Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is Life Puzzling?

Life Can Be Puzzling
Original Mixed Media on Matte Board
8"x 8" black matte
window opening 3.75" x 4.4"
$25 includes free shipping in North America

This little mixed media piece is asking a question.  It's asking what puzzles you?  Today, yesterday, on an ongoing basis.  Where are the puzzling bits in your life?  We all have them.  Sometimes they are like those giant 1000 piece puzzles with blue sky and ocean and reflections that drive us mad.   Solutions elude us, questions follow us around. 

There is so much we can't understand with our rational minds, so much that we find puzzling.  We spend a lot of time trying to label and categorize and get things under our control.  We think if only I could understand this, everything would be okay.  We mostly have a hard time just being, letting go of the need to understand with our minds.  I am reminded of the simple state that requires no more of me than just knowing how to be, by the poet and Zen master Ryokan, when he says, "Sometimes the moon and I sit together all night."   In that state I can give up the puzzle and the questions.

And if we want to talk puzzles there is the Zen puzzle, the koan.  They are always there if we're willing to see. My favourite kind of koans are the ones that appear in everyday life; situations or problems that comes to greet us again and again. They are the things we can't quite negotiate; what angers us, defeats us, what makes us crazy. Here's a little koan I have worked with over the years.  It involves a relative (let's give her a yellow no-name label). No matter how much I try, she has the uncanny knack of dragging me into some petty squabble or irritated retort.  Each time I swear I am not going to bite but every time she manages to get me to have a little nibble on the hook.  I avoid the hook I swallowed at the previous fishing event but she always has a new one, barbed and waiting for the foolish, prideful, annoyed part of me.  This is a cross word puzzle (I couldn't resist!).

Our personal life puzzles mostly resist our logic and will.  They balk at all the muscle we apply to "make things happen".  At some point we usually realize we we may even give up.  But eventually in time if we keep the puzzle in mind, the answer makes itself clear; maybe in a dream or in the shower or when we're sitting in meditation or driving to the hardware store.  The solution comes from that deep, mysterious inner place, a place so vast and deep and unfathomable it makes our logical mind look like a children's plastic swimming pool.  Now that's puzzling, don't you think?

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