A Story To Tell

He strides through the suburban jungle, alert, and glad and proud to be a CAT!
And just as glad to rest, relax, knowing if cats could talk amazing stories would abound.

Well I will speak for Matti. He who out on the prowl one night entered a home via the cat flap. Trespass! Where he found a live mouse. Theft? He brought the mouse back home in the small cage it was living in. Dragging it noisily through his own cat flap, which wasn’t that easy. Matti then had a pet mouse! Matti’s person, Angie, was not amused, not in the slightest. Matti could NOT HAVE a pet mouse in the house, in side or outside of a cage. He may have pulled this trick more than once. I can’t remember how the story ends….

And speaking of stories and story telling. I recently heard of Spoken Word Poetry, or simply Spoken Word. It’s rather an attractive form. If we could understand what cats are saying I’d imagine it would be akin to Spoken Word Poetry.

Thanks to Julius for sending the link to this video of a rather talented young woman called Sarah Kay. It is a TED talk and they generally last for 18 mins. Well worth watching to the end.

Out Of Strength Comes Sweetness

Loss seems to be the watch word of the moment. I’ll not enumerate because once one is sensitised around an area of pain it seems that pain is everywhere and everybody you know is suffering similarly. Why would one list losses anyway. But we do. A bag full of slights. A case of betrayals. Bucket upon bucket of grief.

At a certain point numbness sets in which is a relief in a certain kind of way. But it can’t go on for long. Not too long. Perhaps the emotional numbness that comes with sudden loss for example, or even accumulated loss, is a mechanism to counter shock. So deeply shocked you don’t even know you are in shock! That was the case for me back in July when Iain died suddenly and unexpectedly.

But what I was actually thinking about was the popular sentiment that we humans grow strong in adversity. That overcoming difficulties, moving on and going from strength to strength is the stuff of life itself. It’s certainly the stuff of popular entertainment. Oh so very much so. And a very popular way of raising funds for charity now I think about it. All very character building.

But what kind of strength? What sort of character? Brittle I’d say. Easily broken, subject to damage. Not universally so of course. In Buddhism we talk about pairs of opposites and steering a middle path. What of strength paired with weakness? Well I’d like to think that the kind of strength which comes from facing life challenges, the challenge of loss for example, is a soft and pliable strength. One that can bend and move and be responsive. Neither strong in the popular way nor weak in a diminishing way. That would be the middle way. A fine sweetness.

This is for those known and unknown who are making hard choices. And a reminder that happiness passes, and finds you again when you least expect.

Pretzels Anybody?

You know you have friends when
they send you photographs
which just make you smile, and smile.

And friends walk in with a jar of marmalade as the current jar is being emptied onto breakfast toast. Great timing and thank you. My other marmalade making donor take note, I’ve enough to keep me going for a few months.

I don’t think I really appreciated pretzels while I was living in America in the 1980’s. We had them but rarely in the monastery. Although at this time of year Rev. Master Jiyu would come up to the monastery kitchen to supervise the cooking of holiday treats. Pretzels were on the menu but I can’t remember eating them….

These photographs were taken in the Black Forest, Germany. Thank you kind photographer.

Reference Ryokan

for posts
has been slow

to my books
Ryokan to the

So returning to Ryokan – ah, balm for the heart and mind.

Beware of:
talking a great deal
talking too fast
volunteering information when not asked
giving gratuitous advice
talking up your own accomplishments
breaking in before others have finished speaking
trying to explain to others something you don’t understand yourself
starting on a new subject before you’ve finished with the last one
insisting on getting in the last word
making glib promises
repeating yourself, as old people will do
talking with your hands
speaking in an affectedly offhand manner reporting in detail on affairs that have nothing to do with anything
reporting on every single thing you see or hear

From a list of ninety Admonitory Words which Ryokan may have written for himself. Good reminders all around I’d say.

Eternal Sunshine

Sometimes the sun is out, and sometimes in goes in. When it is out, we all smile and are happy to see it. When it goes in and stays in for days on end, we are not happy. Then like today when the sun is in with patches of blue sky there is a sense of promise in the air. Of hope the blue will get bigger and those dark grey skies over there – will not come over here and dump their clammy contents. Today grey skies with blue patches. Small ones. No rain to speak of.

Especially at this time of year, and on through the darkening days of December and January/February/March, there is a real tendency to be adversely affected by the low levels of light. I am. I’ve a little box which pumps out light of the right kind and I sit with it each day to bump up my daily light dosage. No, I probably don’t have S.A.D. in a clinical sense however that extra light does help my poor brain to look lively when it would rather lay down and hibernate. Until spring time.

Walking out among the fields and remote farm houses today in the dim light I wonder, now, about the people from long ago. Hard lives, truly grim lives. They made this landscape, huge chunks of it anyway. I’m thinking that perhaps the human response to weather, the ups, the downs hasn’t changed much. Just like the response of plants and vegetation to changing conditions, it’s chemical a lot of it, I presume.

But where am I going with this? Oh, perhaps a thought about the rhythm of the seasons and how our indoor lives, predominately so for most, has us like plants growing under artificial conditions. A life in eternal sunshine! All the same I have the feeling we are still deeply effected by the seasons, the weather, and all manner of more subtle influences known and unknown. Lets face it nothing happens in isolation from anything else.

And I am now going to cut and run before I drown in my own ignorance. I am not carrying a banner of any kind today, just a love of our land and all that makes it.

Many thanks to my friends who walked out under grey skies with me this day and kept a smile in their hearts.