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, November 17, 2010
What Makes You Crazy?
The Dharma is everywhere. But you knew that. And I have been a careful observer of the Dharma of me over the last few days. And it hasn't been a pretty sight. It all started with the frivolous wish to transform the house we bought into something a little more beautiful (man I'm a sucker for the visually pleasing). I decided it needed some new kitchen cabinets, a wall out here, a bathroom redo. I have been possessed by guilt on several occasions, thinking why this perfectly fine and serviceable house needed to be different. Is this a version of "eat your dinner, children in India are starving?" But here it is, my little self wants things a certain way. Hmmm.
All has gone quite smoothly and I can say I have been supporting the local economy, right? That is until a couple of days ago when my equanimity and cover were completely blown away by an encounter with a major retailing bureaucracy. I won't go into the he said, she said of it all or mention blue and yellow. But it was interesting to take stock of the shrapnel after it was all over.
I can say that mostly I keep my cool and negotiate consumer issues in a way that doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth. I am often a little surprised that I do this, but somehow I get some help from somewhere and negotiations go smoothly. But this time the whole consumer thing left me feeling rather unhinged. After too many phone calls to goodness knows where I knew that my voice betrayed my irritation. I never yelled or said anything rude.... but still. I can do better. This left a bad taste in my mouth (no flavour of Swedish gingerbread cookies here). This is the karma of my own making. My friend the Buddhist nun always pointed out that this lingering bad taste when we know we could have behaved better is the karmic residue. Behave well and you walk away without anything churning in your mind (or stomach).
I also noticed that I spent several days on the phone due to my personal stubbornness to give in to what I felt were unreasonable rules on the part of those holding my kitchen hostage in their warehouse. I did not want to drive the 40 minute round trip to town and pay to send them a fax so I could change from pick-up to delivery. I wanted to simply return their authorization form by email. I clung to my expectations and belief in what was reasonable. I stood my ground. "I just want to give you some money to deliver my kitchen. Simple, let's do this." I was banging my head on a call centre cube and I wasn't going to win this one but I'm a slow learner. Call a Vancouver phone number and end up in Montreal. For some reason this made me crazy.
And in the end I allowed something of small consequence (in the grand scheme of things) to disturb my equilibrium for days. After several days of ridiculous phone calls, in the end I just drove into town and sent them their fax. I could see how my clinging to my position of what I believed was right caused my own suffering. It's a tough and touchy one, to know when to give it up and I totally missed the cue on this one. Ego, ego and ego, is all I can say about this. Was that Daffy Duck, who said exit, stage left. I missed the call despite how daffy the whole thing was.
But maybe I learned a little more about how to weigh and measure what's worth it. What is the value of my equilibrium? How do I want to spend my time? Maybe I got to have a good look at how stubborn I can be. And maybe I will make a better choice next time. No promises, I am a bit of a slow learner. So if you want to try me out, make me think I'm talking to you in Vancouver when you are really in Montreal. Then repeat the same rules over and over to me. Then forget to send me the email you promised and then let's get into a little situation of non returned phone calls. Let's see how I behave when you do this. It will be my Dharma test. And if you win I will give you the direct line to Ikea Coquitlam; a well kept secret. When you call there they will tell you to hang up if you are a customer and phone the call centre. See, I'm still at it! Happy shopping. Just remember to take it with you.
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.