Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

prizes, raises, and affirmations -

image I recently learned that one of my essays made the finals for a creative non-fiction contest at a national literary journal. Whoohoo! The same day, I heard from my younger son that he received a huge raise. Another whoohoo!

My son had obviously memorised what his boss said when informing Noah about the raise. Like water on thirsty soil, the terms ‘material recognition of your contributions’ and ‘your increasing managerial acumen’ hit someplace deep inside him. And I absolutely get it.

For the most part, no one sends you great letters when your writing is accepted at a journal. So we submit to contests, writers. Because that’s kind of like a nice speech. :) It means someone GOT what you had to say. Which, when you’re writing from a childhood that isn’t like almost anyone else’s, means a lot. :)

It’s beyond wonderful when what you do, what you’ve learned to do well, what you’ve devoted your education and professional commitment to, receives accolades. I may not win this contest, but that’s okay. Really. Because someone likes my stuff! :) and for my son, who honestly thought he might N&E a victim of the economy? This was SO much better than what he feared!

I try to offer genuine affirmation to everyone I meet who deserves it. And most folks do, actually. What makes me sad is how startled & embarrassingly grateful the general service employee is to be thanked. A Starbucks employee gave me free coffee several times at a hotel I stayed in for a conference, just because I didn’t yell at her about the lack of choices (some equipment was broken — sooo not her fault!). The owner of the small Asian fusion restaurant I ate at when I worked gave me free lunch the other day, just because she said I was her friend.

This isn’t a post saying I’m so cool. Instead, I hope that today, as you go through your everyday life, you remember to thank the people who help make it easier: the drycleaner, the barista, your daycare worker, the FedEx guy who brings your Amazon goodies. Chances are, no one else will. And it will mean almost as much to them as a raise. Or a finalist email. :)

 

Buddhist prayers, invocations, and tachyons…

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There is, apparently, a ‘discussion‘ going on between Buddhists who believe in prayer, and those who think it’s a term best left to other faiths. Since many Buddhists don’t believe that Buddha was a god (you can be a Buddhist & a Christian, or a Buddhist & a Jew, with no conflict), there’s an understandable reluctance to use prayer as a way of asking ‘Someone’ for ‘something.’

So the term ‘invocation’ is used by some Buddhists — to invoke someone’s name or blessing. I don’t see any difference, but I want to be sensitive to the conversation.  That said? I’m letting you know right now: I think of what I do as a kind of prayer. Buddhist, not Christian, but I don’t think that really matters when we ‘invoke’ what unifies the world.

Buddha nature is everywhere: it resides within the smallest tachyon, the largest star, the universes that may exist beyond our imaginations. I think of it as the glue that holds us all together. Kind of like the Quaker idea of the light within. For me, Buddha nature is that light. So I see nothing odd about telling my friends & family (and other needy folks I encounter): I will hold you in the light. The light of Buddha nature is the same as all those other religious images of light. :)

But there are also Buddhists who believe that to pray is to ask the direct intervention of another being, a bodhisattva. A Buddhist ‘saint,’ to many Christians. If you ask me to be logical & rational, I will tell you I’m an agnostic. I don’t really know what it is that animates us all, only that it connects us, each tachyon of inner light. And that I pray to it when my mother is on her deathbed, asking for strength. Or when my doctor wonders if I may have throat cancer. Or when the evening sky is loud with the cry of the jay and the metronome of cicadas. Because it’s not only the sad that evokes the urge to invoke. :)

So what does it matter what we call it, this urgeimage to speak from our most sacred spaces? If I believe Something connects us all, and you call that Force God, while I call it Buddha nature… If you pray, and I pray, and someone else chants, and someone invokes, and someone else studies the nature of the tachyon, and finds peace in that mystery.

Mystery. That’s what we do. And what call it, this calling out to the sacred. We call it all a great mystery. And I’m okay with that. Because all I ask is to be held in that vast light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home repairs, medication, and beginner’s heart…

heartbreak

When I visualise a beginner’s heart — at least my own — I see this picture. Because when your heart is open, sometimes it gets bumped. And as it grows — and you’re not aware, often that it has — you miscalculate. Think of the clumsiness of growing puppies.

I think of my beginner’s heart as an ungainly, galumpy puppy. Not particularly flattering, but true.

And when I’m sitting with my grandson, my heart is always growing. I swear: when he laughs or smiles? I hear almost inaudible cracks in the armature of a heart I never previously considered armoured.

But that also means that my heart is as open as tree branches in the fall, after all the leaves have sifted into bright piles. I am vulnerable (and sensitive) to ordinary teasing in a way that  otherwise rarely occurs.

Especially when I forgot to take my anti-inflammatories, AND my anti-depressants! Sheesh — maybe I’m the one needing a minder…

Seriously — as my son & husband work on remediating a house we all thought would be okay (it wasn’t), and my DIL works on unpacking, writing a research conference proposal, putting together two sets of bathroom shelves, and all the things the three of them are very busy doing, I hold Trin. Which is great. But even a baby’s smile sometimes doesn’t wipe out unthinking hot-&-tired-guy comments.

My husband and sons love me dearly. And because I have all the characteristics of a bonafide extrovert, they sometimes forget I’m not one of the guys. Except that I’m neither a  true extrovert nor a guy. :) image

That’s not to say that all females are more sensitive than all males. Only that this female is more sensitive to guy banter than my guys are. :)

And the point? :)

I am trying to remember that the world is much like this — everyone busy with important life stuff. And not always focusing (in fact, often not the least interested!) in my inner workings. So that the ‘slings & arrows’ of my everyday life have far more to do with my perspective than with intention. It’s a good thing to remember. And I’m willing to bet it’s true for all of you, as well. Anti-inflammatories help, too.

 

square sisters and common ground…

imageI have three sisters. People who know all of us well — a small number (we tend to overwhelm in large doses!) would say we’re not much alike. We would agree. But we also can give you countless examples of a perfect stranger asking one or the other of us, “Are you Diane’s sister?” or “You must be Dori’s sister!” And yet we differ in height, hair colour, complexions, religious beliefs — in most ways you would ‘recognise’ similarities.

So two of my sisters have been spending more time together lately, and apparently one said to the other: We’re really not much alike. The other agreed/ disagreed. Her marvelous take on it is that we’re four sides of the same square.

Okay, you KNOW how I love metaphors! And this one, to me, is particularly apt. There is this lovely common ground that connects us –Việt Nam (we are all Third Culture kids), moving, summers on an island, alot of moves… Far more has shaped the centre of that square than the differences of the four sides. :)

We think of ourselves in stairsteps: the 1st sister (me); the 2nd sister — my retired Army sgt sister; the 3rd sister, who was in the National Guard and has done retail for years; my 4th sister, who has worked at a university for years. One of us has three children. One has none. Two are divorced, one separated, while I’m happily married for a zillion years.

Some folks would see these as differences. We often do. But when we talk of my parents — all of us still call my father Daddy, and my mother is often still Mommy — or exchange conflicting tales of our this family story or that, it is that common ground that trumps. image

What if each of us saw ourselves as part of some infinite-numbered, equal-side polygon? Something so multi-sided that we resembled a circle, to all intents? What if we focused on the common ground in the middle, that which joins us, rather than the tiny segment that represents us…?

I know — it’s another darn metaphor. But this one is NOT my fault, and it’s a good one! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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