Thursday, July 17, 2008

Silent Revolution Through Meditation

It's sort of a bumpy road, and I'm not sure that I really want to write about it just now, but I suppose I will say something.

Meditation is THE wonder drug for our century, and for all time. It is the ONLY cure for mental illness and anguish. If I compare myself now to a few months back before I embarked on my meditation journey with a Lama, it is utter transformation. Literally, I have spent many years of my life in the throws of a suicidal depression. I struggled. I read. I was desperate. I was living in extreme isolation. I was at the end. I was scrambling for help, and I wasn't getting any at all.

Then I went to the Lama. I started meditating. I read regularly about Buddhism, and meditation techniques. I listen to Matras on YouTube, and to talks by the Dalai Lama.

It is a true wonder, and it's possible that it is quite literally saving my life.

When I am true to my meditation, practicing daily without fail, my moods are stable. I am happier. My previously obsessive thoughts of ending my life disappear miraculously. I am a kinder mother. I smile. I laugh.

Meditation is a true wonder. It is the key to transformation. It is the dream I've been dreaming all my life. It's what I've been waiting for, and it could be a silent revolution, the more it catches on.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gayatri Mantra

I love this song. It's so happy, sweet, and beautiful at the same time.... (To listen to the song, please scroll down....)

Usually content to feel inspiration from the pure sound of a mantra, I stop myself at looking up a translation. But of course words have more power when you know their meaning. My husband was so inspired by this song he looked up its meaning, and then added the song to his telephone. Here's a translation of the Gayatri Mantra I found:

Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

When I was eighteen I started to teach myself Sanskrit out of a book, but life in all of its permutations led me off my true path. Now, twenty years later, I am beginning once again to discover my Buddha nature, which I believe is my true nature. It's taking me back to the pure stream of thought I experience as a child.

A prayer for myself, and for everyone in the world who has diverged from her/his true path in life: May we all realize our true natures, and not stray again. Let the radiance that results from the compassion gained by our quest be an inspiration to others.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I was happy but happy is an adult word. You don't have to ask a child about happy, you see it. They are or they are not. Adults talk about being happy because largely they are not. Talking about it is the same as trying to catch the wind. Much easier to let it blow all over you. This is where I disagree with the philosophers. They talk about passionate things but there is no passion in them. Never talk happiness with a philosopher.....

This morning I smell the oats and I see a little boy watching his reflection in a copper pot he's polished. His father comes in and laughs and offers him his shaving mirror instead. But in the shaving mirror the boy can only see one face. In the pot he can see all the distortions of his face. He sees many possible faces and so he sees what he might become.

--Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Navigated Away....

You have navigated with raging soul far from the paternal home, passing beyond the seas' double rocks and now you inhabit a foreign land.


Old American Station Wagon

Proof that the United States hasn't lost it's presence in the world entirely is this 1970s American station wagon parked in the Jordaan (an old Amsterdam neighborhood). They still love us, let's face it.... ;-)

Sort of a dull photo, but the old car stood out so much in this posh section of town, I couldn't resist making a record.

The lighting is great, though. It illuminates everything so well. This new camera amazes me. Even when it looks too dark to the eye to shoot a photo, the camera absorbs the light so well, and so brilliantly, even night photos turn out well without the use of flash.

Black Horse

Listening to my IPod, I forgot to turn down the Prinsengracht Wednesday night in Amsterdam, and ended up wandering around, instead. I was still early once I got to the café I was headed to, so it didn't matter in the end.

At one building, the doors were open to this odd horse statue wearing a black biker's helmet. I like to take photos as inconspicuously as possible, so I usually do so very quickly. The subject matter is a bit of a disappointment here, and my spur-of-the-moment decision to include the mirror of a motorcycle was also a bit off.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sittin' Pretty

These cats made a charming display in an eyeglass shop window Wednesday night in Amsterdam.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Okay, then. Onward!

I took this photo at the Catherijne Convent in Utrecht, which is a museum in Utrecht specialized in midieval art and artifacts. It actually looks a bit like me, I realized just now.

Okay. What strikes me today, just now, is the conundrum I've allowed forth in my life the past years. It doesn't make sense to me at all anymore. There's no reason for it. With all of the possibilities I have. It's a total waste of creative energy to live in confusion. I'm constantly waiting for my life to begin, preventing the beginning myself by not starting anywhere. Or by starting and then putting everything to a halt.

Last night, or several nights ago, I got this image of myself laying in a bath full of congealed jello, a straw stuck in my mouth for air. The jello was green, in case you're wondering.

Tomorrow I'm turning a page. Instead of these whining entries, I'm going to actually DO something again. I'm going to start living and thinking and breathing again, rather than sitting crooked in an airless shell complaining about things. In fact, there's nothing stopping me from doing and writing all kinds of things. Nothing at all but imaginary walls. I've been putting them in front of myself for years, and it seems ridiculous just now when it's clear that I'm totally and utterly free. I am officially breaking free! :-)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Borta Bra

"Borta bra men hemma bäst"

A Swedish proverb meaning, "Away is good, but home is best."

Which begs the question: Where is home? That's a concept quite lost on me. Is my home here? Am I away from my home? When I'm in the United States, am I away, or have I "come" home? Theoretically, of course, this is my home, but why do I feel like I'm not at home? I feel like I visiting, as if I'm waiting to "go home," wherever that might be. Constantly waiting, waiting. Why can't I simply live, instead? There's a string holding me. I can't let go. Why allow other people's presumed judgement of me control how I feel, think, react. Why bother at all? What about the law of dependence? We/I live in the world. On whom am I dependent if people ignore me in my daily basis? This makes me aloof, but does it can it make me dependent when there's nothing being provided, other than a lack of....

The Highest Point in Utrecht

The Netherlands is known for being flat. Flatness has its own charms. The North Sea is so flat, it seems to stretch on eternally. It's like an endless plane. There are times when I can appreciate the absence of incline here.

There are actually a few hilly regions in an otherwise flat landscape. This photo was taken in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the highest point in The Netherlands this side of Limburg. It's an incline created during the ice age. We sat on a bench with an actual vantage point down with a view on Utrecht, I believe. I took a series of nature shots on our walk there....

The Bird Man

The third week of May, a guy built a man-sized bird nest out of a window at a sky-rise in Rotterdam, sat in it, and threw feather-lite styro-foam feathers streaked in neon pink paint to on-lookers. We scored two feathers, to the delight of my daughter.

Where there's smoke, there's fire

They say it takes two or three years before you see a real change in yourself through meditation. I've only been practicing for a few months. The past few days I've gotten up before six, which seems to work out best. I'm not exactly fresh in the morning, but if I don't do it first thing, I find that I'll keep pushing it back in my day until I'm so tired I tell myself I'll do it the next day.

Problem is, I don't think I can wait another three years. I think, what am I supposed to do? Bide my time, while away for another three years, until suddenly everything clicks in for me.

I guess you could say that I'm a perfectionist. I want things a certain way. I want to be a certain kind of person. I want to live in a certain city. But none of my conditions have been met here. I'm stuck. There's nothing I want. I don't like where I live.

Years ago, twenty years ago, in fact, I was working at The New York Public Library being trained by a woman who was leaving for Arizona. I think she was going to University there. Her advice to me was, never move anywhere for a man. It's sort of a golden rule for women. And I broke it. And so, here I am, stuck, trying to figure a way out of my regret and bitterness. At times in the past ten years, many times, days and weeks and months on end, I've been so despondent, I haven't known what to do with myself. I have to accept everything. The loss of my education, alienation, everything. No matter what I've tried, I haven't been able to change these fundamental facts of my existence here. I am a prisoner in Schiedam, and no matter how much I howl, wail, scream, argue, persuade, it doesn't change a thing, because the Dutch are the clay people, unmovable, and heavy.

Buddhist advice goes: Don't do anything a wise man wouldn't regret later. Still, here I am, building up more regret by the day. Even as I sit here writing this, I am building regret for the words I write.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Square Cubicle Building

Rotterdam is known for its architecture. So I thought I'd bring a photo of one of the newest architectural wonders its brought to the fore. It's in one of the new, trendy, over-priced waterfront areas they've been developing the past several years, the Lloyd Pier.

It struck me, as I walked passed it yesterday, that the copper-colored metal structures jutting out of it on one side reminded me of jail-cells. I decided I should photograph it, and walked passed again with my camera later in the day, and it struck me that the structures don't look like jail-cells, but that they're enlarged welder's helmets! How original!

It's the new Rotterdam architecture at its best.

Let's Tango!

Today I'm wearing my white ruffled Agnés B shirt, some tight shorts, and a lycra shirt underneath the ruffle shirt.

On the way to the kids school in Rotterdam this morning I saw a group of Spanish-speaking women walking toward us. One of the women, slightly older and larger than I, was similarly dressed. I realized then, the addition of a black studded belt, large turquoise beads, and fish skull earrings, formed a quintessential Mexican-Spanish "Cha Cha" look, and then I thought, well, why not identify myself in this way? I hadn't thought of it when I put the clothes on this morning. I just thought, well, this is nice for a hot afternoon. Very anti-Anglo, anti-Calvinist of me.

I don't think it's a fashion approved of by the ladies at the staid, stiff-upper-lip school. Call it paranoia, but I could swear I noticed some of them recoiling away from me. But I suppose this is something they'd do no matter what look I threw on.


Isn't it natural to leave a place where one is so hated?.... The heroism of staying is nonetheless merely the heroism of cockroaches which cannot be exterminated, even from the bathroom.

--Franz Kafka

Oh What Fun! Taxes! :-)

In one of the few really attractive neighborhoods in Rotterdam, and one of the poshest, you can visit De Belasting en Douane Museum. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you guessed it. It's the Tax and Import Museum, and it's no laughing matter....

Since we pay lots of tax here, we get a museum to honor the millions of hours spent laboring for the government, and, of course, the Queen herself.

Leave it to the Dutch to actually make tax paying LOOK sexy. Note, the banners featuring young, hip, nubile types. It all makes for a fun-filled day out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our House in the Loire, France

Okay, so, it's not our house, but we did stay here for a week last summer. It was beautiful there. Idyllic.

Prinsenhof, Delft

I took this photo almost a year ago in the Prinsenhof in Delft, which is where Willem van Orange, the man the Dutch call "The Father of the Fatherland," was shot somewhere back in the the 1600s. It's been my habit here to post photos without any direct commentary on the subject, but to use them as a backdrop for whatever I was writing about. I've thought of writing so many different things these past months, but have stopped at the thought of writing....