Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random thoughts & questions

View from East Bay
I look in the mirror today and see the skin of Tommy Lee Jones.

What's the difference between a nodule and a tumor? They're both abnormal swellings. A nodule is smaller. Nodus in Latin means 'knot'. Tumere means 'to swell.'

Note that it takes me a couple of days to finish posts sometimes, so when I say 'today' or 'yesterday', it may be...anachronistic.

Jules came up last night and we watched two good movies: The Dictator, very funny, and Senna, an excellent sweet documentary about the Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna.

I want to visit Brazil. Egypt. Norway. Continents. Or do I?

What about alternative treatments? Two weeks of veg. juice and wheat grass in Mexico? An Ayurvedic retreat in India?...Or what?

My bucket list (what is important) - What is on it?

Here's what Tenzin Palmo, who did a 12-year solitary retreat in a cave near a Tibetan village, said in an interview about my two best friends/foes, Hope and Fear:
I remember one spring when the snow melted and the cave became completely flooded and soaking wet. I also had a cold. I was feeling extremely not well, and I was thinking, "They're right what they said about living in caves. Who wants to live in this horrible wet place!" I was feeling horrible, it was cold and miserable and still snowing. And then I suddenly thought, "Are you still looking for happiness in samsara? Didn't [the] Buddha say something about dukkha, suffering?" And when I thought that, I suddenly thought, "Yes, it doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter. Samsara is dukkha so it's fine, there's no problem. Why expect happiness ? If happiness is there, happiness is there; if happiness isn't there, what do you expect anyway? It really doesn't matter!" When I felt that - it was something not just in the head at all, it was really in my heart - this whole weight just went away: hope and fear. We're always hoping that everything will be pleasant somehow, we're always fearing that it won't be. And in that moment the whole thing dropped away, and it just didn't matter. This was an enormous relief...
Mosaic at Powell St. BART station
I've been noticing that I am not experiencing that relief. My mind cycles through 'realistic' hope- or fear-induced scenarios and plans, creating suffering for itself. (On days like this, Sartre's comment, Hell is other people, seems completely insane.) The wheel spins another time and lands on Uncertainty, which in its pure state can be a great relief. Or it sinks its teeth into my lungs.

being well (even when you're sick) teaches MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) specifically for people with cancer. I found some of it boring, some of it good. I like the stories about the author's own life dealing with cancer. In general, I can dig a good cancer memoir. It's like being in a support group, only more entertaining and maybe not as useful in terms of practical information.

Clandestine shot of woman with crazy hat.
When she got off the train she wore a backpack
shaped like a turtle shell
I think I will go to Mexico (Oct 30.) There is an eight day retreat - for women who've requested ordination - on the theme of the "Mythic Context." If it were any other theme, I don't think I would go, but that one is right up my street.

I went for a three or so mile walk with Tong in Tilden Park. It was beautiful. It felt good to walk on dirt rather than cement, but toward the end my toes got very numb (was tripping a lot) and I got very tired. Same thing happened today with Lisa at Lands End. Before that she helped me do some errands, which was awesome.

Summary: my mind has been flying all over the place. Tonight I listened to the talk I gave at the GBF and felt at peace with it all.

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