Auspicious Coincidences

January 27, 2010

A lot has happened since I last posted.  I’ve continued down the meditation path and had an auspicious coincidence or two. 

I started attending the Dallas Shambhala Center about a month or so ago.  I had looked for a place for a while and nothing seemed right.  I was actually looking for a Zen Center, but ended up going to Shambhala, which is Tibetan, because… well… er… because it was held at a Unitarian Universalist church.  I was a UU for years and years, and figured if Shambhala was too weird I could always go across the atrium to choir practice.

Well, Shambhala wasn’t too weird at all.  It was actually very nice.  Nice people of all ages, shapes sizes.  Some still practicing other faiths, some only Buddhists.  All willing to chat about what was up with their spiritual practice. 

It also turned out that the regional teacher, Archya Moh Hardin, was coming to town to do a retreat and a refuge ceremony.  I decided to attend the retreat, held at a historic downtown building.  And I also decided that I wanted to take refuge. 

Taking refuge just means becoming a Buddhist.  You take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  But you’re really taking refuge in your own Buddha nature.  You don’t find it outside yourself, it’s already there.  But you do have to look for it, and the Buddha lead by an example of how to do that. 

The retreat was a delightful opportunity to get to know members of the sangha.  My hips hurt like a bad boy by the end of it, but my heart felt light.  I showed my rugs at the reception where people were invited to share their art.  They were well received.  And then I went home and left them there, so they got to spend a couple nights with sweet Margo, one of the center directors.  I feel like they have been blessed. 

I had already scheduled an interview with Moh.  When the time came, I asked him about it.  I told him about my recent journeys with grief, how I learned to deal with them by mindfulness meditation.  At first he said there wouldn’t be a problem with waiting… there was no reason to do it now.  But by the end of the conversation we both felt it was right for me to go ahead and go for it. In fact, he told me that he took his vows very early in his practice, too.  Toward the end, he said that perhaps it was an auspicious coincidence that he was in town at just the time I was ready to become a Buddhist.  As I stepped out of the room with him after the interview, I told him, “I feel peaceful.”  He said, “I feel good about this.” 

The next night was the Refuge Vows.  Five of us were on the front row on our meditation cushions.  Some of them had been practicing for years, but I didn’t feel out of place.  We did our usual meditations with the sangha (congregation), which consist of 20 minutes or so of sitting meditation, 10 or so of walking meditation, and another 5ish of sitting.  Then Moh spoke about the meaning of taking refuge, and that we were being asked to project an open attitude, a changed “mark” (kind of an adjective that people would notice about you… like… when you see someone who is in love and you can tell, even if they don’t say anything), and the offering of kindness to everyone.  He said that when he snapped his fingers at the appropriate time, the transition would take place and we would feel our new lives. 

I had my doubts at that point.  I was baptized twice in the Christian fundamentalist faith of my childhood, and didn’t feel anything different either time. 

We were asked to take 3 half prostrations (kneel and touch the hands and forehead to the floor) to symbolize the practicality of trusting the Earth.  One to the Buddha, which means, to the way of Buddhism, one to the dharma, which means, the teachings of the Buddha, and one to the sangha, which is a word that means something like fellowship or congregation.   

Then he talked about our lives on the path.  And he snapped his fingers.  And I felt it.  That was a really good set up!

Then he presented our new names, written by him in calligraphy in English letters, and in Tibetan script.  He said that these are our real names, they’re ours, and that if we want that’s the name we can go by, but that most in Shambhala reserve it for Buddhist occasions. 

The name I received was Shiwa Nyi-Tso.  It means Peaceful Sun-Lake.  So now, even though I remain a Meditator Tot, I have something else to put in my signature.  🙂

When I arrived, Moh’s wife, and one of our regional teachers, commented on my earrings.  I had seen them that day while out and about, and bought them because they featured a sunburst in the center.  I said, “I wasn’t shopping for earrings, but these just appealed to me.”  Afterwards she said, “First you said after your interview with Moh that you felt peaceful.  Then you bought these sun earrings.  And your name.  What a set of auspicious coincidences!”  Indeed.  Of course, saying peaceful was before my name was selected.  And although I don’t believe in magical coincidences, it was still a sweet coincidence… an auspicious one, you might say. 

Now I just need a lake and I’ll be all set!  In the meantime I have my little water garden which will get some fancying up this spring, that’s for sure! 

I’ll be back, with more reports on the path.  It turns out that my path leads to right where I am.  And yours leads to where you are.  So I guess at the moment, our paths lead to our computer chairs, eh?

I find so many parallels with training dogs. So many.  And the peaceful thrum thrum thrum of rug hooking is a mantra. 

Peace be with you,

Shiwa Nyi-Tso

Peaceful Sun-Lake

Also known as Kellie.  🙂  And Meditator Tot.

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A Tribute to My Sister

December 24, 2009

Kerrie's Tiles              (Edges not yet finished)

For my sister

 This little rug is finished except for the trim.  It will have a bright red corded border when it is done, and will be finished out to hang on the wall of her kitchen.  I made it to honor Kerrie Jo’s commitment to caring for our parents during two years of illness, injury and death all while raising her own family and putting her career on hold.  She’s done it all with grace and style.  Thank you, Kerrie.

Kerrie and I used to  fight like cats and dogs.  Physical fights.  We’d slap, punch, pull hair, and yell things I can’t imagine saying to anyone today.  

One time when we were little Mom was getting us some gerbils because a friend of hers had one that had babies.  My grandma (Dad’s mom) was with us as we drove over there to get them.  One of us asked, “Will they fight with each other?”  My mom said, “Oh, no, they won’t fight.  They’re sisters.”  That satisfied us, but Mom and Grandma were quiet for a second and then looked at each other and started cracking up laughing. 

One time Kerrie dumped all my dresser drawers out on the floor so I pulled her hair and threw a whole glass of iced tea in her face.  Not the glass, just the ice and tea.  But it was a big glass.  Then I ran outside to burn off some steam and she locked me out of the house.  I can’t for the life of me recall what I did that caused her to dump out my drawers, but it was surely something.

As adults Kerrie and I weren’t close for a long time.  That was mainly because we lived far apart.  She moved back to New Orleans when I moved to Houston.  Her family lived in Kansas for years after we were in Dallas (Irving to be precise).  But we also have very different political and religious views.  And we had a lot of fights to forgive each other over.  We loved each other dearly.  We just had no clue how to be around each other for very long without feeling like pulling some hair… either our own or each other’s.

When my 79 year old Dad fell through the ceiling of his house in May 2008, landing on his head on the kitchen island and then the floor,  Kerrie called frantically.  I was driving to work and made a quick U, threw some things in a bag at home and then headed for east Texas.  I can tell you about the sordid story of events that followed, but I’ve written about them elsewhere, so I’ll just say that for a year plus two months we dealt with brain surgery, transfusions, abdominal surgery.  We celebrated Pop’s 80th birthday in rehab, Mom had her stroke, we lost an uncle and both of my in-laws, and Kerrie’s husband had a heart attack.   Then came cancer and chemo. 

There was absolutely no time or energy left for fighting with each other.  We were at war with the inevitable.  Why make trouble where there doesn’t need to be any?

By the time it was finished, after Pop died in those short months that sometimes seem to have encompassed our whole lives, we were wrung out and strung out, but we had learned how to be close.  We had learned how to ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’ all while holding each other up.  When it mattered we were there for each other.  I changed my ring tone to “Lean on me” for my sister’s calls.   Hers for me is “Somebody Groovy”, which is high praise, let me tell you what.

My sister finished her college degree during all of this, with three kids still at home and her husband running a business.  She helps Mom with shopping and book keeping and cooking and a huge array of tasks Mom can’t do by herself since her stroke.  She goes to church and does the shopping and helps in her husband’s business. 

My sister is my hero, and I want her to know it.  This is just a little token, but the real thanks is in my heart.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I have been studying Buddhism.  There is much to love about this practice for a heathen scientist, but it is tarnished with myth and a willingness to fall for anything just like other religions are.  It’s not supposed to be a religion, yet it has adherants who worship the Buddha rather than following the teachings of Siddhartha the human buddha.  And the writings of the human Buddha are rife with the influence of the age and place in which he lived.  How could they not be?  We learn by interactions with our environments. 

Mindfulness and meditation have made a huge difference in my life in the short time I’ve been practicing them.  I’ve been disillusioned by the beliefs of so many learned Buddhists that some guy was really and truly born out of a lotus flower, and that we can all become clairvoyant as we ascend to nirvana and other such nonsense. 

What mindfulness can really offer is the ability to observe one’s life better and stop running away from reality– the exact opposite of most religious practices.  And that’s pure science. Instead of distracting ourselves with doing acts because we are told to by mythical or historical characters who threaten us with rebirth as a toad or with hellfire and damnation, we can do things because we observe and figure out what the antecedents and consequences are for our actions. Once we know that we can adjust them to improve our lives and that of those around us. That’s behavior analysis.  That’s real. Meditation and mindfulness help us get there.

In my last post I wrote that I’m not really a Buddhist.  I am studying Buddhism, but I don’t want to be defined as a Buddhist any more than I want to be defined as a Christian. Both faiths are enmeshed with superstitions I choose not to embrace.  I embrace evidence.  When contradictory evidence comes along, I adjust my beliefs.  People aren’t born from Lotus flowers, nor are they born from virgins.  I know lots of folks who have edited their Christianity to exclude the silly stuff and include only the good stuff, like “turn the other cheek” and all that. But you’ve got to keep in mind, in the Christian scriptures, Jesus cursed a fig tree to death when it wouldn’t give him fruit, and God refused to save his only son when he was being crucified.  These aren’t stories that comfort me.  They make me nervous.  They make it okay to kill those who don’t serve you and to walk away from the one person they are supposed to love most.  If I had to worship a god, it would be one that whisked his kid off the cross, healed his wounds, and said, “Yo, People!  I’ll do the same for you!” 

Which is why the Buddha was originally so appealing.  He was born wealthy, but when he saw how the rest of the world was, he gave up his wealth and tried to figure out what was up with all that.  He finally determined that The Middle Way is the best way.  Not extreme asceticism… which makes me confused about why Buddhist monks are supposed to support themselves by begging.  Not extreme wealth… which makes me confused about all the gold encrusted Buddha statues and offerings.   But the Middle Way.  Moderation in all things. I think the Buddha has been skewed just like the Christ has.  But I also think I’m going to have a hard time with a guru that existed in a time when fact-based science and equality were hazy at best.

I found this article online and all the way through I was thinking, Yes!  Yes!  I’ve copied some quotes, but please go to the source, the Shambala Sun, to read the entire article:  http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2903Itemid=247

“Given the degree to which religion still inspires human conflict, and impedes genuine inquiry, I believe that merely being a self-described “Buddhist” is to be complicit in the world’s violence and ignorance to an unacceptable degree.”  Sam Harris, author of Tne End of Faith in the Shambala Sun.  [Harris was commenting on the general idea most people have of Buddhism as a religion.  Among the people who hold this idea are some practicing Buddhists.]

Harris continues, “…there are ideas within Buddhism that are so incredible as to render the dogma of the virgin birth plausible by comparison…Among Western Buddhists, there are college-educated men and women who apparently believe that Guru Rinpoche was actually born from a lotus. This is not the spiritual breakthrough that civilization has been waiting for these many centuries.”  [Indeed.]

Harris:  “For the fact is that a person can embrace the Buddha’s teaching, and even become a genuine Buddhist contemplative (and, one must presume, a buddha) without believing anything on insufficient evidence… In many respects, Buddhism is very much like science.”  [Wow.]

Harris:  “…the methodology of Buddhism, if shorn of its religious encumbrances, could be one of our greatest resources as we struggle to develop our scientific understanding of human subjectivity.”  [Yes!]

“Why is religion such a potent source of violence? There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments.”  [Yes, yes!]

“Religion is also the only area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give evidence in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet, these beliefs often determine what they live for, what they will die for, and—all too often—what they will kill for.”  [So true!]

“…once we develop a scientific account of the contemplative path, it will utterly transcend its religious associations.” 

A scientific account of the contempletive path.

This makes me want to go back to school and conduct mindfulness research. 

Good Karma,

Meditator Tot

Kindle: An Attachment

November 15, 2009

Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device (9.7" Display, U.S. Wireless, Latest Generation)Product Details

 

Here’s my excuse:  Apparently Kindles need a break every now and then.  My Kindle has been returned to me.  (See yesterday’s entry.)  It is like a boomerang. Here’s the history of my Kindle.

I received it sometime this summer, with great excitement and glee and it instantly became my dearest inanimate companion.  (You can read yesterday’s entry for more on that.)  I bought it a purple leather cover.  I made a shrine to it… okay, I didn’t, but I love it.  No more teetering stacks of books on my bedside table.  Just one sleek electronic device.

In late June I took the Kindle to Sequim Washington where Jesus and I were doing a seminar on the Constructional Aggression Treatment.  I had to leave early because I received a call that my ailing father had taken a turn for the worse.  I and all my stuff were taken to the tiny airport where I would hitch a ride to Seattle and fly to Dallas, then drive to East Texas where my Dad was entering hospice care.

I stepped off the teeny plane and walked across the tarmac dragging my suitcase and lugging a carry on and got all the way inside the airport before realizing I’d left the Kindle in the seat pocket.  I panicked and asked someone to help because the plane was ROLLING and I was afraid he was going to taxi off to the runway with my Kindle.  A very nice young man (probably in his 40s) went out and got it off the plane, and returned it to me wearing a bemused… nay… annoyed… expression.

I went out front and got on a bus which would take me to the big airport.  I started chatting with the folks around me.  I hopped off the bus and went off toward the airport terminal, and realized I’d forgotten my Kindle in the seat pocket.  Note to self: DO NOT PUT KINDLE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT SEAT POCKETS!!!!  I dashed back.  Dashing is something less than running, but still took my breath away.

I got off the bus again and scurried (slower than dashing, faster than walking) through the very long airport to catch the next plane only to realize that I had my Kindle … but I didn’t have  MY SUITCASE!!!!  This wasn’t a normal lay over.  It was a wee-plane to big-plane switcheroo, and I had zoned out thinking about my Dad and forgot that it was do-it-yourself service from thither to yon.

I ran back (literally ran… if you can imagine that) back to the other end of the airport only to see two men standing with my suitcase, scratching their heads.  Between gasps I called out, “That’s mine!”  They looked at me as I slowed to a dash and then a scurry and finally a stertorous stop. One of them said, “Well, did ya forget your luggage now?” I refrained from offering a clever retort only because I was out of breath. He said, “We were just deciding what to do about it and here you came running!” I replied something like, “Pant, pant, pant… Thank pant you pant pant… so pant pant… much pant pant pant.”

“Are you alright then?  Anything else I can help you with?”  The other man was just grinning.  I wondered if they knew the guy who went to grab my Kindle off the wee plane.

There have been nights when Kindle spent the night at one of my offices.  There have been days when my Kindle was at home and I wished it were with me, where ever I was.  But I got the DX… a bigger version of the Kindle… and it didn’t fit well into any of my purses so I was always leaving it elsewhere because I have so much stuff to tote at work.  That lead to me buying the nice purple tote I wrote about yesterday.  I’m hoping it will resolve my Kindle forgetting.  We’ll see.

So, what have I learned from all this?  That I do indeed have an attachment to inanimate objects problem. I wonder what I would have felt if I had forever lost a couple dozen of my favorite hard copy books.  Would I have felt the sense of panic … and of dukkha … that I felt last night when my Kindle was missing?  I don’t think so.  I think it was the $500 bucks we doled out on the device and the $50 more on the cover that made it such a big deal.  It is actually a device I coveted but didn’t need, and certainly didn’t miss before I got it.  But I had an attachment to getting it.  I really wanted it. And when I found out I could get a purple cover for it… well… it was mine.

Another lesson in dukkha.  What do you do about the attachment when something is lost then returns to you?  If I were a good Buddhist I might get rid of the Kindle.  Sell it on Ebay, donate the money to the SPCA?  But I would still have my attachment to books.  I would still have attachments to all sorts of things.  And I’ve learned much of what little I know about Buddhism on my Kindle.  So.  I don’t know what else to say about that except that I’m keeping my Kindle.  Unless I lose it for real sometime.  (I’m not really a Buddhist, I’m just saying…and I’m going to write separately on the Complete Buddhist… stay tuned.)

And that brings to mind what I automatically did last night.  I quickly came to the conclusion that it had been stolen, possibly by one of the two women standing in the bag section looking at wallets.  I very quickly dismissed the notion that maybe I forgot it somewhere again. I did fleetingly think that if I had left it in my cart (which I had) someone had already swiped it.  But I had, they handn’t, and no one did any swiping.  It was just me being forgetful.  (Forgetfulness drives me crazy but I’m SOOO good at it!) And me learning that blaming people isn’t too helpful.

Here’s what I did with my dukkha last night.  Whenever I would think about the Kindle and feel angry or sick, I would stop myself and say, “Okay, be with that feeling.”  And I would think about the knot in my stomach and just make myself stay there with that physical sensation.  And the sensation went away.  By the time I went to bed I was still disappointed, but I was okay. I had let go.  I was doing okay with the loss.  I still had work to do on it, but I was very nearly okay.

This process seems to have desensitized me to the loss.  This morning when I first woke up and thought about it, I felt a lesser sense of loss, but went into it, just went to that dull feeling and stayed with it.  It diminished.

So when I checked my voice mail and got a message saying the Kindle had been found in the shopping cart where I’d carelessly left it, I felt a little bewildered.  Really?  I was so sure it was gone for good.  I’d done my homework in letting go of the attachment.  I’d refrained from ordering another Kindle, not just because it was expensive but because I wasn’t sure I needed to have one.  (Okay, to be sure I did peek at the new Kindle model when I went online to cut off my Kindle service last night.  It’s smaller and will fit in more purses, AND it has global wireless, not just in the USA.  I don’t leave the country that often, but that would be cool… At cocktail parties I could say, “Oh, yes, I downloaded that book while vacationing in Belize.”  Of course I haven’t been to a cocktail party in 20 years. And I’ve never been to Belize. But the DX has a rotating display, and that does come in handy sometimes.  So, yeah, I would have ordered another Kindle.)

Kindle is home now, and fortunately I did not return the purple Kindle Purse, although I have yet to find a bag for inside the Kindle purse.  Maybe Ziploc makes something suitable. (See yesterday’s post for more on that, too.)  I re-registered her immediately.  It was super easy to do… even a thief could have done it.  See?  There I go again.

Good Karma to you,

Meditator Tot

 

Being There

October 20, 2009

My sister sent me pictures by phone of my father’s headstone.  I was on the road to east Texas for the big event.

I drove into town and drove through for a small coffee with one cream and one sugar.  (He always went for the large, but as a symbolic gesture, I opted for the small this time.)  I pulled into the cemetary thinking I would spend a few minutes there just seeing what it felt like for my dad to have a headstone.  I placed the cup of coffee right above where I figured my Dad’s hands must be.

At the other end of Dad’s row there was a headstone being installed.  I stood looking at our new headstone.  Touched it.  Stood back.  I felt like I needed to do nothing and just be there.

Over from the new installation a little woman came tottering over, tidying things up as she went. Was she headed for me?  Of course she was.  I pretended to ignore her, but of course I couldn’t. She came up and looked at the headstone.  “You’re with the Sisson family?”

I nodded.  I wanted her to go away. I coached myself to just be there. She looked at the cup of McDonald’s coffee on my Dad’s grave.  “Are you a relative?”

I cleared my throat.  “Yes.  He was my father.”

“So, there’s Grant Steven, Kellie Ann and Kerrie Jo,” she read from the stone.  “Which one are you?”

“I’m Kellie.”

She introduced herself.  I can’t for the life of me remember her name.  I think it was Jo.  My mother used to go by that name.

“I think they got it in straight.  I like to be here when they put them in to make sure they are all straight.  I put all these marks with spray paint to make sure they get ’em right.”  She toed the orange blotch on the grass. She looked at me.  “It’ll get cut off next time they mow.”  She looked at the coffee cup.

“It looks nice,” I told her.  I wasn’t talking about the coffee cup.  I was having trouble being gracious with this kind woman who would make sure my father’s grave was always neat and tidy and that it was lined up just right with the other folks that were going to dust around him.

“They came in last month and put that one down there in and it’s about 6 inches off and gets over almost to the next grave.”  It was a dark shiny stone surrounded by bric a brack.  “I’ve told them to come and move it but they haven’t done it yet.”

My sister had placed solar lights by my father’s headstone.  This lady… might as well call her Jo… pointed at one with her toe and said, “Lots of folks are putting those in these days.”  I started to explain, but I didn’t.  I would have explained if she had complained but she didn’t.  She was perfectly nice but I didn’t think she would understand. And I didn’t think I could tell her unless I had to.

If I had explained I would have told the story the way my sister tells it.  My father liked to sleep with the light on.  He always went to bed early. He would leave the overhead light on until Mom came to bed and turned it off.  Kerrie said that when Mom lays down beside him the last time, we can turn off the light.

In the last months of his life at home Pop would sometimes sleep in the guest room with the overhead light on all night.  If anyone asked him how on Earth he could sleep in so much light, he would say, “I close my eyes.”  I always knew that Pop could sleep with the light on, but I didn’t know he preferred it until those last fragile months.  When I slept in his hospice room, I would wait for him to go to sleep and turn the lights off.  He would wake up and ask me if I could sleep with the light on.  We would come to some compromise where I would sleep with too much light and he would sleep with too little.

The week before he died, at the point where he wasn’t strong enough to get up at all, my aunt spent a week sleeping in his room.  She slept on a little pull-0ut cot that was pretty uncomfortable.  One night he told her he wouldn’t mind sleeping on that so she could sleep on his bed.  He said his bed was pretty comfortable and he could sleep on anything.  She hadn’t complained.  He just always wanted people to be comfortable.

Jo said, “Well, I’m glad to meet you.”

“Thank you for taking such good care of this place,” I told her.

“We have a good crew that comes out and does a good job,” she said, surveying the expanse of stones on the big flat land. It was a nice day. It was sunny, and not hot.  Somebody’s silk flowers had blown across the meadow. She looked at it, and I had a feeling it wouldn’t be there when I came back.  I thought of how my brother and I liked to say that our  father showed his love by doing things for people to make sure they were taken care of.  I knew he was in the right place.

She wandered off, back to the new installation.  I looked at the headstone.  I touched where us kids’ names nestled between the two bigger stones carved with their names and those dates, and where our family name graced the main foundation of the piece.

I picked up the cup of coffee and sprinkled it all around my father’s grave.

East Texas With Rug Frame

October 15, 2009

Yoda in Progress

I’m off to East Texas this weekend, toting a bunch of stuff I’m giving to my sister, plus my rug frame and supplies.  My sister, Mom and I plan to sit around and do fabric work (They quilt, I hook) and deal with the event of the weekend.  Dad’s headstone will be installed tomorrow.

The other day I had to be at work early.  I accidentally woke up at about 4:30.  What was wrong with me?  I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I read for a while, then I got up for zazen.  I sat for 20 minutes.  Ah.  it was really a great morning.  I had oatmeal for breakfast, and got on my way.  That night I was exhausted, but I did my zazen again, and slept like a baby.  It’s the little things.

The secret is I have hated getting up early since I was little, and the next day I got up as late as possible on a work day.  But that one day I got up early and it was good.  Getting up early isn’t a moral issue with me like it was with my father or my husbands’ parents.  They thought only lazy people slept late. And lazy wasn’t cute to them.  I have rebelled against getting up early when people have insinuated that only the early riser is worthy of anything worthwhile.  But really, to me it doesn’t matter.  You can do as much from 12pm to 4am as you can from 5am to 9pm.  But it was just a different here, now day.  I was there at a different now.

Now I’m working on just being with what I’m doing.  I’m not good at it yet, but I’m learning from it.  If I’m eating I try to spend at least part of the time just being with the food.  (Last night I made potato, mushroon, onion, celery soup with matzo balls.  I don’t know why I made that, but it was quite satisfying.  If there’s still some left I’m having it again tonight!)

With zen I feel like not eating so much meat.  That’s interesting, isn’t it?  I never intended to become a vegetarian when I started this, I just find that what I feel like spending time with is veggie food.  I wonder where that will go.  I’m not a vegetarian today.  I don’t know if I will be one later.  I just find it interesting that when I am mindful about food, I want vegetables and grains.

I’m off to go home, pack up my frame and my zafu and some furniture that’s going to get a new life.

Things are good. The big rain drop tears that come with knowing my father is really and truly done with this world and that a big granite stone, rich with feldspar and polished to a bright sheen will hold him down in the plain East Texas dirt (and his soul must surely be in Oklahoma) came and I just sat with them, and thought, “These are some big tears, and my chest is surely going to erupt in some big crying volcano of missing my Daddy.”  Maybe he didn’t think I should sleep so late, but he loved me.

When he was in the hospice one day, it was morning and I was getting ready to go.  I said goodbye and gathered my overnight bag and hugged my family.  They trickled out into the hall, and when I went to say one of the scary good-byes to my dad, he stopped me.  He wanted to talk about something… I wish I could remember more about what.  I know it had to do with something to do with not understanding why the doctor wouldn’t let him go home, and all that painful unwillingness to accept that he was dying.

When we had talked it over, and I had explained what I understood… I remember.  It had something to do with the young woman doctor who had told him he really was going to die.  He liked her.  He was a bit of a flirt in his old age.  He was unnerved by what she said although it had been said to him in a million ways by all of us for what seemed like forever. The next day he didn’t remember what she said and didn’t understand that he was dying again.

But what happened that day was that I was getting ready to go.  Maybe it was evening.  I used to stay as long as I could.  I hugged him and told him how much I loved him.  He said, “Well, Kell… I love you, too, times a million.”

I get to have that forever, or until my own brain starts to skip beats. Right now it makes me weak to think about it, and I can’t write it without all these tears and all this snot.  But it’s like … it’s like the best thing he could ever give me, and he gave it to me in a thousand different ways.

Cat meditation with toes

Cat meditation with toes

 

I spent the day shopping and getting my hair cut.  I went to a thrift store and got 2 100% wool jackets that will be stripped into rug fiber and one wool jacket my son nabbed.  (He does enjoy a good sports coat.)  I went to Walmart twice… forgot some stuff and decided to get veggies for dinner… and got some $3.50 Merlot.  I’m a classy gal.  Finally Tom Thumb beckoned because I needed Elmer’s glue and something I’d forgotten to get at Walmart. Vinegar.  I’m going to dye some wool and someone told me that if you set the color with vinegar it comes out brighter than if you set it with salt. 

So, I’m leaving Tom Thumb and I have to turn left to get to my house.  There’s no light at the corner, and always a lot of traffic.  If the car in front of you doesn’t GO when there is a clearing you could be there for a long time.  I’m sitting there behind an SUV watching for her next chance to hit the gas when a woman in yellow ochre warm ups and matching shoes smiles and waves enthusiastically at the car in front of me.  Oh, no.  The woman in that car PUTS HER CAR INTO NEUTRAL to talk to the woman. 

I think, oh, well, they’re city dwellers, they understand how traffic works and will arrange to chat by phone or Facebook later.  Only they don’t.  The driver rolls down the window and the ochre walker leans in for a comfy chat with a long lost friend she is at real risk of never seeing again.   

At that moment, here comes the rare and coveted opening in the traffic, and the driver is oblivious, so I tap my horn.  It’s a polite little Honda Element “Beep”… just a little “ahem” letting them know that it’s time to MOVE IT!  I smiled and gestured to the fleeting opening with festive nod.

Ochre lady puts up her hand toward me in a “Stop” fashion and when I tootle again, she waves downward several times in the universal “Get the hell out of here!” gesture.  About 6 cars were piled up behind me by now.  This time I honk and hold for a couple of seconds and Ochre GLARES at me as if I am the rudest woman on Earth.  I look in my rearview and other people are raising their hands in, “WTF” fashion. 

The driver pulls over into an area BETWEEN THE INCOMING AND EXITING TRAFFIC and stops.  I squeeze around, and miraculously there is just enough room to escape from the parking lot before the next traffic flood begins.  As I pass the SUV, the ochre lady steps forward and glares at me. 

I drive away and I’m thinking, seriously, have you never been around cars before? 

So, I drove away pretty ticked off, and set about wondering what’s the zen way to deal with that?  Well, Despite being a Meditator Tot, I know it’s to acknowledge that it happened, to acknowledge that it pissed me off, and once all that acknowledging is done, to just let it the heck go.  No worrying about why she might have been such a bitch (Does she have cancer?  Did her dog just die? Is she just made that way?) or why the two of them completely forgot how traffic works (maybe they’ve been living on a mountain in Tibet for the past 7 years or they had simultaneous strokes on the entry to the Tom Thumb parking lot.) 

I came home and got the guys to help me stow the groceries and I put some lentils to cook on the stove, with garlic, onions, celery, tomatoe and… well, I forget what all else but it smells great and I hope those lentils are done soon!  But in the back of my head I’m still dealing with the ochre warm-ups lady and her matching shoes and matching hair and the blood red SUV’s driver, and the ugly look on Ochre lady’s face as I squeezed my Element past the social corner. 

I haven’t let it go yet.  I think I need to sit with it mindfully because I am still stuck in it.  I think I’m trying to run away from it rather than acknowledge it, and I think that’s why I can’t let it go. 

I also think I kind of want to stay pissed at the ochre lady.  But I think if I’m going to get better at being a human I don’t want to let her stay in my head making me irritated any more. 

My caramel and ochre colored cat, Yoda, is curled up on my gold alpaca wool pillow sham in the guest room which used to be my office.  I’m thinking he’s going to be the subject of my next hooked rug.  He’s washing his face.  He’s not worrying about ochre warm ups or matching shoes or ochre hair on angry faces.

Humbly,

Meditator Tot