June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Life is a series of moments, one bleeding into the next, mostly unnoticed. Time speeds up, slows down, sometimes both all at once. Time isn’t constant. It seems to change according to the moment, adjusting to the moment, flexible one minute and rigid the next.
I’ve been working on a writing project for a few weeks now. Time has stood still during the moments when I am at a loss for the next word, and yet it has ruthlessly sped by most days with little to show on the written page.
So far I’ve extensively explored my obsession with index cards and fountain pens. I am completely obsessed with index cards. Also discovered that they come in multiple colors! Where have I been all these years? So now, I can color code all my notes. One color for plot, one color for characters, one for setting, one for literary devices…… I know, very exciting stuff.
With all the OCD jokes aside, index cards can be increcibly usefeul tools. Jot down ideas, thoughts, plans, points of reference, whatever, and they can be easily tossed when proven useless or rearranged to plot out an intricate project. They can be used to plan a special event, with various aspects of the planning process organized, or to organize the diffferent points of research within a thesis paper. I’ve been obsessed with index cards for years. At least they are cheap and easy to come by.
Yep, a life organized by index cards. Or rather, organized by color coded index cards.
June 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
Questions, doubts and concerns. We all have them.The difference is that some people question their choice of footwear and use of accessories. Other people question life, their own existence, the validity of claims made by the government, the possibility of life after death, and other boring things.
My life up until now has been based on questioning, on doubting what I am told. When did people begin just accepting what they’re told? When did it happen that people stopped thinking for themselves? Please, don’t think I’m accusing everyone of being brainless. Not at all. But I do think people on a general basis don’t even realize they’re being manipulated by the created world around them.
How many people acknowledge that the basis of advertising is mind control? Manipulation of the masses? Really, think about it. Advertisers use methods of psychology in order to sell their products. Their success is based on how effectively they convince the consumers that they need their products in their lives, in order to feel more complete. The basis of commercials is to lay seeds in the minds of the watchers in the shortest blurb of time possible, short due to the general lack of attention span. Sometimes we don’t even know it has happened at all. Somehow, though, the influence is there. When shopping at the grocery, at Target, wherever, we glimpse a product and for some reason we feel the need to put it in the shopping cart.
If you don’t believe me, look at studies in psychology, advertising and the manipulative techniques utilized.
The first time I started thinking about this was when visiting with friends I began noticing that the majority of them had matching laundry products. Yep, I thought it was hilarious. Most of them had never noticed it before. If their laundry detergent was in an orange bottle, their fabric softener was usually in an orange bottle as well. If one was blue, the other was usually blue. Just one aspect of advertising: linking products and messages with color influences and preferences which we think are our own.
What about the bigger issues in life? What about matters of the heart, the mind, the spirit? Am I evil by birth? Am I born a creation of sin? What right do I have to question established dogma? Is there one truth? One and only one way? How much is held by people in authority, limiting understanding and knowledge, in order to keep a handle on the public? It used to be that the ability to read and write was reserved for only the wealthy. Why was that? Education and information hold the ability to transform the mind, make it flexible, able to grapple with larger issues. If people begin challenging status quo, then the general equation of the sheep syndrome begins to crumble.
I don’t know if I’ve been too sure about much of anything in my life, except for the fact that while growing up I didn’t believe most of the stuff I was spoon fed about the nature of the world. When someone says, “Well, that’s the nature of the world.” My response is, “That’s the nature of your world, how you choose to accept it.” I cannot accept that people are innately bad. I cannot accept that people don’t care. I cannot accept that at all.
I think people are innately good and that they are concerned about others. I think our true nature is beautiful, not sin. I also think that as a society we have become so fragmented that it is increasingly difficult to relate to others on a personal basis. Fear has been spread in our society to such a degree that may of us even fear our neighbors. How many times have we ignored people we’re passing in a hall, on the sidewalk, in a store, simply because we keep ourselves so guarded? From where did all this fear originate?
I work as a nurse. In the beginning, I doubted myself everyday. I was terrified I was going to literally kill a patient because I did something wrong or forgot to do something altogether. I was absolutely horrified to have all those peoples’ lives in my hands. It took me about a year to feel comfortable. Now I’m okay with the stress level. I actually became comfortable with questioning myself so as to ensure patient safety. I think the moment I stop questioning myself then I run into the danger of lowering the standard of care I provide to patients. It’s good to keep an edge to one’s self, to not get too comfortable, so we can continue to grow in whatever roles we might find ourselves in.
As for the monastic aspect of my life, a friend of mine asked me about the path recently. Sure, I still have questions and doubts, concerns about it all. I don’t know if there is ever a time in which I truly feel, “Yeah, I can do this right!” Conversely, I live every day with the Buddhist teachings as my compass, attempting to live mindfully, hoping that one day I will be able to realize the true beauty that the Buddha taught, while acknowledging the vast existence of my many imperfections. Living with religious vows has not tied me up, but rather it has allowed me an opportunity to step beyond my constructs as well as beyond the usual sexual innuendos that plagued my past and pop culture today. Yes, I am imperfect. That doesn’t mean that the imperfections are sins. It means that I acknowledge that I don’t always make the best decisions, that I’m not always right, that I don’t have all the answers. It also means I’m open to learning, listening, and working towards a world that more fully embraces its own beauty with tolerance and understanding instead of dogmatic bigotry.
At the same time, living with monastic vows has required me to closely examine myself, my mind, the contents of my heart. It has required me to be more honest with myself than I used to be. How do I define myself? Do I continue to attempt to define myself? I am not the typical monk. Yes, I received full vows. I live according to the vows I accepted. Yet I do not live in a monastery. I live with a house full of rescued cats; one has only three legs, one with a cranial nerve six deficit (poor thing is so cross-eyed he has difficulty not running into things), among others running around and chasing one another. As I don’t have the usual supporters, I have to work to support myself. You know, food, water, rent, those sorts of things don’t magically manifest after the ordination ceremony.
While attempting to remain mindful, I also try living creatively. Sometimes I take out a camera and see how I view the world through the lens. Other times I attempt to write something of substance, poetry or prose, if only to amuse myself.
Questions, doubts and concerns are important. Pay attention to them. Nurture your ability to see through what you used to believe was the truth. I think the moment we cease questioning, well, we cease being human.
June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
“The urge for freedom is timeless.
Out of necessity we are thrown into the fight.
Within the fight, some learn to dance.”
“Can a ritual born out of slavery become a modern day movement?”
“Capoeira, comprised of stylized dance and ritual combat takes its cue from the sacred music of the berimbau. Born from slavery and reborn on the modern streets of Brazil, Capoeira proceeds from the timeless urge for freedom. With stunning cinematography this feature length documentary film from BlueDot captures the ballet-like beauty of Capoeira while also exploring the history, myth and symbolism behind its graceful moves.”
June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
~Anaïs Nin ( 1903-1977)
The Diary of Anaïs Nin
June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday at 2 p.m. I put in my two-week notice at my present place of employment. I’ve worked there as a nurse for about a year and a half. While there, I’ve been told that I am an asset to the facility. Funny thing is, by 5 p.m. yesterday, my position had already been filled. Easily replaced.
By that point, some people appeared more concerned regarding who was to take my position instead of where I was going or what I was to be doing. How quickly the current of life can change, carrying us away with it.
I have found that people call too many people their friends, when in fact they are associates. Associates are individuals we stand to gain something from by being associated with them, be it position, prestige, promotion, increased visibility, etc.
Friends don’t care if you rise or fall, if you gained five pounds, or if you drive a hooptie of a car. Friends are there regardless of our imperfections. Perhaps we are brought together because of the imperfections, and not in spite of them.
My last day at work will be the 24th of this month. To be honest, I’m more than a little nervous about it. Inevitably I’ll detox from the stress incurred even subconsciously from the intensity of working as a nurse. Our minds might be okay with stress at times, but I have found that my body doesn’t forget, nor does it forgive very readily.
I leave for retreat the second week of July, so I’ll have a little time before then to settle into a retreat mood. I will finally be able to catch up on some studies, sit a little longer in meditation each day, go for a jog, maybe even re-approach Ashtanga yoga.
What I won’t be doing is rushing about trying to get everything done on a predetermined time table. I won’t be running up and down the halls of a medical unit trying to manage multiple pain levels while answering telephone calls and requesting additional orders from physicians while coordinating with the pharmacy department while providing education to family and patients and at the same time supervising a 24 bed unit and maybe eat a few bites of lunch. And that’s just the first half of a usual shift.
As of now I don’t have a definite source of employment to return to after retreat, no funding for continued financial support. I’m beginning to be okay with that. I will probably have an interview with a hospice agency when I return, to work as a hospice nurse, but nothing is guaranteed as of now. I’m simply living with the groundlessness, having faith that everything is going to work out.
There’s a discrepancy between what is and how we perceive it. I’m attempting to be still and let go of how I perceive my life to be. I’m attempting to see it for what it is. And in the mean time, freaking out . . . just a little.