Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"Well, I look at it myself as the beginning really, of an exploration. That's the reason we are exploring; you don't know what you'll run in to on an exploration... what the sky looks like, what the stars look like... will they still twinkle, or are they a steady light when you get outside the atmosphere..."
From the withered tree, a flower blooms, now I can see more clearly.
Monday, October 29, 2007
A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."
To receive, you have to be empty. I want to remain empty enough so that the lessons of life have a place to go.
Why did I do this? I wanted to rest. My meditation on passion was more than a list. I wanted to see what was inside of me, draw it out. I've seen it. There's more around, but it's out there now. Now, it's what's next. Next, a respite. Drawing everything inside me: the happiness, the joy, the pain, the suffering--drawing them in me, and releasing them. Like a breath--inhaling, then exhaling. Becoming my breath, becoming me.
Why fast? It is a cleansing of the spirit, an opening of the spirit, to receive more. It is looking inside, to see what is there and what remains to be gathered. To go down inside, to come back out again.
I don't what to be selfish in the things I do in life, but here, at least, I want to and need to be. This has been for me, and me alone. If others take something useful from it, all the better.
I rested to give myself a breather. To rest my fingers. To rest my head and recharge it. I wanted my thoughts and feelings to float, stir, marinate, appear, disappear, reappear. Just be. Roam, play, wander, without having to go anywhere. Ask questions without worrying about answers. Get answers, and not care about where the questions came from. Give up writing--for awhile--and pick it up again. So this may ramble a bit.
My body was tired from a long workweek. My soul and spirit needed a rest. I gave all of them what they wanted and needed.
Fasting takes faith. Faith in yourself to keep the promise you made to yourself. That in itself is a test. Sometimes a blog, or email, or RSS feeds can be distracting from yourself. The noise of everyday life can be overwhelming, to the point where you lose sight of yourself and where you are and who you can be. This weekend helped bring me back to center.
Questions come up without those distractions. Questions of passion, love, faith, hope, sacrifice, friendship, pride, manhood. What lessons remain for me to learn? Is the journey hard on purpose, to see what we are made of? What forms does love take? What sacrifices must I make to be happy? Why do I have to ask so many questions?
Fasting is not a place for self-pity or wallowing. It is a place for reflection. To plumb the depths of your soul. Root around, to see your strengths, and to polish what has become dull, darkened. Fasting is a workout, a spiritual one, to build muscles there, but sometimes not seen.
I've realized over the past few weeks that while my spirit can be knocked about, it is ultimately indomitable. I want what is best for me, and I am trying to achieve it. That is part of the journey I am embarking on. I've been down many roads, but not this one. I know the ultimate destination, but I don't have a map. The routes are foreign. The road not smooth. I wonder can I make this endeavor. What will be there for me at the end? Am I even in the right place?
I have talked a little bit about stereotypes before. Is it arrogance to not what to be like everyone else, to know what you have already? I hope not. I am a black male. Society thinks I need to be certain things, most of which I have little use for. The roles and the values I seek and want are much stronger and deeper than that. I understand what manhood is, true manhood; it's not what is shown on a video. It is so much more, so much deeper, than that. I tend to march to my own drummer. Which makes me different, gives me another perspective on life. Am I less of a man to have embarked upon this journey? No, to be a man, to be a human, you have to face moments like this. Moments where it is you and you alone. And move ahead.
Love. I have been asking myself what is love, and what love can be. Love is compassion. Love is selfless. To give and give until I can't give anymore. And then, give more. It's not about control. I can't control anyone. Sometimes, I've had to let love go, and it hurt deeply. Especially when the person gave freely as much as I gave. I have to give the full measure of myself in everything I do. If I can't, I tend to walk away. I will be hurt, and the other person will be hurt, but I don't know how to be there less than fully. It is something I haven't learned yet. Maybe this journey will teach me that. Maybe this journey will teach me more about love than I think I already know. If I hang on, linger, it's not because of clinginess, or desperation. Only because it's good. I want to pass on the goodness that has been given to me, let it flow back to that source. Allow it to flow. When I have reached inside of me lately, I have not found anger, I have only found love. True and deep. Even if it has meant separating myself, walking away from something I value deeply. Walking away is difficult. I should empty my cup.
What about friendship? Can friendship co-exist if desire exists on one side, and not the other? Is true friendship true love? Can friends remain friends after tumult? How does the nature of friendship change after that tumult? How deep are the roots of friendship? How strong can friendship be? This I can say--friendship is compassion. I am grateful to have seen this, to be awakened to it.
And back to love--is one kind of love more worthy, more special than another? Simply, I don't know. And that is fine. I have to find out. Again, questions.
The heart is a glorious device, physically and emotionally. It gets stressed, strained, broken, but it can repair itself. Mine is repaired, and stands ready.
I have let go of control. I have let things be. Let things go. Breathe them in, then exhale. Let go of my ego. Relaxed my grip.
Is love in places unseen? Are we awake to see these places?
I wanted to be empty this weekend. Empty of thoughts and feelings, even if it was only for seconds at a time. Most people are scared of emptiness, stillness. We feel a constant need to be going, going, going. We are not the Energizer Bunny. We need a recharge. To be still, and for even a few moments have nothing stirring inside, even as the world churns, bringing perspective. It makes you ready for the world again.
Sunday morning, I meditated. I just decided to lie down flat, palms outstretched, eyes closed, and just lie there. Allow thoughts and feelings to come inside, and then flow out. To breathe in, and breathe out, in silence. The music that usually plays in my head was stilled. It was a relevatory experience. At one point, I crossed my hands on my chest, feeling my heart beat, and feeling the blood, life, coursing through me. Some questions were asked, and a few answered. Some were not. And that is fine. Everything can't be answered in 40 minutes. It was good to find a place of peace.
Life is a journey of discovery. There are aspects you want to see, and aspects you wish you didn't. But you learn along the way. And, consciously or subconsciously, we help each other discover. We take, and we give, and vice versa. To be aware and awake. It's hard to find out that you really don't know as much as you thought you did. That's why you have to keep learning.
Life is a wondrous thing. Sometimes you try so hard to give someone what you hope, pray, they want and deserve. Sometimes, you fail. But sometimes, in the bargain, you give something wholly unexpected. And it works in reverse. Someone gives you more than they ever expected.
Life sometimes is not linear. Sometimes, it looks more like a child's first attempt at drawing. A mash, mess of squiggles that at first blush looks like nothing. But it is an attempt to experiment, to see what can happen. And to keep trying.
I feel that my roots are deepening. The foundation is becoming stronger. I want my roots to spread, and never stop growing. I want, and need, rain, metaphorical rain, to continue to grow. I want to always feel my soul, I want it to be ever-present, never go away.
I have fasted, I think, to prepare for this journey. To where, I have to put my canoe into deep water.
I am grateful for this journey. It won't be a walk in the park. I am grateful to be tested like this. It sounds odd, but unless you get tested every so often, how do you know what you have?
To be naked in the world is difficult. Again, this has been solely for me. Even saying this, I want to release the I and me. And try try try.
If anyone takes anything positive from all this, I will be glad.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
tears welling up in the middle of the day.
wanting to be in a million other places than this one.
feeling young, even when you're old.
your heart in your throat.
letting someone know, you remain in the heart
a heart stirring.
wanting to be there.
music in your head.
One night, I was coming of le Franc Pinot, a jazz club on the Ile St. Louis, in the middle of the Seine. It is this great, small basement club--very intimate and classically Paris. Instead of taking the shorter route to the next club, I decided to walk through the island. It was a cold night, the lights washing over the narrow street. Then, I noticed something falling from the sky. I looked closer into the light--it was snow. Falling gently, until the entire street, quiet, hushed in the late night, was illuminated in flakes. I stopped to survey the scene, take it in. And thought, this is the way that life can be. The peace I felt in that moment was something I've rarely felt.
The other? If I spend time with someone, I usually feel this urge, pull for away time, for me to be alone. This year, one time, I stayed. I didn't feel like going. I wanted to stay.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Zen has fascinated me for a while, its tenets of calm and peace, its universality. Meshing the two makes for something special. Larry W. Phillips wrote two books on the subjects, tying together two things that don't seem easily bound. I loaned out Zen, but still have the Tao. Either book is great for a quick lesson in how to be a card sharp, or to find a missing piece of life's puzzle. Turn to any page, and you'll find a nugget, a gem, to carry. Such as in Tao...
"When the opponent expands, I contract; and when he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit, it hits all by itself."--Bruce Lee
"Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending."--Hagekure, by Tsunetomo
These are applicable everywhere. Seriously. At home, or in the casino.
I can ask the same questions of this meditation. I don't know where this is going, or how long I can do this. If I feel it, I write it. Who am I aiming this toward? To anyone who feels moved by it. Why am I doing this? To see where I am, and to see where I know I can go.
Sometimes along the path, there is wavering, and wondering. The journey becomes rocky, day becomes night. You want to rest. You question where you are and where you want to be. Doubts creep in. You contine on through the night. Why? Because there is always a dawn.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
I talked about stereotypes earlier, and my, ahem, dislike of them. I've never fallen easily into boxes society places out for me. I've wanted to be guided by ideas and principles deeper than that. If you see me, and think I'm only 1, 2, and 3, just remember that numbers go on for awhile. It's a process of discovery that's hard to pull off in a short period of time. Sometimes, I even surprise myself with what I discover about myself. There's nothing wrong with a little surprise.
I am more that what the surface shows. A box can't possibly know what I have inside, or define me.
That feeling I had earlier, the one that scared me. It shouldn't have. That feeling returned this afternoon. Intially, the fear was there. Then I just allowed it to course through me. I felt it do its thing in me. And then, that was it. In and out, out and in.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
This is a koan from Zen Koans by Venerable Gyomay Kubose. It's subtle, yet all-encompassing at the same time...
Manjusri Enters the Gate
One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate, the Buddha called to him, "Manjusri, Manjusri, why do you not enter?" Manjusri replied, "I do not see myself as outside. Why enter?"
Kenny, throw me into the deep end of the pool. Just don't let me drown.
Meaning, play what you want, but help me play my best along with you.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I named this blog so because of a deep belief in myself. It's not one of ego or arrogance, but I believe in myself too much to count myself out. That persistence has gotten me trouble. But the persistence isn't out of malice, or spite. It comes from knowing what's in my heart is true and bountiful and willing to share. The feeling in my heart now is a wonderful feeling. It's never too late to feel that.
Finally, after weeks of hints and teases, it came. Luxurious droplets of water from the sky. Such sweet thunder has never been heard. The dash to the car was wonderful as the rain hit me and spotted my clothes. I got in the car and drove, and the sound of the rain against the roof was utterly delicious. A beautiful, sonorous chorus. I drove past my place, wanting to feel and experience the gray, hear the tires splash against the wet surface.
When I got home and out of the car, the heavy rain hit me, as if to give me life. The feeling was blissful. I gasped for air, wanting to take it all in. Putting my things down in my apartment, I went back outside to stand in it, to gasp, to soak it all in, to feel its life. To wash me clean and make me whole. I came back in, soaked to the bone, but refreshed. The warmth I feel now feels better because of it.
It's no wonder why I loved Brussels so much.
(I know I am repeating myself, but the waters of life feel good. I want to swim in them.)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Back when I was little, I had a devil of time learning to tie my shoes. I just couldn't get it right. Until, one day, my little hands got it right.
Back when I was a kid, it took me the longest time to learn to ride a bike. I couldn't trust myself to balance on two wheels. Until, I just did it. Then, only the wind could catch me.
Starting out hasn't always been easy for me. There's been an anxiety, a wanting to perform so well that I stumble to the ground. But I've always come back and met the challenge. No, I've never been perfect. Far from it. But I have been persistent. The failures I've had, in obvious and mysterious ways, give me confidence.
Even in the midst of sadness and sorrow, you have so much to be thankful for. That sadness makes you aware of what you have, and what is present, even through tears. And, what is possible. Though it's old, this letter stands strong in the test of time. (the link is safe). Just the act of saying thank you in the face of adversity is empowering. It emboldens you, builds your courage to face what comes next on the journey.
This person should know they are special to me. Always. I have not abandoned you. Now, as ever, this special person, their words and their spirit, give me nourishment.
For me, it's this. To give everything I have inside of me to that one special person. My heart, my soul. Everything that I know I have inside. My heart and soul want to flow freely to someone. Let them bathe in the warm waters of the river that is me. Support them, nourish them, watch them be happy. To share in the journey of life. My heart and my soul are abundant. They are waiting, willing to give and to share.
A new job, a new car, can't do these things. Only the heart and the soul can.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Every time I make the journey back, my mom always sends me off with food. This time, as in the past few times, it's been soft-shelled crabs. But something a little different this time around. She packed the crabs in a small cooler, and just gave the cooler to me. I was a little surprised, as I thought she would need it somewhere down the line. But she gave it freely and willingly. And that's today's lesson. You can give and love unconditionally. This is a lesson I am continually learning.
Monday, October 15, 2007
"Every Warrior of the Light has felt afraid of going into battle.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at some time in the past, lied or betrayed someone.
Every Warrior of the Light has trodden a path that was not his.
Every Warrior of the Light has suffered for the most trivial of reasons.
Every Warrior of the Light has, at least once, believed he was not a Warrior of the Light.
Every Warrior of the Light has failed in his spiritual duties.
Every Warrior of the Light has said 'yes' when he wanted to say 'no.'
Every Warrior of the Light has hurt someone he loved.
That is why he is a Warrior of the Light, because he has been through all this and yet has never lost hope of being better than he is."
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Something is weighing on my mind. How can I let go of something I care deeply about? Is that possible? Is that right?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
And there, in the distance--the clarion call of thunder. I can't remember the last time I heard it. The wind has brought in cooler air, and hopefully with it, fall. Mother Nature is making everything right.
Wade Phillips, the coach, said to Romo, "Wouldn't it be amazing if we won this game?" Romo was thinking the same thing. "I'm always thinking that we're going to go out and score on the next drive," Romo said.
The sequence was incredible, but then came the finish. Kickers rarely get any credit, especially if they fail. Nick Folk, the rookie kicker for the team, wasn't nervous as he tried to win the game in the dying seconds. Wasn't nervous as the Bills called a timeout, negating his first attempt. And certainly wasn't nervous as the ball sailed through the uprights on the second attempt, clinching the win. Simple confidence. When asked if that was that was the biggest kick he's made, he said simply, "For now."
The Cowboys had no right to win a game they played so poorly in. Classic trap game. And yet. They never gave up on themselves. They knew they had a chance. They gave themselves that chance. And they succeeded.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The best teacher I've had though, is experience. The failures of the past are just steppingstones for the next adventure. The urge to walk away, leave it because the failures seem so hard, is tempting. But you keep moving, because it's right to do. And those failures shine a bright light on what is right when it comes. And it does comes.
Reincarnation is not supposed to be about becoming a butterfly, or a bird, or a tree, but becoming a tree. It's about becoming your best self. That is a good lesson to keep.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
That gave me strength, a lift. More gas for my tank.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier--Colin Powell
Friday, October 5, 2007
Through the haze of the early night, many of the city's skyscrapers were lit in red--urging the Phillies on. Urging me on.
Looking up through the sunroof, I saw some stars out. Giving me another lift. A boost for the spirit. A place to aim for.
I'm going to ride down to the City of Brotherly Love a little later. To feel the lights. The speed. Play chess at 65 mph. To feel some of that spirit. Get in touch with my inner underdog.
(Yes, I've run up the steps. The view of the skyline is amazing.)
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Here's a quote from Albert Murray's book "The Hero and the Blues" ...
Nevertheless, the image of the sword being forged is inseparable from the dynamics of antagonistic cooperation, a concept which is indispensable to any fundamental definition of heroic action, in fiction or otherwise. The fire in the forging process, like the dragon which the hero must always encounter, is of its very nature antagonistic, but is also cooperative at the same time. For all its violence, it does not destroy the metal which becomes the sword. It functions precisely to strengthen and prepare it to hold its battle edge, even as the all but withering firedrake prepares for subsequent trials and adventures. The function of the hammer and the anvil is to beat the sword into shape even as the most vicious challengers no less than the most cooperatively rugged sparring mates jab, clinch, and punch potential prize-fighters into championship condition.
Heroism, which like the sword is nothing if not steadfast, is measured in terms of the stress and strain it can endure and the magnitude and complexity of the obstacles it overcomes. Thus difficulties and vicissitudes which beset the potential hero on all sides not only threaten his existence and jeopardize his prospects; they also by bringing out the best in him, serve his purpose. They make it possible for him to make something of himself. Such is the nature of every confrontation in the context of heroic action.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The episode points to something amiss in society. People want what they want, and they want it now. They, we, aren't willing to wait for a better version of something, knowing it will come. We want it right, straight out of the box. And we're treating the device--as cool as it is--as this world-changing thing, when all it is, is a phone. That's all. By itself, it won't solve global warming, the situation in Iraq, the situation in Myanmar. If we only attached the same amount of significance to those areas, imagine what could be accomplished.
Monday, October 1, 2007
I've been waiting for months for an invitation to Joost. It's an internet TV application that has a ton of free programs. They've been quite parsimonious with the invites--at first blush, to keep out the rabble. But it's likely it was to make sure their servers were ready for the pounding they'd take today, when they opened the doors to everyone. It was worth the wait (CSI!), despite those damn ropes.