This is a fascinating series of lectures on the Buddhist "Noble Truths" I've been watching recently. While I do somehow have an intrinsic/instinctual understanding of what he's talking about, I couldn't explain it to you. If you have the time/interest, I highly recommend watching these lectures. They are of profound/essential interest/usefulness. It's remarkable how much "it," Buddhism, or the Buddhistic way, answers, the solutions it provides, the clarity it imparts on existence is truly profound. I'd have to say now that I liken myself to a spinning top on the path of the Buddha. Now that I have tasted, within a few short months, even the partial liberation from suffering, the profound glimpses of happiness, that my small beginning has provided me, I intend on continuing, full circle.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I took this photo in an old house on the island Marken, in North Holland. It was shut off for most of its history from mainland Holland by harsh waters until a road was built in 1957. They've managed to maintain a lot of the old traditions, and still often wear traditional clothing.
I thought of this photo as a tribute to the topic "home," which I stated I would write about this month, but could never find the time.
Other than posting random video clips, I have neglected this blog. I made a commitment to post everyday during the month of June on the topic "home," but I didn't ever get a reply that my effort to sign-up went through, and the topic of "home" is often a painful one for me, so I avoided writing anything.
Several hours ago someone wrote expressing interest in one of my photos, and it occurred to me that there just might be more than a few people out there actually reading what I write, so here I am! Thanks to everyone for reading, and for your continued support and interest. Most days I'm just here, around and about, being a mother, wondering about my purpose, wondering what I am doing, where I'm going, if anyplace at all. You could say, she doesn't know what the hell she's doing, and that would be a fairly accurate accusation of sorts. Just for the record, I am taking pains to give some more shape to my life, to walk a fine line, or perhaps, to take the messy clay I call myself and mold it into something intelligible.
I'd also like to report, if you don't mind, that I've dropped all pains at solving my "problems" (It's not even certain I have any at all! to speak of....) through the rattling vehicle called psychotherapy. I am not discounting therapy, or therapist. I know they are essential, and "they've" helped a lot of people....
There have been a number of therapists since I've been here, and lots of desperation. In the end it amounted to sessions of me either complaining bitterly about people, or about my life here, or to efforts at painting a promising, future-oriented picture of myself to the therapist. There was no shape to our sessions, no direction at all. I might as well have been complaining to the wind. I think, in fact, that wind might be more helpful. It can be refreshing, makes a pleasant sound, and has the tendency to wake one out of stupor. It challenges. It forces one to live. It grant life to the senses. I think, mostly, you could say, I love wind (when it's not destroying things), whereas, psychotherapy, hum, I'm not too certain. Love?
The therapist was terribly bored with me, suppressing yawns, and nearly nodding off while I shared some of my darker moments. You could say I envisioned someone like "The Mother," in Portrait of a Schizophrenic Girl, someone who would nurture me back into existence. I met a therapist who had such powers briefly in New York.
I often thought my therapist was more interested in her waste-length blond hair, and her next ski vacation than she was in my tottering mental health. Encouraged, I thought, well, at least I'm practicing my Dutch. After a few dismal years of this spotty "treatment," I requested another therapist, and then another. "The third man" spent most of our few sessions together either making me cry, or arguing to me about his position. He was one of those therapist who doesn't want to let you out of his clutches. If it had been up to him, I'd be going there every week to enter into conflict with him, or debate some rough aspect of his character.
On the third session I stated emphatically: "I don't want any more conflict! I'm through with conflict! I'm going someplace else with my life now! I'm going to another space, and I'm leaving all of this behind me." I thanked him for giving me the gift of self-reliance, that I actually CAN rely on myself, that I'm capable of figuring things about for myself, without his paltry help, or what they call "hulpverlening," which doesn't amount to much help at all.
It's shocking to finally realize that you're not in need of help at all, and that, actually, there wasn't anything much wrong with you to begin with, but that there's an enlightened path waiting for you to jump on board. A path of peace, harmony, problem solving, resolution, cessation. It's the path of the Buddha, and already, after only a few months of following it, I am becoming a better, more confident, nicer, more patient, less angry and confused, happier person. I still have a lot to learn, and a long way to go, but I feel very fortunate that my life path has led me to Buddhism. It's like being given a golden key. Suddenly, very simply and plainly, I know now where I am going. I know now that I don't have to live my life in turmoil and depression. There is a way out of the darkness. There is a clear, safe, reliable way out. I don't have to live my life in pain anymore. Thank you, Buddha!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This is an interesting silent yoga video. This guy was the teacher of BKS Iyengar, which is the school of yoga that I follow.
Yesterday I did the back bend he does using my head as a support for the first time. I also used my elbows as support for my head, and had a wall behind me. It made me sweat. In the same class we did headstand with variations for nearly twelve minutes. I couldn't believe it when the teacher told us we'd been standing on our heads for that long. Sweat was dripping from my arms. At the end of the class my entire body was shaking. We hung in the ropes, and did numerous back bends, which I can handle, but it was the combination and the intensity that was dizzyfying. A great challenge, indeed.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I watched this documentary about six months ago. It was really interesting. I think I'm going to watch it again.
Leonard Cohen is the narrator.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Recently I received the story of one of my namesakes, Emily Ellen Peacock. Emily, an English woman, fell in love with a Mormon missionary in the 1830s. Her father William, a printer, initially didn't approve of the match, or of Mormonism. Emily was determined to marry her suiter, convert to Mormonism, and emigrate to Utah. Her father finally gave into his daughter wishes. Emily's mother had also been converted to Mormonism. William decided to convert, and move with his entire family to Smithfield, where there was no work for printers. He wound up getting work as a clerk.
I imagine that it must have been a radical decision at the time to relocate your entire family, and move that far away.
I recently heard on the Leonard Lopate show that, while Americans are a mobile people, fewer than 1% relocate to places outside of the United States. I'm one of the few.
The world felt small when I came here ten years ago, but it feels much bigger now. I guess I've come to question the notion that we're all really close together, a global community, and all. There are so many things separating people, and too many obstacles to communication. I thrive on communication, and exchange with other people. When I do get around to fulfilling some of my social needs here I am much better at feeling positive and motivated. Too often, the barriers are high, people are closed down. They put space between me and them, obstacles. They don't seem willing, when, it would seem to me, so much more interesting to drop hostility, drop whatever's barring you from simple, unfettered conversation. I like to talk with people, but a lot of the time, it doesn't seem like people like to talk with me much, and I don't see why. This is called isolation.
It's funny, though, in the story I read about Emily, it didn't say anything about how her life went once she got to Utah. All of the detail I wanted to know was missing from her story. Was she happy? Was her husband good to her?
From what I know of Mormon community life, I would assume she was apart of a large circle of women, sharing, talking, working together, supporting each other. I haven't found any of that here. It's like having the rug pulled out from underneath you raising children without any help at all.
Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum. Om Mani Padme Hum.
When I first came across the Green Tara mantra on YouTube, it was a Tibetan monk singing in an extremely deep voice. I liked his singing very much, but I was expecting a female voice. Here's a female version. It is supposed to be cleansing and protective to listen to or to sing yourself, but I haven't learned to sing it, yet.
Om Mani Pade Hum is a protective Buddhist mantra. Chant it to yourself, aloud, sing it, repeat over and over during times of affliction.
Tibetans believe that even looking at it written in Sanskrit has protective powers. Elderly Tibetans chant it throughout their days, carrying prayer wheels around with Om Mani Padme Hum inscribed on them. They spin them all day long.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
This is kinda funny. There's a really weird commercial in the middle of it all.
This song just sums it all up for me. I'm an American. Americans are a mobile folk. We move around. Before I lived here, I moved at least ten times in my lifetime. Now I've lived in the same place for ten years. I'm a Road Runner, you know, gots to go.
This is beautiful. I love the old shots of New York. It's a world I feel I've always known and loved, and longed for... Quite nostalgic. I'd have to leave out the child labor, and other poor working and living conditions.... I get a homey feel here. Feels like home, although I know I'll never live in New York again. Can't afford it. I remember the first time I visited New York as a teenager, I immediately had a feeling of belonging, or of being home. Certainly I partly grew up there. I'm still growing up, even at my age. I don't think I'll ever be fully grown. I still have to find a home, again, but I'm feeling good, not despondent. My head is clear with the help of yoga and meditation. I'm sure that eventually I will find my home in myself. Home isn't external, even though I long at times for a certain place, a feeling of belonging, I'm cultivating home now in me.
Monday, June 2, 2008
I signed up to write everyday on the topic "home."
I haven't felt at home for ten nearly ten years.
Two of the things that bother me most about our house, since I guess it's my house, too, are the leaking roof, and the front door that's falling apart.
In Utah an unruly, weedy lawn, is a sign to neighbors of moral weakness. Neighbors will be sure something's seriously wrong with you and your family if you down get out there and mow, prune, water, and preferably, weed.
We have a little front garden. One year I let wild grass grow there. It got to be several feet high, perhaps even four or five feet. It was the happy home to hundreds of grasshoppers. I sort of liked giving a home to grasshoppers in an urban environment. It made me feel like I was doing something good for nature. The neighbors didn't like it. I'm not very popular in Holland.
I guess you could say, our front door is sort of like a Utah lawn. It should have been painted six years ago. I was pregnant at the time. It still hasn't been painted, and now it's weathering away. I thought of finding some kind of vinyl covering to glue onto it, and I found out that you can cover your windows with insulating, transparent vinyl. So far, I haven't found anything of the kind that would seal up our door. The wood is so bad, it seems like a waste of time painting it.
Our roof should have been repaired around the same time.
I think I'll try to repair it myself.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Call me a doomsday thinker. Catastrophe thinking, it's called, rather. But I'm starting to wonder whether I'll ever make it back "home" again. As I said to my mother, every year it seems, the flights are too expensive for us, until the next year, when the prices are even higher, and I think, well, last year was sure cheap!
When I came here ten years ago I go could whenever I wanted, and I visited regularly. Flying to Utah from Amsterdam was a few hundred dollars for me and my son. Once we paid less than $300.
Now, the kids are in school. They're bound to school, and so am I. The school inspector would track us down, and slap on a steep fine, if we were "absent" for a week before, or a week after a holiday.
Problem is, the only even remotely affordable time to travel is outside of the school vacations.
So I wait, and I twiddle my thumbs, and I search for affordable ways to travel. I haven't seen half of my family members in two-and-a-half years. This year it's more than 4,000 euros to fly "home." That's over $6,000 with the awful exchange rate.
It makes me cringe to think that next year will be even more expensive. Oil reserves are drying up, and "airplane fuel" (somebody help me here) is becoming even more expensive and scarce than benzine. The Dutch papers ran two days of stories on how much more expensive it's going to get. The airlines will be forced to cut back service to meet rising costs. I wonder if it will be $10,000 next year for four people to fly to Salt Lake from Amsterdam. I really ought to go this year. I wonder when I'll ever see my parents again.
Last night I had a nightmare that we were being held hostage. I was able to sneak a call to one of my cousins in Seattle to tell her about it.
Will the days of air travel become a thing of the past? One dollar is .64 cents.
My Swedish, Dutch, English, and Norwegian ancestors left Europe, and never saw whomever they left behind again. A bold and courageous move. Sometimes I wonder if my move wasn't just stupid. I have an inkling it wasn't. I'd like to be a little more confident.