Thursday, June 26, 2008

a complete 180

Astonishment & disbelief were what I first felt when I learned today that the job my husband really wanted, the one we were told he had, the one we had packed half our apartment & reserved a room in Santa Cruz ready for a move on Tuesday--when we learned that he didn't have that job anymore. At least there is now no definite date as to when the university will hire anyone for it.

This all meant that we were not moving to the town we really wanted to go. We had just spent $90 on a storage unit we did not need. And that my husband now has no job waiting for him after tomorrow.

Yes, it blew me and my husband away. He's more recovered now. I was numb for a bit but I think I'm on the right road to recovery. It was just a boatload of change for the span of two weeks.

It was funny too because when I wrote my previous post (before this news came) I thought I shouldn't think in future terms such as "I will miss..." because I have no way of knowing really what the future holds. How do I really know I will miss something? How do I really know I will be in a different town next week? I don't. So I should focus instead on appreciating things in their moments, not of what feelings I may possibly be feeling should certain events possibly happen.

basil, beans & a preying mantis

Today was my last day volunteering at my cousin's farm. As I arrived I stopped at the apricot tree and picked two juicy, plump apricots. Delicious. Then I found my cousin. As I waited for him to finish washing his hands, I petted the cow some. I daresay she liked it since she put her head through the fence so she could be closer to me.

I harvested a couple rows of basil, which were planted alongside some green bean rows. God, it was so peaceful & beautiful. It's very smokey here due to the California fires, but the sun still managed to cast beautiful, warm rays of light across the basil, the grass & the other plots of thriving vegetables. The basil aroma was quite therapeutic too as I snipped the delicate basil stems. While snipping I happened to come across a very small & incredibly cool preying mantis! Later I escorted another preying mantis away from the basil cooler and into some other greenery. Maggie, a dog, would come visit me every once in a while too. I will miss the animal interaction very much.

There was a moment where I stopped, gently leaned back into the blossoming, light purple green bean flowers with their tiny pods growing long, breathed in the freshly snipped basil aroma, took in the rows upon rows of lettuces, tomatoes, potatoes and what have you that the sun was blessing with light, and just smiled. It truly was perfect.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata", Copyright 1952

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ego freak-out

Wow, did I have an ego freak-out or what? This past Saturday I read a few bits from Being Nobody, Going Nowhere by Ayya Khema. It spoke of Equanimity (Even-minded, like a go with the flow mindset) vs. Indifference (along with a few other topics) in Chapter 4. For whatever reason, my ego flipped out on me. For about 15-30 minutes (or longer) I questioned what I had been doing for the past 4 years.

Was I really a better person now?
Was I doing this all wrong & screwing up myself?
Was I really just indifferent instead of even-minded?
Was I really just hurting people and being cold & callous?
Was I being selfish in not being what others wanted me to be?

Did I just waste 4 years of my life cultivating my mind in this manner?

Thankfully my husband was here too. He asked if I thought any of this was true, what was my solution to it? I said I didn't know, my thoughts hadn't gone that far. He said the ego will give you no solutions, just problems. Afterwards he meditated (I always typo 'medicated' & have to correct it), and I did the same. I like to do light visualization meditations, and this one refreshed me back to my giddy, airy, light self.

I haven't had those depressed feelings in a while. I have experienced depressed emathy recently, but not the depressed where you feel really desolate & hopeless as though it's really you/yoursoul that's feeling it. It was nice being able to "snap" out of it. Back in high school, it took a few years before the depression subsided.

And so onward I continue, whether my ego likes it or not.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Gandhi's autobiography

I started reading Gandhi An Autobiography. I have owned the book for years but for some reason never started reading it. I am convinced the reason is because I wouldn't have understood it nearly as clearly as I do now.

What's funny is I started it two Fridays ago. A week passed before I read any more. During this week I made a vow (one could say) to stop drinking alcohol. The second Friday, when I picked the book up again, Gandhi was talking about how his vows (ie: vegetarian diet, non-consumption of alcohol, monogamy, celibacy) have been liberating to him. On this topic I'm not very eloquent so let me quote the passage that resonated with me deeply:

The importance of vows grew upon me more clearly than ever before. I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time I had not met with success because the will had been lacking, because I had had no faith in myself, no faith in the grace of God, and therefore, my mind had been tossed on the boisterous sea of doubt. I realized that in refusing to take a vow man was drawn into temptation, and to be bound by a vow was like a passage from libertinism to a real monogamous marriage. 'I believe in effort, I do not want to bind myself with vows,' is the mentality of weakness and betrays a subtle desire for the thing to be avoided. Or where can be the difficulty in making a final decision? I vow to flee from the serpent which I know will bite me, I do not simply make an effort to flee from him. I know that mere effort may mean certain death. Mere effort means ignorance of the certain fact that the serpent is bound to kill me.[bold added] The fact, therefore, that I could rest content with an effort only, means that I have not yet clearly realized the necesity of definite action. 'But supposing my views are changed in the future, how can I bind myself to a vow?' Such a doubt oftern deters us. But that doubt also betrays a lack of clear perception that a particular thing must be renounced. That is why Nishkulanand has sung"

'Renunciation without aversion is not lasting.'

Where therefore the desire is gone, a vow of renunciation is the natural and inevitable fruit.

(Last paragraph of Part III, Chapter 7- pg 207)

This is what I felt when I woke up last Monday at 3:00AM, my mind clear and my body horribly intoxicated, when I decided I was not going to consume alcohol anymore. I just spent this past weekend sober, the first weekend sober in a long while.

If I had read that Gandhi passage before I took my own vow, I know I would not have really understood what he was saying. But it was simply amazing to read over those words and to really feel the new truth I felt in them. My vow for sobreity liberates me from my ego's desire to get drunk. The part of me that loves myself does not want to trash my body anymore, and by taking this vow, I am free to carry on with my life without giving my ego any reason to indulge in "just one drink" with friends on a Friday night...which inevitably turns into two, and then three drinks every Friday night, and then maybe Saturday too....and why not an occasional weekday too to help with the stress?...

No, I am free from that.

falling in place

A few radical changes have been made this past month, but it doesn't seem radical since the previous months have been leading up to it.

Let me preface with some history: Late 2007 until early 2008 I was working a job that turned into a stressful nightmare. But it forced me to do a lot of things I would never have comfortably done before. It really made me grow quick. The ultimate lesson I learned from it is love for myself is first in my life. I didn't want to sacrifice my life & happiness just to satisfy a job or society.

After I left the job in March, I became a stay at home wife. I really wanted to take this time for myself, to recover, to detox, to heal & to learn more. And more than less I've been doing that. A month ago I decided to contact a cousin of mine that I knew lived in the area. I've known this for months and months, but just never contacted him. He was happy to hear from me and invited me over for dinner with his wife and two young daughters.

After that things quickly started falling into place. I was looking for a part time job because I felt ready to go beyond my shell again. My cousin's wife at this moment needed a new babysitter since the one she was using was moving. Babysitting is a job I've always wanted to do since I love kids, but couldn't since most businesses want education credits. My cousin offered me a summer gig in his garden to help weed & maintain it. This is another thing I've always wanted to do, being hands on with earth & such, but never had the opportunity or desired skills for it. My cousin's family have quickly and quite comfortably been added to our life here. Had I contacted them months ago, I'm not sure the same outcome would have happened. I was super stressed and probably would have felt too drained to maintain a relationship with them. Who knows though.

Either way, it's been a very pleasant change to my life.