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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

more on the home front ~

the author's

the author’s

Today was ‘look at houses’ day. Funny how pictures bear so little resemblance to the real thing.

When I taught, I used to give my students postcards from a local museum prior to a field trip. They were to write about the postcards before we went to the museum, then find the actual painting/ sculpture/ artifact once at the museum. Finally, they compared the ‘real’ (the signified object) to the ‘sign’ — the picture. It was always a huge revelation.

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So I know this, right?? ‘Real’ trumps ‘picture’ all to blazes. Still, pictures were the thing, until I visited the real places. Where 1st choice quickly became Nope. And 2nd choice (a distant 2nd, at that) jumped to Oh wow! Something about presence, and being here…?

the author's

the author’s

I bought our current house while my beloved was working overseas, but this is harder, somehow. In part because it will probably be (hopefully be? :) ) the last house we buy. Thus a lot hangs on it: room for a family dinner, a family Christmas. A room for my younger son to stay with us, or a sister to visit. A garden to woo new birds in, and set up a bee house.

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As usual, what the heck does this have to do w/ beginner’s heart?? All kinds of things! Real is what you see, what you feel, what you breathe & hear & touch. Not a ‘virtual’ reality. Real requires being present, in the moment.

We have to be willing to experience not the pictures in our heads (or even our hearts) but what’s real, however we define that. For me, it’s what’s in front of me — as unclouded by my own attachments as I can be. A very hard call. And excellent beginner’s heart practice… :)

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hunting for home

from fiddler's green, blacksburg

from fiddler’s green, blacksburg

Looking for a house is hard. Looking while recognising that this will be your long-term home — not a rental, not a summer vacation — is even harder.

You find yourself confronting unspoken pre-reqs. And sometimes, unfortunately, even the happiest of couples have different pre-reqs. Which makes for…interesting conversations. :)

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My beloved & I are finally on task to move to be w/ our son, DIL, & grandson. So obviously we need someplace to live (believe it or not, the ‘kids’ don’t want parents living forever in their basement!).

I want small — little to clean up, little to maintain. My beloved wants comfort, and a big garage. I’d just as soon sell my car & get a Vespa (yes!). He’s not down with that.

I’m fine w/ a fixer-upper: not structural changes, but maybe hardwoods, and new kitchen countertops. Possibly having to frame in a carport. He’s worried we’ll over-commit, and get a house that needs far too much fixing up. I like Mission & Craftsman bungalows; he’s fine w/ almost anything.

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via wikipedia

via wikipedia

The point to this is we carry around all kinds of unexamined attachments — to smaller houses, to our childhood homes, to work spaces. But also to far less tangible desires: success, pride, bias. Even if some are ‘positive’ — a work ethic is desirable at work, but may well interfere w/ home life if pursued slavishly.

So I’m letting go — as much as I can — of my attachments to a certain kind of house, hoping I can instead create a home. And that will — I hope! — be enough for both of us. Whatever our initial attachments.

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living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)

via google

via google

 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I’ve been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; it is neither broad nor bread, but certainly it’s worth poking fun at).

And here’s the catch: we didn’t have to cross it even once, much less twice: we had the audio turned off on the navigation, & I hadn’t read the map. Remember maps??

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But here’s my payoff: today’s birthday party for my grandson, who turned two. Baking his bday cupcakes — flour everywhere (we’ve already cleaned up a bit in this pic!), and messy hugs. Breaking eggs together and blowing bubbles. Who wouldn’t trade 2 hours on a bridge in bumper2bumper for those??

the author's

the author’s

Did I think of those while moving at 7 mph? Of course not. And yet…. It’s hard to get upset when you’re on a road trip w/ your son, heading to your DIL & grandson. I know what wonders await me!

I just have to figure out how to translate this kind of peaceful coexistence w/ frustration to more mundane challenges. Laundry, I’m looking at you ~

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road trips

the author's

the author’s

You see differently when you’re on the road. Something about the ribbon of highway before you, the enclosed space of the car, the forced closeness and the expanse of sky and road. It’s a kind of magic.

Greater writers than I have said so – I won’t belabour the point. But I do wonder what would happen in my life if I listened (every day) the way I do on a road trip. If I observed with the same lack of expectation. If I let more of my life surprise me.

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It’s not that I become some mushy person who oohs & awes over everything — no chance of my inner wiseass taking a permanent vacation! But the suspension of time, the hypnotic rhythm of wheels… Venetian blinds create stripes across a nightscape, and even the familiarity of an unusual name (Toad Suck Park, anyone?) becomes a kind of marker, as if the sign marked more than just a place. As if I should somehow be able to create a greater meaning from the disparate pieces before me.

via flickr

via flickr

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So much of life is like this. At least for me — trying to see beyond surfaces while I juggle my tendency to ‘overthink,’ as we call it in my family. It’s a kind of clouding of the inner eye, this building of cloud castles from nothing. Not good beginner’s heart.

And yet, how else do we navigate through the chaos of everyday, ordinary life? We have to think, right?

On a road trip, however, I wonder if ‘thinking’ is the wrong term. What would happen if — instead of ‘thinking’ my way through my life, I listened, observed, watched, and tried to appreciate all I could? Sure there would be pieces of each day I would not like: the guy who cut us off on the right, almost running us into oncoming traffic. The dangerous speeders and the just plain rude. But on a road trip, I don’t stew — such incidents fall by the way, so much leaffall on the verges of I40.

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Most of this  trip has been exchanging stories with my elder son as we drive through the upper South into Tennessee, and today into Virginia. It’s been writing tanka as I watch a hawk, or taking notes to write down later. It’s been a slow easy dinner sharing life moments, catching up.

It’s been absolute beginner’s heart. And I need to pay attention.

 

Previous Posts

more on the home front ~
Today was 'look at houses' day. Funny how pictures bear so little resemblance to the real thing. When I taught, I used to give my students postcards from ...

posted 2:36:27pm May. 26, 2015 | read full post »

hunting for home
Looking for a house is hard. Looking while recognising that this will be your long-term home -- not a rental, not a summer vacation -- is ...

posted 5:40:03pm May. 25, 2015 | read full post »

living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)
 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I've been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; ...

posted 10:32:07pm May. 24, 2015 | read full post »

road trips
You see differently when you're on the road. Something about the ribbon of highway before you, the enclosed space of the car, the forced closeness and the ...

posted 9:36:21am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

the right thing (even though...)
This is the 2nd baby rabbit that Sophie-the-13-year-old-cat has brought in to us. Unfortunately, the 1st one didn't survive the experience :( . (We won't go ...

posted 1:44:17pm May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

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