I know. I know. I haven’t been around here in ages. Sorry about that. I do have a soft spot for all of you and wonder how are you doing. I see many new faces around, people I obviously do not know, and I am glad.
I have been trying to get up to speed with reading but you all write faster than I can read (which is excellent, in the larger scheme of things). Know this, I do miss all of you. I think often on how life is at that bit of earth you call home. Most times, I see many of you in Facebook, which is the one page I mostly keep open. I click on it as a nervous reflex when I am writing.
(I am writing, something else, hopefully for commercial profit. Probably a hopeless endeavor. But writing makes me extremely tense to the point of being almost ill and I tend to click on web pages to run away from the dread of writing. I read a bit, laugh at memes, and then I write a bit more. It is a most ineffectual form of writing.)
My brother Pilgrim has told me that I need to breathe the compulsion away. Foolish Monkey has offered great advice that I must act upon. In the time I’ve been away I’ve been busy trying to be a stick Buddhist.
“Being a stick Buddhist” comes from a conversation (I call them conversations, though I realize that is not an appropriate definition) in Facebook regarding wrinkles. My actual comment was “trying to be all Namaste about wrinkles/failing miserably”.
I started laughing from the first comment: “The wrinkles on my face honor the wrinkles on yours.”
Brassawe called me out on this. He said “What kind of a stick Buddhist are you that you cannot handle a few wrinkles?” “But I’m Catholic”, I complained. And he said, “The Buddha doesn’t care if you are Catholic.”
Of course, I burst out laughing at that one. But Brassawe always manages to call me out. And keep me in a good mood while at it.
While in college, decades ago, my summer philosophy course (I had to take three blasted philosophy courses for my major) was on Buddhist philosophy. I think it was the only available course that session, or I would have taken something else. There were a few flaws in my plan to take this course. One, I was eighteen and, therefore, absolutely not interested in learning anything profound. Two, it was a summer course, and I live on a Caribbean island. I mean, really? Three, it was at seven in the morning every day and I spent every night with my cousin at one of the island’s casinos, trying to woo one of the card dealers. (He was thirty something and still living with his mother so I think I dodged a major bullet there.) I came late to class every day, including the day of the final exam, when running into the classroom I pushed the door so hard it banged against the wall. The professor, who was probably Buddhist for all I know, looked at me and said in a soft voice “You still have time. Calm down.”
Poor man, it would take me another twenty years and a visit to the ER to take his advice.
(No, I do not like casinos. I find them dark and depressing. The ER thing is age and genetics catching up with me. High blood pressure.)
So now I do yoga. I do breathing. I gave up coffee and soda for tea. I garden. I try to understand the eightfold path. (Of course, it makes no sense to me. That’s why I have Buddhist friends. They try to explain it while I pretend to understand.)
I went to the beach today. I am sorry I have no pictures. My camera is officially dead. There was a bit of beach there full of baby hermit crabs and a wondrous sea urchin, a blood red body, black spines. The sea would come in and almost hide it, but as it went out it was like looking through a sharp glass, gorgeous.
I tried to engage my children to come see it. “But Ma! We want to stay in the water!” I insist, of course, because that part of me who is obtuse thinks this is something they need to see, they are islanders after all, imagine these kids going around not knowing what a sea urchin is. When I finally get them interested enough to navigate slippery rocks I realize there are a few other kids around me. I wonder if there is this invisible to everyone but me tattoo that reads ‘teacher’ on my forehead. So I keep going, telling the universe please don’t let these kids fall and secretly wondering where the heck their mothers are. And we see the sea urchin. It’s not ooh and ahh and my kids desert me quickly, but the others straggle behind, asking me questions. One of the boys tells me there’s another one up there on the rocks and we go to it. “Well, that’s not a sea urchin, that’s a crab. But I think it’s dead.” “How do we find out?” Asks one of the kids. “Do we throw sand on it?” “Ah, no. Let me find something…” and I keep looking until I find human-left behind debris, as always, and I turn the crab around. It’s dead and I holler at my own kids a bit more, "come see a crab, a dead crab” I add, to engage their Gothic natures, and they come and look at it half-heartedly and leave, but of course, the other kids are still there. “How do you know it’s dead?” “Well,” I say, “there’s nothing but the shell, I mean, all the meat is gone.” And as I scoot it around until it falls into the water and returns to the sea (as it should) and the inquisitive boy asks “Well, who ate it?” “Probably a bird.” I say. And as his mother finally approaches (but of course, I’ve got teacher tattooed all over my face and I wear a big floppy hat and an appropriate for my age swimsuit and she has probably guessed I drink tea and do yoga so she is not worried), the kid fires another question. “But, why?” “Well, because birds need to eat. Just like you probably like hamburgers and no one will ever complain about that.” I smile at his mother who smiles at me and I go to my I-am-so-not-interested-in-getting-a-lesson-here kids and get back into the water.
This is what I found out today on the path to be a stick Buddhist. One, sometimes karma is quick. (At least, I think it's karma.) I saw a glass bottle on the water. (Sigh…yes, how can people do that?) I pulled it out. As soon as I did that I saw a sea urchin fossil on the sand. I had thought but a few moments before how much I wanted one. It stands on my bedside table now. And two, you can actually do Tolasana (lifted lotus pose)
while in the water. I know it’s cheating but what did you expect from a stick Buddhist, anyway?