The Golden Gate Bridge is 70 years old today. It is difficult to imagine life without it. Imagine only ferries carrying us back and forth.
I am reading a wonderful book, A Slant of Sun, by Beth Kephart. It is a mother writing about her son, who is "different," and who has symptoms of autism, but is not totally there, so he doesn't really fit anywhere, and so she spends her time finding ways to make life work for him, to understand what he needs and provide it. I am reminded of the contributions Temple Grandin has made, and she is autistic. We need a place to bring forth each person so they can fully contribute and fully fulfill. Imagine if we had the money we spend on weapons and war for education, so that education could be customized rather than rubber-stamped.
I am moving slowly this morning, having spent time observing my cats. They sleep a great deal and breathe all the way down to the end of their spine. They sleep curled, and I wonder why we don't. Our beds aren't made for it, I suppose, our couches.
So, my theme for today is diversity, feeling my way into all the different parts of myself and allowing each of them a place for rest and breath.
We watched Michael Moore interviewed on Bill Maher about his new movie "Sicko." He said everyone, both Republicans and Democrats, support it. It rises above politics and the subject has influenced him to start exercising and eating fruits and vegetables. He says the health care system is a mess. We each need to take charge of our own health, so do that today, in whatever ways feel right to you. I keep thinking I need a hammock, and I am learning to curl and sleep more. I'm learning from my cats.
Here is the transcript of the Bill Moyers interview Maxine Hong Kingston.
Here is a poem of healing by Sandy Scull:
After the Vietnam War, I withdrew to Nantucket: "faraway isle." Hoping to glimpse the boy before spirit fled the body. Thirty-three miles of ocean exiling me from a homeland offering little embrace.
Me and my dog, Christopher. Christ-love disguised as loyal canine. We combed beaches. Working for the island newspaper connected me. Tides soothed with ebb and flow. A rhythm I could trust. Even eat by. I fish the last three hours of the east tide. Buried my toes in the sand, searching for the texture of littleneck clam.
When water was warm, I sailed out solo. Stripped then slid into the sound. Looking up toward the surface light. Christopher's gaze wavering with wind and water between us. Breath bubbles rose, bursting under his nose.
My body now embraced, a ritual purification in salt. Dismembered dreams floated closer. Something dissolved in a solution that held me. Breathing easier, I could imagine again.
- Sandy Scull
I just read Pavement: Reflections on Mercy, Activism, & Doing "Nothing" for Peace by Lin Jensen. After the invasion of Iraq, Lin decided to sit on the pavement and meditate one hour a day in the town of Chico, CA.
He introduces the book like this:
Over 2500 years ago in ancient China, Lao-tzu wrote a little book of eighty-one verses called Tao Te Ching, or in English, The Book of the Way. Without exception, every verse bears witness to the wisdom of "doing nondoing," what the Chinese call wei wu wei. Wei wu wei is not a kind passive inaction, but rather a movement in concert with circumstance. "Nondoing" ultimately means trusting the wisdom of the universe to show the way rather than imposing one's arbitrary will upon it. As Lao-tzu puts it, "The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done."
Lin goes on to tell all the things he tried to do for peace, none of which seemed to have affect, so he decided he needed to learn how to do nothing for peace. "Peace, as it turned out, was less a matter of something you do than one of something you are - and I soon learned that the ends I sought required of me more than simply sitting protest on the sidewalks of my hometown."
He began to see where he was not peaceful, and where he had to allow peace to come.
He came to see that peace "isn't a fixed condition of any sort but rather a continual open-hearted adjustment to shifting circumstances, a living response to be renewed again and again." He learns that peace is "its own agent and I - at best - merely its instrument."
He sits in silent witness to those who die each day in Iraq.
Lin Jensen is 75 years old, so hardly a kid, though he comes to see that sitting on the pavement is "fun." He learns from all sides, from everyone.
"The person of right and wrong for whom right is always right and wrong is always wrong lays waste to his surroundings. What's offered us in the place of moral certainty is doubt and love, which are, ultimately, so intertwined as to be nearly synonymous. Doubt wears the hard edges off right and wrong, turning the soil where love sprouts like spring flowers. The old masters placed the site of ethics within the inward, instantaneous grasping of circumstances in their entirety, a living truth not divisible into categories of right and wrong. Truly, we can know things most directly when we lay no claim to knowing anything at all."
"Going on retreat is about emptiness. And emptiness has everything to do with creativity. When you give yourself the time and space to shut down .... you prepare yourself to receive the flood that is creativity in its liquid, unbounded state."
- Jacqueline Davies
What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed,
and what if in your dreams you went to heaven and there
plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you
awoke you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
And did you get what you want from this life even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the Earth.
- Raymond Carver
I am taking advantage of the fog, wind, and cold to stay inside and tuck into books. I just finished reading Waking by Matthew Sanford. It is written by a man who was paralyzed from the chest down when he was 13. He writes his journey through the study of philosophy to now being a teacher of yoga at a non-profit he set up in Minneapolis. He understands and works with the mind-body connection. He begins the book with these words of Aristotle: "Hope is the dream of a waking man."
He speaks of silence. He writes:
Silence is the word I use to describe the empty presence we experience within our experience - between our thoughts, between each other, between ourselves and the world. We feel the silence when we daydream, when we appreciate the beauty of a sunset, or when the love of our life truly walks away. It is an inward sense, often experienced as a longing or an ache. It is a feeling of emptiness and fullness at the same time. The silence is the aspect of our consciousness that makes us feel slightly heavy. It is the source of the feeling of loss, but also of a sense of awe."
I am happy to be back to reading. I had not been able to read much lately, and I think that was because I was going through another layer of releasing the trauma of last year. Now, today, I use books to heal, and find my way through some real beauties.
I recommend: A Slant of Sun by Beth Kephart.
Pavement by Lin Jensen.
Waking by Matthew Sanford.
I just received a wonderfully detailed response to why Livejournal was unable to post that some people were unable to post. If it had been a problem relating to everyone, they would have posted the problem, but it was complicated by only affecting some, and that is why it was so hard to fix it. I certainly appreciate Livejournal and I appreciate that they are working all the time, even on the Sunday evening of a three-day weekend. I did not expect to hear back until a week-day, so many cheers for those who keep Livejournal up and running for you and me.