Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

London and Palestine and Toad Suck Park…

image I drove to London today. And to Palestine. And right past the turnoff for Toad Suck Park. If these clues leave you going “hunh?” then you haven’t been to Arkansas lately. :)

We’re doing a family road trip, moving my son & daughter-in-law & grandson to Virginia. That’s quite a ways from the family house — where we’ve all been for the past 2+ weeks, along w/ Rufus the giant cat & Silas the terminally cute rescue dog — in Tulsa.

If you drive the breadth of Arkansas, right along the middle (like a bright ribbon around a present), you drive through London & Palestine. And you really do drive past Toad Suck Park. Look it up!

So, besides the pleasure of my husband’s witty conversation, and seeing the landscape change from the overpasses of Tulsa to the wooded highway verges of Arkansas, I also had the fun of map surprises.

Which brings me to seeing the world new & fresh, a critical element of being here, now, in the Buddhist frame of beginner’s heart. Because there’s something quite lovely about thinking about these two magical places — both of which I’ve been lucky enough to visit — move around the globe. I’m enchanted just thinking about Big Ben and the Tower of London coming unstuck from their places and drifting over the Atlantic to Arkansas. And perhaps if Palestine got the annual rainfall of Arkansas, tempers would cool…?

Not to mention… Toad Suck? What a great name! Supposedly from the way steamboat crews ‘sucked up bottles’ at the local watering hole until they ‘swelled like toads,’ I prefer to think about toads. Real toads. Sucking…whatever a toad would suck if a toad could suck whatever.

So today’s leg of our family road trip is dedicated to places and the names that don’t always identify them. To the poetry of those names, and the dreamy images they conjure. To the seductive crawl of the red Arkansas highway (and yes, it’s really red in places — not grey at all!) beneath our wheels, and to a country where you can have London, Palestine, and Toad Suck Park all within driving distance.

 

to bravely go…

NASA budget 2I hate war. Hate. And there isn’t really much I use that word for, at least not seriously (I hate ticks, for instance, and mosquitos, but not like WAR…). And I actively dislike that my tax dollars go to support it.

I also love science. And I actively dislike that my tax dollars do NOT go to support it. At least not in any significant way. Hence the table on the left.

It’s a fact: the entire history of NASA’s budget is less than TWO YEARS’ military budget. Yep. You read that correctly. As Neil deGrasse Tyson notes, the 2008 bailout of banks alone was more than the 50-year history of budgets for NASA. What is up with  THAT??

So here’s what I want to know: with Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, Big Bang Theory, and the beloved Dr. Who, each  garnering huge viewer market share, and sci-fi books one of the best-selling genres, why don’t we vote for more science $$?

Here’s my new mantra: Make spaceships, not war. Or at the very least — Make discoveries. Because discoveries are generative. They will feed us, enchant us, and enrich our lives. War? As the brilliant Edwin Starr told us years ago, absolutely nothing. Not to mention the whole ‘collateral damage’ thing.

Why not shift our $$ priorities, and look into our future…?

time for laughs –

frenchy in baby carrierNormally, this could be our dogs. I plead guilty — our dogs are very… indulged. :) But with the grandson here, and his attendant entourage (Mom, Dad, Silas-the-dog and Rufus-the-cat), one of our dogs (the dysfunctional one) is at my sister’s. The other one is trying to figure out what the heck happened to his happy home.

So this picture — we have French bulldogs — resonates. And it reminds me: sometimes you just need to laugh. Really. And nothing does it like our best friends. :) It also helps everything (including beginner’s heart!) not to take things toooo seriously. I’m sure that’s somewhere in one of the Buddha’s talks!

laps, luxuries, love -

imageMy grandson slept for three hours in my lap yesterday afternoon. Slept my legs into their own nap. Slept through phones ringing, dogs barking, and the afternoon sun waning. Wrapped snugly in his swaddling cloth, he might have been another era’s baby, proof against technologies and innovations.

One woman, an infant, a cloth. Nothing luxurious, unless you count the intangibles. Full belly. Safety. Love. Cool air on a very hot day. Something so few babies in our world have.

My son says I am not allowed to tell depressing stories to point out how grateful we all should be. Okaaaaay! But I am grateful. And I’m grateful that my grandson slept for three hours, unbroken by the grievances of most of the world’s infants. He isn’t a victim of mosquitoes bearing diseases, or water bearing bacteria. His limbs are straight. His head is only heavy with sleep. He has two parents, both with jobs and health care benefits. He has four living grandparents, each besotted with him. His mother is kind, generous, intelligent, and adores him. His father isn’t off fighting a war, but right here to hold him. The world’s best baby-sitter.

And this specific grandmother is the most grateful of women. For the privileges a first-world household & family offer her first grandchild.

Today, as you go about your day, look around. You don’t have to think of third-world tragedies. But a ‘thank-you’ for running water (hot AND cold!), air conditioning, safe food (and enough of it!), a roof, and reasonably clean sheets… I”m just sayin’ ~ Life is good. And worth noticing.

 

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