Sometimes, life throws more than what seems to be your fair share of shit at you. All in one week, or month, or whatever. I'm not in that spot right now, but I'm playing a supporting role to a few people in my life who are and I can't help but feel for them and also wish them well in getting through their obstacles. As Daddy always said,
Life's not fair kid. Get used to it.
My New Year's resolution this year was to roll with the punches and be more relaxed.
The first half of the year I didn't do an awesome job of keeping my New Year's Resolution. But I tried. And ever since Japan, I'm shocked to find that I have more perspective. I'm getting better at letting things go (Which means I'm still way behind the average mature adult. Think indignant high schooler).
I've been an intellectual studier of Zen Buddhism for at least 14 years now. This means I read Zen books and try to apply the principles to my life without meditation, koans, or sesshins. The closest I ever get to those is yoga, running, progressive relaxation, attempted mindful breath-awareness in moments of stress, and brief tourist meditation at some temples in Asia.
Clearly, my Zen practice is not what any Dharma master would recommend.
Rather than join a local Zen center (and there are a few, so I really have no excuse) and have a practice focused by one teacher, I have chosen to meander my way through some of the classic Zen texts (or rather, some of the ones available in English).
But, it wasn't until I started reading books by
Charlotte Joko Beck that Zen really started to make sense in my daily life. I turned the pages of Everyday Zen: Love and Work for at least 3 successive readings straight through. I'd pick it up before bed on days when I needed some calm and read my way through a short vignette/lecture which often made me think long and hard about my life and how I saw things.
Recently, I started making my way through Nothing Special: Living Zen and I'm so pleased to find that I'm in a place where the first time I read her short lectures I understand and relate to her words much more easily than I once did.
I have to assume that this easier understanding of the Zen way of life is connected to how I seem to be doing a better job of rolling with the punches and accepting life for what it is. And, so, in celebration of that, I present to you Okra flowers:
Several weeks ago, E called me to tell me that there was an okra flower and it was gorgeous. By the time I arrived home, it had wilted. Again, a few days later, we went through the same paces. Eventually, we realized that these bursts of color (which must die for the fruit to form) bloom quickly after I leave for work, and lead a short 5-6 hour life in full bloom before retreating to a closed and quickly wilting form before I arrive home.
Finally, after several weeks of work and weekend travel, this weekend, we were home, and I was able to witness them. I think I must have enjoyed my first sighting significantly more than E enjoyed his.
I can't help but suspect there is some sort of Zen lesson to be learned from this.