The Last Song

I have been sitting here for 5 weeks, staring at a blank page and wondering what on Earth I was going to write as the very last post on the love and words blog.   

Does it surprise you that this is how I come back, as promised, after my break? Not only am I closing the blog but I am also closing my Facebook account and a few other social media accounts. I think…ironic as it is, more people are upset that I am leaving Facebook than will notice that the blog is closed. I say that because in the course of things, between what is meant and what I meant to do, the fact that anyone would be bent about my closing down an account (despite phones and emails and other accounts) speaks of how things got a bit off track.

But they didn’t really. What happened was that I should have taken this step a few years ago because for what it was, the loveandwords blog was amazing but everything has its limits.

Sometimes to give life back to something – we have to let it go.

And choose to recognize it again in where it is in other things rather than insist it always stay the same.

It is easy to write that but harder to live it. If you have been following the blog for a while you know that has been one of the struggles – it is so deceptively easy to believe words and speech are real – but they aren’t. Only what we do and how we live is real.

I learned a lot from my experience with this blog. Over 5 years and over 3, 765 posts (or something like that), readership that raged from 185,000 a month to a few hundred and then would surge back up again as I came back into fashion. It’s been syndicated, one awards and now…it is time for me to put it down.

And begin the next step.

The next step, by the way, can be found on my new blog, Empty Stance, which you can find at

I had said that when I took the break this summer that I was going to finish two books I was trying to write – and I did.

I said all last year I was working on a plan for creating practical change that would work on a personal, local, national and global level – I have.

What I did not expect was also to become so content, so impassioned, so driven, so focused, so happy and so full of joy –  it’s nice.

I have loved writing the LoveandWords blog. I have loved who it has allowed me to meet, how it has challenged me and all the things I have learned. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing and now, in opening up Empty Stance, I know in advance that was is about to begin is a sacred thing and I am in awe of it.

My site, loveandwords, will stay up (and eventually get updated).

The City of Love is still being written and there is more poetry and videos to come.

The mad kitten is fat and happy and spoiled rotten.

And I?

I am nothing at all.


The Importance of Details

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The Mad Kitten Sleeps

It can be a little disturbing to realize that not only does your cat have a preferred side of the bed to sleep on but that you move over so she can have it. MK and I were having a good night, she was out catching moths – which is one of her favourite things to do, and I was trying to work. Truth be told, I was absolutely exhausted and wanted to do nothing to sleep because it had been a long night. But once MK is out and it is moth season, forget.


I wound up arguing with her for an hour when she brought one in and I closed the door, thinking I could sneak off to sleep. She sits on the step and will cry. Just once and then look at me. I tell her “no” so then she will try to open the door herself. When she can’t, she will sit down, look at me and cry again.

Cry (No)

Cry (No – but now she gets up on her little carpeted pedestal so we are on the same level)

Cry (No)

Cry (No – I try turning my back to her. Now she comes over and sits by the bed, just out of reach and we repeat the same routine until finally – I give in, get up and let her out.


She has a three moth quota for some reason. She catches them, brings them into the house and lets them go. After the quota last night – she sprawled on the floor. I picked her up and put her in the bed with me (left side).


That is when she lay there and purred so incredibly loud and kept patting my face that I knew that something was up. So I asked her, and she patted my face and literally oozed over me to the right side, where she prefers to sleep. Also, preferably with me holding one foot.


I have been stunningly busy of late and going through a lot of things (good) which is why I haven’t been blogging much. So finely, I came to a decision about the blog the other day. I am taking an official two to three months off from either worrying about it or trying to post to it. The same goes for status updates etc and pretty much the only place I will be on is email and pinterest.


Why? The reason is very simple. I have a book and  I have been trying to get done for over a year now and they are not happening. Especially not with the addition of all the workshops and freelance stuff in my life right now. So….rebalance the energy for a little while.

So…rather than take August off this year, that should be when I am returning, with gifts in hand.


Enjoy the Spring!


c.2012  Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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I think one of the most interesting things is the transition from having an understanding of something (through comprehending a theory or explanation) and that sudden shocking moment when you make the connection to how it works in real life. It is like the moment when you “get” that yes, if the bicycle moves than you do not fall over. Or, if you apply the brakes smoothly and lightly, you will stop without flipping over. It is a simple revelationsthat what someone has told you is truth.


I think that is probably the only way you can ever know if what someone tells you is really true. If what they told you matches what happens in reality, then they have spoken of reality – maybe not truth, that is maybe a more dense and complicated a thing to even discuss. But, you can begin to understand who is speaking from reality and who is talking from illusion/delusion from whether or not reality offers unsolicited evidence that proves what they told you.


One of the things I was mulling over this morning was the nature of conflict. How conflict is based in illusion/delusion of one or both parties and is very different from tension, which is reality based. From there my mind waltzed over to the thought about how the only constant in life is that everything changes. The desire for the unchanging is based in delusion and a denial of reality.


From there, my brain flung one end of her boa around her neck and stuck a rose between her teeth as the seductively trim figure of politics, culture and activism (wearing this seaon’s new design by society, le cape du dogma) pulled her into his arms and they began a dangerous tango. “Cheri,” he whispered in an awful, fake and undefinable accent, “You may always rely on corruption, power and politics to always be the same.”


And I thought, ahhhhhhhh there is the delusion. All this talk about how nothing has changed as far as the politics, culture, corruption and powers that influence everything is nothing but illusion. An illusion that makes any effort to create different outcomes far less effective than they could be. Because everything is approached as if it is the same moment in time and nothing is ever the same as how it has been. Yet we structure all of our funding and approaches, our bills and protests as if nothing about the system that maintains us has ever changed. And it has changed in its every aspect, not just the ones that we are comfortable (or that it is unavoidable) in recognizing.


If then (and while leaning backward in a dip my brain slipped off one feathered mule and clubbed her partner unconscious – ending the tango) then all of this conflict – the political discussions, the social discussions, the efforts to introduce changes to our societies and cultures is based in illusion and tries to fight an illusion with illusion and therefore – will accomplish nothing, except maintaining the delusion that nothing about power and influence changes.




Yesterday was a very powerful day for me. Not in an overwhelmingly comfortable way. I came face to face with a repeated situation that I had stepped away from dealing with and just hoped to avoid and now – it would appear it is time to deal with it. I am fortunate that now I have the meditation practice to help me with this and I got angry when someone I knew saw my mood and wanted to “bring me out of it.” I didn’t want to escape the mood, I wanted to do what I am supposed to do which is learn to sit in it and discover its fullness. I sat and faced the white wall. Thirty minutes later I was in a better place and had more control over my emotions. I was ready to face the kneesnappers who were already lurking and shouting “Don’t you want to play GO???” and trying to get around the person (so kindly) trying to keep them from rampaging onto the mat where I was sitting (40 feet away, wisely).


When I stood up, I realized with a shock, that I had been crying the whole time I had been meditating. I was not aware of that, but tears will still streaming down my face and I had to do a quick “oh whoops!” and scoot past the kneesnappers to clean up before charging into 3 hours of hyper play with them.


And then later…




I was exposed to my first instance of what has been described to me as “malevolent shenpa.” That is when someone who is in a position of influence allows their shenpa to force a meditation group into that person’s darkness.

 Shenpa, loosely translated, is the “hook” or what we do as habit or use as habit to allow us to escape reality and permit us to shut down emotionally. A shenpa holds some promise of “relief without suffering” and we bite at it like a fish and get hooked. Because we know the food is tasty, easy to come by and at first – works, we bite it each time we see it until we get so used to doing it we seek out the baited hook.


Malevolent shenpa is when someone defines an expectation of another as only being good if they are biting at the same hook as that person. If they are in a position of authority, it is easy to make acceptance of and participation in their personal shenpa  a requirement for being in the group. It becomes the perfect rationalization for the avoidance of facing yourself, by making everyone around you the same. If you say it is good and a bunch of people go “ok,” then the self-examination of whether or not your shenpa is causing you harm or, harm to others becomes unimportant to you.


By introducing their malevolent shenpa to the group as a definition, in a way, they introduce poison. The group, to remain a group, has to adopt the shenpa as their own on an individual basis and it can be psychologically and emotionally devastating.


There are good shenpas too. But meditation, yoga, spirituality, religion, prayer, fitness, health, whole foods – all of that is still a hook we use to escape the totality of being present because they are things outside of ourselves that we use to prove that we are good or bad or compassionate or suffering or whatever – rather than take the responsibilities of seeing and being those things, we have to put things around them to try and contain them – limiting our capacity for understanding and realizing their importance. Good shenpa can easily become malevolent, you see that a lot when someone becomes so single minded in their devotion to a practice they decree it is the only way for everyone or, that only they and its practitioners know the truth or have special insight. Shenpa has a lot of other names.


So I experienced malevolent shenpa last night. I thought it would be more spectacular, dramatic and obvious but it wasn’t. It was subtle but being aware of it, it highlighted how everything changed for the entire meeting. Afterward, a few of us were like “did what just happen, happen?” Because it is not what we are taught to expect of these things. Part of practicing is learning to spot teachers who teach from their shenpa rather than from their practice. Part of it is learning how to protect yourself from taking in that poison. And part of it is learning what to do after that has happened.


I have no idea.


But as the koan says,

“You have so much to do, why are you wasting your time on a question like that?”


c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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puppy love

Today, I was sitting in a different café, having a bit of a snack (one of the downfalls of riding the bicycle I am in constant snack mode) before going on to my I-want-to-give-Buddha-the- finger-what-the-hell-is-going-on meditation training.


Suffice it to say, the past few weeks have been almost insufferable and I squarely blame my meditation practice for it. As it turns out, I was right. The blame for my unease and dis-ease lies in the meditation, which made my teacher laugh and laugh and congratulate me because at long last I have actually begun the practice. Which did kind of make me feel good. In an odd kind of way.


All of this is very strange. I was under the deep impression that meditation was all about release, peace, centering, calming your thoughts, letting go and ease. Apparently, I have stumbled into the school that is about another level of meditation – that of the warrior. But it resonates. And it also, as I learn and study more, is explaining to me why I have rejected so many forms of meditation before – they are not what I am apparently built for.  Also, because of the focus I am studying, while I can appreciate other forms, I don’t necessarily get along with them.


Which is just what it is. Neither here nor there. In the end, unless the form of meditation has become a form of maladaptive escape behavior in and of itself – we all wind up at the same point, fulfilling all the different roles along the way.


But anyway…back to my story. So the café I was in has a double bay door, it used to be a gas station. Because it was so warm and beautiful they had begun to open all the doors and windows. Oddly enough (and this has been a trend everywhere I have gone these past few days), the same song was playing over their speakers (conjure one’s center of the sun, if you haven’t heard it, find it). I happen to really love that song at the moment and it speaks to something growing within me.


So there I was, in the café, with my tidbits, with the door open and the heat of the sun creeping into the crevices. And I watched as all the little birds (who I bitched about mugging me for bread last year) were trying, as a group, to decide if they should enter the café. One by one, they would hop a little closer until one brave bird got up on the threshold and bounced around. Then they flew off spastically and circled and came back to repeat the process. Hop stop hop stop hop stop hop…..bounce bounce bounce and away.

It was the funniest thing.


And it reminded me of my walk home late last night. Here I was, going on my fourth day of just feeling brutally uncomfortable in my skin but also, giving off some clear signal to strangers and animals that I was an a-ok kinda person and come share. Not the former, “come tell me your tragedy” vibe I used to specialize in, but a very different – I just want to share space with you for a moment kind of beauty. I had slowly started to notice this happening – despite how I felt, this is how people were reacting to me, like I was some kind of source of joy for them.


And I had just decided that maybe…maybe…maybe a better judge of how I am doing and feeling is not what I am thinking but how everyone around me is reacting – from babies to birds to adults. Needless to say, I have also been hit on so many times in the past three days a friend has started to refer to me as “catnip.” It is a funny experience.

But there I was, late at night, walking home and thinking all these things when I saw a woman and her (extremely large) dog coming out of the darkness. The dog began to do a shimmy shake and start dragging the woman toward me from about half a block away. It wasn’t until they were about ten feet away that I recognized the dog. A puppy really, a six month old great dane that is big as a house that I met once, a few months ago for a few minutes on another street corner.


He practically shimmied up my body and into my pocket and we had a shameless love fest that somehow included me sticking my hands in his mouth repeatedly.


The whole time his owner just stood there repeating,

“I don’t understand this. He totally loves you.”

And right then I knew

Whatever space I thought I was in

Was just a thought,

And in reality,

I was somewhere I would much rather be.

I just have to learn to recognize

When I am there.


c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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I had a thought, last night before I went to bed, that I meant to write down because it was the subject of this morning’s blog. The thought, of course, was desperately important and illuminating. Therefore,


I have woken up today and cannot remember it at all. Or, it is more that I can remember it but it doesn’t seem to be quite as earth shaking as it seemed just past midnight.


Slowly I am learning that while it is a good thing to notice these “inspired” moments  that what comes from them pales in comparison to what comes out of the steady process of showing up. And on my walk to where I am going this morning, I was thinking about that in relation to writing.


It is easy to get out of the habit of showing up. I am not talking about showing up to the places or things that you have made a commitment to, that is a whole other discussion. I am talking about showing up for yourself. Funny how it is the first commitment we let slide and then spend more time scrambling to find a short cut back to rather than just doing what we know has to be done.


Like with writing. If you want to write, sit down and write. Even if it is only for ten minutes a day it will be of more use to you than waiting for one “inspired” moment and then writing madly for hours. Why? When you show up every day for yourself, because it is important and you do it whether you want to or not – you begin to not only value yourself and what is inside you, but you actually begin to learn what is there.


A lot of the time our inspirations are nothing more than reactions and do not even come close to representing who we really are.


Showing up.


The mad kitten shows up every second for her life. She would like me to show up every second for her life too and takes….umbrage (she is a cat of large and meaningful words) when I am there but not present. It is one of the lessons I am struggling to learn now. How to be wholly present in suh a way that does not exclude more pieces than it includes. This is harder than it sounds. Doable, but it will take much work.


Not only do I have to practice showing up but I have to practice knowing what I am feeling and then turning outward and finding it in what is around me so I can do what needs to be  done to make that kind of connection real – whether it be adjusting my actions because I recognize my own loneliness in someone else’s behavior or, seeing my own need for love and affection in the insistent tap-tap-tapping of the mad kitten on my leg. Or, seeing my own fear within and connecting to the fear in others. Not to fix it, not to share, but to be in common presence.


To be in common presence.


That is the action. It must begin within and then become focused on another in order to allow it to be extended to the universe.  For before we can love what can never be known or experienced fully in this mortal coil, we must have discovered what it means to bear the responsibility of unconditionally loving ourselves and become able to accept and love another even though the repercussions may affect our lives – we must learn to live within the lack of security that comes with loving someone. Many people try to skip that middle stage…well….the first one too, because they are deeply painful. To touch our love, we must discover our sorrow. And that sorrow is the root of all joy, for like the poetry form of the Ghazal, it is about a decision to remain with love even though the love may never be realized or safe or secure .


To be in common presence.

To show up.

To see the promise in sorrow.

To stop living in ignorance  of the self.

To bear the responsibility of your choices.

To accept what is and let go of what you want to be.

To always know that what is –  changes, and can become anything.

To be free of the past.

To be free of the future.

To be free to be fully present.

To do without boundary.

To do.

To be.

To live.

To breathe.

To love.




c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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Writing Your Self Into Life

In the beginning…there is a room and in the room there is one chair. This chair faces the door. Every object in the room tells a story about the person who owns the room – what they find important, what they have loved, what they have lost and what they long for. It also reveals the nature of how they receive the world and the people within it.


There is a hero and villain (or maybe a demon and an angel) and they are debating who will sit in that chair. Only one will win. Only one will sit in the chair facing the door and wait for it to open.


This room is the “waiting room” for your soul.  When that door opens whoever is sitting there will be able to speak to your soul – and they have something to say.


Writing is a powerful tool for creating change in your life. Whether your change manifests from your writing a memoir about the past, developing a style of effective journaling, or from creating fictional presentations that help define who you want to be–the act of writing is a means to provide yourself with a record of who you have been and a written commitment to who you want to be.


In this workshop we concentrate on the hardest skills for a writer to learn – how to see, how to create authentic characters and how to write believable dialogue. You will use your life as the background for the development of each of these skills within the context of ‘The Room.’ Each week, you will work on a different aspect of the story through the use of in class exercises, homework assignments and discussions on the nature of the experience of living, until you reach the end – where you will discover not only how to tell an authentic story (real or not) in an engaging way, but you will also discover your own language for creating change in your life.


Prose, journal, memoir, or poetry–all styles of writing can benefit from the structure of this course. All you need to bring is a desire to create the life you want and a willingness to listen to the story within.


Take Writing Your Self into Life at Learning Connection in Providence, RI on Monday April 16th from 7:00 – 9:00.  This is a 5 week course.  Click on the course name for more information and to register.  Click the link below to recive a $5 off Promo Code!



Cassandra TribeCassandra Tribe is considered one of the top 100 performance poets of the century. She is a professional freelance writer and her work has been featured in Senior Living Magazine, Living Well with Montel, The Journal of Modern Living, Epicurious and New World Hope among others. She is a long time vigil and Reiki volunteer with Hospice and is certified in Alzheimer’s care, sociology, social work, aging, thanatology, philosophy, divinity, economics, fine arts and pastoral care. Cassandra also teaches GO (Baduk/Weiqi) as a means of self-discovery and contemplation.

click here to sign up

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the pride of humiliation

I hit my wall of tired a few hours ago and have struggled with basic spelling to complete my deadlines today. I have one lingering overdue job but managed to catch up with the bigger one and stay more current with others. Part of the reason I am just so tired is how bad this allergy season is, I normally don’t have any but this is getting even to me. I cannot even imagine how people with constant seasonal allergies survive. The second issue is I have just been pushing myself through several barriers and not accepting the “usual excuses” I allow myself to get out of doing things. Some of the things are simple, some are more complex. But it has become exceedingly important to me to raise my self-discipline above the level it has been at for years.

I am very self-disciplined. I am highly self-motivated. I am a doer. I tend to be all three of those things but mostly when there is something I want to do


But it is easy for me to lose all of that if there is something about what is to be done that either does not captivate me, I have moved past or in some way touches on something that makes me uncomfortable. I am working my way through Pema Chodron’s book, “The Places that Scare You,” and it is downright illuminating. The thing is, if you just read the book and come to realizations it will not make one whit of difference in your life except to create a more complicated delusion about who you really are. You have to actively practice it. And I don’t mean (and neither does Pema) actively practice what she is talking about by deciding how you are comfortable doing it (a common failing when trying to use any kind of self-growth text – we decide what is the action) but by practicing sitting meditation. The kind without chants or music or anything else. Just to sit and learn to be compassionate towards yourself and to accept all the aspects of yourself without judgment and without designating them as “things I am working on.” And you have to be able to sit for longer than you would like to. I use a timer with two gongs, one at the beginning and one at the end. It is an mp3. Therefore I have no clock to look at, no deciding that “I am done,” the length of time I am sitting is what someone else told me to do. And it has been hard. And now it is getting easier.


But there is hard sense of humiliation and shame when we set out to do something and either fail to succeed or relapse in our efforts. The first few weeks I tried to sit for at least a half an hour I eventually wound up with a million excuses as to why I wouldn’t sit at all, then suffered all the next day from humiliation and shame.


And then, when I finally just sat and did it – I did it. Suddenly…the next day, whenever one of my small excuses would pop into my head I was like – “dude, I can sit for half an hour with my entire body screaming in pain and not blink an eye – I can write for ten more minutes no problem.”


My humiliation turned into a kind of right pride because I have shown myself what I can do if I do not give up or give in to myself.


Like being in Baduk (GO/Weiqi) school. For six weeks now I have been absolutely tortured and humiliated and wiped across the board and lost every game in spectacular ways but I refused to allow myself to give up and give in. Finally, during the last lecture of the beginner’s section, Master Lee said ”Now we go to Inter and for the first time you will begin to learn how to play. All of what you have been doing has not been playing, it has been about basic moves.”

Today, I did the first 5 lectures and then won 3 games in a row. Having won them I realized two things –

  1. I had right pride for not having given up or given in and to have stayed until I knew enough to begin to be taught.
  2. That until today, I have never played a single game of GO before.

Today I played for the first time and it is awe-inspiring to me. It also resulted in my being called a nerd in Italian on Pinterest for a picture of a board I posted but do you know what? That made me happy.


There was a quote I came across the other day but I cannot remember the exact words or who said it but it went something like this –


“If you believe that any part of you is something to be overcome or changed then you will never know love or be able to love or be able to be loved; only those who have learned to balance all the parts of themselves without rejecting any will be capable of that.”  


c.2012 Cassandra Tribe All Rights Reserved

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This is ridiculous. It has been a very busy week and I finally get time to blog and am I writing? No, I am looking through image after image searching for the one white Ralph Rucci dress I saw once that is…sublime…in order to use it as the pin board picture for this post on Pinterest. I did not find it. If you saw it, you would know why it has remained in my memory. The picture I am using is his of his graphite grey Infanta dress. Beautiful, but not an object of divinity like that white dress is.


Pinterest is funny. It is returning to me my joy at just looking at things. Which is also funny when I think that today, in the last of the “Art of Memory” classes, I realized that I don’t really see anymore. No, I am not going blind and have excellent vision but…as one of the final exercises, I had the class write a letter about themselves to be given to their great (or great great) grandchildren so that they would know who they were. They were to use their bodies as the means for telling the future who had they had been. A woman wrote of her hands, that it was with their arthritis that she finally learned that to let go of a tight hold on what you love, let it live and become even more. A man wrote of how the first thing people always noticed about him was his skin, but how he discovered that was the least thing that they eventually remembered.


The last struck me. I had not noticed his skin until the second or third session of the workshop. He had been burned over 70% of his body and was scarred (as well as missing bits and pieces) and yet, somehow I missed this.


This is no statement of how wonderful a person I am, I am not. This is a statement about how I see.


Somehow, over the past six months or so, my vision has changed.


I could tell you everything about the nature of that man after having spent two hours talking at him in the first session and reading his first writing assignment. But I could not have described to you how his fingers are missing and body is covered with very visible scars. I could have told you how his body shifts as he hears something that challenges him or affirms him. How clear his eyes are. How open he is to the world around him and yet cautious. But that the underneath of his face is a patchwork – no.


I have taken to seeing what is beneath. More and more I rely on my hands to see.


It is an indulgence…a hedonistic and decadent luxury for me to reach out and touch something and feel every inch of it. I would not be able to tell you of its shape, but I would be able to tell you if it belongs.


I find that I am talking less. Listening more, not to the words but to the meaning as it is revealed in the tone and how the tone is echoed within the body as the body shifts its shape and changes the air.


I have people near me that I have to behave around with great effort because all I want to do is reach out and see them with the tips of my fingers. I want to lean into them and feel the strain of their breath against the confines of their body as they shape and change the space around them – first becoming larger and then pulling in.


I feel as if my eyes are looking elsewhere.


I notice the sky more. Light. Placement. Pattern. Movement and stillness.


It is interesting. It is…like sweet fruit and cool water. As if after years of traveling with only the barest of sustenance, I have found a banquet.


It is the oddest sensation of being blind and yet, finally beginning to see. And maybe, just maybe, I am beginning to understand that song just a little bit more.


And now I know how the City of Love ends and why there are two characters left that are unresolved. And the future begins to unfold in a blossom I cannot see, but I can feel how it reorders the universe to hold its shape – its temporary and blooming then fading and seeding for growth again shape.


c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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What comes after the end?

Today, I worshipped at the Church of the Silver Cycle in I don’t know how long. It was a short, but intense service and at the end, I napped for two hours (after eating just about everything in the house). The best part is that yesterday, after a year of dropping into one of the most expensive bicycle shops in the city to poke around their odds bin, I found toe clips that would work on my pedals. I have an older cycle and it has just been a chore to find pedals, clips or the time and dollars to change them out. There are places in the city that will do the work for free and provide the pedals etc., but their hours make them unavailable to me – but there, there in the bottom of the bin was a set marked down to $2. My kind of price.


But it was good to be back on the road again, even if it was 48 with a 15-40mph wind. I felt sweaty, cold, hot, hungry and happy. Now I just have to shift my schedule because being back on the bike frees up more time for me – which I am guarding viciously. My schedule is tight and full right now and any open time I am claiming for myself.


Saturday was madness with the kneesnappers. I don’t know if there was something in the air or what but everywhere I went, the under 12 set was acting like they had gotten a different set of rules for the day. Sunday was equally odd but good. It was, however, the throwing out of 6 large trash bags of “stuff” that made it amazing.


My Zen teacher has me going through my things and getting rid of everything that has nothing to do with the life I am living. In my head I thought I knew of the few things that involved. But the reality is that for someone who owns nothing to begin with, I am surrounded by of dead lives. Not even ghosts, but things that have been and are no more. Yet I have carried them, cared for them, made choices based upon their presence in my life, worried about their well-being and felt the weight of their demands in the resentments I have carried around deep in my soul.


The simple act of just throwing them out has proven to be uniquely freeing. I have far to go because you cannot throw out all that is no more as simply as you can a few material items that no longer have a place in your life. You have to learn how to live without them.


And that is a new place. A place without the familiarity and comfort of the past. And frankly, it is a place I am finding that I would rather be. The past was a wondrous mixture of things that I have learned from, but the past has no bearing on the present and future. It is like GO, the day after you play a game it no longer matters whether you won or lost the game yesterday – of what importance is that? All that matters is how you play today and today’s game will always be different from the one played before and the one played after. Even the things you learn while you play may not apply.


After all, just because you have learned something doesn’t mean it will ever be of any use to you. So why do we teach that we must always cling to what we have learned?




We are locked into thinking that all of our experiences are guiding influences. They are not. They are just a bunch of tools we have. Sometimes, our lives grow in ways in which we need a different set of tools then what we have used for years. Like changing from working on American cars to Foreign Cars, the measurements are different – the principles are similar, but how you use a tool and which tool can be used has to change or you will cause nothing but suffering in your life.


Now…I go on. It was an odd thing to have someone say to me that what I have been searching for these past 20 or so years has come to pass and to ask what it is that comes next. That is all. No fanfare. No “YAY! You Did It! You Should Be Proud Of Yourself!” Just a quiet – obviously you have found what you were looking for and what you were looking for has been a huge part of your identity. So what comes after the end?


What comes after the end?


Do you want to know something funny?


I didn’t even have to think to give her the answer.



c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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the mad kitten rises

Today I woke up and looked out into the cave and thought, “What a mess.” I briefly flirted with the idea of getting up and cleaning but then (shiny) got distracted by the next thought. The Mad Kitten was trying to balance on the clothes piled up on the (broken) ergonomic chair so she could get up on the (folding) strange table I have that was slightly (completely) covered with crap. Instead, she took out the whole shebang and fell on top of her food dish.


Which she then had a snack from, as if that was her true intent all along. Then she came over and bit me.


And I thought, “If I cut the legs down on that table it would be the perfect height to play GO on.” So I did. With the Mad Kitten racing in and out and in and out of the house so happy that there was busyness going on and me madly cutting away (not noticing it was) over my bike helmet (which is now coated on the inside with fine sawdust). I will have fun when I ride and sweat.


When I was done, the table was indeed the perfect height and I dug through all the piles and gathered all of my bowls and boards and books and tucked them away neatly. A small island of a new beginning in the cave. Then I contacted a friend to find out if she knew of anyone interested in some things I plan on getting rid of.


Material objects are funny things. They are both necessary and unnecessary. In a perfect world, we would need none. But few of us live a monk’s life in which we are supported and cared for by others. Most of us have to contribute in at least some way to our living. The trick is to learn when the material things we need shift. I have things I have held onto as needful and devote time and worry to whether or not they are safe and cared for – when in reality, they stopped being necessary in my life several years ago. The new objects that are now necessary, have suffered because they have not had room to be in my small cave.


And the Mad Kitten, the original monk, who needs do nothing but live and sleep and snack and love and explore – shows me through her excitement that yes, more space is good. Because space itself is a needful thing. Not grand amounts, but enough to stand and stretch your arms or toss a meese to be chased. Enough to stretch out and lie down and listen for the Earth below.


Tonight, I buy more garbage bags and go through more things. Some I save because they will become new things. Some I will give away because they are necessary in someone else’s life, and some…some are just shiny things that once were bright and are no longer of use to anyone except those who cannot see.


c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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