When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize. The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable. Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly. The very first noble truth of Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last – that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security. From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep. Right now – in the very instant of groundlessness – is the seed of taking care of those who need our care of discovering our goodness…
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-centre, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.
To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – that is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gentling and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior…”
i am emerging from another bout, albeit minimal, of the resurgence of a tidal wave of memory. it’s really astonishing how very technicolor and widescreen trauma can be.
thank you universe for allowing me the grace to remain upright after the whoosh of synapses.
Smells of corruption
I manipulate to recreate
This air to ground saga
Gotta launder my karma
I said hallelujah to the sixteen loyal fans
You’ll get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
And it’s time for your sickness again
Come on and tell me what you need
Tell me what is making you bleed
We got two more minutes and
We gonna cut to what you need
So one of six so tell me
One do you want to live
And one of seven tell me
Is it time for your mothafuckin’ ass to give
Tell me is it time to get down on your mothafuckin’ knees
Tell me is it time to get down
I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
I’m blown to the maxim
Two hemispheres battlin’
Suckin’ up, one last breath
Take a drag off of death
lo fidelity all stars… lyrics fisk/smith
Terra Cotta Warrior Asleep on His Feet, Xian, China
Snakes and humans were always close friends until one summer a cobra was dozing on a rock in the sun and a farmer accidentally stepped on his tail. Before he was even fully awake, the startled cobra bit the farmer on the ankle. When the snake and the farmer realized what had happened, there was nothing that could be done. The farmer’s ankle swelled and turned purple and a streak of black traveled up a vein in his leg. When it reached his heart, the farmer gasped and stopped breathing, his soul slipping out of his eyes like it was wiggling out of a sack.
Hearing his screams, the villagers rushed to the farmer just as he expired. The cobra wished he could explain that he meant no harm and was sorry, but when their attention turned to him, he felt their anger and hurried off. The villagers saw him slide away just as they found the two holes in the center of the blackest part of the wound. There was no doubt what had happened. The farmer had no reason to harm the snake. Every farmer thought well of snakes because they kept the rodents down. And the bite was at back of his foot, which means he was attacked from behind. The humans had a new enemy.
The villagers were too afraid to harvest the fields. Instead they armed themselves with rakes and shovels and fortified their village, keeping a fire burning through the night. But they knew that if they did nothing soon, the vegetables they would need to survive the winter would rot in the fields.
One day news arrived that Buddha had arrived in the next town on pilgrimage. The fastest runner in the village ran half a day to find him. He found Buddha on the road, and threw himself at his feet. “Oh, Lord Buddha, my entire village may not live through winter if we cannot make peace with the cobra that is terrorizing our town. We will die without your help.” Buddha had other obligations, and told the boy they would have to solve their problem without his help. But the boy persisted and prostrated himself and asked Buddha three times, and Buddha could not refuse him.
Buddha followed the young man back to his village and walked into the fields, calling for Mister Snake. He eventually found him sleeping in the withered cornfield. “Mister Snake,” said the Buddha, “Why did you bite the farmer? The wailing you hear is his family weeping over his blackened body. What will come from that bite? Famine for others I fear, and a painful end for yourself. Worse, there will be enmity between humans and snakes for generations to come. Who will pity you when you have brought this catastrophe on your entire species?”
“I do not need justification for what I have done,” answered the snake. “I was startled and my instincts bit him and the poison that Nature put in my tongue killed him. If you are looking for someone to blame, blame the one who designed it so. If there is anyone else to blame here, the farmer is more at fault than I am. If he had stepped on my head instead of my tail who would be wailing now? Still, I grieve his inattentiveness and my part in his death more than anyone will ever know.”
“Believe whatever you wish, but the villagers do not know you were stepped on, nor do they care to question the obvious—you bit the farmer and he’s dead. When the head of a clan has been killed, it is as natural to want revenge as it is to strike when one is startled out of sleep. It is too late to change the past, but you can still influence the future. If this is not your fault—as it seems not to be—you will earn extra merit for behaving nobly in a difficult situation and earn heavenly grace, I am certain. Would you rather wither with your cornfield, nuzzling your pride, or behave like the King of Snakes you are and go to meet the enemy, without shield or weapon, and negotiate peace, not only for your sake and the farmer’s family but for generations yet unborn? Two futures are possible for you, depending on what you choose to do next.”
And with that Buddha blessed the snake, and urged him again to consider well what he did next, and then the Awakened One continued on his pilgrimage.
Two days later the Awakened One was returning from his pilgrimage and decided to see how the situation with the snake had worked out. As he approached the village he saw a flock of vultures, circling a spot in the cornfield. Buddha made his way through the stubble and found the snake, who was barely breathing, his body bloodied, twisted, torn. “Mister Snake,” sighed Lord Buddha, “What has become of you?”
“Oh, Lord Buddha, I heard the wisdom in your words and knew what I had to do. As you advised, I approached the farmer’s house, without shield or weapon. I pledged myself not to strike, even at the risk of my own death. I approached the young boy who was on duty and he rang a bell to alert the townspeople that they were under attack. When the villagers assembled I saw the faces that used to nod and smile when we passed on the road now darkened and disfigured by fear.
“I slid closer and turned my back to them and rolled over, defenseless, and waited for what was to come. After a few moments, I felt someone poke me with a stick, and then someone threw a stone that struck me. When I didn’t flee, they kicked me and crushed my spine with a stone. Then they picked up my limp body with a rake and threw me deep into the cornfield, where you found me.
“At first, the pain didn’t feel like pain; it was like drinking bubbles in champagne. And I even laughed at the absurdity of what was happening—that a guiltless death would be paid for by a guiltless one’s sacrifice, and the final irony was that no one but he would ever know of his sacrifice. For the villagers this would be the story of a cobra that went crazy and how the village rose to defeat him. The villagers would look at snakes more cautiously in the future, perhaps, but there would not be a war between the snakes and mankind for all time.
“But slowly that feeling passed and my mouth was full of dust and blood and I could not move my body out of the blistering sun and instead could only cough in the dirt. The day dragged painfully into evening and a frigid night followed. And then the morning sun swelled to fill the afternoon sky, and the vultures began to circle, and I realized that I was going to die of thirst, but not for another day or two.
“Why hadn’t I been allowed to die at the height of ecstasy, before the pain began, I wondered. Why was my sacrifice not enough? Why was it fated that I should also suffer this additional agony and indignity as well?
“And I remembered your advice—that two futures lay in store for me, depending on my choice, and I suddenly realized how I might have misunderstood your advice. How could it have ended worse if I chosen differently? Even the farmer died quickly and was mourned by his family. He was even mourned by the one who would be one day asked to pay the price for his misstep.
“But now, in my darkest moment of doubt and grief, you have returned to fulfill your promise. You have returned to rescue me from my suffering, to personally escort me into heaven in return for the merit I have earned by following your advice even unto the ultimate sacrifice. And in return, the Great Lord Buddha himself has come to end my suffering and take me with him into Nirvana!”
“But Mister Snake,” sighed the Buddha, “I never said you couldn’t hiss.”
there was nothing routine about my week, and yet everything- albeit not outstanding, revealed intricacies and required nuances and newly forged resiliency techniques bestowed upon me with sobriety.
i completed my will and have begun the simple process of leaving some instructions. it is an emotional exercise even thought it was not remarkable. it has, however, allowed me to move slightly closer to my sister and her family. tender mercy.
i experienced splitting at my workplace. it was icky- kinda like smelling gasoline or butane. i kept wondering if someone would be tossing a match near it soon. i was tenuous at best.
i drove south with 10 gallons of paint and some material in my truck to begin to give the springs office a makeover. It was not overwhelming. it just was the very start of transformation.
i became more intimate with leaning into discomfort. i don’t really know how to accurately describe the difference between being submerged and emergence. but i know that one is much less dark and i find it easier to breathe.
my blogging colleague sheria reid passed away on july 1. i was not afforded the opportunity to say goodbye. nor to communicate the comfort her comments gave to me through these blogging years. it might be like never being able to pull a favorite cashmere sweater over my head again. totally sucks.
happy independence day to my readers.
there are those times when my sense of self blurs. i struggle with purpose and cannot remember the warmth of sunlight of spirit. the rhyme and reason and magic in the dance seem dim and dumbed and dull.
it is only a passing arc in the storyline, but history has proven that an arc such as the present one can downshift the engine or fully stall it out. that shouldn’t be such a great possibility with the winds of recovery puffing my sails.
i know this and yet i also feel the unsettling rocking rumble and stunning chill of this choppy part of my nature.
as i swim in this periodic dim, i question all the supports i have erected in life. there are echoes of ghosts and childhood fears of yet-to-be’s that dance in the dark of my mind like constellations.
life is certainly a dance filled with glory and with panache, but when there is a change in tempo, it sometimes requires more than footwork to find the beat. it requires listnening. so often i am too busy squawking to hear.
in case of emerency-
break the glass..
or just shut the door and go to bed.
Stages of Recovery
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in…it’s a habit…but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
i met with jenna and gio toninelo from rockethouse design to secure their services in helping develop a new branding and updated web presence for the consulting services which have emerged this last year.
i met them about 10 years ago as they worked as baristas at a trendy uptown coffee house which was only a half block from my apartment at the time. since then, i purchased a townhome, developed a new career, revamped and renamed my blog, added a new career while their own design and catering skills have also grownd and taken flight. you can take a look at their websites here and here.
we have worked together on some projects before including the design of a logo for a social network (SIN Colorado) the creation of a website for the not-for-profit i helped get off the ground in 2009 (ontheten.org) and the branding for another not-for-profit i did volunteer work with a couple of seasons (advocatesforrecovery.org). each project increased the respect i have for their skills, their creative sensibility, and their ability to interpret and put up with my desires and my slant on the direction i hoped these projects would take.
we are using the birds on a wire idea as a stating point. i chuckle when i think of where it may land
as we discussed the ideas i had and the needs i have, i was reminded of these impressions. firstly, i felt heard. they have more up-to-date knowledge of the trends in media presence and were ready to blend that with their own understanding of the types of work i do. i also felt trust, which may be the premium selling point for the continued relationship. that is not always easy to come by in this day and age.
look for some changes to come down the pike over the next couple of months. i am truly excited and feel it is long overdue.
I am so excited to be working on the 1st Recovery Coach Training utilizing the CCAR (Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery) curriculum which I pursued last year.