Bits of zen flotsam & jetsam from the daily practice of a zen fool with shards of modern Buddhist art from my studio. Sometimes cranky, sometimes inspiring, mostly entertaining.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The Zen of Home Renos
I could make excuses for being awol from the blogging world but what are excuses anyway? Justification, explanation, the whirring of monkey mind when we feel we should have done other than we did. Wisdom lies simply in acknowledging what is. I have been preoccupied sweeping and phoning and feeding the fabulous carpenter who is staying with us while he does some reno work in our new-to-us house. It felt comfortable to use a dear friend's brother, from another island, to tackle the long list of jobs we had for our new place, jobs that fell beyond our meager skill set.
So with some enthusiasm and a smidge of trepidation we invited someone we hadn't met and his two papillion puppies into our home to stay while he worked, putting in doors, taking out shower stalls and walls. It has worked out swimmingly. He is skilled and quick, good company and easy to get along with. I remember my Zen teacher saying when things went well: "it didn't have to be this way." In other words appreciate and feel grateful for what goes well and smoothly in your life. Too often we tend to ignore these things. We never think, "gee I am glad not to have a toothache!"
And as always there is Dharma in everything. I get to watch my habitual tendencies, the tendency to feel a bit on edge having someone I don't know around the house 24/7. And then when I remember, I remind myself to relax and just be the silly, foolish self that is me and to enjoy our new housemate with all his own fun and quirky details.
Not being a dog person I wondered about having 2 busy little dogs around the house and honestly they are fine, cute, quiet and well behaved. I even found them sleeping in front of the Buddha in the Zendo one afternoon. Before I could snatch a picture I had disturbed them and they got up. So I am learning new things. I remember the words of Patrul Rinpoche in "Words of My Perfect Teacher" when he lists the difficulties that sentient beings born into the animal realm have. I don't worry so much that they hop up on the blanket on the couch for a little snooze.
A small glitch in a wall that got opened up presented a problem and over dinner we came to a compromise solution on how it could be dealt with, not what I had hoped for, "but sure the easy way would be okay, I agreed." But when I awoke in the morning I knew it was not a comprise I wanted to make if at all possible. So over coffee I pursued an alternate solution, asking more questions and I found that I could get closer to the outcome (less wall, more open space) that I was looking for. It reminded me that kind and thoughtful perseverance is a good thing, that if something is important to you it is worth following every thread to the end. A big Dharma lesson for me over the years has been that, just because I decide on one thing in the evening, doesn't mean the issue can't be revisited the next morning. I tend to operate from "well I agreed to this, I need to stick to it." It has been a big lesson for me to learn, that I can change my mind, nothing is written in stone. You can always move from where you are.
And I could feel so much gratitude for our carpenter's cheerful ways and competence in his work. I feel very fortunate to have found such an easy, uncomplicated solution to the work that needed doing. And so while I have been simply leading an ordinary life doing mundane things like preparing 3 meals a day and sourcing material and gathering needed supplies, the day is filled with Dharma, the dharma of working with habitual tendencies and of feeling gratitude for an easy relationship with our skilled help. It is fun to prepare food for him as a sort of offering.
What Dharma are you finding these days in your ordinary life?
Buddhism & Art...if I had to pick two words that give an overview of what I get up to in this world those would be my choices. Buddhism is the ground upon which I rest all else. I like to think it brings me some sanity. It helps me think in some logical way about what I am doing and look at it as deeply as possible. What did I just do? Why ? What's that all about? ...To try and look at my life without sliding over things or fooling myself...To be present for life, not rejecting or preferring one experience over another. Buddhist practice makes my life full and rich, sometimes filled with joy and sometimes with a deep experience of the suffering present in this world.
After all those words does it seem odd to say that it is the simplicity of Zen that appeals to me? This inclination to simplicity pulls me to try and integrate my practice and work, to paint Buddhas, to observe my process as I work.
I am drawn to mixed media, integrating script and words with images and colour.