Tuesday, November 16, 2010

European Vacation

A guest entry, courtesy of my beautiful son, who is a gift -- and one of my precious rewards ...

Well, we arrived in Paris at slightly after midnight. We met E---- just outside his apartment and walked up his six flights of stairs to his box of an apartment. It's small. Like, seriously small. Imagine Erin's but half that size. He had bought some bottles of wine, so we drank a bit at his, and then made our way to the bank of the Seine, where we met up with some of his friends from Paris. We basically sat there until five a.m. drinking wine and catching up, nothing too extravagant. 

The next day, we awoke to pouring rain and absolutely miserable cold. Regardless, we took a 5 hour walking tour around Paris, which is a great city. I accidentally paid 4.50 euro for a Coke and learned not to order anything without a price list. One of life's little things. We then, following our marathon tour, went to visit some friends from T-------- who are studying abroad there. They have an amazing apartment down near Mouffetard, which is a great area, except it makes you hungry all the time due to its awesome food stands and restaurants. So we had sausage bolognese and drank tons of wine. Content to keep drinking, since it was only eleven or so, we tried to find a liquor store open, but to no avail. In response, we ducked down into the hookah bar down the street and smoked there for another hour or so, until the place closed. Very fun stuff. 


No one looks at the shining moon and values it less because of its scars and craters. Nor do we hold an infant and criticize it for not be able to sing. We don't close our eyes to the wise sage because he needs a cane to walk.

Each of us are flawed creatures.  We have good points and bad points, strengths and frailties.  As we age, the frailties multiply, but wisdom, hopefully, grows.  It is as if the body and conscious self exist on opposite trajectories.  Eventually, if we live out long lives, we become mostly a long collection of memories, including a lifetime of insights.  At the same time, our body will be at the brink of failure.  Death will soon arrive. Yet, the unique value of such ancient wisdom can only be understood to exist in the ancient vessel.

To be content, you need to recognize and accept yourself as a whole being whose positive qualities could not exist without the negative ones.  Why?  Because that is how they have manifested themselves in the world.  There is no other human being like you, and your unique physicality and age are inextricably woven into who you are.  There could not be one without the other because that combination does not exist, and never will.  It is this understanding of your unique nature that allows for a feeling of love and acceptance to be directed inwardly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Meager Food For Souls Forgot

"Now listen to this, I'll tell you about the heartache 
I'll tell you about the heartache and the loss of God 
I'll tell you about the hopeless night 
The meager food for souls forgot 
I'll tell you about the maiden with wrought iron soul"

My journey to a place of happiness began just over seven years ago.  It was my wife's idea to go to therapy, which remains for me to this day just one example of the good she brought into our lives.  She knew something needed to be done.  I resisted initially -- not necessarily vocally, but certainly by inaction -- for the main reason that I did not want to share with anyone the intimate details of my lousy marriage.   But, in due course, I decided that I really needed a third party to pass judgment on my sanity.  A little over a month later, my wife decided that she had enough of therapy, and I stayed.  I'm still there now.  And when I look back to this dark time, this dark night of the soul that lasted for almost fifteen years, it seems like another man's life.  I look at him with compassion and kindness, just the way I look at my children in their moments of pain and frustration.  With help, I extended my hand to myself, in the way one would help a dear friend, and we began our walk towards Paradise Garden.  He's wonderful company, I'm happy to report, and really funny. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shedding the Timeline

I don't expect you to believe any of this.  I didn't.  I once could hear only the sound of the words.  They were empty and paradoxical.  But, after years and years of disciplined searching with a unique guide -- a man who was both a Buddhist and a therapist -- a lightness and warmth came over me.  I found a sense of joy and contentment as I had never known.  My heart had been opened, and so, too, had my eyes and ears and fingertips.  Measured by the way I used to live my life, and the values of Western society, I'd both lost my mind and found it.  I discovered renewed joy -- and the resulting success it brought -- in my vocation and my avocations.  My encounters with friends and strangers alike grew more communicative and deeply satisfying.  My ideas and expectations about relationships changed for the better.

Both a returning and a beginning, happiness, when found, sits comfortably with you.  It warms your heart and your head.  Everything, from joyful to tragic, feels lighter.  Like illusions whose strength depends on how strongly we believe in them, matters on which our most pressing concerns once rested, and the concerns themselves, dim to the point of a sympathetic smile, and, where once was anxiety, sadness, or loneliness, lies our embracing of a child and its misadventures.  Us.

Pursue pain, grief, anguish, insecurity, fear, and hatred as your dragons.  Each blow you deliver to one weakens all of them.  And one day, the biggest dragon of all, you, will learn to love himself and his children, for they are one in the same.

That is what this blog is about.