The Mine Field

So much news – fake and true – is swirling about. So much to respond to, react, beware, act on. So many petitions to sign, money sought and I want to give. I want to give my heart and mind to the mysteries of this immediate life. I don’t know what will happen next. Some, more prescient than I, have noted the coming of these times and predicted them. I didn’t notice. Where was I? I was basking in my liberal world, so many gains I thought unassailable. I didn’t see it coming. My eyes were filled with tears of joy for me, for my “other identified” friends and loved ones. Where was I? I was in Washington D.C. which finally felt safe. I was in the corners of this Rebublic where I finally felt safe.

Will I be able to sift through all this information? Will I be able to know what is true from what isn’t?

Luckily for me I subscribe to a Buddhist newsletter – unluckily for me, even after way over three decades of adherence to this philosophy, I find it nearly impossible to implement – easily.

OK, so nothing’s easy. I get that. I really get that now! Here, for instance, is advice under the heading, “There Is No Blame.”

OK, right there I’m behind, not up to speed on this one. All I’ve been looking for is who and what to blame! “There are no human enemies,” says Sylvia Boorstein, “only confused people needing help.”

I couldn’t agree more – about the needing help bit. And the confused, ignorant people. Exactly how I see it, yes.

I listened to Van Jones express his fear of the people who voted for the president-elect. He said he was afraid of his supporters, not those who voted for him – he might agree with me that they are the confused needing help. No, he said, it is the people who support him in his daily tweets/life, the ones who give him policy ideas and recommendations for cabinet members.

It’s hard to think about the powerful having more power and easy for me to fall into the well of complicity in thinking I have no power to help the earth hold us all better. I have as much power as I ever did, it is there for me to take when I get through my distractions.

Blame, anger and despair are my chief distractions now and I look at them as resistance to action, excuses, if you will. The seduction of finding and assigning fault feeds the Ouroboros of my anger. Taking Sylvia’s lead – reading her article to the end – I leave you with a quote.

—“the familiar image of an infant left in a basket on a doorstep with a note pinned to its blanket: “Please take care of me.” The natural impulse, for all of us, would be to pick the baby up, to care for it. I try to think about the world as an abandoned baby, left in dire straits by parents who could not care for it well. Could we be the benevolent agents who pick it up and, without blaming, take care of it?”

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Paths To Freedom

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What does it take to “let freedom ring?”
Sometimes it’s a look around, noticing the yellowed wallpaper
Testing the windows to see if they open
Running our hand along the top or bottom
Listening for the hiss of a leak or the silence of a buildup.

Not really talking about your house. Talking about your bone, skin, blood and muscle house. In speaking with clients week after week – and with myself – I’m making a list.
And checking it more than once.

The list takes courage. Not a “certain” courage, not a little courage,
A Lot of courage. In the annals of courage there are a lot of small entries.
Times when something tiny wasn’t overlooked. Times when a weak voice was listened to. A small finger in a small hole saved a city. A small heart beats with the biggest.

I took this photograph of the sun setting. It looks fairly dramatic. It was just the sun setting as it does every day. Something not to be overlooked. It is a path.
Counting the days is not a path, noticing each day is a path.
Watching for something to happen is not a path. Watching what is happening is a path.

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Moon-set at Sunrise

This morning I woke up to the amazing moon setting. The sky was so blue and I had to think where I was and what was I, what had I been doing. It was almost as if I thought I had been awake while the moon was doing its night thing.

I’m reminded how little my awareness counts. When I first started to meditate I was on a ten day retreat and we were asked to spend an hour doing “bare attention.”

I was so pleased to say how much I had seen, how I had observed this little thing and this other littler thing. I was filled with attention to details all around me.

My teacher was kind, he merely nodded and smiled. Later with a rush of red-faced awareness I realized I hadn’t done what was asked at all. It wasn’t about seeing what was around me that I was to spend my hour. No, not at all. But it would be years before that could wedge its way in to my very full and proud mind.

I was filled with facts and proud of it. Games with random facts were my pride. I could answer any question – bidden or not! No, it was years to my realization that what was inside was the fodder of practice. What was inside was the goal. I couldn’t have appreciated that and I didn’t. Not before I was ready.

I excused myself because I was so concentrated on what was outside. Looking for the right shot, the perfect moment was my only goal. I was like a herding dog with sheep. One thing dominated, it was all I had, my best shot.

I finally forgave myself a few years ago – after years of my hair standing on end every time I thought of that moment with my teacher. I was sure he would remember me for that. I was sure I would have remembered me had I been in his place. Still dominated by fact and memory was I!

It’s a slow process guiding inward. Still noticing, still doing what I do, but noticing intention. Noticing the back side of what I do. I notice that involves a lot of acceptance on my part. For myself. For others. I didn’t drop my bags right away. In a pinch I can still see the value of wit and sharpness as my goals of choice. But gradually I’ve learned to take a bit more time. To breathe before thinking, to think before speaking, and from time to time, to actually let something go.

And that’s when I really start noticing. I really start looking. And I feel I have something to say – if asked.

Bone of the Horse

Bone Of The Horse

My nose is tender

His lips are rare

Our soul is content

We are one together

Hoof to hoof hands high

We thrust our hips into the sun

His big fine neck and my skin

We are so hairy in the day

So alike underneath

Where the belly thrusts and the skin

Shifts weight from foot to hoof

I am here and he is whole

Strokes of luck of genius

Separate us recover us

Bathed in the same light

We walk hand in hand

This Is My Dog Beeker

This is me with my dog Beeker when I was about 8. It was taken by a friend of my father’s from Australia who came to visit us every few years. This is important to me because he seemed so normal and what he did was so exotic and exciting to me. I longed to go somewhere. Be somewhere else. I longed to hit the road with a camera and feel the wind in my face.

His name, what was his name, he was a friend of Uncle Sid’s, someone my father had gone to MIT with – even he was cool. They’d been at MIT together – last class of steam engineering – and then Sid had decided to become a doctor and he’d gone back to school – MIT – to end up a plastic surgeon . He was funny when he told stories about all the ears he’d pinned back on people – people were upset by their ears sticking out, I don’t know if they still are, I don’t hear about it much.

So this friend of Uncle Sid’s came and asked me to let him take my picture. This was only possible if I had Beeker at my side. Beeker was actually my sister’s dog but I was around and she wasn’t and Beeker became mine.

Now you should know that Beeker never in his life had a rope around him. Never was tied, there were no leashes. We lived on a farm with hundreds of acres around us and the dogs and I grouped ourselves by choice, we were always together. But I remember so clearly getting the rope and how important it was to me, how important to show the connection physically, palpably.

I’m so proud of this photograph. I love it, I love that someone exotic took it even if I can’t remember his name. There I was in the middle of this big country and got my picture taken with my shirt and my dog on a day I will always remember. Beeker and I were connected, we still are. He has been back several times now in this lifetime of mine and I keep him close to me, I keep him palpable and secure.

Gordie Helped Me Be My Best Self

Gordie Helped Me Be My Best Self

Not because she was quiet and good, Gordie helped me because she was expressive and powerful and her bark could break glass.

When she first came to us at age ten, just spade with her stitches newly sewn, she was guarded and inventive. She was not inquisitive or careless. When we gave her food, she would eat a little then bury the rest – yes, in the house, I’m not talking holes in the yard! She was afraid and alert. She had just had her last eight babies in Cadiz where she had been taken to a kill shelter. She had probably had 80 or more puppies in her life at that moment.

In Cadiz the Spanish government had set up shelters to take unwanted dogs to be killed. Our contact, Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA had just made an agreement to set up an organization to deal with the problem of people harming their dogs in unimaginable ways when they were “through” with them. A man in Cadiz, named Jesus, called his newly acquired contact in Hopkinton in the early morning Hopkinton time, to say he had come to the shelter and was supposed to kill a hundred healthy dogs. He couldn’t.

Our Gordie was one of them and probably the eldest. Wraith thin she was called “Gorda” (fat in Spanish) because she was so pregnant) John, in Hopkinton got a plane to Spain that morning and, once on the ground, he managed to get a lot of people organized to find homes for all the dogs – whose number had increased by Gordie’s eight puppies.

A few dogs came to this country – we have Cho, who is fourteen now. Gordie was the flagship dog, and the rest all got homes in Spain. Taking her home from Hopkinton I sat in the back seat with her and as I held her I heard myself tell her that I would never let anything negative happen to her again. There would be moments of contrast, of transition but there would be no indecision, no wavering or vacillation, no equivocation, her needs would come first – always.

So there I was, in the back seat, setting myself on a course whose path I knew nothing about. It’s something we do casually and sometimes we give it some thought – but we can never know, we can never even guess. When we get married, pregnant, adopt a child, a dog, rescue something, there is always that wondrous gift of Chance.  Gordie gave me that.

Now that she is gone I have to keep on doing my life but I don’t have to be the same. I can’t stop everything to commemorate Gordie’s death or her life, I can’t stop eating and crying, laughing, working, taking care of the other Beings in my care, but I can resonate with the lessons she taught, I can be moved and changed and carry her with me in my life.

This is a good day, how can I serve you?

Have you ever thought about the difference between caring for and serving? Well, in my experience, if I care for you, I don’t get much – respect, money, or acknowledgment. But if I serve you, I give you something of value and I get more for it. Including your looking me in the face.

You don’t get as much either if I take care of you, I may be a faceless servant doing a job. If I serve you, you probably asked for it; went to a site, signed up. Went to a school, filled out a form, maybe even paid money.

I take care of many beings. I have rescued dogs, cats and horses. If I see an animal on the road, I help it. And while I am not a nameless, faceless entity to them while I am cleaning litter, picking poops, mopping up grass and throw-up, I am not using much of my skill set either. In my service of the animals I am fulfilling my need to be useful – of service. It comes from my heart and that makes a valuable contribution to my idea of how I want to be in the world and how I view myself.

By doing this service I am forwarding my sense of good in the world, I am participating in a higher vibration than just myself. It is not a job.

If I have a job, when I go to it, when I participate in living and working amongst/with other people, I feel a brightness, I come to them with a full complement of participation. I am not needy.

If people are nice to me – or not – I have a sense of myself within myself and the world within myself. I have done important (to me) work and what I receive from the world is the icing, I have eaten my cake and I don’t have to choose whether to eat it or have it.