Skip to main content

My Gold Streaked Shadow

From exuberance, I talk too much when I should be practicing noble silence, our form of using functional speech sparingly. What am I yammering on about? Where is it coming from? There is a dark shadow, but in that dark shadow is also a streak of gold.

I talk from, Zazen, tea ceremony, sutra study, Buddhist philosphy, activism, calligraphy, creative writing, running, hiking, yoga and I even made a damn clay tea bowl, thinking I'd do that once a month, too,

My resume is ridiculous: Mason, Carpenter's apprentice, Dog musher in Alaska, English major, Middle School Teacher, National Park Ranger, Monk. These were big ideas.

Invited to a weekly Tai-chi class, I can barely contain myself. I won't be going, but I'm white knuckling for some rest.

And I love it all. If you asked me to not have done something, I'd ignore that. If you ask me to stop some of my hobbies, my attachment balks at the lack of diversity, the boredom, the static and stale day in and day out nightmare.

What's the shadow? I call it dilettante. That word makes me cringe and want to spit hot fire. And that smoke signal of suffering lets me know it's time to pay attention: I'm actually not good at any of the above listed things. Mediocre to barely proficient, at best (and that may be too kind).

However, that may be me, and it may be okay, because I'm a happy guy. In addition, I'd like to shut up about it, because I think my friends and family may find it exhausting. I know I do.

Oh, and I'm not beating up on myself here- it's just something I noticed, something I want to be careful with. The only thing I'd like to change is how my mouth flaps like a whippoorwill's ass. The rest I'll deal with in quiet, steady, observation.

For a deep bow to my gold streak, to the talkative but personable, to the dilettante interested in life, I give you my favorite poem of all time:

What's In My Journal

William Stafford

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand. But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable. Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous discards. Space for knicknacks, and for Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify. Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind that takes genius. Chasms in character. Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above a new grave. Pages you know exist but you can't find them. Someone's terribly inevitable life story, maybe mine. 

***
Cheers to the geniuses of deliberate obfuscation and being agreeable. May we be generous and compassionate with our gold streaked shadows. 

Comments

  1. As Yunyan was sweeping the ground, Daowu said, "Too busy."
    Yunyan said, "You should know there's one who isn't busy."
    Daowu said, "If so, then there's a second moon."
    Yunyan held up the broom and said, "Which moon is this?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. My favorite lines of a poem (April Inventory) I've always liked.

    There is a loveliness exists,
    Preserves us, not for specialists.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now this appeared in my inbox (!) so I read it again, and I have another comment. You are good at creative writing. Not writing for publication, not working on a novel, those things don't make you a dilettante at it, either. It's a gift. These days I find myself wanting to tell people, your gifts are supposed to be shared. I don't care to be logical about that; it's heart knowledge.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

We Are The Ones Who Can Die

This is me hunting hogs with a semi-automatic weapon. This was a past life( about 8 years ago.)

A lot can change in 8 years.

I grew up around guns. I received my first when I was 10 years old. I went to a high school with a shooting range in the basement, for the high school competitive rifle team. My dad, a career Marine, gave thorough instruction, you better believe. And for most of my life I could take them or leave them. I wasn't into guns like a lot of my friends, but I knew how to shoulder a carbine so the shell didn't eject and hit me in the eye.

That was in Pennsylvania. New Orleans was a completely different scene and the reality of gun violence really hit home (sometimes too literally). I have friends who have been shot in street violence and in combat zones. I have been threatened with a weapon and I have loaded guns with a notion of self defense.

And I used to believe that it was my right to do so.

But today I'm sad and I want to touch that sadness. I lost my …

The Transformation of Ceremony

Ordination Day

I want to say something about the transformational aspect of a ceremony. Like wine to blood, from person to priest, practice enlightenment as transmogrification. Like cucumbers to pickles, surprise! 
I underestimated the ceremony. After pursuing ordination for nine years I had visualized it into nothing. Having junior monks pass me by, then disrobe, then put the robe back on before I even got to wear it once lent a sobering perspective. Imagination dispensed. I sat and stitched and lived practice in a way where oryoki wasn't a treat, Zazen wasn't something I could talk about, and robes started to have gravity- they were not without weight. 
And I think that's the first element of my ceremony: a period of discernment and someone to discern with. In the case of ordination, my teacher, our tanto, and other priests served as mirrors and sounding boards for these two questions: Why do I want to be a priest and what is a priest? It was about as clear as wine tran…

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…