple things like 1) return eye contact and 2) communicate with more than grunts and groans? Are they really in such a hurry to get back on the cell phone and chat with their buddies? I suppose I'm just an old fart and getting smellier by the minute but we do seem to be de-evolving as a society and I'm wondering if we're getting exactly what we deserve. Damn, we are spoiled.

I did survive, however. Survived the traffic. Survived the intersections with drivers who didn't understand right of way or stop signs. Survived the malls full of people in a hurry to get where, I don't know. Survived the undertrained employees obviously wanting to be anywhere else. Survived my daughter's breath (OMG).

You know, some day all of this will be gone. We'll have used it all up. We'll have squandered everything. And we then will look back at we now and think, "Why didn't we then do anything about it?"

Why haven't you lost those ten "vanity" pounds? Why haven't you fixed that leaking window? Why don't you forgive that person? Why can't you accept your personal weaknesses and overcome them? Why are you still living in your fantasy?

The truth is most of us can't see the forest for the trees (or visa versa). We're stuck in I-ness, playing out the fantasy of "me". How are we even remotely capable of making a difference if we're always living the fantasy of the self, a self of the past, a self that never was, and a self that never will be?

Do you understand my meaning?

P.S. Well?

December 10th, 2005

I'm running behind. I find that I often run behind when I sleep in past noon. I find that when I sleep in past noon I spend the rest of the day trying to catch up. I find that when I'm behind or trying to catch up that I'm not actually behind, there's simply less light. That is to say, I spent more of my day doing things at night then when it's light out.

Today I woke up, took a shower, then went downstairs onto the front step. Not too cold, I thought, and the sky was blue. Good. I returned to the house, walked into the kitchen, cooked five eggs, and listened to Julie Andrews singe the same song over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. I'm fairly confident it had something to do with sunshine and springtime and rain. Anyway, I then put on my motorcycling gear and with the help of my daughter backed out of the garage and managed to squeeze between the cars without scraping either. Choke out, clutch in, vroom, vroom, and off I go to Woodburn, Oregon, and about halfway there thinking it would be nice if the place was actually on fire as my fingertips and face were starting to freeze. Not to cold? How about cold enough?

People everywhere. Parking, nill. Finally jump into a spot and someone in a Toyota Prius is really ticked--hey, I was there first, jeeze! In store, packed, and looking for the sugar free stocking stuffers. One, two, three, four--okay, three and four aren't sugar free but then it would be interesting to see if my dad starts acting like Cornholio after he's had too much licorice. Pay, out of store, onto bike, two people are waiting, waiting to fight over my spot. Back up, bike won't get out of neutral (ug) and finally I'm off! To slowly chug behind 30 other vehicles before the stop sign.

Now off to the mall and I'm leaning forward, putting my left hand on the engine. Ahhhh, that's warm :) Now I wish I could do the same with the right but no cruise control! Oh well, that'll be something for next year or the year after. So I'm in the mall, buy a few things. I realized while walking behind people that though I can't see aura's I can feel them--not only can I feel them but I can "normalize" myself to them (more on that another time). Two gifts from one store, one gift from another. Find a chair, stuff everything down into the backpack. What a tight fit! Then back outside into the cold and (now) dark traffic.

And then off to the ballet, the Nutcracker in fact. I enjoyed it thoroughly especially that part with all the dancing. The music was great, the sets were amazing, the costumes were georgous, and deeper meaning behind a story I knew nothing about until tonight deeply touched me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm running way, way behind.

So then it's home, wrapping, pizza, soda, report card discussion, stumbling mutual frustration, laser pen + 4 cats, hot tub, journal, bed and finally goodnight.


December 9th, 2005

I used to smoke.  A pack a day in fact.  Camels were my favorites.  I'd waffle around between Camel Lights and "Full Flavors" and I'd buy one pack at a time as to create the illusion that I could stop anytime without too much of a struggle.  I wouldn't lie to you either, I loved smoking.  Okay, so it gave me a case of acid reflux and coughing up hairballs was a daily morning occurrence, however cigarettes were something I could count on through thick and thin.  A little stressed at work, fine, go out and enjoy a cigarette or two.  Find out your girlfriend's been seeing someone else?  Lets go smoke.  Kid's driving you up a wall?  Oh, cigarette, my love, ma petite amie!  I loved the way a cigarette felt in my hand and as it touched my lips and enjoyed watching the smoke trail around me.  For almost a decade cigarettes were always there for me and there were times that they were the only thing I had.

They say smoking is bad for you but that's not entirely accurate.  As with anything in life everything needs to be taken into account and there are times when something that might otherwise be "bad" for you is actually beneficial.  Lets say for instance you've just been through a divorce and you were laid off from your job and are dangerously close to having a nervous breakdown.  You could:

a) Stop smoking and have a complete breakdown thus making it impossible to find employment eventually leading to loosing your home.

b) Stagger your smoking and make it impossible to come across as stable in any interview situation.

c) Enjoy every cigarette to the fullest, get a job, and move on.

Of course you know the health issues associated with smoking but when it comes down to it it's a personal choice.  You weigh the pro's and con's and make a decision that either yes, you will continue smoking or no, you enjoy smoking too much.  I have known people that clearly fall into either of these categories and the fact is that people who want to stop, stop.  That's not to say it's not difficult, but that's just how it is.

I haven't smoked for almost a year now. 

Vipasanna and I stopped at around the same time.  It was a group effort but it wasn't without it's difficulties.  After several failed attempts we realized there was just no way we could both stop at the same time without World War III breaking out.  So we had to stagger it.  "You go first!" "No you go first!"  "No way, you go first!"  So one of us would quit and detox while the other one cut down their smoking and we'd stay clear of each other as not to tempt the one not currently smoking and eventually this strategy worked.  The fact is that people who want to stop, find a way to stop and this is just what happened to work for us.

Now as a non-smoker who's been a smoker I'm a little frustrated with something.  Okay, I'm more than a little bit frustrated with something.

It's now illegal to smoke in a public building in the State of Washington.  That's right, no more smoking in bars or restaurants or truck stops or what have you.  The people have voted.

Democracy in its current state has a few problems.  Why is it that a majority of people can tell a minority what they can or cannot do especially when their behavior does not effect anyone else?  This doesn't always make sense in a supposedly free society where we value "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Sure, it makes sense that a community can come together and say, "We don't want a Wallmart!"  It makes sense because we know that Wallmarts effect property values, traffic, jobs, the economy--they have a tangible effect on a community.  But smoking?

The air in a smoking establishment only effects those who choose to enter the building.  Do you have to go into a smoking establishment?  Is someone forcing you to spend your free time there?  To work there?  Personally, I've never known someone who was forced to hang out in a bar nor someone coerced into working somewhere with smoke filled air.  In fact the contrary is true, I've known people who choose to work at places like bars because one of the perks is being able to smoke without going out back to a "designated smoking area". 

When it comes down to it this is an issue about personal responsibility.  We all have a choice.  Go in or don't go in.  Me?  I don't anymore.  Why?  Smoke filled air makes me feel sick and light headed.  Oddly enough, I don't have this problem if I'm smoking but this is how my body reacts so I simply don't go to bars anymore.  My choice.  My responsibility.  You have the same choice.

Why do we, in a free society being drowned by law after law after law, need one more law to legislate responsibility away from us?  Shouldn't business owners be able to make their own choice one way or the other?  And what is a Democracy anyway but a society where people vote and what is Capitalism but a method for voting with cash and what better way to vote than to support or not support a business where smoking is allowed?  Think of it this way, if people really didn't want others smoking in bars then they wouldn't go to those places, those places would not make enough revenue to be viable and they'd either:

a) Continue to provide a smoking friendly environment and go tits up or

b) Switch to a non-smoking atmosphere thus bringing in a new customer base

That's freedom, that's Democracy, and that's Capitalism at its best!  Give the people the responsibility and the choice and let them vote with something that makes or breaks a business:  their hard earned cash.  Otherwise the more responsibility we take away from people, the more we legislate what people should and shouldn't do, the more we tell them how they should live or what they should eat or how they should dress, the less and less "free" we become.  If Democracy were simply about larger and more vocal groups defining the norm slavery would have continued well after the Civil War, woman and minorities wouldn't have a vote, and Native Americans would still be roaming their lands in peace--oh shit, I got that last one all wrong as a vocal majority with big guns came in and said, "We're taking over this land, you savages don't know what's healthy for ya and we're gonna show ya!"

Moral of the story?  Take responsibility for yourself, don't force others to conform to your beliefs about how things "should be".  And smokers please listen up:  Don't smoke next to the non-smokers, some of them vote!

P.S.  Just to empathize with non-smokers, restaurants where smoking and non-smoking sections are not in physically separated rooms--that's just silly!  This, in my opinion, is where legislation needs to come in.  Physically separate the two areas, smoke tends to ignore those "non-smoking section" signs!

December 8th, 2005

Forgiveness isn't as easy as some make it sound.  In fact, it can be downright impossible.  And truth be told I don't have it in me to forgive you...not yet.

On the one hand I'd love to say the world would be a better place without people like you but that's not true. Good people who enter your life will get hurt...hell, they'll get the shit kicked out of themselves...but they'll come out of it stronger. You are the steep hill we jog up giving us stamina and strength as we stay on The Path.

I'd love to say I hate you but you know what, I loved you with my whole heart even if I wasn't allowed to say it (how truly comical to me that seems now). I feel sad that you're afraid to trust anyone, to let anyone close. It must be hard living inside a decade old cage. Don't you ever want to fly?

So you're not the greatest person in the world. You're not terribly good at anything. You're not loyal, you're not intelligent, you're not talented, and you're definitely not understanding. You lack integrity and have a fragile self-esteem. You're shamelessly dishonest whenever it suits and have no qualms about hurting others. You're not someone who can be counted on and do not take responsibility for your behavior. You are in many ways the exact opposite of everything I write about here at The Temple.

And yet I find myself sitting here on your special day wishing you well and hoping that some day you will find the strength and the courage to heal your wounds and bring true happiness and contentment into your life. You are worth that much.

And for what it's worth I did--I do--love you,

December 7th, 2005

"They made me do it," I said as they walked me out.  The blame, it seemed, was on them and nothing I could do would change that.  Or at least it seemed that way to me for years and years while I walked around with that picture in my pocket wondering how I could have overcome the situation.  Then it donned on me that it's not always necessary to overcome something as much as it's necessary to accept it.  And so I took another picture and kept it in my pocket to remind myself.






December 6th, 2005

Perception is a funny thing.  You think you've been somewhere but then you flip through your photo album and find that maybe you were somewhere completely different.  Maybe you don't even know where you are right now.

My daughter didn't have school yesterday so I brought her to work.  She sat to the left of my three monitors (yes, I always know what's going on inside The Matrix) with her book and a Nintendo Gameboy.  Being the horrible father I am I prefer she spend most of her time either reading or writing little one paragraph reports.  I don't know why I tell you this as it has little to do with the fact that my story is about when she wasn't reading or writing but instead listening to a podcast about John Lennon which is also not necessarily an important bit of information except that it provides a segway or at the very least an explanation of why I wasn't sitting at my computer but instead in the old fashioned blue leather covered wooden chair looking through the book she'd brought.  I flipped open the cover and read about the author who graduated high school at fifteen and went on to write a New York Times best seller by the time he was nineteen.  Now that I've finally explained how I ended up in the blue chair with that book in my hands I'll get to the point which is something I've been struggling (or not, as the case may be) to get to all along.

I sat there reading the author's short bio and felt like a complete failure and I was angry and envious.  When I was young that's exactly what I wanted to do but instead of getting to write and be supported by people that would help me improve my writing I struggled with family problems and Depression.  Did it matter that I got straight A's?  Did I get to advance in my classes and graduate early?  No, that's not how most schools work; our educational system is, quite frankly, designed for the weakest chain.  Did I have people who encouraged me to write and help me with my writing?  Okay, so I was in all the Advanced Placement English courses but I didn't have anyone saying, "That was a great story.  Here are some things you can do to improve it.  I'm looking forward to reading your next draft!"  Nope, instead of fulfilling my dreams I spent those years literally trying to survive my environment and then, later on, myself.

I'm glad I opened that cover because it reminded me of something I might have otherwise glossed over or forgotten.  For those of us who are bodhisattva's, forgetting, ignoring, or repressing these kinds of memories or wounds keeps us from moving forward.  We don't like being stuck, we don't enjoy living in the past, we see our slavery and we fight against it. We are those that evolve and we welcome reminders of our old wounds so we can tend to them with honesty and compassion--or more accurately we come to a greater understanding of our wounds thus dispelling their illusion and control over us.

I didn't write my novel back then but that's okay, I did what I needed to to get where I am today.  And I've got a book, something I've been writing on and off for years now and you know what?  I'll finish it when I'm ready.  That's part of my story, like this picture I took on Oahu when I was fifteen and struggling to find love and acceptance.  It's not quite the same image I remember it being.

That is the journey of the bodhisattva.

December 4th, 2005

When I was a kid I had certain ideas about how the universe should work. I had this idea that if I was smart and understood myself then I would be able to accomplish anything. I'd find a place where I belonged, where people would care deeply about me and always be there for me. I'd get married and my wife Would love the imperfect person I was and want to raise a family with me. I'd get a job where I could work out the rest of my life and be a benefit to everyone my life touched. People would value me. But that's not how it worked out.

My life has taken turns and twists I never would have suspected at ten or eleven years old. I didn't go straight to college as I'd always dreamed. I left (ran away) from home @ 17 and didn't have any contact with my family for years. I spent the good part of a decade in a deep Depression unable to cope with how the world "really" was, at least to my youthful perceptions and unbalanced and blossoming psychic empathy (which I had no role models or teachers to help me understand and/or cope with). I have been married and divorced. I have hurt and taken advantage of the people I love most. I have been a dissapointmen to myself, acted like someone I didn't believe I was. I have sinned.

That's not to say nothing has gone 'to plan'. I have lived a life of deep passion. I've found honesty, integrity, honor, trust, and the like. I have grown and evolved and you might even say I'm "Enlightened" (though it is arguable if this point has any meaning - if you're "Enlightened" you'll probably understand my meaning). And I've proved myself to myself and that's nothing to shake your head at.

Yet I wonder, am I really free? Is everything I do just a reaction to something based on who I am, what I've experienced, and how I'm feeling? I look at my past through more mature eyes and it all makes sense, the universe dealt with me fairly, as it does with everyone. Can I escape that trap or is the whole point of this dance to discover the beat and flow with more and more skill and enthusiasm? Sometimes it feels like I find the lense and focus the image only to find I'm looking at just one more reflection because if I looked straight at the reality my retinas might burn up.

December 3rd, 2005

When I was a kid my brother, cousin, and I, would go up into the hayloft of the barn our grandpa had built and we'd talk or play or what have you. Though I loved playing in that old barn the dark corners and rusty smell always sort of creeped me out and I had this underlying feeling something wasn't right in that building, especially towards the back. The reasons we liked playing in the loft are known all to well to most kids. It was the highest place in the building and you had to climb a high, questionably built ladder to get up and then you could look down outside the barn and also see through the cracked and damaged walls into the various rooms below, including my grandfather's shop.

Now the shop had only one light, one of those old fashoined jobs hanging from the ceiling with a pull switch attached to the socket. Pulling the string on the light was the only way to turn the light on and off and it was in the middle of the room so if someone were to turn it say on or perhaps off they would be forced to cross into the center of the room making a great deal of noise as the boards groaned under their feet. So we were a little shocked, one afternoon, when we saw light suddenly shoot through the cracks in the floor and it was clear nobody was down in the shop.

I don't know why I felt like sharing that memory tonight except that around the family table here in Walla Walla (we're out of town for the weekend visiting family) there was discussion about ghosts and using our other senses, etc. Moral of the story? Sometimes Aslynn likes to share his stories. ;)

On a different note there is a theory in psychology that our lives are largely ruled by compensation.

Here's a classic example which there has been a great deal of research on. Say someone had an authoritarian parent. They grow up not having much leeway, not much freedom, and they are heard to say, "When I have children I'm not going to raise them like that." And so, true to form, they have children and let them have the run of the house. Those children, on the other hand, grow up to be young adults that run into problems with focusing and completing difficult tasks that require patience and time and they suddenly realize, "When I have children I'm not going to raise them like that." And the pattern goes back and forth, one generation of children are raised in under a strict regime, the next under a very liberal one, and so on and so forth.

The theory of compensation is an interesting one and begs the question, why do we react (or not react, which is still a reaction) to the events in our lives? If someone lies to us do we become guarded and less trusting? Is that our compensation? Or to repress? Or to say, "I won't let them get to me!" and push forward a litle harder creating our own person story of strength and stamina?

One of the points of Buddhist practice is to acknowledge that we suffer because we are conditioned to react to events or "compensate" as a result of them in manners that are not necessarily conscious, wise, or beneficial (to ourselves or others). I have often wondered, are the practices of the modern Buddhist, though having evolved for hundreds and hundreds of years simply another form of compensation? A reaction to suffering, a carrot tied to a string hanging in front of our faces saying, "Here is the path to enlightenment and you will no longer suffer or be stuck in the cycle of death and rebirth if you get it!"?

Is it possible to escape reaction and compensation? Or are practices and methods that are meant to focus the mind simply a way of doing away with many of the automatic reactions our hearts and minds so easily perform?

Leave the milk out and it will go sour, no ifs, ands, or buts, about it. Refrain from any type of nurishment for a month, including water, and you'll die. Throw a rock in the air and it'll fall to the ground. There are laws, physical laws, that make things go. Can you get around them and if you do, isn't that a miracle?

Do you understand what I'm saying? Imagine you could make choices in your life that are in absolutely no way influenced by your genetics, your upbringing, your past failures and successes. Think of it, the next person you meet you see with a completely open heart and mind which is in no way influenced by what you call "me" or "I". Imagine spending a day where your identity isn't in the driver's seat! Could you even being to imagine what that would be like?

December 2nd, 2005

Call me Aslynn. 

You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to your name.  In particular, if you use a pen-name or a "nick" or a title, a person's reaction to the name you ask to be called by says a lot about their character.  For example, when people find out I'm an XY they immediately ask what my "real" name is (as if Aslynn, a rather unique name pronounced Az-lin, is inherently feminine).  Although my given name is not published here on The Temple, when asked I share it freely.  With only a few exceptions people then decide to call me by my given name even if I ask to be referred to as Aslynn.  What does this say about society as a whole, about our ability to listen and respect others, and about how we discriminate and judge each other?

I once knew someone who simply would not call me Aslynn.  In fact, once they knew my given name they absolutely insisted on calling me by it regardless of how insistent I was that I'd like to be called Aslynn instead.  Ironically enough this person, who has described themselves as a thoughtful, open minded, and respectful individual, would react with anger and defensiveness if they were called by their given name as they should only be referred to by one of two "appropriate" nicknames.  To this day this person still does not understand that this hypocritical attitude pervaded our entire friendship eventually destroying it.

I also once knew someone who demanded that people refer to him as "Doctor" so-and-so because he had a doctorate on his wall.  He even demanded that my daughter call him by this title.  Needless to say Vipasanna and I were a little frustrated with his demands on our daughter; he was a friend of the family, not her or anyone else's doctor and I strongly believe titles should only be used when they are socially appropriate.  Put another way a title defines an agreed upon social relationship between two people.  We explained this to our daughter and this made perfect sense to her (at 10 years old!) but she kept saying, "But he says I have to call him doctor and he gets mad when I don't."  Now, I accept that my experience is limited but for what it's worth I've noticed that people that demand to be referred to by titles get pretty defensive when they're called by name, especially when they're not the silver back.

Names are just a grouping of sounds or letters we put together to point someone or something out.  We don't just grunt when we want to talk to someone we say, "Hey Jake, could you hand me that monkey wrench?"  Names are tools for communication and they also help define where we are or want to be in relation to each other.  Do we want to be on top?  Call me "Mister" or "President".  Oh, and shall I call you "Miss" or "Misses" or "Mam" (sp?) ?  I personally shy away from these three terms altogether as women may reaction emotionally violent depending on their feelings about themselves and their perception of the universe--and isn't that what I was getting to, how our reactions to names and titles say something about who we are?

In over ten years only two people regularly refer to me as Aslynn, my trusted friend Minerva and my old friend Hank who, by the way, was a friend of Einstein (remind me to tell you about all the famous people I'm only two degrees from and why I plan to be famous some day simply because I can't seem to meet anyone famous!).  For one reason or another most people ignore my request to be called Aslynn altogether or, as some have, force a double standard upon me.  The reasons are many but for me it comes down to simply this:  I prefer Aslynn.

I must finish this entry to say that I don't make this request anymore.  After the last time I asked someone to call me Aslynn I gave up.  People will either respect you or they won't and I got tired of hearing, "Well, I'd rather just..." followed by whatever constituted their personal list of why they wouldn't respect a simple request (or boundary).  People either want to be on top or they don't and most like being in the dominant position of "I want" instead of "I will listen".  I just have a simple preference and how you react to that tells me a lot about the kind of person you are and that's the positive note I'd like to leave this on:  let people be who they are and their true colors will come out at the speed of light.

P.S.  Minerva is not her chosen name, but to her I just wanted to say I use it to respect your privacy.