Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We'll miss you Molly!

From the Star Telegram - Austin
"Molly Ivins, whose biting columns mixed liberal populism with an irreverent Texas wit, died at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at her home in Austin after an up-and-down battle with breast cancer she had waged for seven years. She was 62. "

Molly was a courageous and outstanding columnist who always kept this disaster (of leadership since 2000) in perspective for me.
I had hoped if anyone would be the first commander-in-panty-hose that it would be Ms. Ivins. . .though I am not sure that she actually ever wore panty-hose.

I am sorry she's gone.

Hold your seat

Pema Chodron shares in her Lojong / Tonglen teaching, the many mindfulness slogans brought to America by Chögyam Trungpa. Each day I think of another favorite. Today: Which ever one happens, hold your seat. This saying means, if you have a "good" day, just wait, things will change! While this probably sounds pessimistic to Western senses, it is actually quite wonderful. It admonishes us not to hold on too tightly to the good or to hold on too tightly to the bad. That kind of "holding" is the ego seeking solid ground. And, how true! I hear myself (or Satya) pronouncing what kind of "day" it was.
To hold your seat in the Buddhist sense is to be patient, to remain unattached, un-reliant on certain things happening or maintaining. To hold your seat is to be just as open to bad things happening as to good things.

I chuckle over this tonight, as I look back on a "good" day. I hope I have the courage tomorrow morning when I wake to welcome the day and all the good and bad it will bring.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More reform notes - high speed rail and compact flourescents

Not too many things more at opposite ends of the efficiency spectrum than creating a national rail system and adopting regulations that demand use of compact flourescent lights. The similarity appears to me, though, in terms of political will. Whether we aspire to change the major mode of transportation in this country or just to change the lightbulbs, regulation depends on leadership in congress, which actually depends (more than we'd probably like) on leadership in business. We don't appear to have either of these at the moment (can you say "major defense contractors and Big Oil"?).

Or maybe I've gotten it all wrong. Perhaps, as some suggest, it is possible for us to create this change (as quickly as the ice caps are melting) simply by using the trains and lightbulbs available to us now. photo credit Bruno Rodrigues

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mom: the Anti-adventure

I have heard mothers more than once inveigh against fairy ( faerie?) tales because, inter alia, there are no mothers in them.

Satya's watching Finding Nemo this afternoon and (guess what?) Nemo's mother is killed in the first minute of the film. Is it time to join "mothers-against-mother-less-faerie-tales" (MAMLeFT).

I realized while drafting the MAMLeFT charter, that there is a very, very good reason Moms are out of the picture in stories like Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Nemo and even Star Wars. If Hansel and Gretel's mom were around, their little jaunts into the woods everyday while Dad was away would have been HISTORY! They would have been sitting at home learning their lessons and getting some discipline (as well as a well rounded lunch!). The same goes for Snow White, Nemo and Luke!

That's not to say we moms don't have adventure in our blood. But we know that trekking off on pirate ships, hunting down witches and playing games of Truth or Dare must wait until after homework and chores.

In fact, nearly all of my childhood adventures occurred away from the maternal lair. The one exception: a spontaneous trip I took with my mom to Graceland when I was a teenager. But that's different. Elvis loved his momma and my mom loved Elvis. It was her adventure. Her mom wasn't there, and I had just come along for the ride . . . and the pink Cadillac key chain. Elvis bought that pink Cadillac for his Momma, so I guess even she needed an escape.

Turn the idea of motherless faerie tales on its head and I like it even more. Mothers have to be out of the picture because we are ultimately stabilizing, safe and reliable. We are ever the calm and nurturing harbor, the nightmare conquerors, perhaps even the wizards with the age-old answers. We are not companions forging the wilds. We are the soft embrace of home. Wow, it all sounds so conservative and old fashioned! How about primordial?

How about it's 1 in the morning and stable, safe and cozy sounds much more appealing than pirate adventures in a pink Caddy.

photo credit William Eckerslike

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Wish Game

I was going to write about how I can't sleep at night now that my friends and my friend's children are at risk of going back to fight in Iraq. But I won't do that here. I will write about that to the Boston Globe (if they don't publish it, I'll let you know what I said)

Instead, I am going to write about the wish game. It is much more productive of world peace, I think. Here's how it goes: Each person takes turns in a circle offering what they wish. But here's the trick. Your wish has to be for something you already have, or even better, are already experiencing.

What's the good of that?, you ask. Instant wish fulfillment. Instant happiness!

Isn't that what we Americans are always after anyway? It is the perfect combination of Buddhist practice and American culture. By wishing for what you have, you appreciate where you are and you make it brand spanking new again.

(Come to think of it, it's kind of like Bush's new strategy for Iraq. OK not really. And, I promised I wouldn't go there.)

So here's how it goes at our house--or actually in our car, 'cause that's the only place we play it:
Satya: I wish I were in the car on the way home
Me: You got your wish
Everyone: Yea!
Me: I wish I were going to law school...
Satya: You got your wish
Kuruna: I wish, I wish...stinkies!
(Ok, we don't really know what he is saying or what he means. I consider it the babel of a wise man)
Satya: I wish I were feeling udgy in my car seat and hungry
Me: You got your wish
Me: I wish I had two really silly kids...

You get the idea. I know it seems pointless and not all that funny. The path to enlightenment is quite unexpected...just start walking, you'll find it.

photo credit Mayu P

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What gives us the courage of our convictions?

Martin Luther King in his Letter from a Birningham Jail laments the "moderate whites" and "do-nothing Negros." There position on segregation is "bewildering." Better, he says to be against him than apathetic.
From the safety of a more integrated society, I can comfortably agree with King on the principle: say what you believe and believe what you say; don't avoid taking a position merely to ensure you are secure or don't offend. In easy times, your inaction is cowardice. In hard times, your inaction is a danger to society and civilization.
I have heard stories about "the Greatest Generation" - how they stood for something, spoke up about it, acted on it. The Boomers also marched and stood and sat-in. What does my generation do? We post to Move on. I am not even sure I know what standing on principle looks like.
OK, that's not entirely fair. There are some amazing individuals. But I don't see the mass movement. Can effective protests and social movement really be made in the bloggosphere? All I ever here is "watch what you post; your future employer may be watching."
I want to show my children how to speak and act with conviction. They do it so well, already. So what is it exactly that I am standing for? The Dalai Lama stands for altruism, compassion and non-violence in its many relevant forms. OK. I am there. I am a Buddhist, anyway, so that makes sense. But how this translates to daily life, this question still frustrates me.