Saturday, May 14, 2011

odds and ends

This morning, a smattering of unrelated thoughts patter in the mind the way small hail stones tickle and tap on some tin roof::

-- Every morning the birds set up a real racket of sound as day dawns and the sun asserts its power. Chief among those birds, as it seems to me, is a rooster at a nearby farm operation. Dawn comes and the rooster starts up. What is he doing? Is it territorial? Is he reminding his various wives who's the boss? Is it just unbridled joy that has no meaning? Is it fear that without his call, the sun could not rise? But the thought that crosses my mind ahead of all the others is, why does he stop? At what point is he satisfied, replete and reassured enough to simply quit? Why do any of the birds quit, for that matter? Do they run out of steam or find some level of safety? Are they like people -- building and building and building one thing or another only to find that what they worked so hard, so earnestly, to erect ... well, it's just not that important or compelling any more? If you become cock of the walk, are you any longer cock of the walk?

-- A video sent by a friend helps me to understand how to pick a combination lock using a soft-drink or beer can and a pair of scissors. The simplicity of it and the rousing up of the the bad boy who longs to show he is smarter, kooler, etc. is hard to resist... like hackers on the internet or the old "Annie Get Your Gun" song, "I Can Do Anything Better than You." I guess it's par for the human course, trying to lock up or hold tight to what you want to hold on to. But the evidence seems to suggest that if anyone really wanted to hold onto something, they would have to learn how to let it go.

--  The workmen who are in the process of spiffing up the kitchen and a small hallway have meant that what cluttered the kitchen and the hallway had to be relocated. And in the process of boxing and moving stuff out of the line of fire, I thoughtlessly packed up the incense I like to light each morning. Now I can't find the box I packed it in. Today I will have to go out to the zendo to get some more incense for the house. The morning ritual seems to be branded in my consciousness. I miss it. I miss the smell. I miss placing the incense sticks in bowls in front of Buddhist statuary. I miss what I assumed I didn't care that much about. The habit seems to be locked in. I wonder who will pick this lock.

-- An unsolicited email invited me to buy a book called "Sit Illustrated: The Meditation Cartoon Book." It's not up my alley, but I can sympathize with its efforts. Meditation, for anyone who has tried it for a few years, is such an apparently-confounding thing. Actually, what's confounding is the willingness to be confounded. Meditation touches the wise, witty, sad, happy, clear and confused places in a life. And the desire to wrap it up like a Christmas present -- dig this bow! -- can seem endless. Write a book about it; create fortune cookies about it; pontificate from richly adorned books; run away from it; cling to it ... on and on and on. Taking a break with a little laughter or even just a rueful smile of recognition ... sure, why not? Laughter loosens the bonds. But through it all, there is just meditation -- the actual-factual, sit-down-and-shut-up experience that no one can put in a book or express with the tongue and lips. Infuriatingly simple ... why can't we have a serious or silly conversation that hits the meditation nail on the head??!!! Well, I guess one of the lessons of meditation is the same lesson learned elsewhere in life -- experience can not be snared or shared. Experience is just experience -- get used to it. Think how much energy you will have for worthwhile projects is you just stop trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

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