Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Zen Dance Lesson, Ouch My Toes Hurt!

"The Japanese word for crisis, kiki, translates two ways: as "danger occasion," but also "danger oppor-tunity."  Look for the opportunity in the chance occurrence.  How you react to the unexpected reveals your true spirit.  In this dojo, learn to fall like a cat -- on your feet."  Philip Toshio Sudo, "Zen Guitar"

Well it was hardly a crisis situation but it was the unexpected and rather than land like a cat, I did the stunned bird slides down the window routine.  And we won't go into what my true spirit looked like when it was revealed.  I don't think I am quite up to that sight.  If you'd seen it, you'd probably have called 911.

You've heard me call my mother my great teacher if you've stopped by here before and yesterday, class was in.  We were doing our tango of pain.  She doing a little manipulation, me feeling angry and trapped.  (I thought we were done with that one!)  Just when you think you're out of the woods, another tree falls on you.  And yet, and yet .... I know this is what practice is about.  Life does not exist to make me happy.  And sometimes we are just not that skillful ....  That was yesterday and today I have the misery hangover.

 And if I didn't already feel bad and mad, my Zen teacher reminded me that I can do better, I can come up with some creative solutions to the problem.  She reminds me how I walk right into these things and that my view of my mother is coloured by seeing her as a manipulator.  And she reminds me that my aim is really to respond with compassion to my mother.  She acknowledges that this is all difficult but that she knows I can do it and that's what training is all about.  If I'm looking for sympathy (which I am, just a small slice, please, with a little ice cream) I won't find any here.  Do you know the old joke  about if you're looking for sympathy (one of my personal favourites and a bit too rude to repeat here) you'll find it in the dictionary between 2 words that begin with S.  I'll give you a hint, one is a venereal disease and the other is the impolite term for excrement.

So I'm feeling kinda low.  It's March, it's snowing and the pace of my day has felt like I'm walking in molasses.  But as I feel sorry for myself I am jolted awake as I read a piece on the  situation in Tibet over at Chaplain Danny's blog and I think to myself, man what are you complaining about?  It snaps me into a new reality.  As Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca "my problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world..."  And I lighten up a little, not a lot, but a little.  There's a full moon hanging around outside the bedroom window right now, ginger tea and cookies are on the way and life is pretty good by any standards. We'll try the kiki thing again tomorrow.

bows to you all and good night.


  1. Yes, my sympathies are with you! with 2 scoops of rocky road dowsed in chocolate fudge with a cherry on top :)

    Wish I had something more "spiritual" to offer you...

    My brother and his wife arrived today for 5 days. I am witnessing myself revert into someone I do not recognize and feel completely unprepared, unskilled and totally paralyzed by the "family bolus" of emotional pain and turmoil (which I experience as this huge medicine ball bowling me over.) Hmm, interesting metaphor there - "medicine" ball. Could the "medicine" we need be in the pain of family relationships? nah.

    Definitely a "kiki" moment of the dangerous kind... Talk about splat against the window! Tweet... And it's only day 1...

    Equanimity has become a foreign concept at this point.

    I'm sure when it's all over I'll be able to see the opportunity for "growth" here, but for now I'm just hanging on for the ride, trying to be *aware* and not get invested in the familiar emotional dance again... Yeah right, who am I kidding! I'm already exhausted with all the shadow boxing. But I have noticed that my *anticipation* (projection) of what will be is worse than the actual event. If I just sit back and be quiet and let things happen around me, see what unfolds, then it's not quite as traumatizing as trying to anticipate everyone's chess move...

    Does your Zen teacher have an web site? :O seriously...

    Once again I bow in gratitude for your wit and wisdom...


  2. Ah yes I both chuckle and sigh when I read your post here. Isn't that where we do our deepest training, with family? And it is never easy. The projection, yes. It's like that joke, is it Mark Twain who said "My life has been a series of disasters (or something like that), some of which have actually happened!

    It really is confusing when we're right in the middle of it and we are always doing the best we can. It's a bit like that poem about falling in the hole, don't you think? So just to be aware of what's going on is so good and any little changes we can make in the dance steps are helpful, but man, I know how hard that is! Good luck to you and put on those steel toed boots!