Cozy

“Most people feel cozy enough in samsara. They do not really have the genuine aspiration to go beyond samsara; they just want samsara to be a little bit better. It is quite interesting that “samsara” became the name of a perfume. And it is like that. It seduces us into thinking that it is okay: samsara is not so bad; it smells nice! The underlying motivation to go beyond samsara is very rare, even for people who go to Dharma centers. There are many people who learn to meditate and so forth, but with the underlying motive that they hope to make themselves feel better. And if it ends up making them feel worse, instead of realizing that this may be a good sign, they think there is something wrong with Dharma. We are always looking to make ourselves comfortable in the prison house. We might think that if we get the cell wall painted a pretty shade of pale green, and put in a few pictures, it won’t be a prison any more.” ~Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

“I ask you though, Harold, is it enough?”  ~Maude

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Shhh…

One time a relative stopped by the house– I’ll call her “Kathy,” because that was her name– complaining that her life was seriously out of balance and she didn’t know what to do.

I suggested she sit quietly.

She immediately burst out into loud, sustained cackles, because the very idea of sitting quietly was so patently absurd to her.

We live in a world that never gives us a quiet moment. Cell phones, radios, television and movies, angry talk shows, gaudy billboards; they all seem to be conspiring to keep us distracted and occupied.

The pursuit of happiness is making us all miserable.

In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, by the way, it was worded “the pursuit of property.” Americans have been brainwashed to believe those are the same things.

They aren’t.

Kathy continues to be miserable, drama and chaos surrounding her like the winds of a hurricane.

And I still believe if she would just sit still, she could change her life.

And I believe that if enough of us just sat still, we could start a revolution.

We could heal this planet.

:-)

“When we smile, the muscles around our mouth are stretched and relaxed, just like doing yoga. Smiling is mouth yoga. We release the tension from our face as we smile. Others who run into us notice it, even strangers, and are likely to smile back. It is a wonderful chain reaction that we can initiate, touching the joy in anyone we encounter. Smiling is an ambassador of goodwill.”

~This quote has been attributed to Thich Nhat Hanh, but I’ve been unable to find an original source.  The sentiment sounds like him, the phrasing does not.  Regardless of who said it, though, it’s a nice thought.

Threes

My three favorite actors:

  1. Bruce Dern
  2. Donald Sutherland
  3. John Lithgow

My three favorite actresses:

  1. Laurie Metcalf
  2. Octavia Spencer
  3. Alexis Bledel

I enjoy watching actors like Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson build to a big explosive payoff, but I’m more impressed with the actors who can play the quiet scenes.

The most difficult thing for an actor to play convincingly seems to be joy. It’s not hard to make people feel sad, and making people angry is literally as easy as raising a finger, but the actors who can lift your spirits and bring a smile to your face are the ones who really have something special.

The Aroma of Pine

Excerpted from A Journey For Our Times, the autobiography of Harrison E. Salisbury, © 1983:

In the bay window where the Christmas tree stood, stiff lace curtains hung. Father had had candles on his tree since childhood in Mazomanie, and he had them as long as we celebrated Christmas at 107 Royalston, small candles of red, white, blue, green and yellow affixed to the branches with snap holders.

The tree was lighted at evening. Mother presided over a pail of water. Dad, matches in hand, climbed a stepladder and lighted the candles, one by one, until the tree sparkled with captured stars. Almost immediately the aroma of pine filled the room as the candles warmed the needles. Janet and I sat beside the tree in delight edged by fear communicated by Mother. Dad seemed oblivious of the moment, his gray-blue eyes distant, a smile on his face such as I never saw at other times. Mother hovered beside the water pail, nervously calculating the distance between herself and the tree, an exercise in emotional geometry. Hardly were the candles lighted than she said: “Perce– that’s enough, don’t you think?” Dad would stare at the tree. He was years away from the present. God knows what thoughts were passing through his mind. He would not answer. Possibly he did not hear. He sat and watched the play of lights, the reflected image on the plate-glass window. Three or four minutes passed. Mother spoke again: “Really, Percy, I think we’d better put them out. They’re beginning to burn down.” Soon, very quickly, she would stride to the tree and begin to snuff out the candles, and Dad, with reluctance that slowed every muscle in his body, rose and helped at the task. Christmas was over.

I just love the way he writes.  This is a book to read slowly, so every line is savored.

I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but that’s okay.

“About yesterday, no tears. About tomorrow, no fears.” ~Byrl Rather’s advice to her son, Dan

Personally, I am the Master of Distraction. I have no tears or fears because I mentally change the channel whenever a memory or premonition pops into my head.

I grew up in an era when we were advised to work through things, deal with things, confront things; I can’t do that. I don’t know what the process is, I don’t know what the goal would be.

I do sometimes wonder if my way is the healthiest way. We were always told that avoiding our feelings is a Bad Thing. But truthfully, this works for me, and seems to be working well.

I suppose it’s that old hippie mantra, “Live for today,” or those old Buddhist teachings about living in the present moment.

I don’t know if Mrs. Rather would approve or not.

I’m off now to cultivate my garden.