mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: cosmos

“the whole world” . . .

truro 30A few weeks ago, I came across a saying online:

“When you realize there is nothing lacking,

 the whole world belongs to you.”   (Lao Tzu)

I don’t know if this quote is attributable to Lao Tzu or not, but it sounds like him, doesn’t it?

A variation that might follow along that theme is this quotation:

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

I don’t know who said that, but it strikes close to home for me. Throughout many years, being out on my own from an early age, raising children during a long and unhappy first marriage, then patching together a life afterwards with a demanding career in mid-life, I’m habituated towards feeling like my glass was half empty even though my brain might tell me that it was probably more than half full, most of the time.

Yesterday, I don’t know how this happened, but I woke up from that errant dream of being vaguely unhappy. Here’s how it came about.

A ritual I’ve taken on every year after Christmas was to look for the perfect winter coat at the after-holiday discount sales: a puffy but fashionable shiny black down three-quarter length coat with a huge, luxurious coyote or fox fur hood (real) that I had glimpsed in the New York Times Style page years ago and carried the clipping around in my wallet. This hunt served as amusement (or served as withdrawal from holiday shopping,) with a succession of coats tried on, delivered and then, mostly returned to the seller. Sometimes, I would buy one, then give it away to one of my daughters when they needed one more than I did. And so, the elusive coat search continued, at least until now.

Over the weekend, I looked at Patagonia, North Face and Nordstroms before I somehow found myself looking at “vintage LL Bean” listings on Etsy yesterday. I’ve been a fan of LL Bean for their quality, classic stock, especially in decades past. On about the eighth page of listings, I came upon a 1970’s vintage duffle coat, size Medium, in a deep army green with a yoked back, hood and a blue/green woolen plaid lining. It hung gracefully on the model in the photo, not crumpled up and bedraggled like others that were also online. In any case, as soon as I saw it, I instantly felt that the grand hunt for my winter coat was over. It had no fur trim, no contemporary flourishes, just a plain woolen coat that reminded me of my youth, truth be known. I also happen to have a loden shearling hat that G. doesn’t use and a Barbour tan and forest green plaid scarf that matches the color of the coat. Turns out that I had the accessories before I found the coat.

I don’t know if I can convey the sense of home or grounding that I instinctively felt with this coat. Perhaps you know what I mean. It’s as though one goes out looking for something and it turns out to be hanging on the line in your backyard or in a wooden storage chest that you forgot about or something.The other thing that this coat has done is to bring me full circle “back to my beginning” (a la T.S. Eliot) from the extravagances of decorating, food, gifts and spending that the holidays entailed; including taking everything apart, repacking the stockings, the ornaments, replacing broken ones, saying farewell to the Frasier Fir tree that was still fragrant, its needles still fresh to the touch.

As a loner at heart, my interests have been pretty insular for the most part, which is to say that I do most things I enjoy by myself: read, play the piano, cook meals, clean the house, knit, and so on. I realized after finding that coat that I have everything that I have ever wanted (and struggled for) including the most important intangible ones that are not always just up to us. I also noticed that my former habitat of being not very happy for most of my life had shifted to being happy without my truly “getting it” until now. This is not as strange or peculiar as it may sound. In any event, I awakened from feeling unhappy, to understanding that there is nothing keeping me from being happy now, except for old habits I wasn’t that aware of.

“When you realize that there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

Thanks to the Helpers of the Universe who have shielded, guided and pushed me to this place. It feels as though it has been an enormous struggle but perhaps at least half of that burden might have been of my own making and wrestled within my own head. Attitude is everything and mine has been edified by finding an old duffle coat and a quotation that floated by my screen unbeknownst from wherever.

As noted,  the Sage, Helpers and the Cosmos have helped me create a soft landing for my life. I just haven’t felt it to its fullest until now. And I am thankful more than ever.

signs . . .


Sometimes, I find that signs are visual, like a white bird that appeared three weeks ago, flying along the highway next to my car, then fluttering right in front of my windshield before flying off. It seemed like some kind of sign, but different from all the red cardinals which have swooped in front of me and which augured blessings or good fortune, like a pat on the shoulder from the Cosmos that I had encountered before.

Signs also appear in conversation when I find myself recounting something from the past, as I did with my daughters while looking at their aquarium, about how things were so hard twenty years ago and remembering someone who had appeared to help me and who had also given me a book on the I-Ching, my introduction to this Sage which has guided me to where I find myself now. I had searched for that person a few times over that twenty year span with no luck. This time, I came up with information of her married name, which I had forgotten. And for $1.98, I was able to obtain a phone number and three email addresses. When the voicemail message came on the cellphone, I recognized J.’s voice. It was she.

Days later, I had not received a response and wondered if she wanted to be found. That morning, on Saturday, I happened by a store selling futons, used books and clothing in town. On top of a small stack of books was one called, “A Flock of Fools” by Kazuaka Tanahashi. The name was familiar because I had taken a zen calligraphy class of sorts years ago at the Zen Monastery in Tremper, New York. Truth be told, I was turned off by the egotistical attitude of some of the monks during the sesshin sittings and wondered if this was really Zen. Or Zen-like. I realized later they were just being human. Meanwhile, I read Zen writers like Alan Watts, Suzuki, John Tarrant and the Taoist hermit seeker, Red Pine (Bill Porter). My father, before he died, wrote his own translation of the Tao Te Ching which he took from old Chinese texts.

Anyhow, so I chance upon this book which is signed, no less, and carry it home. When I arrive, there is a voicemail from J. saying she had been on a retreat and would love to be back in touch. Our first conversation revealed that she lived in a remote area of redrock country and will be ordained a Zen monk in December. I kid you not. She told me that she had worn a jade pendant that I had given her a long time ago that she hadn’t worn in years, around the same time that I began looking for her again.

Yesterday, someone suggested to me that I think about becoming a mediator. When I heard that, it was a bell-like sign that resonated with me. Back home, I found quite a number of options for mediator training and wrote to J. about it because they conflicted with a visit and a sesshin that I had thought about coming out for a visit at the end of September. Turns out her Zen practice includes mediation and facilitation as core training and that her sensei had also been a Director of Conflict Resolution for the Judiciary system in Utah. And as J. so succinctly notes, conventional mediation is “great for a transactional universe, but leaves a lot on the table in the transformational domain…Training in mediation and facilitation is a part of our formal (and formational) path — required of all the monks. Welcome to the new Shaolin Temple. Our action logic is no-shadows; no-conflict. An interesting evolution in the form of warrior energy.”

So after a long period of stagnation in my life filled with pessimism, exhaustion and oppressiveness, the appearance of the white bird has opened doors to somewhere new. The pace is accelerating as well. My faith in the Cosmos is renewed. Or perhaps its faith in me is refreshed. Either way, I am grateful.

fear. . .

blocked by fear


I’ve always had a sense of fear.. . ever since I was young and set in a place where I was alone, not knowing the language of this new land; set apart from the rest of my family once my siblings were born, one after another. It wasn’t just because I was alone a lot of the time. But because it seemed there was no one who understood that I might be afraid, nor asked me anything about it. At the time, I don’t remember thinking or feeling that I was fearful. That recognition didn’t come along until a long time afterwards.

Later in life, I was faced with so much to handle that I knew I had to give it up to a higher power and ask for help (see “eggs in one basket.”) After my divorce and jobless, living in a town where I hardly knew anyone, my Read the rest of this entry »

one wish. . .


I was in Porter Square yesterday for a late lunch and saw something that caught my eye in a shop specializing in Japanese pottery and decorative things. They were papier mache dolls of Daruma, used in a practice to focus one’s intention on a wish, place it into the Universe and follow it to completion.

Since Monday is the Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon, I bought two of these dolls, one for me and one for George–and have been thinking about what my wish would be. Apparently, you’re supposed to make the wish and fill in one eye on the doll (see Wiki Daruma doll photo above.) Each time you look at it, you Read the rest of this entry »

dad, upgraded to take-off . . .

                                                            

When we arrived to attend a small family service after my father passed away, the rental car agent asked if we wanted a free upgrade to a larger car with GPS. We said “sure.” Here’s the license plate of that “upgrade.”

The irony of this license plate is that my Dad was an astrogeologist who was at the right place at the right time: distributing moon rocks that astronauts gathered on the moon in the space flights taken in the 60’s. He was even quarantined for three weeks in a Gulf Airstream trailer with the astronauts when a glove blew a hole while handling the specimens. In an era of the novel, “Andromeda Strain,” it was thought to be prudent to isolate them, just in case. So, I guess the Cosmos thought it would be humorous for us to receive this last salute before my Dad took off into the wild blue yonder of the Universe!