Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Warm Heart of Your Loving Mind

"The warm heart of your loving mind" was a song lyric by the great Donovan of yesteryear and forever.

Or as Nelson Mandela said, putting a slightly different twist on it, "A good heart and a good mind are a formidable combination."

And last but not least, a great Tibetan Buddhist teacher said, "Wisdom and compassion are the two wings that fly the bird."

Today for a good while, my heart was sore with sorrow yet my mind was cranking away with creative juices at the editing table. For a long while it seemed impossible that my mind could be alive with alacrity while my heart chakra was roiling. Sometime around early afternoon, the tide of grief subsided in my chest and the bodily sensation returned to a sort of new normal.

Although my heart and mind were out of synch for a spell today, it gives me great joy to report that they are in communication again.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Message From Here and the Beyond

Today, in the midst of a respite from the home I shared with my recently deceased husband - on a beautiful island in the Northwest surrounded by old friends - I had a bittersweet stab to my heart. 

Supposedly, people can comment on these blog posts and then they should magically appear toute suite on the back end of the site for my approval to publish or not publish. 

For almost one year, no comments have made it through the blogosphere to hit my blog; undiagnosed cyber trouble which I never bothered to understand or unwind.

About midday as I was innocently checking some backend statistics, a notice appeared that I had 37 comments, an unusual event akin to lucky spermatozoa hitting their target. As they were vetted one by one, I arrived at a comment from June 2, 2014. It read:

Michael Wilson has left a new comment on your post "In the Neutral Zone": 
From Michael, husband of Carole

Human hell is total solitude and this is not the hell I am experiencing. I have the privilege of having my love next to me.
Posted by Michael Wilson to LIVING IN BETWEEN YOUR THOUGHTS at June 2, 2014 at 8:24 AM

It was written 24 days before he died and delivered 51 days after he died. One could either develop deep mistrust for the functionality of the internet or divine some deeper, godlike message from the universe delivered with a bizarre synchronicity.

Whatever the explanation, my dearest man wanted to set the record straight for all times. There is no such thing as hell when love reigns.

Amen, my husband and poet and best friend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Walking Wonderfully

Walking meditation is a practice to which I was introduced 45 years ago. It always seemed a little contrived, forcing oneself down to a snail's pace, chanting a mantra or simply practicing mindfulness. This racehorse wanted to run and prance and sing. 

Fast forward 45 years. Now feeling like a nag out to pasture, with no desire other than lolling about the house trying to forget about the cookies in the pantry, a small miracle occurred today.

Vacationing at a cabin overlooking the Straites of Georgia, which opens seaward all the way to Japan, the urge to breathe in the champagne air was overwhelming. The urge to actually walk outside to experience that purity was underwhelming. But I slipped on my slippers and walked out the door, one foot slowly placed in front of the other and a mantra silently rolling around my brain looking for a place to hitch into the drive train. I told myself that I could walk as slowly as I wanted, so that the fear of exercising would not overtake me and cause a retreat back into the house.

Slowly, step by step, I began a sojourn down a dirt path that lead through lush vegetation of Northwest vintage. The mantra found its groove and overtook all other thoughts. Suddenly, I loved those slow steps, unhurried by the pressure of cardio or fitness training. Voila! The beauty of walking meditation descended upon me and was made real.

So today a network has opened up to me, an unhurried one where I can venture forth from my cave with slow precision, enjoyment, and focus. The glorious sun of walking meditation has risen in my soul and I am grateful .

Pay to Arrive, Free to Leave

On Bainbridge Island, it costs money for a ferry ticket to get there but one can leave and ride for free going back to Seattle. On Lummi island, the ferry deal goes the same way. Pay to get to the island, leave for nothing.

This pattern is redolent of life in the Bardos (look it up). You have to pay off your karma to arrive in a human body but it costs nothing to leave, physiologically speaking. Medical bills and funeral costs optional.

Earning a way back into a human body can be tricky, according to the teachings of Buddhism. Apparently, countless beings in the afterlife vie for a precious human rebirth, where evolution can be quick and effective. Of course if a newbie human flicks his or her finger at earning good karma while in bodily form, next time around one might get a one way ticket to the body of a spider, gnat or some such form with more limited capacities for conscious reflection. Or get stuck in the slums of afterlife.

So lest a being wants to risk such a fate, it is adviseable to work hard on evolving consciousness whilst on earth so that there is enough spiritual capital in the bank to come back again. And what for? To serve and love.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Dream Time of Memory

Outside every window of this island house, one can view an expanse of water; a channel of ever-moving steel gray wavelets that flow between houses, trees and forests looking back at us from across the way. 

As a foreigner to this area and not being particularly inquisitive at the moment, I don't ask my hosts if the water is flowing out to the ocean or coming in to some sort of landmass. Anyway, in the time-space continuum, it matters not. It will all be gone in ten million years. Why waste my breath on useless information as no a-fishing will I go today.

Changing the scene is akin to changing your thoughts, only a lot easier. Here in this house by the sea, one in which I have never stayed before, there are no ghostly reminders of Michael's books, shirts, desk and papers, all lying in wait to vibrate my cells with the disbelief that a human being can simply vanish, leaving behind all the things he or she held so dear.

My heart-mind can't latch onto anything that would trigger the resentment of his disappearance. The laughter and chatter of friends who knew him even longer than me - talking about all their doings together, his behaviors, his place-specific behaviors, all seem real. 

He is alive in the dream time of memory and it feels good.


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fly of LAX

I slouch in a hard leather seat at a gate in LAX, bound for the Pacific Northwest to visit friends - something my husband and I did together every summer. Going alone this time seems more painful than expected. More weepy. More disorienting. More physicality of grief as the entire chest area feels leaden and soggy at the same time.

And then a tiny fly bounces past me, in between the laptops' computer screen and my tapping fingers. He is a wisp of a fellow, perhaps a gnat, and his movements seem slow and sluggish.

And then, miracle of miracles, my maudlin gestalt lifts as I observe this fragile creature lost in the caverns of an international airport. The chance of his ever breathing fresh air or feeding off real nature food is almost nil. I stop feeling sorry for myself. His fate seems much worse than mine.

How this little fellow arrived in such foreign environs remains a mystery, but I wish him well on his lonely journey through fast food restaurants and stale air. At least I will be able to deplane in the champagne breezes of a peaceful land.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Blooming Mystery

My laptop is shoved into its usual spot on the kitchen table amidst the messy stuff of business papers and bills. Peering over the top of its screen, a magenta orchid with thirteen pristine blossoms on a tall stem (and one withering comrade) command my attention.

"Oh my god," she thinks to herself in shock and awe. Michael bought me those orchids from Trader Joes right after he came back from Paris in mid-May.

Michael, the flesh and blood husband whose earthly remains sit in a brown velvet bag on my entry hall table and in other secret places. Michael, the ethereal being that has begun to take shape in my waking moments, gently surrounding me with his presence.

How can it be that this perky orchid in a corny gray and black striped pot has not only outlived him but still thrives? It looks as fresh, perhaps even more robust, than the day he brought it home, balanced between his forearm and cloth tote bags filled with Trades Joes salads and lettuceware. 

He went to that infamous market every Wednesday and Saturday, not only to restock the provisions but also to pick up flowers - a habit he developed when I was sick with cancer and my sister commanded him to keep fresh flowers in the house at all times.

Thus the orchids.

With no explanation, I simply gaze at the magenta speckled blooms and know that whatever grace has kept them alive, this last earthly gift from my beloved will eventually fade away.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Third Act

Never particularly entranced by Arthurian legends, the version whereupon Guinevere cloisters herself in a convent  - after the death of the King - did not evoke much emotion in me.

Today, that tale of old provokes my attention. 

The first third of my life was spent being born, having a semi-nice childhood, a painfully stimulating teenagehood, and a wild ride through my twenties which included living in an ashram, breaking the rules of renunciation with a good looking male renunciate, bearing a child (in wedlock) and subsequently getting divorced.

The middle third of my life was spent with my King Arthur, or perhaps my Lancelot? He was both to me, which makes me a bit more lucky than that poor Queen, the infamous Guinevere. I never had to choose and lose.

Now comes Act Three - providing that the Grim Reaper doesn't see fit to take me before the traditional story arc is completed.

The ocean widens before me, and I carry on this voyage a sea trunk full of tricks: creative pathways filled with color and light - wandering the world over with a friend or two - possibly becoming a grandma - or reframing my house on the hill as retreat center and spending my days in prayer and contemplation (though not to repent like poor Guinevere but with the eye to enlighten).

On days like this when the glass is half full, I bless the air, the sun, the earth, and loving human beings for making life worth living. I can thank not only the teachings of the Buddha for this understanding, but CNN as well for providing the contrast, without which we could see nothing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Lucky Man

He died at home in a soft bed with his boots off - peacefully, surrounded by those he loved most on this planet. 

Outside the birds nested in the trees, singing their peculiar nighttime lullabies. In this room of departure, a soft light illuminated the still face as his last breath gently slipped into the no more.

Just a finite number of days before, he had been on another continent, attending to book signings. That voluminous tome, an embodiment of a lifetime of dreams and poised attention,  finally bearing fruit.

A finite number of days before that, he had been on yet another continent, even further away from that bedroom of no return. He had galloped up the steps of golden temples, gazed at giant Buddhas, picked his way through trash as women in colorful dresses balanced trays of watermelon on their heads and sashayed around his inquisitive gaze.

He was a lucky man.


The Chapel of My Mind

  Rest in the nature of mind The yogi coaxes Voice of the ages Delivered via screen and wit In the vast chapel of ...