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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

All Hallows’ E’en

Pascal Hallowe'en 2This is my dog, Pascal, wearing the devil horns my niece Sandra bought him. It’s appropriate — Pascal is rascal of the first order. But it’s a far cry from what I grew up thinking Hallowe’en meant.

Sure it meant trick-or-treating, and candy. And decorating the house — more as my mother collected stuff, once we stopped moving.

But it also meant that the dead were there to speak with. We believed this — at least  I did. I don’t know who taught me this — and perhaps I absorbed it from one of the many books I inhaled as a child. But I vaguely recall talking about the ‘veil’ between the living and the dead parting on All Hallows’ Evening. Which I thought of as the Brits do: All Hallows’ E’en.

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We weren’t Catholic, and there was no real ceremony about All Hallows. But I knew from Shakespeare that the dead walked that night. And I knew from other places — and who remembers what those sources were? — that you could talk to them, the dead.

I never tried. Everyone I loved was still alive, then. It didn’t seem like I would ever wish I could talk to the dead.

But now? This Hallowe’en I think of all my dead: my grandmothers, both beloved; my great-aunts, so many of them; my father, a dear friend, even a couple of dearly missed dogs. And I wish I could visit with them — especially my parents & my elders. I wish I could ask them more about their lives, about when they were my age, and how it was for them. I wish I knew what they knew before they left me.

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I wish there were a way to hear their voices, my father’s deep baritone laughter– echoed in my younger son’s. My mother gabbing happily with her three sisters; my grandmothers in their kitchens, bossing me around.

This All Hallows’, I am grateful for the living. So very happy that there is a new generation trick-or-treating. But I wish, still, that I could let my dead know I still remember. And that for me, they are still here.

 

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everyday glitches and first-world problems

annoyedIt’s not a big deal, really. Just email. Not my life. And yet…. I HATE it when my email screws up! Allll my hard-won calm goes right out the window. And it doesn’t help that today is the day I’m readying for a routine colonscopy tomorrow. Hence, NOTHING to eat.

First world problems, huh? They STILL rankle.

I am the first to admire and respect everyday magic. Unfortunately, I’m also the first to rail against everyday glitches. I can’t find the email confirmation of two upcoming trips. In fact, it’s like those trips never were planned, for all they show up in my email.

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I rely on my email! It’s supposed to be constant — I have a totally non-Buddhist attachment to it. Sigh. In fact, it annoys me GREATLY to have it disappear like it fell into a black h0le. And my annoyance annoys me even further!

Sheesh.email bomb

So I’m trying to breeeeeathe. Stretch and relax. Remember all the folks in the world who don’t have insurance for routine medical procedures. Don’t have computers. Don’t get to go to a national conference with really cool speakers & sessions. Don’t get to go see their 5-month-old grandson.

And it helps. It helps. Because email really is a first-world benefit. As are travel schedules. And sometimes you just need to remember what’s important. Especially when you  get annoyed.

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on Facebook and civil conversations

civil conversationI love the idea that there’s a civil conversations project. Officially, I mean. Because it’s what I’ve been trying to foster — despite my lapses into ranting about racism & social injustice — on my own FB page. Today, I had a glimpse of how that’s born fruit.

A former student, a former colleague, and a friend & colleague are discussing a topic one knows intimately from the personal perspective. It’s the new horse slaughter bill in Oklahoma, and my former student’s family once bred horses. His take is that we need legal horse slaughterhouses for those horses who turn out poorly bred — not his family’s, but those possibly bred by less knowledgeable (& responsible) breeders. My question is why are we un-doing a law that the state passed in response to the theft of perfectly good horses to sell for slaughter…?

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My former colleague is looking at the rhetoric of the state arguments in favour of horse slaughter. He’s a masterful rhetorician, and has done a devastating analysis of the emotion (& illogic) explicit in many of the pro arguments. My friend & colleague knows nothing about the topic, and would like to learn more from hearing both perspectives.

Wow. Isn’t this just what we wish everyone would do? Talk to each other politely about big differences? Bring our varied lives & values and experiences and knowledge to any topic? I’ve already learned from both Cody & Bryan —  my former student (now a multi-degreed professional) and my colleague (also multi-degreed, and in graduate school). And that’s what my friend Rebecca said, as well: isn’t it great when you know nothing about a topic to hear it discussed with civility?

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Or as Buddhists would say, lovingkindness. Which is just a fancy term for common courtesy, respect for differences, and good manners. Honouring the human connection each of us has to one another. Wonder why it’s so hard for Congress. :)

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cloudy days and keeping busy

imageSometimes, when it’s grey and what my grandma would call ‘dreary,’ it’s hard to get motivated. While I don’t mind rain at all — especially when it’s been a bit dry — I make sure that we buy the ‘daylight’ light bulbs. I HATE dreariness.

It didn’t actually rain today. At least not yet. So I resorted to my usual remedy for dreary: I got outside. The deal is, it isn’t cold. And it isn’t wet. It just looks like it should be. So make a pot of beans, and take care of moving the outside plants in!

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I know — you’re wondering what the heck this has to do w/ beginner’s heart. Well, it’s actually a big part of how I try to implement beginner’s heart day-to-day.

It does me absolutely zip good to mope around in the dreary grey light (or lack thereof). But since it’s not hot (which it was only a week or so ago), and we’re expecting temps overnight in the 30s, why not get out in the silver-grey light and make ready for fall? Which means bringing in the outside plants.

Beginner’s heart is at least partially about happiness, as the Dalai Lama says. If your faith doesn’t make you happy, and make happy the ones around you, what good is it? So for me, I try to figure out some way (w/out being a total Pollyanna) to make use of what happens. To make it work.

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Today that meant repotting the orchids on the inside étagère — the one my sister half-killed is HUGE now! And one’s blooming! Even the little one that almost killed is putting out a new leaf. And of course the outside plants — succulents, mostly — had to be repotted after a summer out, and washed off, etc. Only the amaryllis still need new pots (let’s hope they weather the night!).image

I wouldn’t have noticed how big my one orchid had grown, or the new leaf on the little one, had I not repotted today. I wouldn’t have had to mop, also, but somehow now that the pots are moved, and everything is orderly, it’s all worth the effort. Even despite my acute dislike of mopping (right up there w/ moping :) ).

This is what my beginner’s heart learned a long time ago (one of the few lessons I seem to have — mostly — mastered): if you’re blue, find something to do. By the time you finish, the day is far less dreary. It may even be abloom in orchids.

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