Thursday Tidbits: The Whole World That is Home

This week’s Thursday Tidbits considers home, in particular the miles and years that make up the distance between what was home and what is home. It is surprising how far one will travel only to discover that one was always home.

Just recently, I made such a trek, a physical distance of over 2000 miles, and a trip in the making for many years. Some months ago, I finally made the plane reservations and as much as possible, I went into training by increasing my daily exercise and experimenting with different foods.

There was never a doubt the trip would require much more of me than the everyday life I have come to know.

I flew across the United States, leaving the subtropical climate of the American South for the high plains desert of the American West. It is no exaggeration to say that I went from sea level to a mile high in a matter of hours. My body is still recovering.

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Of course, there is no way to prepare for such a trip home, even one without such altitude extremes for what was home is now another place entirely with a life and tempo all its own. It is, essentially, no longer home.

“lift the veil
that obscures the heart
and there
you will find
what you are looking for”
Kabir (India, 15th century)

A visit to a location that was home requires us to open our eyes to what that hometown is now, a place we no longer call home and a place that no longer calls to us, save in memory. That is the veil we lift if we are to experience home at all.

There are streets not much changed and others completely new but already familiar to those who now make this town their home. There are new houses with new lives, making memories, and old houses no longer in evidence, not even a brick or board, but in memory they remain home.

The hours I spent in my former hometown— long enough to see the sun set and rise—was a constant barrage of sixties moments competing with the growth that marks us all, the march of time. The torrent of memories rained into the next few days, as we drove across one state into another, all familiar roads like the town that once was home.

For over four decades, the wide-open, windy vistas of the American West defined me–birth, youth, adulthood, and most of middle age—place was prominent in my life that was, often the only anchor in tempest-tossed seas.

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It is not lost on me that I mix the imagery of that past life–so arid and wild–with the life I have now, not as wild nor arid at all.

The place that I call home has changed from desolate, vast plains and mountain slopes of snow to the verdant green carpet surrounding Waverly pond as well as the Gulf of Mexico, blue beneath towering palms. And I have changed with it.

Now a sexagenarian, home is among the live Oaks draped with moss, creating one canopy road after another. In every season, something blooms or yet another color emerges in the ever-changing foliage. There is lushness in my later years and for me, that is as it should be.

I came late to the realization of “If you look for the Truth outside yourself, it gets farther and farther away” (Tung Shan). Yet, without those early years of traversing the high plains desert that held my heart, I might never have realized that what I sought was always within me.

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KM Huber Image

My trip home, these many years later, confirmed a life lived is just that, which is a lot. Driving across the desert plains in spring, I saw that old life in every sagebrush stock, rock outcropping, or hogback hill that whisked by my window. It all passed so quickly—just as it had when I lived it–vast and sweeping but complete in itself.

The whole world is you,
yet you keep thinking
there is something else.”
~ Hsueh Feng

For years, I thought there was something else but as I have shared on this blog many times, what is inside each one of us is the whole world that is each one of us. What is inside us colors the way we are in the world, for our everyday lives are a mere reflection of what is in our hearts.

The two regions I have called home are worlds apart geographically and geologically, and I am grateful for the gifts of each, for only now is home no longer a location but the whole world that I am in any place, in any moment.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

Thursday Tidbits: Unhooking the Pain

This week’s Thursday Tidbits considers “shenpa…the all-worked-up feeling of…getting hooked on a negative emotion” such as pain (Pema Chödrön).  In order to unhook ourselves from shenpa, we must give our full attention to our pain and that includes physical discomfort as well. We must immerse ourselves in our pain in order to release it.

KMHuberImage; oneness; St. Mark's Refuge FL
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In giving our full attention to our pain, we open up to the experience of it and not the drama or storyline we have told ourselves about our pain. Our storyline is what hooks us until we sit down in the middle of what is hurting us, forsaking its interpretation for its reality.

Anyone who has ever experienced chronic pain—physical, emotional or both–knows that this kind of shenpa can easily become the only story we ever live. Yet, when we give chronic pain our full attention, we change the idea of our pain. We are no longer content to live its story.

Unhooking ourselves from shenpa does not mean that we will be completely pain-free but it does mean we give our full attention to living the lives we have as the beings we are. Being in our pain completely is where all healing begins.

KMHunerImage; McCord Park; Tallahassee
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Essential to all life is water, and it has more than one form, yet it is either flowing or frozen. Mark Nepo suggests that how we deal with our pain resembles the form water takes. “For when trees fall into the ice, the river shatters. But when a large limb falls into the flowing water, the river embraces the weight and floats around it” (Book of Awakening).

If we view our pain as ice, jagged and hard, we risk living shattered lives of fear and worry, holding our shenpa close. But if we give our pain our full attention and release it branch by branch into the river of life, it becomes a burden we can bear.

We release the idea of our pain and experience it as is, moment by moment, within our flow in our own time. “Once given full attention, you will come back—one drop at a time— into the tide of the living” (Nepo).

Like the river’s path, our lives wend in ways we never imagine. It is life’s way, and pain is only one part, although it can last a lifetime. It is up to us whether pain remains sharp or a bubble in our daily flow.

KMHuberImage; McCord Park; Tallahassee; Florida
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We have to show up for every moment of our lives, pain or no, giving our full attention to life, trusting that we will absorb our pain and not be shattered by it.

For the people of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for the people of West and the state of Texas, we open ourselves to each and every one of you—victims and family members—for as long as it takes to absorb the pain. There is no limit on your courage or on our love.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

Thursday Tidbits: A Lasting Innocence

This week’s Thursday Tidbits considers April’s Bloggers for Peace theme, children and peace. Whenever I think of children, I think of animals for both remind that life on the physical plane is ever ongoing, is ever born in innocence, is ever lasting.

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Within all of existence, innocence is born again and again, always with the possibility of peace everlasting. For neither innocence nor peace carry the burden of judgment nor do children and animals.

Indeed, they are “all bright and beautiful as well as great and small.” Perhaps that is not a fair paraphrase of the opening lines of the Cecil Frances Alexander poem but I cannot think of children or of animals without remembering that classic poem. It is in their eyes that one sees the world as it is.

I am not a parent so my experience with children is limited to nieces and nephews that have always delighted. Another favorite experience was working with young writers eager to tell their stories yet they were also just as eager to listen, if the story was good enough. These days, I enjoy the grandchildren of friends and count myself most fortunate in that. The world through a child’s eyes is ever expanding.

Perhaps what is most revealing in both children and animals—beyond being forever young–is they are also ever present. It may be their greatest gift, this constant revelation that peace resides in the lasting innocence with which we are all born, and all we need to do is awaken what we allow to sleep within so soundly.

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Animals stay present their entire lives–no matter how long they live– they never lose their innocence of being, despite what some endure just to survive. For those whose innocence lies calloused beneath scars that nearly break them, they remain present. Innocence is, no matter how deep.

Unfortunately, what some children must endure just to survive can bury their innocence, too. Yet, innocence is the birth right of all beings on the physical plane. We do not readily recognize our innocence as adults—for we struggle to be present, if we are that aware—we look to the children for innocence we once knew, perhaps making sure it still is.

No doubt, it sounds unrealistic to view innocence as everlasting, and some would argue that a lasting peace is just as unrealistic but sometimes we pass life by, too busy defining what it should look like when all we have to do is look into the eyes of the nearest child or animal to remember what life actually does look like.

This week’s video features “Bless the Beasts and the Children,” sung by the Carpenters and complete with images of both beasts and children.

Hope you have a moment to browse the related posts about children and their stories.

My favorite children’s author is Adrian Fogelin. Her latest novel for children, Summer on the Moon, placed second in the Florida book awards for 2012. The book link is to her website so you may read all about her. She also blogs at SlowDance Journal where you will always find thoughtful essays.

Peace Garret provides six children’s story recommendations.

Bayard and Holmes remind us just how amazing and bright young people are with their youth achievement awards.

Grandmalin provides parent wisdom as well as words to the wise for the rest of us in respecting children in her April Post for Peace.

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Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

Thursday Tidbits: The Zen of Kitchen Tasks and Meditating Cats

This week’s Thursday Tidbits post considers Zen as revealed through meditating cats and kitchen tasks, the everyday of  Zen spirituality.

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”

Alan Watts

Perhaps more than I should admit, Zen spirituality is a constant in my kitchen, which is not to say that I am able to tend to the task at hand completely, far too often not. Rather, as I am chopping onion I consider what the next moment might offer. Rarely, do I consider the onion.

EmmaRose in MeditationKMHuberImage
EmmaRose in Meditation
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Often my musing ranges far beyond the physical plane–my own private “soaring with the over-soul*–rather than considering the outcome for the onion, usually mere mush.

At best, I might be considering whether I will scramble eggs or shred lettuce for a salad; both are dictated by the state of the onion and just how far my thoughts have strayed.

It is scrambled eggs if I am envisioning the next scene in my old woman novel but the salad may be saved if I have only strayed to whether or not laundry needs to be done. The answer to that is always the same, a crisp, clear “no.”

Every time I immerse myself in the Zen spirituality of the mundane, I discover something new. It never fails. To be fair, when my thoughts are anywhere but the task at hand, there are also discoveries, including the best tasting cup of coffee is made from the proper proportions of both water and coffee.

Regardless of the outcome, discovery expands the moment to its brim. There was a time that a burnt coffee carafe or hot, coffee-colored water dismayed me, and although I may greet those moments in resignation, I am able to see them in their own Zen spirituality.

Living with animals has taught me more about Zen spirituality than any other resource, including kitchen tasks. This week’s video, courtesy of ZenFlash, features just over a minute of cats meditating, which I found illustrative of Zen but not the kind of meditation that feline EmmaRose has taught me.

EmmaRose has always been a meditating cat but not with any kind of object, especially round and especially large, as she tops the scale at five-and-one-half pounds. For EmmaRose, small, round objects are for batting and chasing into obscure areas invisible to human eyes. She prefers meditating at the window, which she does daily, and she considers the panes carefully.

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Choosing Her Pane
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Often, squirrels are visible from the right pane while the left side might offer a darting, lime-green lizard–EmmaRose seems to sense the season for lizard viewing–the middle pane offers the most sun on any day. Whatever these moments provide EmmaRose, she is at her window to discover anew each day.

Who is to say whether or not she “soars with the over-soul”* for she has the light of day, which may offer a squirrel or the infrequent lizard as well.

I and my onion can only aspire.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

*Soaring with the over-soul” is from a satirical essay Louisa May Alcott wrote regarding her father’s involvement with 19th century transcendentalism. 

Thursday Tidbits: Digging Deep for “Meraki”

This week’s Thursday Tidbits considers meraki, a modern Greek word for that “extra something” we add to whatever we’re doing, no matter the task. Usually intangible and often inexplicable, meraki helps us immerse ourselves into whatever is at hand. We dig deep for meraki.

Over the last few weeks, I have had to reinvent my diet, in fact my entire daily way of being. Thanks to Prompts for the Promptless, I now have a word for it, meraki, which actually is often associated with cooking, that hard to identify ingredient or quality so essential to adapting to life.

Although I thought I was on a Slow Boat to Fitness, it seems it was not my boat at all. Last November, I began supplementing Meraki Momentmy diet with a few legumes, bread made from brown rice, and a few fruits. I was able to tolerate the extra carbohydrates but steadily the inflammation increased as did the discomfort. Only apples are still allowed.

At first, I thought it was the yoga so I modified my practice yet eventually, I had to stop. I continued with my walking but as the inflammation and discomfort increased, my distance lessened. Yet, after five months, I finally had a meraki moment.

Did I gain weight? Yes one day and no the next and then yes again, the usual roller coaster that has been my experience with the inflammation from degenerative arthritis and lupus. Overall, my weight did not change, which I attribute to the doshas of Ayurveda, of which I am kapha, mostly. Ayurveda eased me into my meraki moment regarding my food.

The ancient art of Ayurveda is not concerned with classifying carbohydrates, proteins, and fats but concentrates on the six tastes found in food: the hot tastes of pungent, sour, and salty; the cold tastes of bitter, astringent, and sweet. Those tastes carry different messages to the body and it reacts accordingly. Ayurveda is so much more than that but I am just beginning.

For me, Ayurveda provides a way to practice my meraki with maitri or loving-kindness as I let go of a diet that I enjoyed but did not provide my body the fuel it must have to fight inflammation and support my joints. I was looking outside myself for answers that were always within me:

If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are.” ~ Tung-Shan ~

Meraki helps me listen to my body rather than sending it commands to which it cannot comply because it does not have the energy. A return to yoga is actually relieving some of the discomfort in my joints, and the walking is easier.

With meraki, which always involves one’s enthusiasm for life, I have added daily trips to the delightful blog, Zen flash, an online temple offering daily posts of solitary images and transcendent lines.  It is a part of my morning meditation practice but I also visit at other times to remember:

“Everyday life

is not divorced from

the Eternal State.

~~Sri Ramana Maharshi

In the spirit of Zen flash, this week’s video offers Schumann’s Opus 15 as a moment of merkai from me to you.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

Thursday Tidbits: The Wu Wei In All of Us

This week’s Thursday Tidbits post considers Taoism’s “wu wei,” literally translated as non-doing or non action. Reaching for the good that is in all of us—listening to our heart over our head—is innate in us, as is the risk of opening ourselves to the world. In addition, wu wei is the current prompt in rarasaur’s delightful series, Prompts for the Promptless. Here is rarasaur’s description of the essence of wu wei:

“Wu wei, or non-doing, is a Taoist practice involving letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms.  In other words, it is the action of non-action.”

I had not considered wu wei for this week’s Thursday Tidbits until I read rarasaur’s prompt, yet wu wei encompasses the heart of the three posts I chose from dailygood.org. In considerably different ways, each is a story of the open heart, the voice of instinct.

An Astounding Act of High School Sportsmanship is about a high school basketball game in El Paso, TX. Although the video is no longer available, the words revealing the thoughts of the young basketball player will open your heart. It’s a wu wei reminder that every day we have an opportunity to let another person shine, to realize it is the other person’s light that is necessary, and our role is to make that happen. In this case, the game’s outcome was not in jeopardy for this moment was not about the game. It was about knowing whose turn it is and rising to the occasion.
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The second story opens with: “It says something about where we’ve come as a society that the simple act of fixing something that’s broken is considered a revolutionary act. Yet here we are” at The Repair Café. The Café originated in the Netherlands in 2010 and is slowly but steadily gaining global awareness. It is a decide-for-yourself café where people can learn how to fix items or have items fixed. They can have a coffee or read a do-it-yourself book to learn how to or wait for an item to be fixed.

The Café is a place to work with stuff—recognizing what comprises it and how it works—it is a place to hone inner resources as well, passing skills from one generation to another. It is the wu wei of sharing who we are and what we have with one another in respect for the resources of the planet.

Finally, there is the poignant story of Susan Spencer-Wendel who wrote Until I Say Goodbye, a book based on her year of living with joy. She used her iPhone to write her 89,000 word book as she only had the use of her right thumb.

Her herculean effort is consistent with her comment regarding her diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease): [I was] “equally grateful for a life of perfect health and determined to face it with bravery.” Hers is the way of the wu wei warrior, brave in her acceptance of what is and ever seeking all that it may give her.KMHuberimage

Wu wei is the way of the open heart, immersing ourselves into what is without trying to control the outcome. It is acceptance. Wu wei is not something we pursue but a reminder that our natural state is to open ourselves to all that we are so we may be:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (Elizabeth Appell).

This week’s video features the Indigo Girls’ “Galileo,” a man who risked a lifetime for truth.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

Thursday Tidbits: The Fragrance of Forgiveness

This week’s Thursday Tidbits post considers forgiveness, which is also the Bloggers for Peace challenge for March. Forgiveness may be the heart forpeace6of peace but giving and getting forgiveness from the heart is not easy for any of us.   

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.   (Anonymous) 

Always, we wish to know the fragrance of the violet but must it always come at such a price? It seems to be the history of humanity that it does, yet it is also the history of humanity to know peace, compassion, love, and equanimity, all inherent in the fragrance. We begin where we can, within ourselves.

Consider The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz:

  1. Be impeccable in your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best.

waters of forgivenessInherent in the agreements is maitri, of which compassion is certainly a form, but maitri is the complete and total acceptance of one’s self. No conditions. Maitri is where forgiveness begins, a seed that we all may plant, and as the seed grows, so grows our ability to accept ourselves.

In accepting ourselves, we pursue compassionate truth, regardless of outcome. We do not deceive ourselves for outcome is often a sticking point, but if we do not take things personally and do not make assumptions, we are doing our best to be impeccable in our word.

Anger has a role in forgiveness as well as in peace, and not to acknowledge anger is not to pursue peace. There is the anger from a closed heart, the kind we all readily recognize, and then there is anger that is not personal or based upon any assumptions, the anger of the impeccable word, the anger-with-the-heart-open:

“For when there is no desire to wound or punish or blame, we become able to speak with great clarity and power. We may roar like a lion, but it is a healing roar. We may be challenging, but we are infinitely fair. We may be outraged, but we are respectful. This is ‘anger-with-the-heart-open’ and it has a beauty, a passion, and a clarity that is unmistakable”
(Processing Anger With An Open Heart).

In forgiveness, we leave the past where it is, when it happened, who did it, and what occurred. We accept that the past cannot be changed:  

“Forgiving someone can mean giving them another chance, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because they need it.  When you forgive, you love.  You stop being a victim and you let go of the pain.  Forgiving others can give us back the laughter and the peace in our lives.”
(grandmalin.wordpress.com)

We immerse ourselves in the acceptance of all that we are and are not, our wisdom and grace, our missteps and shortcomings. We accept that all the life we have lived up to the present moment is the foundation for our being here now. On our impeccable word floats the fragrance of forgiveness.

This week’s video features an acoustic version of Matthew West’s “Forgiveness.”

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.