Hunger is the worst of diseases ~ the Buddha

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Skillful Means: Snackshots..."Yet there is time"

Yes, this is a Buddha fountain from Target, which I imagined would support my morning meditations and writing. Unfortunately, the ebbing glow of the Clearance sticker and actual assembly has revealed a much louder electric pump than cascade of water.
And I thought NOTHING was louder than the cascade of thoughts!
Non-uniform rocks and mussel shell not included. 
I don't care what Tagore says about Endless Time----
Okay, that's not really true, I actually do care what Tagore says, about a lot of things.
A line that always sticks in my craw, usually when I'm drowning in Evernotes and open books and my children's drawings and VIP(rojects which must not be disturbed, even in anyone's absence, not even for a week), tomatoes up the yin-yang, and zucchinis to cleverly use up, is:

But I find that yet there is time.

Well, it doesn't feel that way. If feelings always pass (90 seconds is the physiological extent of it), then it stands to reason that in 90 seconds I will be afforded a brand new opportunity to construct my relationship to time.

The only tweets I can come up with recently, perhaps a cross-section of my prefrontal cortex, where it sounds a lot like the buzzing overdrive of this pump, have been: "Not enough time, not enough time, not enough time!"

This semester I am teaching 3 college courses which I have never done before, and lovingly flinging out the door a first grader and a third. I am also trying to write a book, nurture my contemplative life, figure out what I'm cooking, prepare myself to stack endless cords of wood I know are coming...

ME (shuddering, tucking shawl over toes): It's winter. I can't take it.
HUSBAND: It's August.

...and oh, yes, there is that dreamy still-new husband of mine I left somewhere around the house in meditation.
I really like the ambiguity about the nature of reality and emptiness of that sentence, I do.
If I am truly the doer. HA!

I think the diagram might be quite useful with my Reading and English classes this semester.
Meditation (levitation even!) in a handy snackshot! We can find ourselves assembling available parts & expectations into something that doesn't resemble the imagined whole; and isn't going to useful in that particular incarnation. If we are to be skillful (and fluid) we have to let go of the outcome.
It doesn't matter much, except it does. We have expectations for ourselves that we build around the things we build: like blogs four people are reading, and new marriages, and children, genetically speaking, and fledgling meditation routines. And then, when those things--which are impermanent (changing on a daily basis), need tinkering with, we feel like we're failing because we can't keep up with them as we originally established them.
Things outlive their usefulness. The key is to surf the usefulness. The manifestation of the ocean underneath is always changing. I have old grievances about Southern California--and even these are changing to the point where I can accomodate Jon Kabat-Zinn in one hand, and a surfing metaphor in the other. 

Everything in my mind right now comes down to: "Is it useful?"

You don't have to be a Buddhist to consider skill and utility in all of your means, but this, "Is it useful?," is a great inquiry to pare away rinds upon rinds of things in our daily lives which we think are protecting us, wheel of dharma cheese-style--but actually may be covering us to new possibilities.
Actually, paring the rind away, we may find we breathe differently, no longer hemmed in by the waxy covering of our expectations.

Even though brevity has always been the soul of quit for me, I'm going to try, where "here" is concerned (though I left that sentence in for a couple of extra minutes, for chewiness).
Because one of the things that's really coming up for me is that I need to make space on my plate for new things to come in. And also, I might add, space in my photo stream--which is constantly collecting (well, up to 1,000 pictures) shots & thoughts of things to share here. Most of these never make it past Instagram, and a quick tweet or some squirrel piles of ideas for posts. 
Mostly, I never share it (violating the cardinal rule of my own Kindergarten classroom), and so, I never let it go to make room for more to come in.
It's okay for some things to simply be ideas.
And it's okay just to sit there and not even take the picture (I'm about 50/50 on this idea).

It occurs to me I could just post these pictures, now and again, stop saving them for some other time (...time when I could express them perfectly, right?). Similar to the Mantra Morsel, think of these as Snackshots.
There will be some discursive thought with the cursor...but in the spirit of what I am up for now: 
Less Talk, More Letting Go.

By The Way (I slay myself), I was curious: there are currently 2,603 photos on my camera roll.
Which reminds me, fall is coming. Time to haul out the jelly roll pans and make pumpkin rolls--spirals of tender spiced cake and lush internal cream cheese frosting, anyone? 

Endless Time

Time is endless in thy hands, my lord. 
There is none to count thy minutes. 

Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers. 
Thou knowest how to wait. 

Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower. 

We have no time to lose, 
and having no time we must scramble for a chance. 
We are too poor to be late. 

And thus it is that time goes by 
while I give it to every querulous man who claims it, 
and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last. 

At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut; 
but I find that yet there is time. 



  1. Free (the verb) time- this is what i have been thinking about lately, along with functional obsolescence (a less positive approach to the question of usefulness, i reckon). I'm trying to get used to the idea that all time is free. Very useful post :-)

  2. I have long-admired your theory of functional obsolescence, and have found it useful with many aspects of life--especially self-harming habituations. That being said, I think about where I am in life, and it's at the center of this wheel--much like that of a ship...or a clock's arms.
    Two things:
    1. When I wrote "arms" just know, I had a much more compassionate view of time--thank you for bringing me there.
    2. Have you ever noticed that the spelling/retrieval mechanism you have to use to remember "obsolescence" and "adolescence" is...the same?

    1. WOW. "arms 'just know'"'--good thing there's no Unfolding Check on this computer.