Today’s randomly-chosen word is be and comes from The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard & Trinh Xuan Thuan. It’s a fascinating exploration of the intersection of Western science and Buddhist philosophy. I cannot more highly recommend this book. Turns out, I’m in good company:
The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Conversations on the nature of life and what it means to be–to exist–are keenly interesting to me. I personally often find that the world around me shifts somewhat dramatically depending on what I’m focusing on which enhances studies of this type. The Bricolage Project, with its ephemeral nature, has led me to a greater awareness of my state of being on any given day. Not surprisingly, when I was out with my friend the other night, he began telling me about his meditation practice, Vipassana. The word means to “see things as they really are” and the practice is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. My friend recounted his time of going on a ten-day silent meditation retreat at a local meditation center and told me I would “rock Vipassana” because I have a way of seeing and experiencing things as they are that seems to align with the practice. As he described spending several days focusing on his nose and upper lip, I found myself thinking of my upper lip and how I love it kissed or sucked on. Then I looked at my friend’s lip and noticed that he has a kind of beard/soul patch thing but not a mustache. Then I would switch back to just being aware of the surface area of the lip and noticing my awareness there rather than a vision of it in mind.
Then I took a sip of my Manhattan.
Here’s the thing: I am a very embodied creature. I like sex. I am lusty. I love the smell of dirt. I’ve had two babies. I am a creature of the earth. Yes, I am certainly the awareness that is poured into this form but they are one, not separate. I find many spiritual traditions problematic in their rejection of the immanent aspect of life in favor of the transcendent. To be is to live the embodied life, to feel, to play, to express, not just to notice. I learned that as a new mother trying to learn how to meditate and walk a spiritual path as a householder. I was a nursing mother who had to tend to my baby’s needs. Such is the way of living the embodied life. Even now, taking ten days off to go on a retreat is not something I can do as a single mother. My child needs me to be here caring for her. Motherhood taught me a lot about surrender. To be is to surrender to the flow of the river of life. It’s uncontainable and will pull you under and have its way with you. As Laozi says:
Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.
I once took a Jungian class called The Divine Feminine. One of the readings, The Unknown She: Eight Faces of the Emerging Consciousness, penned by our professor, Hilary Hart, is a book of interviews with various modern-day mystics including a woman named Jackie who she quotes as saying:
Listening is an essential aspect of the feminine. It refers to a dynamic receptivity to the life going on around us, an awareness of our own interconnectedness, and our responsibility to be open to what comes to us.
Feeling into, being with, listening in to the whispers of the world and not trying to make sense of it as much as just allowing it to unfold and flow–that’s what that kind of listening means to me. Ms. Hart bluntly told me, “It isn’t your job to save the world. It’s your job to be the power you are in the world.”
I think I’m finally getting a sense of what that means, of what it means to be. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.
breaking with tradition. breaking up. breaking hearts. breaking old habits. break dancing. breakfast. breaking a pattern. give me a break. breaking.
Breaking is a delightful word for the creative process and for life in general. Whether it’s a relationship, a day, an outworn routine or something else, it’s good to impose a break from time to time and rethink what we’re doing. Giving space can make a huge difference in outcome. Even just the space of a breath can help us get centered and help us respond instead of react to life.
I’ve done a bit of breaking of late. I deleted my personal Facebook account a couple of days ago which is helping me really see how much my brain had become trained to think about life in relation to social media. In a few, short days, the context has changed and I’m already thinking differently. I can’t recommend this enough. It’s much more peaceful here.
Breaking away from him. Lovely gent but not the right fit. (Wow, is that getting easier!)
I’m also breaking away from what I’ve been doing for today’s bricolage. It’s a photo collage that I took during breakfast at Cafe Racer today. There was live music–at breakfast. People drinking at the bar, an old dog was lazing around and begging for food, and the walls were lined with bad art and sad clowns. Perfect for a rainy Sunday.
Today’s quote is from Marilyn Monroe. It’s a bit non-sequiter but I adore it so it stays:
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
Just ran across that quote but I feel like I could have written it. I’ll take ridiculous over boring any day.
What are you breaking away from or ready to break away from in your life?
The word of the day is joy! from my well-loved copy of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
Today’s bricolage is a little video from a walk I took with my older daughter today. I love the way the water in the creek has a kind of woven, herringbone pattern. She and I sat and watched for a bit, listening to the sound of water and the rustle of leaves. Just magical! We sat on a bench and chatted for a bit, giving me a chance to hold her. When we got up, I realized our backs had been against this fabulous graffiti:
While she’s in college now, we get to see each other from time to time and it always brings such delight. Today was infused with joy from beginning to end. Listening to my girls giggle and listening to show tunes while I was making breakfast, our walk in the sunlight, watching the leaves fall, and later going to the theater with a friend. In fact, the day was so busy, there’s not a lot of time for reflection, just enjoyment.
Today’s quote is from Osho:
What so ever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative.
Thinking about joy! reminds me of my joy list which I haven’t updated in a while. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are depressed or have anxiety who have never made a joy list. I recommend it. Not because I think it can cure depression or anxiety but because it can help us switch our focus away from drudgery and pain. It’s like a toy box that you can go back to when need to have some fun–when you forget. I know I sometimes forget. If you want to know more about how play can help your well-being, check it.
What brings you joy?
Today’s random word, early, is from Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory. I had the good fortune of seeing Ben read in Seattle many years ago. He was kind and generous and made a deep impression on me. I befriended him on social media and we talked from time to time. I told him how much I adored one of his stories and he generously send me a PDF of this book before it was published. It was an act of trust that I have never forgotten. I later got to meet him in 2011 at a reading he did for the book tour and felt great joy in his presence.
Speaking of Ben, you must read this short story of his from the Nervous Breakdown. It is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever read. Go read it right now. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Back? You did read it, right? Good. Hilarious, no?
I don’t have something epic today. It’s a busy day. My kid is sick and home from school. I’m trying to make sense of life. Oh, I deleted my Facebook account but that’s a story for a different day. Today, as every, day I awakened early. It was beautiful outside. Sunny and warm all day. Not as much art-making today so a quick assemblage. (Fueled by Massive Attack.)
Finally, today’s quote is from Osho:
Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate you.