Do You Feel Your Breathing?

A journey to find my creative self.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Being Mindful and Catching the rest of that 99% of life

I've begun to do volunteer work with a local literary journal that
just published its first edition. I'm taking care of their data entry
for subscribers.

Yesterday, I was so swamped with work issues and problems, and nothing
seemed to go my way. Spent the weekend doing social things and my
hives were flaring up as as result of the crap I ate as well. So, by
the end of the day, I felt stressed out and not really feeling as
though I could honestly do this work with a sense of mindfulness. I
very nearly asked Linda if I could go off and meditate somewhere
before beginning the work; but when I arrived, she was hurrying
through catching me up on things and rushing out to some sort of show.

Before I knew it, I was sitting in front of the Mac, typing away at
the various things I had gone to work on, and the stress had floated
out of my system. After working for a couple of hours, I packed up.
As I walked to my car, I looked beyond the car to where sat a pond,
and I saw a family of geese with lots of goslings waddling about,
enjoying the lawn and the beautiful evening. It made me realize that
of the month or so that I've been going to that place to work, I'd not
really noticed how beautiful the pond was. On the other side of the
driveway was a pen of what looked like fresh vegetables. I remember
reading a story that linda wrote about her first chicks, and how she
lost them to some sort of disease. I'll have to see if she still has

The concept of mindfulness and stopping to smell the roses is a
constant, daily thing that I need to keep paying attention to. I've
had a lifetime of not giving a shit about roses and anything else but
getting from where I am to where I want to be going, and being blind
to all of the stuff in between.

If you take a straight line, and look at the two endpoints, you'll
notice that 99.99% of the line is all of the stuff in between the two
endpoints. How much of life have I missed?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Blogging stories

I've been mulling over the idea on how to blog more honestly about
things happening in my life, and realized that it would make sense for
me to keep a second, concurrent but anonymous blog that is a purely
storytelling blog. Not mentioning anyones name, not even having 100%
correlation to anyone in particular, but it will let me blog about the
peculiarities of life, living, and the colorfulness and uniqueness of
people I meet without having any risk at all with offending anyone.
There have been a lot of real-life stories in this blog, and that
mixed up with the few fictional pieces, makes its focus blurred. It's
time to evolve this setup in a more workable manner, so that I can
have a blog simply for my creations.

I will keep this blog as a story of my journey, which will be more
like a diary, and I'm going to create a totally separate and unrelated
blog for fictional stories, which will really be variants of what I
see in my real life turned to fictional story form. I will not point
the two blogs to each other in any way so that I can use the second
blog to prattle on and explore my creativity without stressing out
about hurting anyones feelings. That's seriously bad, and I simply
don't want to do that. However, I do want to take the caricatures
that people often present and use those caricatures as models for
fictional characters. People are just too interesting for me to just
prattle on about only "safe" things. I want to go beyond safe and get
to "honest". (but in a nonhurtful way, so both anonymously, and also
through the use of creative fiction or nonfiction, but written via
anonymous pen, where there's no way whatsoever to ever map the story
to any person).

I guess I mention this here, because it's my next step in my journey.
I will keep this blog to allow myself a forum for rambling about how
that other process is going, but only in a general way.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Deleted two posts

I need to be careful about what I say about people that is not flattering. I have deleted two posts. From now on I will be kinder about what I say about people. It's a learning experience, learning where my limits are on what I should say about people. I think that when internally I feel loving and admiring towards people, I don't perceive that writing about their external flaws is a big deal. But then I'm not being mindful and compassionate about how it might be to be them reading about themselves in this way. I feel badly that I could have inadvertently hurt someone in this way.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What is the Perfect Way to Spend a Dollar?

On our way to Sunday morning tai chi class, we pass several traffic lights where there are always one or two homeless people hanging out with signs asking for handouts.  I always turn to John and ask hm to give me money to give them.

"They're only going to spend it on booze or drugs.  I never give beggars money.  I grew up in New York, you never do that in New York."  John mumbles as he begrudgingly hands me a dollar bill or points me to the ashtray where we keep our parking meter quarters.  This has become the ritual exchange that we have whenever I want to give money to a homeless person.

I agree with John that there is a high probability that the money we give will be spent on more booze or drugs.  I have given this some thought.  In the Buddhist view of the world, an opportunity to give to someone in need is an opportunity to rack up auspiciousness in our lives.  It's a gift that the homeless person gives us that invites us to be better, more compassionate people.

I don't really buy into beliefs that giving anything to others gets us into Heaven any easier or keeps us from being reincarnated into snakes or worms.  On the other hand, from a philosophical perspective, we are all a part of the same universe.  The idea that "this is my money, I earned it, and you can't have it" somehow implies some sort of greedy attitude that says "I value money tremendously, and as such, I think I'm a better, more valuable person than you are because I have this money and you don't, and neither do you deserve it."  I might be over-exaggerating the fictitious dialog here, but my point is, does it matter exactly how that dollar is used by the person that I give it to?

If I hold a dollar bill in my hand and ask myself "how can I best use this dollar bill?", then how would I want to spend it?  Stick it in my pocket for lunch money?  Invest it in the stock market?  Save it for a rainy day?  Add it to money to buy something cool?  Take a homeless person to the local McDonalds and buy them a hamburger?  Send it to the "Free Tibet" fund to support peace on earth?  What exactly defines the absolutely most perfect way to spend that dollar bill?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seeing Life Outside of the Blankets

Never in my past have I ever thought that if I had to live my life again I would do things differently. But in the past two years, and most especially the past 4 months, my life has changed so dramatically that I now realize that perhaps I never really ever gave the true quality of my life much thought.

I'm not saying that I have any regrets in my life, because I've come to accept that what has been and what will be are unimportant. What I'm saying is that, if you live your life under a blanket you may go an entire lifetime without ever realizing that outside of that blanket an entire universe awaits you. You can die right there -- perhaps blissfully, who knows -- but also perhaps in abject misery, pain, loneliness, and bitterness, without having ever learned that life had to offer an infinite number of possibilities and alternatives, including everything that you had come to understand as things that are fundamentally "you" in your mind's eye.

Throughout my life I've had so many layers of blankets. With each passing decade I've seen blankets added, shuffled around, maybe changing a bit in character, but mostly just sort of shuffling about overhead. I've experiences the briefest moments of life outside, but as whispers of another world that didn't actually really exist.

Now, through a series of circumstances, I've been stripping off those blankets, one by one, and gathering the momentum to actually step out into life and see it as it was, I think, always meant to be seen. The veil that I've always had in my perceptions and thoughts is lifting, and I'm beginning to change my definition of what I always thought was real and what was fiction.

It's been work. And it's been suffering. I did a 72-hour fast this past weekend, and I spent some time thinking about my life and how I really have no idea what true suffering is. Still, I don't deny that we all suffer in some way. If we didn't we wouldn't have murder, destruction, hate, prejudice, and negativity in this world.

It is my hope that I can take this strength that I feel and continue to nurture it in myself and look about at the world and see it through my new vision, and maybe so very gently and mindfully and softly touch people who are also hiding under the blankets of their own lives, blindly trying to make their way in a seeing world.