Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sit for a bit

It is the return of the fall schedule with soccer and dance and violin and Chinese and badminton and yoga and climbing.  All good things but all a distraction from contemplation.

I am reading an amazing book of essays by Thomas Merton.  He was a catholic monk who espoused the spiritual importance of contemplation.  It has been illuminating to read a Catholic whose spiritual leanings walk so closely with Zen practice.  He had a long standing dialogue with D.T. Suzuki, an eminent Zen scholar and traveled to to India to meet with the Dalai Lama.  On that trip, he was accidentally killed when he was electrocuted by a defective fan, the cooling device, not a stalker. 

All of the essays are worth reading but "The Inner Experience"is something amazing.  I have finished the first reading with the understanding of my poverty of understanding.

The important thing in contemplation is not gratification and rest but awareness, life, creativity and freedom.  In fact, contemplation is man's highest  and most essential spiritual activity.

Merton had a prescient sense of the world and what is coming our way:

Now all our existence in this life is subject to change and recurrence....but life becomes secularized when it commits itself completely to the "cycles" of what appears to be new but is in fact the same thing over and over again.  Secular life is a life frantically dedicated to escape...from the fear of death.....Secular society is by its nature committed to what Pascal calls 'diversion' movement which has, before everything else, the anaesthetic function of quieting our anguish....hence the growth of economically useless businesses that exist for profit and not for real production, that create artificial needs which they then fill with cheap and quickly exhausted products. 

Christmas Tree Store, you have been called out by a spiritual master.  I find it ironic that I barely have time to read and ponder contemplation, much less actually contemplate.  Each year, I come up with a grand meditation plan.  This year's brilliant plan is to meditate at work during my lunch break.  Note to self, you can't meditate with a walkie-talkie.  Turn the walkie off, the phone rings.  Don't answer the phone, and you will be overhead paged right out of  the mantra "I have arrived, I am home."  I have been left alone exactly once.

Merton lived in a monastery and then a hermitage.  I don't think I can go down that road but I believe he was right in talking about how often and how much we allow ourselves to be distracted from what is real.  You have to go inward and be bored and "look at the things not seen."  One could postulate that setting up  mediation time at work allows you the illusion that you really want to go inward, knowing you have set it up to stay out.  Ah, my monkey mind, I am on to you.  I'm off to sit for just a  bit.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Dylan is coming, and I'm a going.  Here is one of his latest: 
Bob dylan duquesne whistle (tempest) - YouTube.  I left out the video which is fairly violent but worth seeing just to ponder Dylan and his posse strolling the streets....

I grew up listening to Dylan and my mom had these lyrics from "Subterranean Homesick Blues" posted on the inside of her English honors classroom:

Ah get born, keep warm
short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift....

The thing about Dylan is, you can pick one of his songs for each decade of your life or each tragic occurrence in your life or each marriage or birth of a child or death of a parent.  He is my poet.

Although I think his best album is "Blood on the Tracks", here is one of my all time favorites:

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The Times they are a changing.....and we still need our bards

Saturday, September 15, 2012

March of Time

We had a rousing good time at all the soccer games today.  Luke scored a goal and Emma kept a few out.  To celebrate, the kids wanted to go to Spirit of Halloween.  In the spirit of the season, this business springs up in old, abandoned stores and stays for a couple of months.  Our local SOH took up shop in the old Borders, which I'm sure had forced a local mom/pop bookstore out of operation.  Karma, complete with Zombies and plenty of sexy policelady costumes.  Can they really throw down criminals with garters on?

Luke wants to be Dr. Who.  You can't really do a quick overview of the series....a time travelling immortal doctor who regenerates and tackles metaphysical madness across the universe but it has been on the BBC since 1963.  Take a look
BBC - Doctor Who - The Ninth Doctor - Character Guide

 Emma wants to be a Zombie Bride but has nixed the short tutu and wants to wear soccer shorts. 

This is how they look on Halloween in my mind:

 When I pointed out a costume that was a wee bit frilly at SOH, Emma said "Mom, if you know me at all you know I would never wear that".  I know the princess in you my love and I know the transformer in my son...and the dragon and the pumpkin... and the devil...and Gandolf. 

I think our job as parents is to remember all those disparate identities, and to love and honor each one equally.  My hard hitting little soccer player may need a reminder that a good tiara is nothing to sneeze at.

As an aside, my husband picked up a Zombie garden gnome.  I'm not sure he has fully recovered from the infamous gnome heist.  Go ahead, take this is possible he has rigged something up:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Long years of service

There are some things you shouldn't blog about.  Your lack of blogging, the crazy world of politics, body parts, and how messy your house is....  Don't do it.

There are times you shouldn't blog.  After fighting, drinking, fasting, or running (more than 8 miles and yeah it's been awhile but you never know).  I lay these out on the altar as a reminder cause it has been awhile (shoot, there goes one) and it's possible I'm a bit rusty. 

I do need to tell you about "senile ovaries" so we can go ahead and cross another off the list.  Every two years, my license is up for renewal in October.  That means in September, when I am usually 10 hours short, I start the big push to find topics that are meaningful and also in any way available.....usually online.  This year's big winner was "Meanings of Menopause:  Cultural Considerations".  Now, if you are asking yourself why a middle school adjustment counselor needs to delve into the cultural considerations of menopause....well, my time is approaching and I want to know what might be coming.  The course was actually pretty good but the author felt compelled to quote from a medical textbook written in 1887 to show, ostensibly, how far we have come.

Senile Ovaries

The ovaries, after long years of service, have not the ability of retiring in graceful old age, but become irritated, transmit these irritations to the brain....exhibiting themselves in extreme nervousness or in an outburst of actual insanity.

I don't know if my ovaries are going to become senile or burst into insanity but I can tell you they are already irritated.  I can sense it.  I'm also OK if they choose to not retire in graceful old age and as far as their transmitting those irritations to the brain?  Go ahead, the brain does not benefit from keeping irritations bottled up...the brain can handle a few outbursts, it has been evolving for millions of years.

So go ahead ovaries.  Do your thing, whatever that looks like.  We are not here to judge openly, like in 1887.  This is how much progress we have made:

American University professor breast-feeds sick baby in class, sparking debate - The Washington Post

Thanks to Roving Reporter for the source and let's keep talking about our ovaries and what continues to happen to them.