“I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them.”

– The Dalai Lama

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Life, Random

I want a pair of jeans that don’t make me feel bad about myself.

Life

A few weeks ago a Facebook friend alerted her followers to a company that was giving away free t-shirts. I am many things, but I am not a person who turns away free stuff. So of course I clicked the link. It was for a company called Universal Standard, which I had never heard of before. I looked at the price of the shirt. It was $50. I had to look twice to make sure that was correct. It was $50 the second time I looked. I thought, “this company is giving away, for free, a $50 t-shirt?!?” It seemed too good to be true. I opened up another window to surf around on the website.  I read the About page. They totally seemed legit. So I went ahead a chose the black, x small. I received it in the mail yesterday and I’m wearing it today. It’s a super nice shirt.

I’ve never, in my life, worn an extra small. So that was kind of a nice thing.

The company caters to women who wear sizes 10 – 28 and features models of all sizes. It’s really refreshing to see women who aren’t stick thin modeling clothes, for once.

I have a pair of skinny jeans that I bought last year. They were not cheap, so I’ve been really trying hard to like them. And I kind of do. But they are just a touch too tight on me. I keep telling myself that “if I lose 10 pounds, like I probably should, these jeans will be perfect.” And that is probably true. But right now whenever I wear these jeans they kind of make me feel bad. I wear them and I have that constant “you need to lose 10 pounds” nagging in the back of my mind.

I want to wear jeans that don’t make me feel bad about myself.

And what if I just stopped it with the “I need to lose 10 pounds” idea? Would it really be the end of the world if I didn’t lose this elusive 10 pounds? What if I just accepted myself the way I am right now. Today. What if I bought some jeans that actually fit that I can feel good in?

My order will be delivered on Monday.

Life and Music Are On My Mind

Life, Photography

My birthday is on Sunday, and I’m getting old. I can’t think of a better theme for this post than a graveyard. 😉

All kidding aside, this is the only photography I have to offer this blog at the moment. My photo mojo has waned a little this year. This is from the roll of Holga shots I took when I went on the photo meetup in January. My plan was to shoot portraits with my Holga, which I did. But they didn’t come out great. I may post them next week and talk a little bit more about it. In the meantime, here are a couple moody shots of the graveyard from that day.
gravesite gift

Lone Fir Cemetery

A little story:
About an hour ago I was talking to a former coworker who has retired. She’d just learned, from another co-worker, that my birthday was this weekend and asked how old I will be. I gulped and said it out loud: “49. I’ll be 49.” And holy shit. It was hard to say that number  (It’s hard for me  to type that number). I told her that it was difficult to face the fact that I am in my last year of my 40s. She just kind of smiled and said, “you’ll get over it soon.” And she had a look of wisdom in her eyes.

When I walked out of the library for my walk this was the first song that popped up on my iTunes. An odd bit of synchronicity. 🙂

Life

At my meditation group we give away, or dedicate,  the merit of our meditation to those who are sick or have died. We have a list that we write names on. The names stay on the list for a few weeks and then drop off the list eventually. We actually say the names  out loud at the end of meditation. (You can read more about the Buddhist concept of merit here if you are son inclined.)

On the list there are beloved pets,  loved ones,  celebrities, and  victims of a particular catastrophic event.

For as long as I can remember “Victims of High School Shooting” has  been on the merit list. This is such a common occurrence that it consistently appears on the Merit List week after week.

This is devastating.

Again.

We. need. to. do. something. about. this.

Something real and tangible.

 

 

 

We are the ocean

Life

Grasping at things is surely delusion;
according with sameness is still not enlightenment

– From The Sandokai

“Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean,
is the moment the wave realises it is water.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Our teacher gave a really interesting talk at our meditation group last night and it made me think, which always makes me want to write. So here I am. 🙂
I’ve mentioned that we are going through The Sandokai, also known as The Harmony of Difference And Sameness. It’s a poem written by Zen Master Sekitō Kisen in the 8th century. It’s chanted in Zen centers all around the world (You can read it here). 

Like other Buddhist texts, it talks about the idea of there being this idea that we are all connected, the idea of oneness. But it also talks about individuality. The idea is that these two ideas are not separate. They are the same thing. Sameness is the same thing as individuality.

There is a really beautiful metaphor that has helped me understand this concept. We are like the ocean but once in awhile we arise out of the ocean and become a wave. That moment in time that we are a wave is the moment of our individuality. But we are still the ocean. In the Thich Nhat Hanh quote above, he focuses on the oneness aspect of the wave, the fact that the wave is the ocean. But I’d like to examine the the fact that there is a wave that rises up out of the ocean. I’d like to look at our individuality.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading Sylvia Plath’s diary (still plugging away at that) and she mentions something about depression being anger turned inward. This really resonated with me. I don’t know if this is something psychiatrists still believe (since Plath was writing this in the Sixties) but I feel like this makes a lot of sense. When I am depressed it turns into a massive shitshow inside my brain, where I am really hard on myself. When I read this I decided that when I’m depressed, instead of turning on myself with meanness, why not examine what is going on inside my head and figure out what, or who, I am angry at. And then this examination of these thoughts about anger circled me back to the The Sixteen Boddhisatva Precepts,  one of which is “Don’t Indulge Anger, ” and which I’ve talked about before.

Do not indulge anger – cultivate equanimity. In the realm of the selfless dharma, not contriving reality for the self is the precept of not indulging anger. Not advancing, not retreating, not real, not empty. There is a brilliant sea of clouds. There is a dignified sea of clouds.

Anger is one of those emotions that really gives shape to the ego. When you are angry you are generally very concerned with Me (“That person did this thing to ME, and I’m ANGRY about it! HULK SMASH!.”).

Anger draws a line around our ego, it give shape to our our self. Perhaps it is that wave that arises out of the ocean.

I have read this precept thinking that I should resist anger, even though I know that isn’t what it is saying. I also feel like I have misread it to mean that we are not supposed to give a reality to our “self.” But I think I’ve gotten it all wrong. I think that it is impossible to ignore anger, and that it is not wrong to admit that there is this thing called a “self” and sometimes (most of the time) we experience it. So I guess I am going to have to go back to the drawing board on this particular precept, which is fine because I have the rest of my life to think about it. 🙂

Maybe I shouldn’t push anger away. Maybe instead I should invite it in. Offer it some tea and find out what it wants to teach me.

I feel like there is a lot of praise given to those times when we can see that we are all interconnected. I’ve experienced those moments and they are amazingly awesome. But I tend to resist the moments when I don’t feel interconnected, like when I’m angry (or depressed), when my ego is arising and I want to HULK SMASH something. But, according to the Sandokai, the HULK SMASH moments and the warm fuzzy feelings of interconnectedness are one in the same. There is no difference between the two. So from now on I am going to invite my anger to tell me what it wants to tell me. I’m going to honor it by allowing myself to feel it. I am going to allow my ego to arise, because it is OK for my ego to arise. It is more than OK. It is life.