not always so

Well, now I can actually say it. I am caught up. Since I caught up, I have been absolutely exhausted and while the temptation is to take a few days to rest and eat and recover, that is a sure fire way to fall behind again. One simply has to keep on going and the recovery part comes as life remains calmer. I did take Tuesday to myself to nap and eat and enjoy just having no deadlines to meet. Now it is Wednesday and I am getting back into the loop.

 

It’s funny, as I keep moving forward (after several years of standing still) how smoothly things are joining together and how easy it is now to see what needs to be let go and what I should gather. The endless obsession with GO is now blending with the Zen. My zen teacher finally found what it is about the two that makes them a unique and powerful tool of change – they embody the philosophy of “not always so.” This, she says, is the core philosophy of life and the key to living.

 

I explain this to my kneesnappers using the GO board, only instead of the black and white stones (yin and yang), I use red and clear stones – I tell them that, “Today, we will play with fire and ice.”

Then I ask them a few questions, illustrating the questions with the stones on the board. First, I put down one red stone and begin to surround it with clear ones while I ask, “If you through ice onto a fire, what will it do?”

And the kneesnappers answer, “Melt and put out the fire.”

“So, ice is stronger than fire?”

“Yes.”

And I change the board and put one clear stone down, then begin to surround it with red ones. “If the ice is set on fire, what will happen?”

“The ice will melt and the heat from the fire will make it evaporate.”

“So, fire is stronger than ice?”

And they pause…

 

I have said it before and I will say it again. The only constant in life, the only truth – is change. What is the only way of doing things – is not always so. What never works – is not always so. What will cause a specific effect – is not always so. That an effect does not always have the same cause  – is not always so. That life is difficult – is not always so. That life is wonderful – is not always so. That we are deeply in love with someone – is not always so. That we sometimes feel less love for someone – is not always so. That something threatens or frightens us – is not always so. That something gives us comfort – is not always so.

 

If nothing is always so, then what is? Simply, your ability to change and respond. But that is not always so.

 

We become open hearted, we lose our need for judgment, our expectations that lead to disappointment and pain, we lose our bias when we realize – we are not always so.

 

The kneesnappers get this easily. That what is one moment, is not the next and can be again soon but not necessarily so. Adults have a harder time with it. They can conceptualize it but have a hard time internalizing it – living the principle. Go (baduk, weiqi) allows us to explore how what we know – is not always so.

 

My charge from my teacher is to rid my life of the things I have kept out of belief that they are always so.

 

c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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La Kundalini Aria

 

La Kundalini Aria (para Lady S)

El Mar puede ser implacable.

Da y quita,

ignora lo que creemos

y nunca se preocupa por dar explicaciones.

Solo nos queda crear historias,

para convencernos

que influenciamos corrientes y mareas,

sin notar como el agua dentro de ellas,

se inclina al gobierno de las olas.

Cada ley que determinamos para contener el mar,

se desvanece, borrada de la memoria.

Cuán tenues nuestros medios para flotar.

Cuán primitivo el timón.

Rozamos remos sobre llanas superficies de lo profundo

Nos deslizamos sobre lo que no podemos ver.

Nuestros pies firmemente plantados,

como si estuvieran sobre la tierra,

ignorando el frío lamido en nuestros pies.

Los mapas que trazamos, creados de la nada,

mantenemos con toda nuestra fe despierta,

y planeamos nuestro rumbo como si el Mar

obedecería nuestro sueño.

Puedo verte justo adelante mío,

¿O estás detrás? Es difícil decir

donde las estelas se entrelazan o se rompen.

Empujamos nuestras barcas contra corrientes

que viran y se bifurcan.

Mientras uno mantiene el balance en rocas atravesadas por la marea,

el otro oscila a un lado.

Tocamos remos y reteniéndolos –

encontramos un momento de alivio,

hasta que con brazos cansados, soltamos

para ir a la deriva, cerca pero separados.

Mi barca está creada para mi,

y la tuya está hecha para ti.

La madera inclinada con recuerdos.

Si nos estabilizáramos y diéramos paso para unirnos

uno entonces se perdería y el otro se hundiría debajo.

De este rompecabezas, no encontramos solución.

Pero aún determinados, marcamos rumbo juntos,

cercanos pero separados en el Mar.

El sol se eleva y luego se pone.

Aún giramos uno en torno al otro.

Tocando remos de vez en cuando.

Llamando y escuchando

cuando la visión falla.

Lluvia cesa. Niebla se disuelve. Noche se eleva

y el sol se derrama para espejar la ola.

Tu estudias detenidamente cartas de navegación, con certeza de que hay tierra.

Escucho el viento y trato de revelar

cual es el curso que deberíamos navegar,

ambos buscando un camino

para dejar esta distancia que se interpone.

Tocamos remos de vez en cuando,

deteniendo la deriva,

y desesperantes nuestras historias de que todo amor necesita tierra.

En tierra firme nos encontramos.

Suaves labios apretados contra el cuello,

en un sendero gastado que lleva al mar,

la oscuridad se convirtió en luz

y la luz se hace profundidad.

Partiendo pensábamos con cuentos de esperanza,

de vientos perdidos y corrientes navegadas,

amarrar nuevamente y dejar que comience la cosecha del amor.

Antes que tu barca encuentre el horizonte

encontré el mío y al mar lo di,

Siguiendo tu estela, llamándote para que solo –

te quedes.

Pero aún no te atrapo, ni tu a mi

Sin importar de cuántas maneras

marcamos rumbo para recobrar.

El Mar, dicen, es una mujer.

Llena de sabiduría y astucia y pasión desenfrenada.

Quizás por eso nuestras historias terrestres

Siempre hablan de lo inexplicado.

De un Mar que debería ser temido.

De un Mar que debería ser conquistado.

De un Mar que debería ser tratado

Como si fuera el terreno del Diablo.

Tocamos remos de vez en cuando,

Para evitar que la distancia crezca demasiado,

desesperantes nuestras historias

y sacrificios al destino.

Tocamos remos de vez en cuando,

y resistimos hasta que nuestros brazos se rinden.

Es el sol.

Es el Mar.

Es esta cercanía a ti

Y este vacío a mi lado.

Es la tormenta que se está formando y el viento aumentando,

que me hace atrever a pensar, no de planes hechos de sueños,

sino de lo que puede ser otro camino para trazar.

Tocamos remos y nos sostenemos firmes,

mientras olas sacuden nuestras barcas con toda su fuerza.

Te estoy llamando a ti.

Estoy cantando.

El Mar, es una mujer llena de sabiduría, astucia y gracia.

Todo para nutrir al niño errante.

El que no escucha.

El que no cree.

El que demanda una explicación.

El que quiere saber todo.

Ella debe esconderse dentro del lenguaje de las olas,

la verdad de que lo que era, no es todo lo que hay para ver.

Por toda nuestra búsqueda, nuestras cartas y planos,

no hemos logrado ver,

que no tenemos adonde ir, porque ya estamos donde debemos estar.

Entrelazados en corrientes que serpentean.

El agua alrededor es de lo que contenemos.

Nuestros huesos no son de tierra,

sino hechos de coral.

Tocamos remos,

Uno sobre el otro y con ambas manos,

Sostenemos nuestra viga de unidad.

avanzamos juntos,

escogimos el Mar.

No hay mas distancia.

Nuestras barcas se alejan flotando.

El mundo arriba retrocede,

pero tu

estás junto a mi.

Sumergiéndonos bajo la tormenta no encontramos fin,

sino el secreto que Ella conoce de cómo comenzar.

El mundo en el que flotamos no es mas

que un reflejo del real, de lo que yace debajo.

Las barcas que no podíamos compartir estaban hechas de temor.

Todo el tiempo teníamos miedo de ahogarnos,

no notamos que nos faltaba aire.

Aquí, debajo de las corrientes,

El sol es fuerte, el aire es dulce

y el amor, se regocija en nuestro abrazo.

¿Cómo podríamos haber sabido?

¿Que nuestras barcas nos alejaban del Mar?

¿Cómo podríamos haber sabido que la vida está dentro de las profundidades,

no en la superficie, flotando en las olas ?

¿Cómo podríamos haber sabido?

Excepto por haber amado lo suficiente,

nos atrevimos a escoger el Mar.

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved

(translated by Clarissa Gentinetta)

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fairytale

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

I am going to repeat that throughout this post until the end, when I will say the other half of that thought.

I know I keep saying this, but I am almost caught up. Now, I am just behind in this week’s deadlines (except for one honking project that just keeps growing). Part of the problem is I have overlapping workshops and a mid week (today) collision of work, teaching, volunteering and attempting to have a life. So, I made up my mind to try and shift the volunteering to a different day.  But I still have to go today.

I don’t know if you have been paying attention to all the news surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin down in Florida, but it is an intensely sad, difficult and complex situation. Unfortunately, the media has made a (what else?) circus of it by playing into our fears across the board of home invasion, crime, racial profiling, racial stereotypes and so on. Now, there is a push on for a 1,000,000 “Hoodie March” in NYC to highlight what happened.

First off, New York City? How does this make sense? On a root level, Trayvon was killed because Florida is the only state with a law that declares that if you feel (believe) you are under threat (you don’t have to actually be, just feel it in the air) you have the right to use deadly force as a means of pre-emptive self-defense. Then, the law goes on to stipulate that the powers that be cannot investigate the person claiming the self-defense, they have to prove that the “attacker” was attacking. It is a subtle wording that means that it is illegal for investigators to question someone’s claim of self-defense. The only thing they can do is try to work it from the end of proving whether or not the attacker, attacked. That means there can be no arrest of Zimmerman, no interrogation, no real investigation of him – people claiming self-defense under this law are granted immunity.

All of this does nothing to comfort Trayvon’s family.

All of this does nothing to undo the fact that he is dead.

But why is he dead? Why did George Zimmerman feel justified in taking his life?

And why…have the rest of us run away with our assumptions rather than make an effort to be present in the reality of this horror. People are running around spouting unfounded interpretations and beliefs about how and why all this happened under the delusion, the DELUSION, that this will somehow be supportive and comforting to Trayvon’s family.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

I have read anti-Semitic remarks about Zimmerman. I have read the “racial profiling” remarks. I have read a bit of everything, but few people are talking in the context of facts.

The hardest thing about all this is all we have are facts and there are few of those.

People are talking about how what is going on with the call for the marches etc is starting a conversation, but it isn’t. Everyone has retreated behind the fairytales they believe in to make their life bearable. People get just as much out of expecting to be oppressed as do people who expect to do the pre-emptive oppressing.

Racism is institutionalized in the country in every aspect of society. It is ok, in this country, to believe that someone is more prone to be less than because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or physical state. When something as horrific happens as it did with Trayvon, we don’t face facts and start the difficult dialogue of change – we form a fairytale family with the victim (and who that is depends on who you identify with) and say, “this happens more to us than anyone else, fix us first and then, maybe we can deal with what happens to you.”

That is a Band-Aid approach that will never let a wound heal.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

One comment that really summed up it said, “Why should I care about what happened to four French Jewish girls when what happened to Trayvon is more important.”

Because as long as it is okay for anyone to single anyone out because of who they are and hurt them it will never stop anywhere. Trayvon’s family and friends, they are the ones who have the right to say that what happened to their son is more important than what happens to anyone else. We, as strangers, can feel their pain with them, but we have a responsibility not to pretend to their grief and to look outward to all the others who suffer from this inhumanity and share with them their burden as well.

The dialogue should not be why this happens to one more than the other because the fact is, that is only true in the moment. In a way, everyone gets their day in the sun as being the one everyone goes after. What needs to stop is this kind of self-centered focus of “only what happens to people who are like me is important and gets my interest and my energy.”

If we do not work for a global morality that rejects this mindset, nothing will ever change. It will just become hidden in one instance to pop up somewhere else.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels. We do have the right to say, “I cannot imagine what you are going through and I promise you, I will do everything I can to make sure that no other family ever suffers this. I will do this in Trayvon’s name and to honor his life.”

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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the art of patience

If you have been reading my blog for a few years then you know that I am really big on patience as one of the virtues. You also know that I view it as the one virtue that requires the most active practice and devotion of them all. Patience is all too often confused with passivity. When you are “in patience” you will be busier than ever and strained for time and sleep. Because patience is one of the cornerstones on which faith is built, it is the choice to become prepared without the promise of opportunity. To pursue learning and skill without knowledge of reward or an end point. It is the only thing that will allow us to take meaningless coincidence and turn it into a window of opportunity.

 

Things don’t happen for a reason. Things just happen. We are the one who give what happens meaning and reason. It is why two people could be in the same car and get into an accident and for one, it becomes a life changing event and for the other – just something else to get through. It is not because the first person was singled out by fate, destiny or kismet and given the accident to cause change but rather that the person has chosen to be in patience so that when something happened that presented the opportunity to be able to act on a path of destiny – they recognized it and could do something about it.

 

It has been an odd morning of meaningless coincidences that became opportunities for me to move in the direction of a destiny because I recognized (from what I have learned while practicing patience) what they could become. The first was simple. I have been so stretched thin by deadlines that I have barely been active for the past three weeks and physically just feel yucko. I keep thinking, “as soon as I am caught up I can get back to being physically active, “ and it just is not happening.  But this morning, I did make sure I did at least a minimal amount of situps and popups and felt just a tiny bit better. But of course, I had to leave to catch my bus to my Sunday appointment. On the way there I ran into someone I have not seen in months and chatted. Briefly. Now I was going to risk missing my bus. If I miss the bus, the next one will put me where I need to be yes, but will mess with the way I can use my time to keep moving on the deadlines. I started walking fast thinking I wish I could just run when it ocurred me I could. Backpack and all. I knew how to do what is called a double time march, which is a military thing that allows you to almost jog with full gear. It is a very economical form of movement and so that is what I did. As I was double timing through the city I realized that although my time is so tight right now that I can’t go for my morning jog, I do walk everywhere and I can double time it until things calm down and I can jog again. Suddenly, I have found a way not to lose out on being physically active, get all the benefits from it and now make  myself feel guilty or under pressure to make time for it.

 

On the bus I sat with a man and we began to talk. As we talked we discovered that we have several things in common, namely our interest and commitment to the issue of homelessness and the working poor. As the conversation began to unveil, it turns out I was sitting next to the director of an extremely innovative soup kitchen and pantry and that they were putting together a special program that everything I do with GO would fit into so well. I just got a matching fund grant for the GO academy and have been thinking/dreaming for weeks about how to bring this to kids who are homeless (and adults to) and designing a portable program. Most people around me have thought I was nuts. But….Voila!

Now we begin to make it real.

What you do or do not do when you are in a position of not being able to move forward defines whether or not your expression of patience is a virtue. The virtue of patience is demanding because you must be willing to work hard and work fast and do so without promise of reward or even the suggestion of an idea that you are learning/doing something that will be helpful.

Patience is the choice to continue to live and be when everything else around you is too confused to let you define your path.

Opportunity is when something random happens that you are prepared to act on to choose a movement down a path. You are prepared because you have practiced the art of patience.

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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the animals were wild

I left so early this morning to get to the café and get even more caught up with my overdue work that it was still dark out. And cold. It has been beautiful and 60 for the past few days so the one morning it is actually the appropriate temperature for March it just felt brutally cold. But, I was driven on by the knowledge that what has to get done has to get done. So here I have been since 6. I left last night at 9.

On the walk down, in the cold and fog, I saw all these animals about. Two birds were fighting. At first I thought maybe it was a spring mating dance but no, they were fighting. Two male robins. Then I saw several cats crossing the street, on their way home to warm houses, bearing gifts in their mouths of other small animals. It made me think of Sunday. Every Sunday I go do something somewhere else in the state and as I walk the 2 miles into the place, there is a Peregrine that haunts the trees.

I had a hot date the other night.

Shall I tell you about it?

It came after I did what is my newest habit, being part of a zen sitting meditation group. I am the backup leader and I also provide the breathing lesson before and the zen teaching after. The joke is that I am not a zen master but I have one I see each week. She is wonderful and is training me as to what to bring to the group each week. We have talked about all the different styles of zen and of the need to be cautious with zen teachers. Zen, in the wrong minds, can be very hurtful. I am fortunate that I am listening to my intuition more and more and choosing to avoid certain groups and teachers – just because.

Anyway…after all of that, I stayed behind in the dojo to meet my date while the rest of the group went out for drinks, appetizers and bonding. I was nervous. I didn’t think they would show. We had made the date the previous Saturday and here it was Wednesday and they were not there.

And then the door opened.

And there she was.

Sensei’s mother. All 67 years of her, smiling, taking off her shoes and apologizing for being late but you see, today was the one year anniversary of her mother’s death and she had wanted to wander. She wandered all day and then looked at her watch and realized that she didn’t have her sword with her so she had to go home and  get it.

She is a swordsmen. And the sword…unbelievably beautiful.

We had made a date to practice our disciplines together.

We turned out all the lights. Lit some incense and divided up the dojo. I took the upper ¼, by the plate glass windows looking out over the street where the heavy bag was. She took the rest, all 40 x100 feet of the white padded room. And we started.

I used to box. I used to have my pro license. But boxing is a sport of youth and I have lost my anger which is what made me so formidable way back when. But I love the absolute harmony of body, mind and rhythm. I work the bag in 10 and twenty minute rounds. It is silent except for the steady punching of the bag.

She is behind me doing kata. The sword is sheathed and at her side. She is quiet. Moving so slowly sometimes it is hard to tell she moves at all.

Then suddenly…

The whistle of the sword through the air, so suddenly unsheathed and loosed.

I turn, but she is in seiza again, quiet, still and the sword is sheathed and by her side.

So the night continues, we supported each other in our practices just by being present in silence, in darkness. After, we sat seiza in the center and talked for an hour about all the minute details of our disciplines and told stories about how we learned.

We are going to continue dating.

Maybe two or three times a week.

It is that serious.

 

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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like butterflies beneath the noonday sun

I have started to notice more how the music in my head changes throughout the day. Which songs or snippets play in response to my moods and else. I sing, I whistle, I hum, I make nonsense sounds to a beat and it just fills a need in the moment. I can tell my moods so much better by paying attention to how the soundtrack shifts. Like in a movie, how it gets faster as something is about to happen, or gently sweet as something beautiful is about to occur.

 

I find myself noticing these things more and I think it is because of the zazen. It helps raise one’s awareness of just what noise is floating through your head. You watch it rise up and float away and go, “Oh…” Funny the distractions that fill us.

 

And I have been doing a lot with my hands these past few weeks. Not as in making things, but in learning how to use them. It seems like everything that I am getting more and more involved in requires specific hand motions, almost dance like, in the air to mark the passage of the action. There is of course, the very specific hand motions of Reiki. But there is also a very specific form to the hand when playing GO (Weiqi, Baduk). Now, as I am becoming more connected to the zen group and teaching the breathing and doing the zen lesson after – I find out there are specific hand forms to that as well.

 

In my head there is music and dancing through the air are my hands. Speaking in tongues, using words that are not there. Now, I listen for my music and I watch my hands. The rest of my body is still as they move, like butterflies flying over the meadow beneath the noonday sun.

–        – – – –

Mokusen’s Hand –

Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.

Mokusen visited the adherent’s wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face.

“What do you mean by that?” asked the surprised woman.

“Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?” he asked.

“Deformed,” replied the woman.

Then he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: “Suppose it were always like that. What then?”

“Another kind of deformity,” said the wife.

“If you understand that much,” finished Mokusen, “you are a good wife.” Then he left.

After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.

 

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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Bao Ronting

In all the madness of my life these past few weeks, I have not failed to notice and pay attention to the continued madness of the world. There has to be a rhythm to how you connect to what is going on or you can risk becoming strident, narrow-minded and ineffectual. I see it a lot with people who dedicate their lives to one specific cause. Their very narrowed focus does allow them to do great things but sometimes, at a great loss as to what could be done.

 

The whole Kony controversy is an example of this. There is a lot of criticism about the campaign because of its narrow and oversimplified focus and its use of the traditional appeal to the idea of the civilized having to rescue the uncivilized. The BBC and many other agencies have published some very in depth reports on the good the campaign is doing, the bad it is creating, and the discrimination it is promoting. You see, nothing in life is one thing or the other – or even one thing over another. In everything there is a bit of the tragic and the joy, the good and the bad, the healthy and unhealthy. It is when you cease to see that because of a narrowed focus that you begin to lose ground in creating change. Especially if your focus has narrowed to the point that only one thing has become important and you cannot see how all things connect and feed off each other.

 

In my current workshop, Writing Your Self into Life, we are working on the development of heroes and villains as characters. It is funny to see all my writers start to “get” that every hero is a villain and vice versa. That heroic deeds can be villainous, and villainy the only saving grace sometimes. It is learning that they co-exist  that allows a character (and person) to become fully alive. The acceptance is about their simultaneous existence, the character comes in in exerting the choice between the two. Some people stop at the acceptance and never exercise choice. Choice can be frightening because it means you are letting something go.

 

In China, there is a ragingly popular new interview show called “Interviews before execution.” The show interviews prisoners before they die, they have limited themselves only to those convicted of violent murders. The most popular episode featured Bao Ronting, who brutally murdered his mother. For many people in China, watching Bao’s interview was their first exposure to an openly gay man. Ding Yu is the reported performing the interviews. She has said that part of the reason they do the show is because these prisoners have something to say and what they say underscores the value of human life. Bao asked her two questions during his interview that deeply affected her. The first was when he asked, “Do you feel awkward speaking to me?” She had never been near an openly gay man before and it floored her that he was so aware of how she must be feeling and was so gentle about it. She did feel awkward.

 

Then Bao asked, “Do you think I will go to Heaven?”

 

And Ding said, “At that moment I realized that I had witnessed the transition between life and death in another human being.”

 

China’s execution policies are changing. There are less capital offensive and more state judges speaking out against it. And this show, as strange and opportunistic as it may seem, is putting a face back on the execution. It is revealing that in execution too, a life is taken violently. A life that still has something to give.

Then you pull back and find something to let yourself escape for a moment the knowledge of the horrors we do – Homs, the Afghan massacre, the building collapses, floods and other tragedies. You have to or your vision will narrow and you will forget the world and all the life within it. No matter how much good you do in one tiny area of life, it is not nearly as effective as it could be if it is done without being able to coexist with everything else in the world.

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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kneesnappers

I am starting to really enjoy my Saturdays with the kneesnappers. It has taken me a few weeks to settle down and relax and for the kids to get used to me. One boy came up and said, “Will you play with me?” And when I said, “Yes.” He hugged me and laid his head against my chest for a moment. And I am coming to appreciate the ones who are hyper and spastic, the ones with no interest but who want to show me tricks and stunts, and the ones who come running in and say “I practiced what you told me all week.”

 

One of my tasks this week was to keep an eye on when I chose to be water. The teaching goes like this, you are like a pile of ice cubes in a round glass jar. The glass jar is your of life. When the ice cubes are piled in there, they can keep their shape because the cold increases, but there are gaps and spaces because the glass jar is round. It is in these gaps and spaces that things that shouldn’t be with water, even when it is ice, can begin to take hold. And these things may be enough to make the ice melt. So the choice, is to melt and become water and to fill all the space in your life. The task – pay attention to my week and spot when I chose to stay ice and when I chose to be water.

 

I have become water with the kneesnappers.

 

c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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Petabago

I know I keep saying this but I am slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and soon! Soon! Soon! I will be back on top of things. But, it has been an amazing revelation of self-discipline to have paced myself the way I have been and keep going to get everything done.

On my in-between of living in the café, writing madly, sporadically having people drop in for conversation, consultations, meetings and chance encounters  – I am also teaching two writing workshops and GO, plus helping run a Zen meditation group. It is the GO, the Zen and the conversations that are making this all possible. And I find that what I am learning from their combined and continued presence in my life is illuminating dark corners like someone lit a string of fire crackers and threw them into an attack.

One friend came to meet me, who I have not had a chance to sit and talk with in almost a year, and she arrived on a beautiful day in the middle of the week with her new dog, Mona. The minute you see Mona, you want to touch her. She exudes sweetness, is a smaller –mid-sized dog with white fur and a darkened circle around one eye. She is some kind of Australian sheep dog, but, as my friend pointed out, those dogs are all mixed breed anywhere so I just introduce her as Australian.

Mona is from Tennessee, from a shelter. She was not abused but had a litter of puppies and abandoned. The shelter placed her with a foster home to get her ready for adoption and put her picture and profile up on what can only be the largest doggie dating service in the US – Pet Finder. My friend and her husband had lost their dog of 20 years 8 months ago and were feeling the need for another living presence in the house. They saw Mona and fell in love. Two months later, much paperwork and several home visits by Pet Finder volunteer – they were approved and they paid Mona’s transportation fee from Tennessee to Rhode Island.

Now…it turns out there is something called the Petabago that leaves about once a month from Arkansas and travels all through the south, collecting dogs from foster homes and shelters who have been adopted by people in the North East. It is a Winnebago type RV that has been gutted and kitted out with pet carriers and someone, someone with a lot of love and patience I imagine, drives this Petabago full of dogs and cats for weeks delivering them to their new homes.

My friends got the call at 10pm one night. “Come meet us in the parking lot of the Cranston Mall.” They went, and there in the empty parking lot was the Petabago under sodium light. They gave the driver the papers and the driver gave them Mona. She is almost 2 years old. Happy, sweet and falls apart still when my friend walks away for even a moment.

Last night, I started teaching the first “Art of Memory” workshop in Providence. As always, there was a reason that all of us came together. And this workshop I know will be life changing for me. When the woman asked, “What was it that was inside us that allowed us to do what we did and to survive what happened?” I thought of GO.

And I told her that the question is not so much what was inside of you, but what happened that opened that door that let that part of you finally come out and live? In GO they say don’t look at what you did to win, look at what your opponent did wrong that allowed you to make that move.

Find out what the opportunity was that arrived that you had never had before, and then go backwards and remember. Remember and see how your life has been affected by such a beautiful part of your self seeking to come out into the world and only finding these closed and locked doors. It will make you start to think of your past differently. It will allow you to look in the present and future for what paths lay with open doors so that all of you may come out and live.

And you will become able to get through anything. You will be able to survive.

 

c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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Fixing Perky

I find it rather amusing that as I begin to go into motion again, the blog is shifting and it is returning to its center, where it was just about 3 years ago. The center is where I do more posting of a shorter variety and less of the long, feature article length posts. It is a reflection of the return of motion to my life. Shorter posts, more often and the longer feature-length pieces are off finding their well-paid homes. It is good to see that shift happening again.

I got an emergency project from a client to fix what another writer had created. 100 articles (it was a content job) that can only be described as …perky. My job is to fix perky and return it to professional. Not that you cannot be cheerful and professional, but I swear, I think this writer is descended from the Care bears.

I also had my first experience with understanding a Zen Koan. I have been asked one before but I already understood it, but this one I have been obsessed with. It’s the one I keep posting about “If there are no words and there is no silence, how do you know what truth is?” And the master’s reply, “I remember sitting in a meadow and two butterflies were flying over the field.”

A – I just love the language of it. But, I knew that I totally was not “getting it.” I had an understanding of it based in memory and presence but had this feeling that totally was not it. So, I did what I was told to do. Meditate on it; contemplate it in all my actions. Meditate and focus on my breathing and forget about it. Then think about it some more while walking.

This morning, I sat down to become the mad kitten’s Ferris wheel (also known as assuming the lotus position) and before I even started, understanding flew into my head and I ‘got it.” It is not at all what I was thinking before and then, I found the discipline to forget it and meditate. To let it go and come back to the understanding when I was done with zazen. Zazen in the morning, Zazen in the night. I am up to 25 minutes. Now, I have been told that I must find where my limit is and choose to go farther.

And here I sit, still racing to catch up with work and looking towards a gloriously busy day of work, GO and 4 meetings with people I have not seen in ages.

 

c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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