Tuesday, November 25, 2008
This past Saturday was my brief but official family time. It was delightful. My father and stepmother are en route to Georgia as we type! So they stopped in Rockville, MD to dine with John and me on their way down the coast from Jersey. (And it is their 19th Anniversary today so ya'll give it up for Pops and Mooches - next November is 20 years for them. I know there are longer anniversaries celebrated all the time - but in OUR family this is like PLATINUM!!! So send props to Mary Ann for either being compassionate enough or crazy enough to hold her own with Dad and us for nearly 2 decades.)
A family photo op on their wedding day:
So let me explain the family holiday neurosis thing:
Here is what happens in my head before a visit with my folks.
~A list appears~
It is a list of all my faults as I PERCEIVE my parents will see me. And it is like one of those Disney FANTASIA lists - the brooms just keep appearing with buckets full of character flaws and I am frantically waving my Mickey Mouse magic wand to disappear those qualities, hide them, get rid of them... STOP THE FLOODING!!!! The Sorcerer parents will SURELY see when they arrive what a schmuck I am.
My neurosis grabs the remote and changes channels... suddenly my life appears as a gameshow:
The bonehead son on This Life is Right has been encouraged to bid on showcase showdown #1 -- since he has made it this far--
He stands proudly on the stage. The family is in back yelling over Bob Barker "Bid on it. It's safe. Don't pass it up!"
They might have envisioned me secure in his ownership of this golf set and brand new elegant barbeque grill- THIS son earns the unspoken praise and admiration of not just the parents... but their colleagues and acquaintences whose children have followed the same paths as well.
*ALAS* this is NOT the showcase he bids on. I watch silently now, biting my lower lip.
He held out for: A NEWWWW CAR!!!!
Click - the channel turns (metaphorically speaking - we see the anchor with DECISION '08 graphics hanging over his shoulder:
Bob Smiley (ANCHOR): "This just in - the son of former NFL coach Pat Hodgson is in headlines again today. Known for such antics as coming out, moving abruptly to remote places, where communication consists of smoke signals, taking a job with a famous mime and driving his brand new car to the Gulf after Katrina to rescue animals, this young Hodgson is consistently out of step with his peer group who are married, raising families and making their folks proud of them on and off the field!
Sources say the youngest Hodgson is now practicing Buddhism and moved cross country without a job just prior to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Kelly Blondandtan: (CO-ANCHOR): "Tell me Bob, what are experts saying about his chances of employment?
Bob: "Well, Kelly, remember your story on that snowball visiting Dante's seventh circle of Hell? I imagine that snowball's doing better in his job quest than this unemployed gay Buddhist in our lead story tonight!
[Are ya getting the essence of tense internal dialogue prior to this meal Saturday?]
***Here is how it actually played out:***
With their history of ingesting massive doses of my authentic NEED to pursue each of these changes in my life - they not only speak supportively of the efforts I underook - even if it gave them pause. They commend our adventures and they offer me parental advice to not to become the complete flake-a-zoid I am always teetering on the abyss of falling into~~~~ but they give me what I need most from them..... unwavering SUPPORT - in no uncertain terms.
That is right. Once again on this past weekend's crabcake extravaganza - I stared across the dining table not into the faces of mocking disapproval - but the warm eyes of determination to understand the insanity that unfolds in my life. Insanity - that somehow - brings me stability at each new juncture. And they compliment the end result of 10 years further on our path. Not as much in verbage - as in a sense of acceptance and ease of being together.
At the end of these meals I'm left feeling not so much impoverished in their eyes - but gently admired for the authenticity I demand in my life. Is it real or do I project it? Not important - it is the fact that I am so comfortable in their company where I once squirmed and worried about what they thought of everything I had to say in younger times.
I don't think they would run out and endorse the choices I've made to other kids who wish for stability in a swirling mass of gas we call a universe. But I think a bit of Monday morning coaching (on a life less mundane than I might have created if I stuck to "safe" choices) gives them the ability to look past my self inflicted buzz-cut, my moronic inability to be punctual even if I was expected only be where I am one minute from now - and my passion for off color table topics just as everyone settles into digestion mode after a meal.
And talk about admiration from MY end. I look at Dad and Mas (a nickname he dubbed her with early on -- that we have all used these pat 19 years -- which sounds like "moss". It is her maiden name initials... we abstained from adding the "h" sound once she took the name Hodgson -- so Alan Alda doesn't sue us for copyright infringement...) These are 2 of the rocks in a life that has washed me around like a strong river current. I know that each time I swim near them in the rapids- I have a place to stop and rest. To feel supported and sure footed. To watch the rushing stream all around - and re-enter when my stamina is replenished.
My parental dynamic is not just a mother and a father - I have been embraced by Mary Annas well since day one... without a competitive edge to replace my mother or a lax attitude of assuming the role of mothering was "not welcome" when she met me at 15 and Pat at 17. Can you imagine inheriting two teenage kids along with your future husband? (Here is the photo of the day we met at Shoney's in Athens in 1986.)
She has woven herself into his family beautifully, become a friend to our mother, offered maternal nurturing to us as her kids without ever thinking twice about the genetics. She has been referee and council when a father and his children needed some perspective to see eye to eye, and never tried to steal center stage (well - except on the tennis court when she kicked our asses from time to time at Hilton Head. Deep booming voice: BE-OTCH!!!) But by being that strong she has simply and gracefully aced one of the strongest supporting roles in a family that is complicated at times but LOVES her, and also loves her family that we have been blessed to join -- and all the magic that has unfolded since.
SO this is not about one or the other mom. This is about having the blessing of loving birth parents - and then another layer of support with the partners they found when life sent them traveling in different directions. It is a fuller blossom in an already abundant family tree. And at this far end of the orchard of life - there is a harmony in the grove that is relaxing, inviting, and a far cry from the chaos of the thicket entered decades ago.)
I derive such happiness when I read the Buddha's teaching about the benefit bestowed upon our parents when we give rise to the dharma, follow the path in our life, and dedicate the accomplishment to all parent beings. Speaking (I would assume) to a largely Christian audience here - I don't know that I have the capability to explain what that means to your way of thinking. But let us go for a quick and simple parallel that Buddhists use - none of the names we have in different languages for the moon matter, so much as the fact we are all pointing at the same beautiful orb in the night sky.) Likewise it doesn't matter if someone is your blood relative or not - it is just a term. Love manifests as a reflection of someone's character - just as the moon reflects the sun and lights up the night sky - no matter what word you use for MOON in your language.
So honoring my mother and my father. Honoring my stepmother and honoring my stepfather. And honoring all those involved in our life who guided, nurtured and challenged us to become who we are as you read these silly words from a guy who refers to himself as Bowdawg. May you all have the peace of kindness blossom in your relationship to your parents - living or in memory - may you have love and kindness between you and your children - born of you or appearing by what seems like outer circumstances. And may we all embrace the lives all around us - each of those beings truly wishing to be happy - as though they were our own parents or children.
And when you sit across from your parents at 38 - or whatever age you are - and feel like that silly inadequate kid you have always felt like - may the sense arise in you that is was never about the lamp you broke - the fib you told - or the naughty word that required a little soap application in your mouth. The point was they wanted you to develop some character, some self confidence, and the ability to survive and thrive in a world that can be cruel and difficult at times.
If you can sit. laugh and say - I was paying attention along the way - and despite my detours from your proposed route through life - I am sitting here as your loving child as we approach our destination. And I appreciate the love I feel from you!
Happy Anniversary Pat and Mary Ann. And Mas - I have 2 requests and others pending for the recipe to those cookies you brought us that are like CRACK. I mentioned on Facebook how good they were and now there are threats out on my life if I do not deliver! Jack Bauer is fictional - so he cannot prevent me from being nuked out of existence if I don't get these pastry terrorists that secret cookie formula!!
6:22 PM - Poolesvile, MD - the oven is heating....
Love you both! Love you ALL! Thanks for all the giving and remember to GIVE THANKS to your earthly source and your sublime source this Thursday!!
Friday, November 21, 2008
But it is WORK to be creatively inclined.
I once dabbled in painting. Honestly, it was crap, but it was so good to pull out a blank canvas every night and just start swabbing on colors. I liked some of it - I disliked much of it... but I painted. Sometimes I would have an idea what I wanted it to look like (though actually getting my hand to produce what my mind envisioned was - um - rarely accomplished.) Other times I would grab a magazine or an image I liked and create some distant cousin replica of it.
Mind you the intention was never to become a painter. Though if I suddenly tapped into some prodigious talent that had remained dormant until I was 33 - I was not about to complain. Alas - it was not the outcome. 34 and all subsequent birthdays arrived without artistic accolades or gallery opening wine, gnosh and and schmoozing
I did however come across a book during that time called the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Great book for encouraging me that it is not for the reason of becoming a great (painter, author, singer... Whatever) that you perform your art every day. It is so that you design the habit of creating every day. Eventually you are not bogged down in the idea of whether what you create is good or bad - you simply create and develop your discipline of bringing forward your art daily.
I am cutting this awkwardly short because something came up - but I will surely tackle this topic again!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Today is one of four annual Buddhist holy days or festivals (Duchen is the word that means "great day" - loosely translated by Bowdawg)
It is an extremely auspicious day within the life of a practitioner who follows the liturgical calendar. Each of the four days over the course of a year denotes a particular milestone in the life of the original Buddha of our time - Shakyamuni who lived somewhere around 2000 to 2500 years ago (controversy over the exact time of his life because historians were not so anal back then - who knew it would be such an impact on the planet when it was actually happening??)
This particular day, Lha Bab Duchen, in this particular year, 2008, holds a fairly significant milestone for John and I. This is our 10 year anniversary of taking refuge and Bodhissatva vows with our lama (lama and guru are the same word in different languages - it simply means "great teacher" - loosely translated by Bowdawg.)
I recall the events in a swirl of memories about that period of time!
Recap of 1998:
Late July: John and I had been dating for just over 7 months - the "honeymoon" period still in full swing, we went to a Dave Matthews concert in Columbia, MD with our dear friends Chris and Cara. The significance of that event holds its own weight - but I will abbreviate the stories here to stay on (or at least near) my point.
After the concert (within a day or two) John was becoming somewhat emotional, he was working through a lot of psychological pain when we met. He was quite the party boy in December of '97 almost reflexively staying away from the scary dark corners of the things he was not facing inside - by imposing a life of teflon attitude- no worries could stick to him the outside. Things I could not imagine like the anguish of having lost his mother almost ten years prior, losing his close friend Shana to a tragic suicide that he experienced first hand, his father dying in his presence only a year before, and now having found a "safe harbor" in this relationship he could process all the awful grief in a safe and appropriate manner as it came up - without fear of my reaction to the pain .
After that concert he reminded me of one of the first tenants of Buddhism (not academically or with a dry recitation, but drawing on the raw visceral truth that was his own pain). The Buddha teaches us that all beings are suffering. Perhaps not constantly in the way we THINK of suffering (like physical pain) but that we suffer from our desire to become or remain happy and our inability to do so. That inability is due to the nature of desire and impermanence (having something and losing it, wanting something and not acquiring it, finally acquiring something you have wanted... only to eventually have it slip away or have it taken by time or another being) these are the only potentials in Samsara (the relative world we experience as our lives.)
You are born and you are already on a journey of impermanence... the nature of birth is a progression towards eventual passing - no matter how sweet the moments that occur during life - no thing you acquire - no person you love, no physical state of being is able to last. We all grow old until we eventually pass away (or in many cases we grow ill on the journey - or worst of all some tragedy takes someone in their youth.)
John had witnesses all of these quite naturally - and faced me now, in our "new romance" and had the courage to say that as much as we believed we loved each other - he knew that the fleeting experience of what we had after six months of fun, frolic and all those things you do as new lovers... the clock was always ticking. No matter how hard we work at the relationship we eventually have 1 option: Loss.
We might lose it naturally after a long happy life together (and face the grief of losing a life long partner who helped define your daily existence - now to face a new definition of loneliness).
We might lose it in a week - betrayal, frustration, difference of opinion or a myriad other ways that couples part ways from love, or like, or whatever they share.
We might have a million versions of scenarios at the onset that we could envision - but there could be only ONE final outcome. Separation. By death, disinterest or tragedy - that outcome is simply a matter of time.
WOW - you all must be thinking. What fricking downer of a date that must have been!
Actually, it was AMAZING. The liberation of truly seeing that the moment at hand is the only vital and important moment was like a high I have never known. A natural high - a break from the planning we do EVERY DAY trying to establish our next project, our next appointment, our future goals and ambitions. And also relinquishing all the mistakes of the past, or the euphoria we had about something we had in college (or high school, or in a relationship, or at a particular moment in time) that is gone and never to be recovered.
This was POWER. But not power like CRAZY-GONNA-RULE-THE-WORLD power. More like..... ahhhhhhhhhhhh. A relaxation, the end of a fruitless internal struggle about "how am I going to maximize this love I feel and make this love satisfy EVERYTHING I can project onto it. I mean I had written everyone in my family a letter saying how IMPORTANT it was of them to accept this love of mine - because... because... well JUST because!
[back to the dinner after the concert]
The next moment was what truly changed my life. John pulled out a packet of papers. And mentioned one thing to me. Applied Buddhism.
I had a vague idea of what he meant. I knew from our first date that John considered himself to be a budding Buddhist. I had shared opinions, disagreed on some points, saw the truth of others - and we had many an interesting small conversation - but this was his second proposal to me -- here is where a decision I made has resulted in a stream of blessings I could not have predicted.
I had said Yes the first time - a week or two prior. Sitting on Federal Hill (the very location that perhaps Francis Scot Key was drifting near as he composed the Star Spangled Banner) - and John simply mentioned we should get married (we know we are not legally allowed - but that wan't the point). It was odd how quickly the idea appealed to me. I was not one who had really thought much about that particular topic.
And what I found myself gravitating towards (besides the obvious idea of a BIG party to celebrate) was writing vows together. Making a commitment. I even wrote my vows down that day - sitting on Federal Hill in Baltimore:
From my "journal" [a paper version of a blog but much less public - loosely defined by Bowdawg] dated 7/21/1998:
SO as corny as those words are to read today, they indicate how ready I was for what was about to happen.
"I, Chris, take this moment in time to devote my life to you John.
To explore every day... from sunrise to sunset & question everything together and be satisfied with our discoveries.
I want to love you with all the knowledge of earth, pray for you with all the knowledge of heaven, and hope to be with you for the knowledge of the eternities."
[During the dinnner conversation:]
John told me he needed to pursue what he was pursuing when we met. Applied Buddhism. He had read many things and studied independently, but he realized that he needed to go deeper and he needed guidance and his teacher. It felt like those "pre-break up" words - (you know them: "it's not you sweetie, it's me.")
I kept calm and let him finish. He pulled out some research that he had done on the Naropa institute in Colorado. They had a Buddhist curriculum on Applied Buddhism and he truly wished to attend in 2000 and go deeper. I did not receive the brush off that I was sure would follow. Instead he produced a second packet of information.
"I also found they have a trans personal psychology program." John told me. He was now thinking of my interests. You could study psychology and the only "Buddhist" requirement is meditation class.
I was so moved and excited and giddy. Not realizing that saying yes to this solution for us would produce the actual outcome of finding my own teacher- I later reflected back and believe that it was being open to the idea of this change that swung the resultant events into my life.
For the next period of time - about a month or so I started to read lots of Buddhist 101 books to "bone up" on the interests of my boyfriend, I finally had admitted I was curious to explore this potential of enlightenment for myself, but the stuff I was reading was wierd, unavailable to my way of thinking sometimes - and VERY oddly translated sometimes.
STOP the PRESSES....
I gave up on being Buddhist myself and just thought - I will support John because he wants to do this and I love him. And that is when I found her (or she found me - however these things work.)
A book that John and I were reading together (a habit we started to keep us home on the weekends- rather than out cruising the scenes early in our relationship - and lest you think this is some story of proselytising: the idea of staying home and reading from the bible or spending time doing spiritually enriching activities was MY proposal. I had seen us both in action at the bars. We were trolls - and the only way I knew to keep us together in the beginning was to stay home and build a strong grounded base in our love.) The book we were now reading (having finished "To Kill a Mockingbird", "A River Runs Through It" and "Start Where You Are" was titled "Reborn in the West" by Vicki MacKenzie. This is a collection of biographies about the tulkus (reincarnated teachers) that are taking birth in the Western Hemisphere following the Chinese occupation of Tibet. They are amazing life stories about those beings who are indicating that they will die in one place and be reborn in another for the spiritual guidance of devotees. Then they are found, bona-fied and recognized, often even enthroned within the lineage again.The 5th or so chapter in MacKenzies book was about Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.
I was interested in the book anyway - but when John and I read the chapter on Brooklyn born Alyce Zeoli - I WAS RIVETED. I cannot explain the response I was having. As we read about her - I kept saying "that is it - that is what I have always believed, I never knew there were people like this alive right now!" John was trying to hide his glee as I squirmed and danced around him eating up each paragraph that he was reading. I clapped, I shouted excitedly "YES. Oh MY god. This is amazing, we have to go there!"
We finished the chapter and he told me that this was actually the teacher he had once heard at the temple he and Sandy would visit in Poolesville Maryland.
I was blown away. When he had said "Jetsunma" before (which is an honorific like "holiness" but for a female - I always thought it was a name - like Madonna or Cher.) I had always envisioned somebody in white robes that looked like Sinead O'Connor. I pictured something closer to a Hari Krishna perception I had (which is probably embarrassingly naive in my lack of knowledge of the Hari Krishna tradition). But that was the idea until I was seeing and reading and hearing about her from this book. She looked like she could be my mom - or your mom. The lady down the street from you, a kind face you meet in the grocery store - but what she KNEW and what she OFFERS.
Buddhism was not foreign to me at ALL. Buddhist principles, in my opinion, were how Christ had taught his students to live. Christianity is what people did when they turned his teachings into what they decided it should be and what rules and dogma to apply (or their versions that were agreed upon in the most official and politically appropriate settings - with scholars and officials agreeing upon what to extrapolate and what to remove, edit or rework) Wow... GO Figure - turns out my faith in Jesus at an early age led me to his path through Applied Buddhism!
[Back to the moment we are reading REBORN]
I was totally convinced we had to go to that temple the next day. And so we did. I was so excited all day at work Monday. Could not stop thinking about the things we had read - the mission, the compassion oriented way of life - the goals of bringing this life to its fullest purpose when it is passing so quickly. It made so much sense. It reminded me of a trip that our high school youth group had made to Texas to perform "Godspell". In the amazing opportunity to speak the role of Jesus to a modern audience. I was keenly aware that I loved Jesus and also brutally aware of the fact that others who loved him would not accept the person I knew I was becoming. I realized that we as people (no matter what religion we call ourselves) are falling WAY SHORT of the principles that Jesus laid out for disciples to live by. As you recall - he showed up at a time that Judaism was the popular religious culture and that although it was dominant, that is not what he came to embrace. He could not have shown less interest in the trappings of the modern religions of his time. He had come to show how to follow your heart and be at one with the Absolute - it seems that religion had become quite dry in its ability to quench the thirst of the starving aspirant, but quite loud in its ability to "spot a phony".
I personally do not believe it was a denouncement of Judaism or the Launch of Christianity that Jesus came to accomplish (although it perhaps challenged some of the tried and true rituals of the time.) I believe that it was somebody showing up to remind us that it ain't what you call yourself and say you believe - it is what you actually do every day - what you accept and what you reject in your heart - and who you inspire.
We may be able to recite verses, turn them into doctrine- and provide a captive audience with that "ah-ha" moment of sermon and fervor that is the pith teaching of heaven on earth (exactly what I attempt to do on my blog.) But do most people make the radical changes that Jesus spoke of in their lives? Pardon my frankness - but RARELY have I met a person that demands of themselves even the simplest of his words - let alone the FULL WEIGHT of the transformational function he came to provide. I see people barely able to smile at their cashier in the grocery store - let alone consider love for their enemy. And yes I will post here on my blog jabs at public figures and political aspirants, and poke fun at people -- but not because they are inherently evil due to our differences - but because the failure of inclusion in the limited choices we have from worldly figures - has more impact on us than we even realize!
Jesus didn't say "nail me up on the cross - and I will become your 'get out of jail free card' for the next 2000 years!" He suffered the loss of all that the material world had to offer and proved that he had not lost a thing. He said watch how I lived, see how I died and never lose heart. Remember what my life is about. He did not set himself up in a fancy position with influential friends and haughty pursuits. He hung out with many of those people that were not accepted by the policies and mores of society of the time and showed that tenderness and compassion in the face of all adversity brought real happiness. Follow that example and you too can inherit the kingdom! (Loosely translated by Bowdawg).
[Back to the sort of slippy slidy time after the concert]
So, John and I went to the temple on that following Monday. That was August of 1998. A few months later - our teacher flew back from Sedona Arizona to be with her students on Lha Bab Duchen and to issue refuge and Bodhissatva vows . Those are the vows (the BEGINNING of the training) of transforming and offering your life completely so that every moment and activity you engage in whether simple or sublime is eventually of benefit to all beings. It always reminds me of how difficult the immediate period after that was - when we walked away from some very conventional choices we could have made - from two careers at Legg Mason (me) and Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiology (John) and we moved far away from our familiar homes and proximity to our families to live in the desert for 18 months... that turned into 9 years.
Upon returning I still face challenges every single day. But ten years later on Lha Bab Duchen I am moved to place a biblical quote on my blog, for my insight into it is a small bit stronger that it was 20 years ago when I stood on a stage in Texas and recited a version of it:
The Calling of the First Disciples[From Matthew 4:18] As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."  At once they left their nets and followed him.
 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,  and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
In closing I want to site another musical about Jesus. It is not blasphemy, in my mind, it is accessibility. Today on this Buddhist Holiday - I will be going to my temple to practice with and to make offerings to my teacher and her purpose. And it seems funny having just denounced material things, to go offer them to the fount of my spiritual stream. But I consider a scene in Jesus Christ Superstar from time to time that has more meaning to me now than it did when I obsessively listened to it (almost like a personal vespers) on a nightly basis in high school:
Judas and Jesus have an exchange when Mary Magdalene is annointing her teacher:
Judas: "Woman your fine ointment brand new and expensive, should have been saved for the poor! Why has it been wasted we could have raised maybe 300 silver pieces or more! People who are hungry... people who are starving... matter more than your FEET and HEAD!"( Referring to Jesus)
a bit later in the song Jesus responds:
"Surely you're not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot? There will be poor always pathetically struggling, look at the good things you've got. Think while you still have me, move while you still see me, you'll be lost and you'll be sorry, when I GONE!"
(You can watch here although the soundtrack is a bit out of synch with their mouths)
So anyway - woke up early with lots to say today. Happy Lha Bab Duchen - and when it appears in your life, oh fishers of men... TAKE THE BAIT!
Love and Peace,
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today (trumpets blare) my mom, Nancy, joined Face Book (hey - like the post title! Wow -- this blogger is clever and subtle. WHAT??? Is he is applying for a potential gig as a blogger or something. Nah - who would be dumb enough to hire him?)
The prospect of sharing cyberspace with our parents just really boggles the mind in so many ways. I have been hounding her to join - because I keep finding friends of hers on my FB quests. But let us contemplate this on a broader scale.
Not only can we now connect with our parents, family and friends everyday from almost any where (if you are obsessive about checking your inbox as I, er well.... as SOME people are.) You can REACH around *THE* WORLD* from your comfy (or painfully non-ergonomically designed) chair that your lazy butt is plopped into ~right~ now~ .
Try it. Pick a country... any country. Somewhere you have been, or thought about going - or learned was right next door to your state when you ran for Veep- and Google it. (For obvious reasons you may also YAHOO it or MSN it or GOOD SEARCH it (and benefit your fave nonprofit...)
- - - - So ------ go------- ahead..... I'll wait...
(Um you maybe want to go up to file up there on your top left menu bar and open a new window... that way you can ALT-TAB toggle back and forth as I lead you on this cyber journey...)
~~whisTle~~wHIstle~~~whiSTLE~~~ Hummm hUmmmm Huuummmmm~~~~
got it? cool.
Here we GOOOOOOOOO...
Choose your country and Google (or whatever) it... [ALT TAB OVER - type - then ALT TAB right back!]
I bet for most of us Wikipedia returns the first position... right? Wikipedia - what another revelation of the technology revolution, thingy - whatever you'd call it!
USED to be - if you wanted you learn about something you could STUDY STUDY STUDY all about [insert name of country you searched for] and learn LOTS o' STUFF if you had a half decent Encyclopedia collection. Not like ours. Ours was crappy and outdated but I think because it was White Books with Navy Striped binders and that gold leaf stuff on the page edges - it looked good in our house - so we kept them for like 58 centuries after the information in them was obsolete.
~~or~~ there was OPTION 2
You would have to march off to some heinous library where you get all that "shush" and "ahem" non sense when your enthusiasm for pointing out the anatomy and biology section -- especially the REproDUCtion books... overtakes your mind dulling inability to read the asinine information your research paper is in reference to. And Heaven -forbid- you should grumble as you try to decode the frickin' dewey decimal water torture system they made up so you would have blistered thumbs from trying to pry even a 1/4 inch gap in the overstuffed CARD CATALOG so you might glean a faded typewritten word that has nothing on EARTH to do with a simple TITLE!
But NOWadays - you can sit back, strike up a three screen IM party with a few buds, maybe forego the reproduction websites for a half an hour AND learn the gross national product or demographics of a place you ain't never even heard of before, like Tanzania - which some person named Bowdawg typed in a blog post you ended up reading while researching your term paper that is on Ludwig Beaudaug (and now you have triple checked his name spelling from a printed book because Spell Check is USELESS on proper pronouns.) PS I'll save you an ALT /TAB toggle - I made up that name for the purpose of the post. But then I had to Good Search it for grins! Poker Anyone?
Everything is at our fingertips. Seriously toggle over again and SEARCH ENGINE THAT SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS for... anything... watermelon, sleestack, three toed sloth or toe jam. If you are feeling REALLY brave - click the images tab after you search to jam~ O.k. Gross. [A librarian just shushed me SOMEWHERE in the word.]
But you see what I mean? Everything is here at our beckoning. Our parents are with us even from other states (Kodak easy - sharing the cousins wedding we thought we got out of' attending - or uploading an mp3 of the recital of our aunt Loraine's third husband's nephew's girlfriend that gave him that virus - downloaded kind - you silly dirty birds!) Speaking of birds... you can go online and start planning your Thanksgiving meal or rendez-vous plans with the EXTENDED family.) Map quest your route to get there... Travelocity can book your flight and Amazon will send you the book to get you through the flight if the outbound movie is one you already Netflixed. Right now you can log on to your bank account and see whether it's gonna be first class or coach this year. THE world is your Oyster. (That is a bi-valve mollusk! I learned that JUST NOW on Wikipedia.)
--- so to bring this rambling post FULL CIRCLE---
One of our toughest burdens in life is repaying the kindness of our parents. I did not come up with that wisdom - but it is an inherent teaching in Buddhism that resonated with me. Even if your parents were total punks (and let's face it - some of them are) They gave you life by... well... making nicey-nice at least long enough for some zygotes to get together and "love you long time"!
(I should take a moment to add... mine are NOT punks. My parents I mean, not my zygotes. I.... just needed to clarify that. Cause, you know - they can find what I write about online. Those diary's and journals of yester-year are child's play in this new world. Now parents need only Google their child's name... or their own name and VOILA - no key required to pry into Juniors twisted little mind scape. Photos too sometimes!
Lucky for us we use screen names like~~ Bowdawg~~ so that NOBODY can figure out Chris Hodgson is all over the Net as Bowdawg. (Until now) ~~Oops ~~ [memo to self: reset all screen identities to something new - like CornDawg or NeoFight... or.... Byte_me...)
So, anyhow I encourage you to find some way to repay the kindness of your parents whenever you can. Invite them to Facebook. Check on their status from time to time. Tag them in your family photos. Myspace Karaoke their favorite Oldie. If they are deceased - post your favorite photo of them in memory... or write a nice story for us all to read. They gave us LIFE after all... and with this life we can sit in a chair and explore a world that many of them could only read about in books - or watch achingly boring documentaries on fuzzy screened rabbit eared television programs with no horizontal hold. They HAD no YOU TUBE. Seriously dude.
Us... we can get on Google Earth it and practically look in the openings of a straw hut in a remote village on the other side of the planet. Life is miraculous. Life is precious. SO ~~~ Love thy parents. Love thy Enemies. And if thy parents are thy enemies - I am terribly sad for that fact. But you could take a baby step today to create a different NEXT time with them. Cause Baby - you got karma and you WILL see them again !
Thanks for playing along with us today... now tab on over to that other window - and get your Facebook updates. Maybe you'll meet my family over there! I am working on getting Dad and Mary Ann to join the cyber reunion as well! Alright all my peeps...
PeAce OuT... (Hey.... I could Google that phrase too! I wonder if Ryan Seacrest's face pops up anywhere? How did people indulge their A.D.D. before the Web?)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Today the conversation is one I have had before in various iterations. It is a somber chat between two of the most spiritually influential beings to ever have manifested on our planet (and that of course is subject to argument by persons of different perspectives). I envision sitting at the feet of Padmasambhava - the Indian master who invoked Buddhism in the land of Tibet. This occurred at a time when it was a brutal land pervaded by the Bön religion and is referenced as a time of cannibals and warriors - which we as a "modern civilized society" probably cannot imagine turning into the peaceful plateau that became Tibet/Shagrai-la before Chinese Occupation.
The second participant in this conversation is Jesus of Nazareth - a radical social organizer who walked into the misguided temples and populace of a religious middle east being swayed by their unwavering religious beliefs, their politcal allegiance and their deep pockets vs destitute beggars. (Wow - as though we are re-enacting such principes nowadays.) I am sure most of you are familiar with the story of Christ, and not sure that many of you (besides my KPC companions) are familiar with Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) but I will unfold my imagined discussion between them none the less and allow you to research the back stories of your own volition.
J: Rinpoche, how very nice to make your acquaintance again - I pray, how is your health and well being?
P: Dearest Christ, I am well and happy to be serving all beings. Lord of Light - how are you doing? Might we work together to hasten the quickening of our mutually beneficial missions?
J: I am perplexed these days - it seems as though my name is being wielded as a banner for actions I would simply never engage in or approve of, and yet the fervor and pitch with which my name is used bears false prophet to my purpose.
P: I too see this phenomena happening, where I have promised and sworn, as you have, to return and be available to those who are in need - they simply will not open their eyes and see what is before them.
J: And what of Princess Mandarava?
P: And what of Mary of Magdalene?
J: My instincts tell me that they were hidden too long , but that they are now ready to serve unencumbered and with the fearless strength as mothers to all beings.
P: But how will the world receive them? What influence can we have on our disciples that they might soften their hearts, open their eyes, and behold the glory in their midst?
J: Dearest companion, as I recall they burned you at the stake for false assumptions regarding your intentions with a spiritual consort? And yet together you gave rise to the empowerment of immortal service to beings...
P: And your countenance was stoic as they nailed you to a cross and denied your companion as a prostitute or common woman when she held so perfectly that which you offered... as a vessel and perfect devout. And yet she witnessed your resurrection...
J: But those who speak against them -- they are so convinced of their righteousness.
P: And yet we remain...
J: From where can the hope arise then? If they have it amongst them, in the flesh and do not behold, treasure and empower themselves to follow - what more can we do... what then do we ask of them?
P: What then indeed....
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I read Professor Mom's post and decided it was a fun one to add here! I'll link to her list first and then list my quirks and who I tag below!
Here are the rules to the meme:
2. Post the rules on your blog .
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each random person know he or she has been tagged by leaving a comment on his/her website.
And NOW.... Bowdawg's six (of many) quirks:
1. Must break the Kit Kat apart stick by stick before eating (and if I have the time - eat the little chocolate ridge around the outside of each stick before the crunchy cookie part.) Also have rituals for eating Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.
2. No wet drips on my neck. Cannot STAND the random raindrop that lands on my bare neck before streaming down my collar. Makes me bug-eyed crazy!
3. Lotion on the face makes me writhe and squirm. I hate when I have to put sunscreen on my cheeks, forehead or neck. Loathe that feeling. (And yet I have been known to do a facial mud mask - go figure!?)
4. When I get nervous or anxious and am alone in my car - at a red light or slow moving traffic - I pretend I have a stick shift and act like I am transitioning through all the gears - invisible clutch and all. Who knows why?
5. Must sniff milk carton before pouring. Even if I just bought it and KNOW it is fresh - must sniff every time.
6. Have an inexplicable fear of.... making natural bodily function noises while in a public bathroom. Cannot STAND to break wind, pee loud or heaven forbid have a "splash down" if you know what I mean. In a fully contained private stall - in a random place with total strangers - I am mortified if I make a peep that indicates that I might actually be USING a bathroom for its intended purpose.There I feel better having confessed all that! Let's see if:
or anyone out there will heed the call to admit their quirks!
from the original author:
I tag...all of you reading this! Leave one of your quirkiest quirks in the comments section, and if you blog, go forth and post your own quirks. If you don't, stop and think about your quirks--relish them, share them with your kids, and if you think you don't have any quirks, think again.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Okay - for a while I have wondered why Facebook is so much more successful lately in my life at connecting me with friends, networking... etc. A moment ago I put my finger on it.
When I log into Myspace - I am BOMBARDED with the most inappropriate ads. Seriously, just because of my orientation - do I need to be served ads about lube, lypo-suction, hair removal (from anywhere) and hook up sites *EVERY* TIME* I * LOG* ON*?
Facebook may have some irritating little quirks and applications - but at least I don't feel pigeon holed by one single view of me... "Gay men are TRAMPS." (Whether we are or we aren't --- let us have a moment to think about where we want to put our energies today before ASSUMING it is all lower chakra stuff!)
Maybe I just wanted to sign on to say hello to my dharma friends - not necessarily take an ALL GAY CRUISE* with the HOTTEST GUYS AROUND... *discretion optional and results may vary.
Is it the same on Myspace for the rest of you? DO they just assume you are there to get your freak on? Or have they digitally deciphered my *ahem* cyber-history and decade old habits and so my profile is like the red light district of networking sites?
We are (some of us) reaching a mature "settling down" period nowadays - can't they calculate from our birthdays and serve ads about digestive aids, sleep inducing tonics and aches/pain relief? I mean seriously, there are nights I crawl into bed and think... "DANG - I wish I had bought a "CLAP ON... CLAP OFF..." clapper thingy !
[Oh and 2 for one buffet deals at local Ryan's, Picadilly Cafe or Golden Corral, etc. - that'd be a nice ad to see!]
I don't think Robert, Billy or Seth flexing their washboards abs with bubble quotes like "He came... he saw, I conquered" is gonna relieve my sciatica. Is it? (Dennis, Matthew and Jack you are strickly forbidden to respond. You either Blevins!) : )
Well shoot - as I realize where the sassy comments might come from - I begin to develop a window of insight into Myspace's marketing strategy. Strike all above ramblings from the record. I gotta book this cruise real quick before the hot operators standing by are all unavailable.
-Grumpy old queen.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This woman appeared half way through my shift - apparently to take property that did not belong to her. And I was stricken with a bit of fear, a bit of sympathy and a lot of confusion.
In a rural temple full of trust... it is not uncommon to have your wayward slacker approach after midnight. Maybe truly wishing for a sliver of the peaceful room that slakes desire - more often than not it is simple curiosity -- cloaked in the safety of late night hours -- that will bring them in at these nocturnal moments. Thus preventing a multitude of judgemental eyes gazing at your lack of knowledge and protocol.
But I sensed this lady meant no good. Plus-- I had been - dare I say --"warned" by a totem. The first door I opened to dismiss altar water from its sacred purpose of offering - and there sits a raccoon on the stoop. Little thief of nature - I thought. Cute, but I know you are here to take was has not been offered. Fortunate that eventually it is all offered to you -- cute little dumb scavenger. NOW in retrospect - this seemed to be a message from my subconscious - innocent critter manifest with ignorant schemes.
Anyway this lady sleuths through that same door well after 1:00 AM - surprised by my annoyance at her intrusion. "Damn praying freaks always screw up a good looting!"
She scampered away with lame excuses of being lost and seeking Poolesville - clearly the reason someone comes through the furthest port of entry in a dark back yard of a remote Buddhist campus - but upon my securing of the rest of the perimeter where doors seemed conveniently propped open all around - I find her pretending to be gone, on the wrong side of the closed dharma room door. Hmmm lost again in the main teaching room? This time her rhetoric is escaping the abuse of her here-to-fore unseen accomplice. The same she blamed for the earlier bad directions. [Makes sense now - he got her lost -- sent her to the furthest remote corner of a shrine room to sneak in and pray for directions... when she returned, sans the coveted information, he must of beaten her senseless without leaving a mark or making a sound in the late night silence - and then snuck her into the outer prayer room for confessional redemption. GOT IT!]
I am rattled - irritated - and quoting a different tradition's master saying YOU MAY NOT MAKE THIS TEMPLE A DEN OF THIEVES - in the less eloquent and theatrical delivery of "you need to leave this building NOW."
When the next prayer vigil attendant arrives - she notices the missing donation box on the wall above the candle table in the hallway. I am sure the lady in red would blame that on her nasty Mr. as well. Or perhaps the raccoon was her partner in crime?
I had my best interview yet after that experience. Granted it was with the Montgomery Police at 3:30 AM when I should be losing this sleep time on other pursuits like Reese's half price Halloween cups and Netflix red envelope serial distractions...
But lack of sleep and eery creepy heeby-jeeby lady had me thinking... here on the heels of my optimism is the truth of the desperation of so many. Stealing makes sense in their mind. Happiness through depriving others. And that seedling activity does not bother itself with the mighty oak of awareness to follow - the fruit of lack and impossible means to come from that planted seed.
Apparently I have spent time bedding with these thieves in times or lives gone by. I understand the shock and irritation in the raccoon and red jacket lady's eyes. Happiness thwarted. But in truth - suffering prevented. May they never succeed at bringing themselves horrible suffering!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I am contemplative - as many must be - on this "first day of the rest of our lives".
And much of it has to do with the class and the composure of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. John McCain gained my undying respect last night as he showed a graceful, unifying, non-partisan and no-trace-of-bitterness concession posture. He was humble, authentic in a way I saw glimpses of during the campaign - but never felt they (whoever run these things) let him remain sincere as they pumped him full of catch phrases and "Joe the Plumber" anecdotes. This is an amazing man who has served his country in ways many of us can only imagine - and has faced that moment of truth when you re-prioritize because your life becomes more precious. I believe he speaks volumes to his supporters by his posture in last night's speech.
And to president-elect Obama. I love that my spell checker keeps underscoring your name. As though even technology is tentative about the new reality. So unfamiliar is the potential that we face, that I feel an optimism that I often only feel in association with my spiritual practices and my teacher's kindness.
I watched last night as unbiased as I could - to "hear what was being conveyed" knowing the world was watching. I felt well represented - not as a party member, not as a race or even as a citizen of a country - but as an aspirant.
Aspire. Inspire. Spirit. They are all derivatives of breath, breathing, life giving - sustenance. I know Barack Obama is not perfect, I know he will face moments that we cannot imagine facing in our personal vocations and be held to a standard that not many of us will ever be held to. But the words that came from his mind and his mouth - whether written by a polished speech writer or a newcomer to this arena - they FIT him. I believe he can attempt to walk his talk and show people the promises and disappointments of a system that CAN advance humanity and can also stagnate and suppress people. It is our choice EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not just once every four years.
Vote every day. Make the tough choices too. I KNOW I am an asshole. How can I be less so tomorrow? Who can I reach out to and say - I hate to admit I learned something from you - and though I cannot embrace your philosophy, I have room for it in my mind so I can understand you better and assist you if I can. We needn't agree on which trail to hike to reach the top of the mountain - but we can still sit together on the Zenith and watch the sun set. From that peak we will have a 360 degree view of all that is - and it will seem silly that we once bickered over whether to ascend the Eastern face or the Western face - which trail head would get us there quicker and which path was too steep and too difficult.
Climb. The best you know how and with the trail that works for your hiking skills. Climb my friends. And we will sit together on the top - and toast this view with a cold beer and a warm smile and enjoy each other re-telling the perils of our particular ascent.
Thank you America for turning out in record numbers to exercise your right to choose, to climb, to speak, to be heard.
Yes... we CAN.
(Alright - enough waxing eloquent - I gotta get my sorry ass hired before all you other optimists go out there and snatch up these few coveted positions!)
Monday, November 3, 2008
I toss it across the room to my canine companions - as they study the back patio, patiently.
Undying expectation - for some event to evolve.
I admire their endurance, their patience with the possibility of broken monotony and their ability to sustain optimism and keep hope alive even when the cat only comes along once every second day.
My endeavors to keep my attitude above the horizon of depression have waned lately and unfortunately I cannot persevere with the same zest for expectation.
I am inspired to jot down every random idea I have lately just to see what I have not accomplished while I have been trying to find a job - or worried about how bad it is to not have a job yet - or beating myself up about not getting hired... or wondering what my parents must think about their ne'er-do-well son...
You get the drift right?
The dogs don't. They just WATCH. That cat will be back. Just you wait. Pant-pant-pant-pant-pant...