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.
Friday, December 10, 2010
With The Ideal Comes The Actual
"With the ideal comes the actual, like a box All with its lid. Lo! with the ideal comes The actual, like two arrows in mid-air That meet."
These are lines from a Zen poem called "The Sandokai" which I think translates as the harmonization of sameness and differences. I was emailing with my friend the Buddhist monastic and telling her the story of my life as a home renovator. Her helpful and insightful reply was "With the ideal comes the actual".
The ideal exists in our imagination and the actual is what comes to our doorstep. We have a vision of how things should be (usually involving easy and pleasant) and then when other things happen we protest like toddlers who have had their favourite toy taken away.
"With the ideal comes the actual." This is so true of all things we regard as difficult in life. I think by regarding things as difficult, a subtle rejection of things as they are is implied. By regarding things as difficult, we imply that things should be easier, work out more smoothly and more to our liking. For me I always seem to imagine that things work out more smoothly for others. Somewhere deep inside I have bought some kind of advert image of people. If they look well put together, I imagine there lives flow seamlessly along like some silly hollywood movie. It's only when I get some snippet of their more private life that I wake up. I learn that they suffer from insomnia or their husband died of cancer or.....
So life as a home renovator has had its moments of lightness and darkness. More Sandokai here: "Within all light Is darkness, but explained it cannot be By darkness that one-sided is alone. In darkness there is light, but here again By light one-sided it is not explained. Light goes with darkness as the sequence does Of steps in walking."
The lightness was in creating the vision and sourcing all the elements of the project and in appreciating the work of some of the great trades we had working on the project, the tilers, the carpenter. There was delight in seeing things come together and match as planned. But the darkness crept in when one trade proved unreliable, two proved over priced. The washing machine and the dishwasher got damaged in the move. Unexpected mold was discovered behind a cabinet. And the number one (as David Letterman would say) disappointment was the offgassing from the new cabinets and the smells of adhesives and grout used in the process. I had completely overlooked this aspect of the reno but the aspect had not overlooked me.
Chemical sensitivies to these products reared their ugly head and my body complained about the presence of these fumes. A cold turned to laryngitis, eyes burned and watered. And as the mind sometimes does, a great long story sprung, fully formed. "What if I have to rip my new kitchen out, what if I have to move?" I have been rediscovering the panic queen side of myself! In the end I did what any sane modern person would do. I googled it. I found that mobile homes have huge air quality and offgassing issues and that heavy duty air purifiers are used to suck the chemical gases from the air. So ensued a solution, an industrial strength air purifier.
I almost have my voice back and the project is almost complete. There has been lots of Dharma here, lots to learn and now the the appreciation of silence and solitude.
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.