Saturday, June 29, 2013

Six Mistakes of Man

I found this little list of 'mistakes' while reading something else, and thought how profound they were, even in this day and age. They were originally written by Marcus Tallus Cicero, a Roman philosopher who was born in 106 BC. Cicero was a great lawyer, a persuasive orator, an important politician, a prolific writer, and a natural philosopher. So it's not surprising that so many of his works have survived the centuries. But these six short maxims seem to have had a lasting impact on mankind, and after all this time, we are still re-discovering and re-learning the same profound truths.

The Six Mistakes of Man:
1. The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.

Enough said!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Delicious Daylilies

Yes, you know the ones I'm talking about -
the bright yellow lilies that only last for a day,
but bloom in profusion in the short June season that they love!

Did you know you could eat them?
Not only are they edible, but they're delicious too
I picked some fresh daylily buds this morning,
and some broccoli tips that bolted into flower due to the heat

I put them on a pre-made pizza crust,
added cheese, grilled it in the oven
and finished it off with some delicate tarragon -
isn't this the prettiest pizza you've ever seen?
Almost like a flower in itself!

A little slice of summer!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Laying Down

Sometimes when I stop to take a breath,
I'm overawed by how alive life is.
How eager, how fervent, 
How like a flame in the forest.
I look in the mirror and suck in a breath.
I see someone else - someone still young,
Her hair still dark and long, her teeth all in a line.
But me - I have an overwhelming longing to rest.
To rest,
A need to reminisce,
To piece together my pieces,
To patch up the parts of my past,
Make a story and lay it to rest.
No more present,
or prospects.
Only Peace.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Little Bug Teaches Big Lessons

"An illness or loss or heartbreak is often a Hideous Damsel, or a Sleeping Giant, or a Strange Angel who wants to help us evolve." -Elizabeth Lesser (Broken Open)

So what is my illness trying to tell me when a tiny little tick that bit me behind my knee, actually brought me to my knees for a good three days? When I was convulsing with fever, chills, nausea, aches and pains, was there a lesson behind them all?

On the back porch of the little log cabin on the lake, even as I was peacefully reading a story from "Owning it", a Zen real-life storybook written by Perle Besserman - one was a story about a woman who had Lyme disease but was misdiagnosed as anything but, I had no idea that I myself had a tick biting through my skin. As I read in shock and horror the crippling lifetime implications of what a missed diagnosis could mean, I had no knowledge of what was happening to my own body at that time. A couple of days later, when I returned home, I found a tiny tick on my skin, didn't think much of it even then (after all, most ticks are benign), I pulled it out, and that was that. Or so I thought.

Exactly two weeks after my return from that retreat, I suddenly fell severely ill, I wondered if it had something to do with the little tick that bit me. I mean, what are the odds that the story I was reading in a Zen book (not a medical text) was actually preparing me for this moment? I hurriedly called my sister, and she agreed I couldn't afford to curl up in bed and go to sleep, but to call the doctor right away. I did. After a series of tests, the doctor concluded it was most certainly Lyme. She was happy that I had come in right away, and to have connected it to the tick bite, otherwise who knows what the rest of my story would have been. It was an amazing coming together of reading, remembering and recognition that probably saved my life. Much as I'd like to resist being melodramatic, it is true that I'm still in treatment for Lyme, but the fever has cooled, the chills have calmed, and the aches are soothed.

But what had they come to teach me? To be aware at all times? To never take my life or health for granted? To realize that I'm being protected and babied by an unknown hand? That even as I felt alone in my illness, I was never abandoned? That synchronicity is something real? They're all big lessons for me, which are also comforting at the same time. All I can say for them is a prayer of gratitude.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Harvest of the Season - Peas

There's nothing like the sweet crunchy taste of fresh peas right off the vine. For the first time, I've been able to grow peas this year. Every year so far, they were stringy, weak, dying. This year, I think I sowed the peas at the right time of year, when it was still cool, and the rest of the season has been cool too.

Here's how my train of pea plants look now,
being pulled quite gamely by a polka-dotted ladybug

My first "bushel" of peas from the garden
Shucked and shelled...
Plus a handful of young lettuce leaves

Together, they make a good meal of quinoa salad:
 with peas, lettuce, and mint - quite summery!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My New Favorite Book

"Time itself is being... and all being is time... In essence, everything in the entire universe is intimately linked with each other as moments in time, continuous and separate" - Ruth Ozeki, paraphrasing Zen Master Dogen

Once in a while a perfect book comes along for me - equal parts of charm, humor, intelligence, all mixed together into the perfect blend of a book. This is a book I won't soon forget, but it will go on my very short list of books I'd want to reread.

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING is about Nao (pronounced Now), a young Japanese girl who was brought up in America, but was forced to move back to Japan when her Dad lost his software job during the dotcom crash. She struggles to adjust in her new school, has no friends, strays, wants to commit suicide. But before she does that she wants to leave one thing behind that she'd be proud of. She decides she wants to tell the tale of her 104 year old grandmother, a Buddhist nun who renounced the world, and lives in a temple as its caretaker, in the remote mountains of Japan.

Ruth, living on a distant island in Canada, finds this tale washed up on the beach - a handwritten book in a Hello Kitty lunch box, wrapped up in layers and layers of plastic. She feels so connected to Nao that even though the book was written a long time ago, she feels like she has to try and see if she can help the young girl.

The book has many layers beyond Ruth, Nao and her grandmother - there's the beautiful island in Canada, quantum physics, Nao's Dad's story, modern Japan, Nao's great uncle who was a WWII soldier, Zen spirituality, all rolled up into one.

Read the book, feel the magic, and the supa-pawa (super-power) of Nao. She's a time being, so is Ruth, and so are we. I cannot recommend the story enough!