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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

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.

 

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the right thing (even though…)

the author's

the author’s

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 in to the gruesome way it ended up, and it wasn’t really the cat’s fault…)

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Usually when Sophie brings me ‘gifts,’ if I can get to her immediately, and praise her for being a mighty huntress, she lets go the prey & loses interest. At which point I release the shaken bird/ rabbit/ mouse back in to the yard.

This time? Hector the cat was downstairs, as were both dogs. The living room was a veritable domestic zoo: dogs barking, rabbit shrieking (Have you ever heard them cry? They sound like babies!), the two cats scrabbling to catch the rabbit. Finally I got the dogs outside, the cats settled, and pulled out the sofa to try to catch baby rabbit. Which promptly FLEW into the study, between my two (heavy) filing cabinets. That was it; I had nooo idea what to do next.

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Long, worried story short: eventually my elder son — home for a few days — was able to catch it and release it outside. Even though we all know that Sophie may well catch it again. She caught the same mouse twice in two days; the first time it bit me, but the 2nd it ran nicely into the cup I held for it.

You do the right thing even when you know it may, ultimately, make little difference. It’s the hardest lesson I re-learn daily. Easy w/ a cute baby rabbit. Much more difficult when I’m trying to remember to be polite to someone who believes the president should die, or that all education should be privatised. Next time this happens? I’m going to try to remember the bunny, held gently in my son’s hands, awaiting at least one more night of life. Sometimes, you just have to hope for the best.

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rain, petrichor, and pluviophiles

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via google

We’ve had 7 inches of rain this past week. Other parts of Oklahoma have had a foot or more. When I went to the Farmer’s Market this week, the radishes looked more like scarlet beets, they were so huge!

The fragrance of rain hitting dirt has a name: petrichor. I remember when I learned that word — it resonated like some kind of bell inside me. I adore rain, in all its guises (well, not the killer tornado so much…). Spring sprinkles, gentle drenchings, howling storms, and the crashing percussive music of thunder. Not to mention the fireworks of lightening!

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That makes me an utter pluviophile — a lover of rain & all things rainy. I even have a bright orange rain jacket! AND an umbrella, so that I can walk merrily through puddles.

One of my happiest memories is walking w/ my two sons — who must have been about 9 and 5 — through a storm, holding our umbrellas against the Oklahoma winds, to the hamburger joint around the corner from us. It doesn’t matter that they probably don’t remember; I do. We kicked puddles, and ended up happily soaked, just in time to enter the warm dining room.

Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture, chihuly.com

Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture, chihuly.com

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When I think of the drought-stricken western US, I’m beyond sad. Yes, drought kills crops. And animals. And leaves forest fires in its wake. But there’s a less-discussed benefit to rain: it cleanses and heals. The allergens are washed out of the air, and my beloved’s headache has disappeared. The birds practically fluoresce: scarlet cardinals, blueblack crows, the red crowns of finches and the brilliant blue of jays. The grass thickens and seems to stretch in happy health. Me too.

Beginner’s heart needs rain, I think. We need to return to our true colours — like the Tibetan story of the lama who held the pebble in the water, demonstrating how the dull rock gleamed with unnamed colours beneath the water’s surface. Just beneath our surface, if we can find a way to wash away the everyday junk that dull us, is who we really are. I like to think I’m the colours of a Chihuly glass sculpture — flame & glitter & indigo green. It just takes a good rain to remind me.

Previous Posts

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 »

rain, petrichor, and pluviophiles
We've had 7 inches of rain this past week. Other parts of Oklahoma have had a foot or more. When I went to the Farmer's Market this week, the radishes looked ...

posted 1:26:21pm May. 17, 2015 | read full post »

simplify
 I'm enamoured of tiny houses. My dream is that I will someday be able to fit my entire belongings into 1/s of a tiny house, w/ my beloved paring his down, as well. Every thing we own would be a well-loved piece, one with intrinsic value, ...

posted 6:01:45pm May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

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