Paradox Practice

Wayne Dyer (Wikipedia photo)

I didn’t grow up practicing to be a paradox so when Wayne Dyer writes, “practice being a living, breathing paradox every moment of your life”* it seems a tad…paradoxical. Yet, my life of duality brought me only contrasts, opposites, comparisons and yes, judgment—all balancing acts of duality and not of the “paradoxical unity” that is the oneness of the Tao.

This I discover after almost 60 years of living but I do discover it.

More than thirty years of my life have been with lupus, an autoimmune disease that now actively lives with me permanently, unlike its earlier years of extended stays but then it had other names.   Truly, I understand “the name that can be named is not the eternal name.”

Regardless, lupus was made to order for practicing paradoxical unity.

For years, juggling balance, stressing no stress, and unlimiting limitations were my duality, uneven at best. The effort of trying to order my life out of chaos was like touching the wind. Yet, chaos, like every storm, has one, still eye that allows …”apparent duality while seeing the unity that is reality…[an] effortless action without attachment to outcome.”  By no longer focusing on outcome in my life with lupus, I replaced the trying and the effort with what is moment by moment.

Being requires a lot of presence–“duality is a mind game” that is always ready for a match–so I get a lot of paradox practice.

*Attribution: All quotations are excerpted from Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, Hay House, Inc., Carlsbad, CA, 2007.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking:

From January 2 until February 4, my goal was to write 250 words per day—as blog posts, fiction, or nonfiction–for an approximate total of 8250 words.

On February 4, I started the “30-minute” stretch in which I write for 30 minutes daily. So far, that has generated just over 3700 words, averaging about 900 words a day. It takes care of  a lot of my mind minutia so my other writing is more focused, and I fuss less.

Where Risk Resides

Wikipedia photo

When risk is choosing this one or that, I always think of  Linda Pastan’s poem, “Ethics.”

In ethics class so many years ago
our teacher asked this question every fall:
if there were a fire in a museum
which would you save, a Rembrandt painting
or an old woman who hadn’t many
years left anyhow? Restless on hard chairs
caring little for pictures or old age
we’d opt one year for life, the next for art
and always half-heartedly. Sometimes
the woman borrowed my grandmother’s face
leaving her usual kitchen to wander
some drafty, half imagined museum.
One year, feeling clever, I replied
why not let the woman decide herself?
Linda, the teacher would report, eschews
the burdens of responsibility.
This fall in a real museum I stand
before a real Rembrandt, old woman,
or nearly so, myself. The colors
within this frame are darker than autumn,
darker even than winter–the browns of earth,
though earth’s most radiant elements burn
through the canvas. I know now that woman
and painting and season are almost one
and all beyond saving by children.
Linda Pastan, from the collection Waiting for My Life (1981)

The poem sets up an array of caveats—whether the woman is loved or a stranger, whether or not one is mature in experience or just beginning to experience life, whether or not to choose—each requires risking this or that, one or the other, or not at all.

Mark Nepo writes:

“There is no substitute for genuine risk…the very core issues we avoid return, sometimes with different faces, but still, we are brought full circle to them, again and again” (The Book of Awakening).

Avoiding risk, somewhat akin to eschewing responsibility, seems to be a circular choice every time. Yet, in oneness—here and there, this and that–risk is whole, not one or the other, not old or young but the one truth that resides in us:

“It is we who, in our readiness and experience, keep coming back, because the soul knows only one way to fulfill itself, and that is to take in what is true” (Nepo, The Book of Awakening). 

Maybe that’s why the poem puts the annual question to children, who are no strangers to truth.

Rhythm of ROW80 Sunday Scheduling:

On February 3, added a 30-minute writing stretch—free writing that is timed—it helps clear the minutia of the moment so my daily writing is more focused.

Alternating short fiction, novel, and blog posts as daily writing

Doing the Tao with Dyer, still stuck in duality

Nepo morning meditation continues

Day of Freedom

On this day of the noble SOPA and PIPA protests to protect Internet freedom, here is the freedom story of  beagle Snoop (now Cooper) and feline Emma (now EmmaRose), who got a little help from another beagle named Gumby.

Ten year old Snoop and his cat, Emma, had been together for all of Emma’s six years. Then, their elderly owner was admitted to an assisted living facility. The “mature pair” was taken to an animal shelter where they were separated immediately.

Snoop’s geriatric status meant he was not adoptable so he was facing euthanasia. Emma was being held, although she most likely would have contracted a respiratory infection as she waited, which would have meant euthanasia for her as well.

Second Chance Farms, Inc. (SCF) decided Snoop and Emma deserved better. “We became aware of their situation and couldn’t help feel sorry for this lifelong pair who were first separated from their beloved owner and then from each other. We decided to take them both into our program so that they could be reunited and have a chance at being adopted by a forever family.”

Five months later, my beagle, Gumby, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She was an elderly, SCF graduate, whom I’d adopted. For three years, I took her beagling, and she taught me Zen. Thus, on January 19, 2011, I found myself turning down the familiar SCF road– tears turning  into sobs of  loss—then, the moment passed. Gumby was with me.

SCF seemed to sense Gumby’s presence as well. “As if Gumby had orchestrated the whole thing, Snoop and Emma were welcomed into the open arms (literally) of Gumby’s mom. Snoop clearly knew that his job was to help Gumby’s mom heal after the loss of her special friend, and he eagerly greeted his new mom with many kisses and excitedly jumped into the car (along with his cat, Emma) when it was time to leave the farm to head to their new home.”

Today is Snoop’s (Cooper’s) eleventh birthday and tomorrow, January 19th, he, Emma (EmmaRose), and I celebrate our first year together.

As Dr. Mac said to Snoop just before we left, “You did everything right.”

Indeed, you did, birthday boy, indeed you did.

Rhythm of ROW 80 Wednesday Words:

  • Since January 2, I have written at least 250 words per day or more than 4250 words.

Become a Lake

In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo relates the story of a Hindu master and his young apprentice. Weary of the novice’s complaints, the master sends him to purchase salt.

Upon the apprentice’s return, he is told to put a handful of salt into a glass of water and drink. “`Bitter’” is how the apprentice describes the water. The master smiles.

They walk to a lake. The apprentice is told to throw a handful of salt into the lake and then drink from it. “`Fresh’” is the apprentice’s appraisal of the water’s taste.

“`The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain… remains…exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.’” 

The salt of my last few days—staggering car repair costs, injured feline, lupus lurking, increasingly arthritic canine, a mere 320 words whittled from Chapter 1, no regular blog post, no Leashed post for—disheartens, discourages, what ifs abound, fear surrounds.

Five-and-a-half pound feline EmmaRose snuggles the Internet modem box, her laceration and antibiotic injection not even a memory. Beagle mix Cooper James yips as he runs through his dreams; when he awakens, he’s just as happy.

“`So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is…enlarge your sense of things….Stop being a glass. Become a lake.’”

ROW 80 ebb and flow for January 8-15th:

  • Drafted a new plot point for my novel; wrote through its context and purpose.
  • Anchored structure of novel; opening scene revision close.
  • Incorporated ROW 80 goals into my meditation work with Nepo and Dyer.
  • Became a lake.

Attribution: Hindu story and excerpts from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, Conari Press, York Beach, ME 2000.

The Tao of ROW 80

“The Tao is both named and nameless.
As nameless it is the origin of all things; as named it is the Mother of 10,000 things.”
In naming my ROW 80 goals and publishing them on my blog, I named my writing, oblivious to the nameless.

“Ever desireless, one can see the mystery; ever desiring, one sees only the manifestations.”
On Sunday, I named my desire to write for two hours in the morning, which I did only on Monday. I could not see the mystery for my desire of hours.

“And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding.”
My ROW 80 writing goals–my desires—lead me to the way of writing always, a lifelong mystery for me.
1. Write through my novel again; at the end of ROW 80, I mark my words.
2. Publish weekly on my own blog and submit a bi-weekly post to
3. Morning meditation with Nepo; daily with Dyer “I do the Tao.”

 Note: The ‘T’ in Tao is pronounced as a ‘D’.
Attribution: All Tao quotations excerpted from Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts–Change Your Life, Hay House, Inc., Carlsbad, CA, 2007.

ROW 80 (01/08/2012)

I know better than to announce which day a blog post will publish. Ditto for submission deadlines to, although Leashed will be submitted soon.

Frankly, it feels good to be struggling with the familiar structure issue. It certainly is a reason I am participating in ROW 80.

Tomorrow, I start writing for two hours each morning.  By next Sunday, I hope to have a specific time designated but that may be a step too far. Lupus lives with me  24/7 so structure with flexibility.

Have begun my work with the first verse of the Tao–the nameless and the named 10,000 things–in Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.  The idea of writing a blog post for each verse appeals to me, daunting as it is. For now, the verse provides enough energy.

My morning meditation with Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening continues to work well. May have found a daily routine for the rest of my life.

First ROW Check In

So far, I am writing at least one hour every day. The wording on this goal is deliberate in that an hour’s worth of writing–usually more– is accomplished each day. My plan is to make this goal more specific as the 80 days count down so there is no word count this week.

As for blog posts, “Grace in the Ether” is in draft and will be published on Saturday; between now and Sunday, I will submit “Leashed” for

By Sunday, I hope to make my morning meditation a regular part of my routine.

The Tao work is not yet defined.