Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

bad choices & (broken) beginner’s heart

heartbreakThere is a slice of meringue pie in the fridge. Calling to me. It may well speak some formerly unknown language that sounds now a bit like mother tongue. I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s not such a big deal. So I will, later. After my unhappily sleepy grandson goes down for the night.

That’s not really a bad choice, at least if I don’t eat lemon meringue pie (or its equivalent) on a daily basis. Which I don’t. So I don’t feel any guilt, and the eating or not-eating of the pie really affects no one but me.

Not so other choices available. So many of the relatively small things we choose each day are beginnings: the first few drinks over our individual limit, the first couple of addictive drugs, the first few meetings with someone we shouldn’t be seeing.

Each of us has made ‘bad choices.’ It’s part of growing — the ability to look at something we’ve done, and hang our heads. To be ashamed is, I think, part of moving from childhood to adulthood. Or perhaps not shame. Remorse. That’s a better word.

I have made many choices over the years that I regret. Times I spoke sharply, times I didn’t take time. Self-indulgences that resulted in someone else’s pain. Moments I wish I could erase, some that led to far more serious griefs. So when people I love make very bad choices, all I can do is grieve. imageAnger serves no purpose — each of us, I really believe, has our own journey. And since I have no clue what’s in charge of everything, all I can do is not make things worse by having a fit. Who knows what purpose coils at the heart of each tangled human life?

I can also try, with all my cracked & battered beginner’s heart, to understand the pain we create through our own actions. To choose my own path more wisely. And to love with understanding.

I know I’m speaking in riddles. :) But not all stories are ours to tell (I can hear SO many voices in my life asking ~ you’re NOT going to put this in your blog, are you??). But I’m absolutely certain that not a person reading this has escaped being the victim of bad choices. That too is part of being human.

So believe me when I say this:  our actions — good choices as well as totally wrong-headed ones — affect the people around us, ultimately. In the meditation course I’m currently working through, we’re asked to consider imagethe impact of our daily meditation on the people around us. Those we love, those w/whom we come in contact. Because choosing to spend part of your day, each day, working on a calmer clearer mind is bound to affect those who meet us, love us, live with us.

I can’t change the tragic choices someone I know has made. I can just put this out into the world: what you do is not just yours. Each action each one of us takes is a drop in a pond, until the myriad ripples form a quilted pattern that is our connected human condition. In physics, it’s called interference: one wave influences another, and they create a third, which then changes the two original waves.

In life? What you do lives wider than your own single life. And when it changes those around you, everything changes. Sometimes forever.

 

family, socialism, and Thanksgiving conversations

question mark

Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! And we’ll be having a LOT of family over for the big celebratory feast. As I’m sure many of you will. And if you’re like our family, not everyone is … well, in accord on lots of things.

For instance, several of my family disagree on most things currently dividing America: the President, health care reform, education, the environment. Abortion, wage equity, immigration. Racial profiling. I could give you a long list. Or you could sub your own… :)

An example: a while back, a cousin & I got into an argument about the ‘socialism‘ of the Affordable Care Act (known more familiarly as ‘Obamacare’). My cousin insists it’s Socialism (I’m sure he spells  it w/ a capital S). My sister — on whose FB thread we all three were arguing — pointed out that Social Security, public education, public safety, and many other American privileges we enjoy also qualify as socialist benefits. He disagreed: I have paid thousands into SSimage

So…? How does that make it NOT socialist? According to the definition of socialism, if we all pay in to something, and our duly elected (by us) government distributes the $$ on our behalf, then it’s a form of socialism. I suspect, however, that the real problem for neo-cons is the 2nd definition, where in Marxist terminology (note: NOT common parlance) ‘socialism’ is seen as a ‘transitional state.’ And we all know where THAT would lead.

Yes… but. The United States isn’t looking to move towards communism. NO ONE I know wants a communist USA. Only fear-mongers and demagogues even bring the subject up. But my cousin’s decidedly reactionary (and uncritical) acceptance that the president is trying to ‘turn the country socialist/ African/ Muslim’ (insert whatever: all are common threads on many right-wing blogs) strikes me as very sad.

imageIt also makes family gatherings occasionally more like Fourth of July fireworks than festive dinners. So here’s what I’m going to do from now on, instead of trying to lay out why I think differently than he does. I’m just going to ignore his attempts to draw me in to conversation. Such pretend ‘conversations’ always leave me with difficult, unanswerable questions: You really believe that people are inherently lazy, mean-spirited, cheaters? And that people who don’t look like you have different — lesser — values? That Rush Limbaugh is an accurate source of news?

Because when we talk? I never feel that he really wants to discuss what I think. He wants me to come over to his side. A kind of political Red Rover: Red Rover, Red Rover. Make Britton come over. And while I’m more than willing to hear evidence that counters what I think — and even believe — I’m not going to just give up my principles because folks don’t agree with them. Especially when they can’t muster a logical argument, w/ credible evidence. And unfortunately for many of my family, saying a highly contradictory text from a a religion I don’t follow says so doesn’t qualify (for me) as ‘evidence.’image

I’m an agnostic Unitarian Buddhist. I don’t have a clue what happens after we die. But I do know I’ll take my chances at the Thanksgiving dinner table, deflecting conversations that really aren’t conversations at all. I think it’s far more pleasant. And that suits my definition of compassion to family, at the time of year when family is foremost in our hearts & minds.

 

tranquility terrorists

image

www.theonion.com/articles/buddhist-extremist-cell-vows-to-unleash-tranquilit,34623/

I adore The Onion. Especially in pieces like this, framed and coloured in absurdity. To ‘target all Western suffering…’ How cool would that be?

So here’s my post for today — a bit of humour, a LOT of wishful thinking. Because the fictional Rinpoche is correct: a jug does fill drop by drop. And if I send you enough laughter, perhaps your day will brighten.

Not to mention the whole idea of a terrorism of tranquilty, love, & compassion, accomplished through peaceful imposition, makes me smile. You can click through on the link above, or cut & paste from the caption. Enjoy.

listening

imageI am learning to listen from my grandson. (And if my son his father tells you it’s ‘indulging him,’ disregard.) I am learning to pay attention to cues — both verbal and non-verbal. And remember: at a scant six months, ‘verbal’ does not include words. :)

Still, Trinidad is quite articulate. And he makes his wants known. IF you listen. He greeted the older woman at the table next to us at lunch. Following her ‘Hi!’ was what sure sounded to both of us like a responding ‘Hi!’ Pronounced more like ‘Hah!,’ but who’s going to be so picky?

And when he turns the pages of his new board book, and babbles happily, why can’t I tell him what a smart reader he is? Who’s to say he isn’t mimicking his mother, father, grandmotherimage with their beloved books? What can I remember of being a baby, myself? Who is able to fathom what we know, and when — and how — we learn it?

Babies begin understanding language, according to research, around six months. And language is complex. Actions? Most mammals understand actions. I’m betting on Trin, myself. I think if I listen, I’ll be able to learn the language of Trin: his gestures, his verbalisations, what he’s trying to tell me. Because I think that like most of us, he has a lot to say. If you just pay attention.

It’s something I’m carrying out into my public life, this lesson from Trin. Confession time: I interrupt. A LOT. It’s my family culture! You would NEVER get a word in edgewise w/ my three sisters if you didn’t interrupt.

But it’s not the way I want to live my life, at least not intentionally. And increasingly? I want to live w/ intention. Good intention. :) Which means: I’m listening to Trinidad. And that’s a start.

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