Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are You Looking Into The Future From The Back Of The Caboose?

Commissioned piece in progress (waiting for Buddha words)

I have a whole lot of things swirling around in my Dharma brain these days. Some totally unrelated events and thoughts have been funneling themselves into a single decanter, waiting for the particulate to settle.

So here's the list of ingredients that have been spilling into the decanter.  Ingredient # 1. My friend Thelma died, somewhat suddenly causing me to fall into a rather groundless place. I realized in a very real way, that anything can happen at anytime, to anyone (read: that means me!). Mostly we forget this and not without motive. The motive of course is comfort.  And it reminded me that although time is a human construct (in an absolute kind of way) in a relative way, the clock is always ticking. So questions starting asking themselves at the oddest  times. What do I want to do with my time, really ? Is it important to pull one more weed, "Miss-like-it-neat- and tidy"? Is my house too big? Are my aspirations too small? Koans, all of them.

But I am uncomfortable in this groundless place. I have a hard time settling into free fall.  I am not much of a dare devil.  You're more likely to find me clawing for the roots sticking out of the cliff wall  after I've been chased over the edge by a tiger, rather than enjoying the strawberry I just picked.  So of course after a few days of this space travel, I got quite grumpy. And then I was in a double bind. I had this grumpiness to keep me company as I hurtled through groundless space, trying to shake it off.  Can you hear it now, the squawk of the grumpy bird spinning around as falls from it's nest? Cover your cute little ears, it's not a pretty sound! Where's my blankey and my hemp milk latte? (Thelma used to say, "there are a thousand ways to suck your thumb! These are a couple of mine.)
you can see the texture here!

And as I listened to my latest Dharma Darling, Nina Wise, one evening,  she talked about meeting Carlos Castaneda. In their conversation he said something like, "most people sit in the caboose looking back down the track and imagining their future from there.  Me," he said, "I'm sitting in the engine looking out and I have no idea what's going to happen."  Something about this struck me deeply, the bravery, the exhilarating quality, the truth of it. It reminded me that I want to sit up front and look out into the unknown but mostly, when I am pushed up front I have the blankey pulled  up over my head and am peering out with one eye (and of course spilling my latte all over myself). But there it is my aspiration, to ride up front with Carlos.

And the next ingredient that got tossed into the decanter was a post by my friend Lynette, over at 108 Zen Books.  Her post was about our reactions to adversity and of course that resonated in terms of Thelma's death, but her post also addressed an important issue which was "there are some things we can  never know". Yep, back to "we are always wading into the great ocean of the unknown". It's like the old question we all ask at some point in our human life, like when the 14 yr old next door gets leukemia and dies, "why do bad things happen to good people, to innocent people?" And that begs a lot of questions, such as "what is bad?" But her post reminded me that to really feel the breeze touch our faces we must be willing to stand in the wind of the unknown.  And well, I didn't really want to answer how I handled adversity. I suspected the answer "just muddling along" wasn't the one in the Coles notes version of the Dharma.

And the final ingredient appeared as we did our primordial qi gong today in the last class of the Spring session. It somehow came to me, that I don't need to push away the thoughts that scare me. I don't need to say that's impossible to the things that seem impossible. I don't need to say anything. All the mind chatter is just stories from the back of the caboose. It is my intention to sit in the engine and look out front and embrace the scenery that's coming up in front of me. Want to keep me company? I promise not to spill my latte on you.

27 comments:

  1. Allll aboaaaard!

    Thanks for the link to Nina Wise. And thank you for taking my inarticulate missives and making so much good dharma out of them! I've been riding the back of the caboose all week and it's good to get your invitation to sit up front and personal!

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    1. something delicious about Nina Wise, maybe it's her improv background. thanks for joining me. will you steer?

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  2. I joined you a long time ago. with me, it had to do with my fear disappearing (I still get afraid, but it doesn't rule my life). I learned all too young that your life can change in a split second and as a result I lived with fear for years. One day I found myself in the engine... xoxo

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    1. good, you were there first, that helps me feel a little braver. I think I run back and forth between the engine and the caboose!

      and that's it "I still get afraid but it doesn't rule my life." bingo!

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  3. All the mind chatter is just stories from the back of the caboose.

    good god! truer words were never spoken!!!

    xoxo

    (i'm going to leave the 'good god!' there because that was my exact first thought. and besides, that's the way we talk at the front of the train. ; )

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    1. good god, who knows what we might say at the front of the train! I'm likin this passenger list at the front of the train!

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  4. nice painting and thanks for showing the close up with texture. "I dont have to say anything." Yes! Or, if I do say something I can catch myself and "unsay" it. Just realize that for me to say comments is habitual, but that when I do I can just go back to open space.

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    1. Thanks, Suki. It is all about catching ourselves at whatever we habitually get up to. There's a great quote in a link from Lynette's post that you make me think of. It's by Ken McLeod and it's something like " don't use practice to change your life but make your life your practice."

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  5. Two things first: This piece you are working on now, is my favorite since I've come to know your blog. More importantly, I am sorry that you have lost a dear friend and now need to discover your relationship in a new and different form. It can take some time to do so.

    I like this post today. Found it when I needed to hear it. And, I liken it to my words of how it's impossible to drive a car while constantly looking in the rear-view mirror.

    Sometimes I need to be reminded to stop trapping my foot in the box of thinking that what I've known and already experienced is far superior to what I might be seeing soon.

    Namaste'!

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    1. Thanks Holly! These are wise words, yes looking in the rear view mirror, exactly the same! You have really got to the heart of what I was trying to say. Namaste.

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  6. So sorry about your friend, Leslie.

    So much here I can always relate to. (One is the clawing fingers!) Thanks so much for sharing your path and your wisdom,

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    1. "so much I can relate to", it does remind us of how basically we are all dealing with the same things. if we care to look, we are united in the "human condition" and how to hold it all in our hearts is our true work. bows to you Jann.

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  7. I love the front of the train - you get to see things when they are fresh and not all homogenized by the time they reach the caboose - when it reaches the caboose all the sharp edges have been cut off to keep you all safe and snug - by the time it reaches the caboose all the risk has been shaken out, the excitement has been damped down, all the questions answered, scary doors bolted shut, and on and on - the journey has been done by the time it reaches the caboose and all that's left is the movie you can watch in the comfort and safety of the caboose showing the engine passengers on the ride of their lives. xo

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    1. I know you, you're the one painting in the front of the train! You are fearless in your process and you inspire us with your work!

      I love your words on the distance between the engine and the caboose!

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  8. Losing a friend can stop us in our tracks but being at the front of the train allows us to be blessed with fresh newness and wind blowing through our hair. Like the engine that could!

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  9. love those train analogies! and yes the wind is blowing through our hair at the front of the train, I love that picture. I remember that story, it's about working with the mind, isn't it, what separates us from what we can do, is so often the stories we tell ourselves.

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  10. What a train ride you're on! Taking the scenic route... And all the wonderful passengers sharing the ride... This post is really packed with so many wondrous windows through which to discover and view the world! And of course, the unanswerable life questions... I'll have to find a good seat and enjoy the ride :)

    What a gift your friend's passing left you - discerning what is important to you - how you want to move through life, how you want to engage with life, reconnecting to your truth. Wonderful gems...

    Choo, Choo... :)

    Shall I collect tickets or handle the baggage? :)

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    1. thanks, Christine. I agree the company is stellar. Now you probably don't want me to make any cheap jokes about handling the baggage! mine along could take you a while!!

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    2. Well, I was going to say that I already have a trainload full :) So I guess everybody gets to carry their own :) LOL

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  11. Riding with you is such fun! You lift us out of that caboose with every post! These past few weeks I'm the one who is running all over the train, looking out ALL the windows, buzzed on too many espressos. Where are we going now!? Where are we going now!!? It's all moving so fast. Life does feel like a free fall— or a run away train? Seems like more and more there's nothing to do but sit down and breathe.

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    1. sometimes it does take that running around looking out all the windows to remind us to sit down! ah, yes the espresso stand on the platform! I do like to visit it myself. come sit in this lovely company!

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  12. Thus Zen master Seung Sahn's constant adonitions "Only Don't Know, Go Straight!" and also "only keep don't know mind!" which his students thought for a while was "only keep donut mind" and they just couldnt figure out, did that mean empty in the middle?

    Regardless, at some point life moving from caboose to engine room means recognizing that there is no train but now our eyes are full forward, and we are adding less and less tro the picture. Best thing about no train is, no need for baggage.

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  13. I like that "donut mind", nothing like an imagined koan!

    ah yes the imaginary train, imaginary baggage, imaginary self.

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  14. My condolences to you, Carole, on the loss of your friend. I'm happy to join the train trip and keep you company, along with everyone here. I'll bring replacements for any spilled latte. ;o) I really loved what you said--"I don't need to say anything"...This is how I've been seeing mind-chatter. I really don't have to go there and say anything. I'm starting to like the silence in my mind. :o) When we're ready to free fall, we're here to catch you. So nice to catch up with you after being away for some days. ((HUGS))

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    1. Hello Tracy, fresh from Vienna! Looking forward to hearing about it. Lovely to have you on the journey.

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  15. Om Mani Padme Hung for your dear Thelma.

    I bow in the direction of the grumpy self, tiger on tail, jumping over the wall...scared sacred with a clear view out the front window.

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    1. thanks! scared, sacred, I like that!

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