Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Day of Miracles

I wake today with miracles correcting my perception of all things. And so begins the day .... –A Course in Miracles

I woke up today with miracles on my mind. And in my heart. I don’t know what this day will bring, but I know it will be good. It started with a quick trip to the dentist to file off a rough spot on my tooth that my OCD tongue wouldn’t leave alone. In an instant my tooth was smooth. A miracle!

I came home and picked blueberries and raspberries in the garden to put on my cereal. I ate my cereal on the patio as I watched that naughty squirrel on the bird feeder. I have moved the feeder away from all the bushes, I have put a squirrel guard on the post, and still I find him nestled in sunflower seeds. I don’t know how he gets up there. A miracle! At least to him.

The day seems full of promise and possibility. I don’t wake up every day feeling this way, but I did today. A miracle for sure.

Last week I took my son James to see the Broadway musical The Lion King. We had seats on the main floor on the aisle not far from the stage. When the music started, the animals marched in from side doors down the aisle to the stage. If you have seen the show or any ads or news about the show, you know that the costuming is magical and the actors are channeling the animal spirits.

The animals paraded right by us. When the elephant lumbered by, James turned to me with eyes so wide and a smile brighter than the stage lights and whispered, “Is that a real elephant?” A miracle. I wept with delight.

Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. You can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

I am going to try today to appreciate all the miracles. My word of the year – attend – will be a good reminder (Word of the Year).

Look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Ezekiel 40:4.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Resistance is Futile

If you watched Star Trek Next Generation or Star Trek Voyager, then you recognize this as the robotic announcement of the Borg just before assimilating a lucky new species into their own perfection. At least that was how they saw it. The new species was generally not too keen on being assimilated, which meant losing their own unique individuality in order to become Borg drones. Indeed, the prospect of assimilation was terrifying.

The Borg collective was the primary adversary of humanity in both series. The members of the collective came from many species, but once assimilated, they were all linked to a single hive consciousness. As the Borg queen said so chillingly, “Our thoughts are one.”

Oddly, the Borg view of life sounds a lot like enlightenment. I identified my “main thing” as oneness (It’s Oneness, Beloved). I stated my unequivocal belief that if we are separated from each other, we are separated from God (Zero Degrees of Separation). I end some posts with Namaste – I honor the place in you, where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.

So why is it that when I think about oneness, it seems warm and fuzzy, infinitely desirable, in fact the only thing worth desiring, while Borg oneness sends any human, any individual of any species for that matter, into Red Bull charged fight or flight?

I just reread the introduction to A Course in Miracles, which begins -- This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.

For the record, this does not mean you have to read this exact book. It means that the essence of the course is the essence of all paths to God. If, ultimately, we all return to God, and I believe we do, then we all take this course in some form or fashion. Our lives are the course.

Even so, this introduction sounds a little Borg-like, except for one big difference. Borg assimilation is imposed in violent opposition to the will of the assimilated. The path to God, however, is a chosen path, impossible to describe, improper to dictate, and unique to each of us. Which is what makes it so darned interesting and fun. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nice Idea But ...

A reader posted this comment on the last entry (What Has No Opposite) – “Wonderful to read (one feels so right reading it!) and complex to live.”

So how can we live it? How can we stop ourselves before we get hooked in an argument that creates a chasm between us rather than a bridge? What techniques or reminders can we use to soften those “ancient habitual patterns” (as Pema Chodron calls them) of seeing everything and everyone in terms of right and wrong?

I certainly don’t have the answer, but I know that not being so quick to argue has helped me live more contentedly in my happy place. This reader’s comment led me to reflect on some things I have learned.

Perhaps the first thing was realizing that winning an argument doesn’t always make me happy. Being right must be its own reward, because often there isn’t much else to gain from it. At some point I decided that in many instances, being happy was more important to me than being right. Tough on my ego, but nourishing to my spirit.

When poised to do battle, I try to ask myself first if the issue has a “right” answer. For example, whether a particular restaurant is on SE Morrison or SW Morrison does have a right answer. The next question is whether being right is worth arguing about. In the restaurant example, it might be worth some discussion if y’all are headed to that restaurant for dinner and you need to know where it is. If it isn’t worth debate, then let it go. (I’m Right – So What)

If the issue doesn’t have a right answer, for example, what the best way is to get to the restaurant, then I try to recognize that the discussion is really an exchange of opinions. I can advocate for my opinion while still listening to and respecting other views.

Easy – right? Not. Especially if it is an opinion near and dear to my heart. I had a lot of opinions about the 2008 presidential election, for example. Opinions I felt very strongly about. I was blessed to have a friend whose opinions did not match mine. I say blessed because so many other people around me shared my views. I could voice an observation confident that it would be received with nodding heads and murmured support. I was in a virtual gated community of homogeneous world views. Except for this one friend.

Throughout the primaries and campaign we debated. I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone and listen, really listen. I was aware of the language I used, careful to distinguish fact from interpretation, mindful of the difference between reasoned judgment and personal attack. I had to acknowledge that both of us cared very much about our country AND (not but) had very different views about what our country needed.

The months of debate did not change our respective votes, but I was changed. I learned that when faced with someone who did not agree with me, I could be curious instead of critical. I could listen instead of lecture. I could respect rather than reject. And most importantly, I could connect rather than separate.

Do I put this into practice at every opportunity? I wish. But when I do, there is a shift in my world, a reminder that letting go of being right is often a small sacrifice for living in joy.


Friday, June 25, 2010

What Has No Opposite?

Being right is not all it’s cracked up to be. Think about all the things people argue about. Make a quick list of five things. Let’s see – here are the first five things I thought of.

1. Whether we should have a single-payer healthcare system
2. Whether a certain misbehaving NFL quarterback should be suspended
3. Whether any particular religion is the only way to God
4. Who really discovered America
5. Whether the toilet paper should roll over the top or from underneath

Ann Landers devoted a number of columns to this last one. No kidding.

Many questions that people spend a lot of time arguing about don’t have an objectively discernible right answer. Take the God question, for example. How can people be so sure that their way is the only way? My mom said once with great conviction that something was against the moral laws of the universe. Wow, I thought, how does my mom know what the moral laws of the entire universe are?

Sometimes even when there is a right answer, it doesn’t stop the argument. For example, the Nazis really did kill millions of people. And Obama really was born in Hawaii. But the arguments continue.

We are so conditioned to think about issues in terms of right and wrong. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety. My daughter is always the last one to order in a restaurant. She is simply paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice. Instead of thinking that there might be several right choices, that is, choices that she would enjoy, she is convinced that there is one and only one choice that will make her meal a pleasant experience.

For some reason, we are uncomfortable with the possibility of multiple right answers. In an article in O Magazine, Martha Beck calls this being “on the horns of a dual-emma.” It makes our little synapses sizzle and short out. Our world becomes more fluid. We lose our sense of security. It can be terrifying.

But, as Pema Chodron says in When Things Fall Apart, if we can catch ourselves just when we start to make ourselves or others right or wrong, if we can tolerate uncertainty, we can open up new possibilities and opportunities. “Our ancient habitual patterns will start to soften, and we’ll begin to see the faces and hear the words of people who are talking to us.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life is a Lover

My two autistic sons participate in a taekwondo class offered through the organization that runs the group home where they live. I knew James would love taekwondo, but he is a creature of habit and doesn’t welcome new experiences. When I talked to him about joining the class, he put his hands over his heart and said with exaggerated sweetness, “Mother, you know I’m a lover, not a fighter.” Ha! (He has always called me Mother, drawing out the “er” at the end. Grace does the most hilarious imitation of him. But I digress.)

By using excellent communication skills (read bribe), I convinced him to try the class, and of course he loves it as I knew he would.

In his sermon last Sunday, our minister told the story of a friend’s funeral. The priest, in the eulogy, observed, “For him, life was not a dark mystery to be anxious about. For him, life was a lover.”

Wow. What a concept. Life as a lover. What if we greeted life as we would greet a lover – with passion, eagerness, anticipation, joy, pleasure? How would my own life change if I thought about life this way?

For so many years of my life, I treated life more as an adversary, an adversary that usually won the round. Things didn’t work out the way I wanted. My baby had autism. My relationships ended. Tired, no, exhausted with my life as it was, I finally realized that the common denominator in all my disappointments was ... me. I set out to change myself.

These days I would be more likely to describe life as a friend. A good friend. But now I have a new vision of possibility. Of relationship. I think I’ll ask life out on a date. Now where are my dancing shoes? Nevermind, I’ll dance barefoot.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Roses and Rainbows

We are having a rainy, chilly spring and early summer in the Pacific Northwest. Too cold and wet to sit in the garden with my morning tea. But as I drove around town today I noticed the lush profusion of flowers. The highways are lined with cacophonies of red, white, and pink roses. Every little median patch is exploding with poppies and wildflowers.

And I have seen more rainbows in the past month than in the past decade. Even double rainbows. Now every time it is raining and the sun breaks through, I start looking for the rainbows and I almost always find one.

Rainbows make my heart sing. And you can’t have rainbows without rain. So while a little warm sunshine would be nice, the rainbows are a delightful consolation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yes Yes YES!

When my daughter’s coach would announce a practice drill, for example suicide drills (you sports parents know what these are), the team would all shout with enthusiasm (however false), “We love suicides, yes yes YES!”

When she was in middle school, I was distressed at the lack of grammar education she was getting, so I bought workbooks and set out to “learn her some grammar” over the summer. As you can imagine, this was met with some resistance. Somehow through all the excuses, delays, whining, and even some tears, we persevered. At the end of the summer we had trudged through nouns and pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. And some spelling as a bonus.

Before her school year got underway, she surprised me with a card. The printed part said, “Thanks! What you done were great! ...almost as goodly as my grammar! Heck, even more betterly!” How she found this perfect card, I don’t know. It was a Hallmark moment. But the best part was what she wrote – “Thanks for all your hard work. We love grammar! Yes yes YES!”

She took what had certainly not been the most fun part of her summer (or mine either) and made it a treasured mother/daughter memory, an acknowledgment that I was in her corner, paying attention, willing to make an effort on her behalf.

I give that coach a lot of credit. She taught the girls that to achieve takes some hard work, and we can choose our attitude. Celebrating the work energizes us and those around us, and keeps our eye on the goal.

Okay, I wrote this to get myself fired up for the day’s work.

I love cleaning house! Yes yes YES!

I love paying bills! Yes yes YES!

Here I go.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Roger That, Sparky!

Remember when Wendy finds Peter Pan in her room looking for his shadow? As she sews it back onto his feet, she chatters on until Peter scrunches up his face and says, “Girls talk too much!”

Well, I don’t know that this is really a gender issue, but I do know that sometimes I talk too much, especially as a parent. I overexplain, repeat instructions, and ... nag. When James was little, he would finally look at me and say in a robot voice, “Talking is over.” That used to crack me up.

What is all that too much talking about? I think it comes from anxiety, which triggers a need for control. And I tend to seek control with words. Someone once observed that my weapon of choice is a telephone. I have long been the family member or friend who writes official letters. I am a trained negotiator. I use words to achieve some desired end.

That can be a good thing, sometimes. But not so good when I use words to stifle someone else’s words, to take up too much space in the conversation, to silence opposition, to distrust someone else’s competence, to deny my own uncertainty, to win.

Recently, I was helping my foster daughter Grace write a cover letter for a job application. The job was one I encouraged her to apply for, and I did a little networking on her behalf to ensure that her application would at least get considered. I knew Grace was excited about the opportunity, and I also knew that when she gets excited or anxious, Grace can sometimes become immobilized instead of following through.

So I set out clear expectations (mine) that she would send the letter off right away. And shortly after that, I sent her a text message urging her again not to delay. I knew I was being pushy, that I was getting myself invested in what was really her business, but I couldn’t seem to let it go.

Grace would have been well within her rights to tell me at this point to back off. But instead of expressing irritation, she sent this reply text message – “Roger that, Sparky!” Sparky is Grace’s special name for me. I don’t remember when she started using it or why, but it stuck. She doesn’t use it all the time, but when she does, it carries much affection and always makes me smile.

When I got the text, I laughed and relaxed. Grace was acknowledging that she heard me loud and clear. She would follow through ... or not. But it was out of my hands. Since then, I have caught myself several times just at the edge of talking too much. I smile to myself and think, “Roger that, Sparky!” And let it go.

I think I must let go. Must fear not, must be quiet so that my children can hear the Sound of Creation and dance the dance that is in them. --Russell Hoban

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Email Option--Finally!

In response to several requests, I have added an email subscription option. If you want to receive an email notice of new blog posts, please subscribe using the box in the right column. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Speaking of family appreciation (Family Habits), today is my sister’s 70th birthday. Here are a few of the many things I appreciate about her.

When I was little, I got the measles. Back then, kids were kept in darkened rooms to prevent damage to their eyes while the disease ran its course. It was dreadfully boring. My sister made me a time box. The box contained many small, wrapped gifts, with a time label on each one. I could open one every hour. I don’t remember after all these years what the gifts were, but I do remember the anticipation as each hour crept by, and the delight of discovering what intriguing gift she had designated for that hour. Enduring several days of no reading or TV would have been torture, but enduring an hour at a time was manageable. Her creative thoughtfulness got me through.

I was the flower girl in my sister’s wedding. I was devastated over her marriage. Oh, her groom was nice enough (this year marks their 50th anniversary). But she was leaving me and I was crushed. She had a big church wedding with the reception at a nearby location. After the ceremony and all the pictures, I remember her coming through the crowd at the church, her white dress and veil billowing in the summer heat, She took my hand and led me to the car she and her new husband would drive to the reception. I sat between them on the front seat like a princess.

When I adopted Mia, I had very little notice before leaving for China to go get her. After I got the sudden and wonderful news, I called my sister and said, “Drop everything–we’re going to China!” And bless her heart, she did. I am so grateful she was there to share that joy with me.

When our mom was dying, my sister was the one front and center, while I lived far away. I made numerous trips home and tried to support both my sister and my mom as best I could, but the primary responsibility fell on my sister’s shoulders. All I can say is that you could not have anyone better in your corner. And after mom was gone, I was so grateful that my sister and I handled everything with loving care for each other. There was no bickering over anything.

My sister is an artist. A very good artist. When I started this blog, some people said I should write a book. I floated the idea past my sister with much uncertainty, and she immediately offered to design the cover. Now to understand what this meant to me, you have to understand that my sister has always been the creative one. The idea of a book seemed (and still seems) quite out of reach for me. But here was my immensely talented sister, without a moment’s hesitation, offering her encouragement and her fame to support me. I don’t know if a book will ever happen, but it doesn’t matter. The best part has already happened.

So, Susu, this day is yours. You are the best sister ever, and I have described only a few of many, many things I appreciate about you. Happy Birthday!

Family Habits

Just as I can settle into habits that don’t lead me to my happy place, our family can sometimes do the same. As my kids grew up, there were times it seemed we were in a rut of criticizing and complaining. Here are a few things I tried from time to time to break the cycle.

One daughter got in the habit of coming home from school and immediately launching into a list of things that went wrong during her day. I tried patiently listening, then tuning her out, but it was a downer. She was unaware of her own habit. It was her way of coming home and engaging, but she didn’t understand the energy drain of focusing on the negative.

So I tried something different. Before she got started with her first complaint, I would ask her to tell me about something good that happened at school. Sometimes she had a hard time shifting her focus to the positive, but once she could identify one thing, I would ask questions to expand the conversation about that event. That often led to remembering other good things that happened. The recount of good tidings helped make the transition from school to home more pleasant for all. And it helped to identify the occasional distressing event that warranted debriefing.

As a family, we sometimes fell into a pattern of criticism and hurt feelings and misunderstandings. We started a practice of appreciation dinners. Periodically, we began dinner by each person in turn identifying something to appreciate about every other person at the table. It might be a quality of that person, or something that person did or said. Sometimes this got pretty funny, especially when it came to James and Dan’s turns. Their autism gives them a unique perspective, so what they identified to appreciate was sometimes quite unexpected!

Does your family have practices or techniques to break out of negative ruts? I would love to hear about them. You can comment on this post, or you can email me privately. I will be glad to compile a list of suggestions in a future post.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't Trouble Trouble

I had a friend named Faye. Faye was barely five feet tall and weighed maybe 90 pounds. She wore the highest high heels. When I made reference once to her short stature, she drew herself up and even though in her heels she was still inches shorter than I, she seemed to be glaring down at me. Her eyes flashed as she growled, “I am VERY TALL.” She was like a toy Doberman.

Faye was from Mississippi. She had a rich Southern drawl and was full of Southern quips and wisdom. If confronted with an unpleasant possibility, she would brush the air with her hand and shrug. “Well, I always say don’t trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.”

Sadly, trouble did trouble Faye. She battled manic depression, and in the end, despite devoted friends doing their best to help her, she took her own life.

That was years ago. I still think of Faye sometimes. I don’t remember her in her manic or depressed cycles. I remember her when she was full of joy, real joy. She loved life even as she fought the demons that finally wore her down. I never heard her worry about the future. She went for the gusto. She was very tall indeed.

Do not worry about tomorrow’s trouble, for you do not know what the day may bring. Tomorrow may come and you will be no more, and so you will have worried about a world that is not yours. –Babylonian Talmud

Friday, June 11, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Remember when Dorothy returned to Oz to claim her reward for killing the wicked witch of the west? Her wish was to return home to Kansas. After the wizard accidentally flies off in his balloon without her, Glenda the good witch tells her she doesn’t need help to get home, that she always had the power to go home. When Scarecrow protests that Glenda should have told Dorothy that before, Glenda replies that Dorothy would not have believed her, that she had to learn it for herself.

She asks Dorothy what she has learned. Dorothy replies, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

How many times over the years have I seen this movie? And yet, how far have I traveled, how many books have I read, how many workshops have I attended, how many times in how many ways have I looked outside myself for the power to find my way home?

And for all that, have I learned anything different or wiser than what Dorothy learned in Oz? I don’t think so. But, like her, I guess I had to learn it for myself. And what have I learned? That the only place to find happiness is inside ourselves. If, as studies suggest, only 10% of our happiness is dependent on outside circumstances, that leaves a whopping 90% that is in our hands. And I’ve learned that the only time to find happiness is now. We can remember happy times in the past, we can anticipate happy times in the future, but the only time we can actually experience happiness is in this moment, this holy instant.

So I’m going to close my eyes and tap my heels together three times. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Love a Parade!

If you are getting run out of town, get in front and make it look like a parade.

I haven’t written for several days because I have been trying to practice what I preach. A few days ago, something happened that threw me for a loop. My feelings were deeply hurt. I struggled with how I was reacting. I felt angry and misunderstood and unappreciated. I felt confused and agitated. Old habits beckoned like the Sirens luring sailors to shipwrecks on the rocky shore.

I wanted to lash out with righteous fury. I wanted the person who hurt me to be sorry. I wanted other people to sympathize with me. I was feeding the victim wolf a whole buffalo (Which Wolf are You going to Feed). I was blaming and judging. I was separating myself from the other person. I was calling for love big time (Calling for Love). Fear blossomed like nightshade.

I was at least able to refrain from overtly reacting while I sorted things out. I sat with my feelings and tried to breathe into them. I knew I did not like the way I was handling the situation, but I was hooked. My feelings were stuck. Your feelings are your feelings – you can’t order them about. So I went down a level.

Our feelings are based on our thoughts and beliefs. Unlike feelings, we can choose our beliefs. If we can change our thoughts or beliefs, we can change our feelings. The Dalai Lama uses this method of cognitive intervention to replace anxiety generating thoughts with well-reasoned positive thoughts. I like it because it honors our feelings rather than denying them or trying to force them. Changing our beliefs gently and naturally changes our feelings of separation to feelings of connection.

For example, let’s say you are walking down the street and you pass someone you know who doesn’t acknowledge you. You might feel hurt or annoyed. But look underneath the feelings to the thoughts or beliefs. You might think that the person is upset with you, or that the person is a snob. Then you might think you have done something wrong. Or that you are not good enough in some way. Ask yourself if you know for sure that these beliefs are true. What if you changed them? What if you considered that the sun was in the person’s eyes, or perhaps the person was deep in thought about something and not aware of the surrounding people? Or perhaps the person was having a really bad day and just not feeling friendly. These thoughts generate very different feelings, even compassion. The event didn’t change, but your feelings are different now because you questioned the underlying beliefs.

So I tried it. And guess what – it helped. A lot. I am much better prepared now to meet with this person and talk about what happened. I hope I will be able to listen with an open heart and express love. I am feeding the other wolf now.

This method goes by several names, such as CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy). You can google either of these to get worksheets that will lead you through a series of questions. It is also described as recasting or rewriting the story. A short formula that is easy to remember is ABC – activating event, beliefs, consequences. This formula is a good reminder to question the B part, the beliefs.

And if you are still having trouble with changing your thoughts, here is a prayer I read this morning in A Course in Miracles.

Father, this is your day. It is a day in which I would do nothing by myself, but hear Your Voice in everything I do; requesting only what You offer me, accepting only Thoughts you share with me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Who Are Your People?

In the South, this question is sometimes asked as a way of getting to know someone. Who are your people means who is your family? Where is your community? How are you connected to me, in that six degrees of separation kind of way?

I was raised in Tennessee. My people of origin come from the Ozarks of Missouri. I have now lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost twenty years and call it home. When she was five, I took my daughter to a family reunion in the little Ozark town where our family comes from. We checked into the tiny motel, the only one in town. We walked into our room, which was hot as Hades and had a faint odor of mildew rising from the stained shag carpet. I had started trying to figure out how to crank up the window unit air conditioner, when Mia asked, “Mommy, what is this?" I turned and saw what she was holding. “Sugar, that’s how you know you are in a first class deluxe establishment. That is a fly swatter.”

While we waited for other kinfolk to show up, we moseyed across the road to the Wal-Mart. As soon as we walked in the store, I saw my cousin Jayma Sue. And there was Monty Max and Bonnie Jo and Wanda Fern. And more. Soon we were having a family reunion in the aisles of Wal-Mart. My heart was filled with the warm embrace of my heritage, and I thought with grateful affection “These are my people.”

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “All people are my people.” I was reminded of my Southern roots and the importance of knowing who your people are. I remembered that day in Wal-Mart. Can I look at all people with that same depth of recognition and affection, of connection not based on common ground but on common ancestry? After all, at some level, we all share common ancestry, don’t we? We are our people.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's Oneness, Beloved

I have been contemplating my hedgehog concept since writing about it last week (The Main Thing). If “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” then I want to know what my main thing is.

I can identify guiding principles in my life, such as the practices listed in the 10 Steps, but what is the one that ties them all together? Like the ring in Lord of the Rings. To paraphrase--One main thing to rule them all, one to find them, one to bring them all and in the light bind them.

When asked to describe his religion, the Dalai Lama replied, “My religion is kindness.” That is his main thing.

When I contemplated the theme of my guiding principles, what finally emerged was the concept of oneness. The concept that we are at our core one, one with each other, one with all life, one with God.

A Course in Miracles teaches that all suffering comes from our mistaken perception of separation. When we separate ourselves from each other, we separate ourselves from God. Jesus said that when we serve others, we serve Him. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Someone once asked, “Do we breathe or are we being breathed?” Perhaps there is a divine Oneness breathing life into all living things. We are all joined by this single breath.

Perhaps this is why I love the greeting namaste, which means “I honor the place in you, where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.”

I mentioned before the sign at Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters – It’s the economy, stupid. I think I will put a sign up that expresses my hedgehog concept, my main thing – It’s oneness, beloved.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's a Dog's Life

The following is an email that has been circulating for awhile – you have probably seen it.

From a Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

From a Cat's Diary

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now... Will keep you posted.

I conclude from this that dogs live in their happy place all the time...and cats don’t. So why do some people think that cats are smarter than dogs? More interestingly, why do cats think they are smarter than dogs??

I’m going to have a dog day today.

Take a shower! My favorite thing!
Eat breakfast! My favorite thing!
Do paperwork! My favorite thing!
It’s raining again! My favorite thing!

It’s going to be a great day! My favorite thing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

When I was a young hippie wannabe, I hitchhiked with a friend through Mexico and Central America to South America, where we planned to spend the winter and then go back up to Alaska to work again on the salmon fishing boats. Along the way, we stayed in modest (read dirt cheap) accommodations, sometimes in a home that rented rooms. These homes were in the shape of a square, with all the rooms opening onto a small, central courtyard.

I remember one place in particular. It was a hot afternoon in southern Mexico, and over in one corner of the courtyard there were several comfortable chairs in the shade. I went over and sat down with a book. A child came out of the nearest door and stared at me. I tried out some high school Spanish, and soon we were pointing at things and naming them in Spanish and English. A little later, some people who appeared to be his family came out and sat down, drinking some cool beverages, offering some to me. I stayed on for awhile, pleased to be mingling with the locals.

Let me make sure you have an accurate picture here. I was, at least at that moment, an unwashed, immodestly dressed, in full bloom flower child, hanging with this rather elegant, proper Mexican family, who did their best to make me feel welcome as they passed the heat of the day in this pleasant corner of the hacienda, while I pestered them with my tedious attempts to communicate.

Later that evening, one of the other guests, a more experienced traveler than I, took me aside and told me that I had been sitting with the owners of the home on their private patio. That trip was long ago and I have many memories of it, but none that taught me as much as that family, who, instead of shooing me away so that they could enjoy their afternoon siesta, graciously treated me as an honored guest.