Thursday, April 23, 2015
One of the main teachings in Shambhala about meditation is the importance of using a fresh start when needed. Not to be mistaken for taking a break, fresh start is dropping the technique for just a moment, still seated, in mid-meditation, when you feel you have fully lost what you are doing. This fresh start you can take at any time - stop meditating, reconnect, then begin again freshly.
This can feel like a spring breeze coming in the window for the first time in however long you have been sitting. Finally feeling your breath, you know you are alive again.
This is how it feels coming out of sickness for me, too. Though I can get bogged down with all the "things I supposed to be doing," there is also a miraculous quality of appreciation for my health, no matter how major or minor the illness. In the case of a cold/flu, as I had a few weeks ago, breathing became very hard for awhile. So the simple act of breathing took on huge importance and felt very fresh as it returned. In fact, getting better for me paralleled the arrival of spring, with a strong sense of the chilly but warming air actually helping my lungs and sinuses lose some of their fire.
The key thing about fresh start - and I am reminding myself as much as I am reminding you, dear reader, is that it not only can happen all the time, but it DOES happen all the time. While we are stuck in our stale suffering, the world is changing, micro- and macroscopically around us all the time. While impermanence can get a bad rap - the old aging, sickness and death stuff - it also means we have a fresh opportunity in every moment. That can be scary or it can be exciting - it's there no matter what we think of it.
Friday, April 10, 2015
|My mother, in her twenties in Northern Ireland|
Today would be my mother's birthday.
I know the first question you want to ask me: how old would she be?
I am not 100% sure. This is because I cannot seem to remember her birth year, no matter how hard I try. Because I am in touch with some of her childhood friends, born the same year, I have some confidence in saying she would be 73. But I could stand corrected, certainly.
Recently I have begun writing a different kind of memoir. I know, I know, don't start writing another book, Miriam! But this one is coming out naturally, not taking energy from other projects. It's a different kind of writing, more standing outside and looking in rather than telling what happened from a scene-based experience. I am sure a lot of it comes from reading Abigail Thomas' latest memoir, What Comes Next and How to Like It. Anyway, as I usually share a post about my mom on these days, here's a tiny piece from my zygote memoir project, which I am calling (for now) Your Face Before Your Parents Were Born (after the old Zen koan). It's rough draft.
I have many stories I tell about my mother, and even more I tell about the two of us. In particular, I have single stories, threads with common themes I have told over particular eras of my life.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
The memoir is outstanding and also difficult to get through - childhood poverty, racism, molestation. But Blow is an amazing writer. The ways he depicts and discusses the sexual abuse (listen from about 17 minutes on for a few) are lyrical and frank. The ways he talks about sexuality, bisexuality in particular, are hilarious and mind-reversing.
This is a link to a great talk*/interview about the book, even if you don't/haven't read the book. This man is wonderful at taking what is inside and giving it space.
*A footnote that the first fifteen minutes or so are pretty awkward. The interviewer and Blow have awkwardly differing opinions on social programs and segregation. Don't let that dissuade you from listening on.