Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When The Monkey Mind Steals The Moment

One of the things I have been trying to do, with greater and lesser degrees of success, has been to try and "stay in the moment" or "pull myself back into the moment" when I feel myself wandered out of the moment. The monkey mind is a pretty powerful thing and it has the ability to pull us a long way from here and to do it very subtly and very rapidly.


I had a nice and focused morning. Hot coffee, a fresh peach, oatmeal with brown sugar (okay, it was imaginary brown sugar sweetener), and a glass of V-8 juice, combined with a delightful morning conversation with T.R.. Then I started into work…


As I was driving into work this morning I was listening to my monkey mind chattering and I realized that I was in a conversation with someone (my old friend Ronnie S.) whom I had not talked to in several years. Ronnie and I grew up together and he was been a constant fried for a long time - we have periodically lost contact, but always resurface eventually. He currently lives in Minnesota with his wife and kids and I lost track of him about two years ago what "the project that ate my brain" was such a rough ride for me. 


The conversation in my monkey mind reminded me that I should give him a call - but, that wasn't the point of this entry.  The point was - that is the power of the mind to pull us from the current moment.  The current moment was driving down Lawrence Expressway, listening to a discussion on NPR about the Haitian relief efforts - and suddenly, there I was, having an imaginary conversation in Minnesota. Obviously, I still need some work on this whole "Stay in the moment" thing.  Let me go see if I can pull myself back into the moment with a cup of coffee.  Hope your day is enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blue Skies and Rain

As I drove into the office this morning the sky was blue and filled with broken clouds to the east, making for a gorgeous sunrise - but at the same time it was a heavy gray overhead and lightly raining.  It was as if winter and spring were jostling for position right over my head. I loved the sight of the rain slicked city streaks lit by the slanted golden rays of sunlight that were slipping through the clouds and washing over everything.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Dream and a Dragon Tattoo

I woke this morning from some semi-coherent dream of Lois Lane. I laid there and tried to recall it, but it wasn't coming back to me. Eventually I had to let it go. It is promising to be another beautiful California day.

Yesterday I saw "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". An outstanding movie and a faithful adaption of an excellent book. A good weekend so far.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Plumed Serpent - Cesar Chavez Plaza, SJ

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The Dancer - SJ Center for the Performing Arts

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Choosing A Serene Day

Today I am going to take the time to make the choices that bring me serenity. It seems strange but a lot a time that is all there is to it in life.  Yes, there are plenty of external pressures and influences, life is full of incidents and accidents, but serenity as we move though the incidents and accidents of life is almost always a choice – and a simple choice at that.


It is nice and quiet here at the office – I arrived a little earlier than anticipated this morning, in part because by the grace of the God of Commuting I had a smooth drive in, hitting every single light on the expressway.  In traffic, as in fluid dynamics, there is a sweet spot. If you manage to hit that sweet spot then the flow of traffic is without turbulence. Sometimes, finding that sweet spot is a choice as well.


So, settle in, enjoy your coffee (if you drink coffee) and find your way into a serene day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts Prompted By A Wrist Watch

I just looked at my wrist watch, with says 6:00 AM - trust me, it is not 6:00 AM, it is 7:45 AM. On this particular watch the stem is very sensitive, so it is easy to accidentally pull it out and stop time. Now, wouldn't it be nice if we had that ability in real life, the simple ability to stop the flow of time and give ourselves a breather? My wrist watch just entire hi-jacked my line of thought this morning.  I suspect I am going to spend the rest of the day musing about time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeking Tranquility

Today, 2/3rds of my office furniture went away. I had five items of furniture in my office - a regular desk, a computer desk, a table, a file cabinet and a bookshelf. Now, I have the computer desk and the regular desk.  All of the wall hangings are gone except one picture and a calendar.  I still have three chairs. I am in the process of making my office a more tranquil working area and that means making as much empty space as I can. Encouraged by T.R. I have done a similar process at home and found it has a great effect on the tranquility (zen-quility) of the space. This is the feeling that I want to capture at work as well, so to that end, I surplused the extra furniture. Seeking tranquility. Seeking a still mind.  Seeking peace.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dancer in the Fountain

I just saw something very cool. I am sitting in Cesar Chavez park, downtown San Jose, near the fountain, people watching and waiting for my friend Don. A younger gentleman, in sweats, spent the last ten minutes dancing in and out of the jets of the fountain, traditional chinese style. It was simply very cool and made the day - astounding.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring, Subtle and Sudden

Each day the flowering of plants and trees changes the landscape in subtle and sudden ways. Spring itself is opening up around us here and it is simply glorious.  This morning, as I drove down Williams Road, I noticed the magnolia, burst in white flowers, layering soft, darker trees. When I stopped at the coffee shop the scent of it was lightly on everything. On mornings like this is best to just surrender to the amazement and wonder at it all and move through the day in a state of grace.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Life, with all its Shades and Shadows

My ongoing quest for simplicity continues through the month of March. Last night was a beautiful night for it.  I worked a full day, then had a smooth commute home, arriving during a beautiful California evening. The sun was shining, there were high wispy white clouds, and the temperature was in the high sixties.  Over the last couple of months, with encouragement from T.R., I've pretty radically simplified my apartment. Not totally radically, I have not yet reached a state of ultimate minimalism - but it has become rather minimalist.  Consequently, it is a simple and attractive place to spend time, especially the living room area.


I came in from the commute, changed to a pair of worn blue jeans, and grilled a rib-eye steak, with a spicy pepper rub, and topped it with crumbled bleu cheese, paired it up with a green salad and a pepper-pea dish (really just sautéed bell peppers mixed with sweet peas).  It was an excellent dinner. Following dinner I took a nice rambling walk around the neighborhood and then wandered home.


I called my mother and spent some time discussing her medical and health issues (nothing serious, just the generic chat of age, which I am beginning to understand as I age).  Then, I sprawled out on the couch and read selections from "Poetry 180", a collection edited by Billy Collins (a former US Poet Laureate). It is an excellent collection and I highly recommend it.


I wrapped up the evening in conversation with T.R., including reading a selected poem from the collection that very much put me in mind of her. The poem is called "White Towels", by Richard Jones.


"I have been studying the difference

between solitude and loneliness

Telling the story of my life

To the clean white towels taken

warm from the dryer

I carry them through the house

As though they were my children

Asleep in my arms"


I fell asleep last night simply grateful for this life, with all its shades and shadows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on the Threshold of Real

So, I was driving into work this morning, listening to NPR, and conducting imaginary conversations/debates with friends of mine. (Fortunately, they weren't imaginary friends, because that would have just been strange.) I was contemplating the time spent engaged with or worrying about or being concerned about things that you can do nothing about, things that don't even really effect you.  (For example, except in an abstract sense, the economic troubles of a small town in Pennsylvania really have nothing to do with me, since I exist in a local economy (Silicon Valley) that is so far removed from small town Pennsylvania that any connection between the two is ephemeral - words on a radio station that set off a chain of thought).


That, in turn, got me thinking about where the threshold of reality lies. The only evidence I have for the existence of small town Pennsylvania is this - I've read about it in the newspapers, I've seen in on television, or I learned about it in school.  I have never had any direct experience with small town Pennsylvania.  I have no direct evidence it even exists, except as a "place people talk about".  So, what then is the threshold of real? Where is the line drawn?  How easy is it to slip between the real and the unreal?  I don't have any answers this morning. Just questions and thoughts about questions.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Signs of Spring

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The Sound of the Inner Voice

Today as I was driving into work I thought about the voices that play in our heads.  Not in the sense that I was insane, but in the sense of all the interior conversations we have going on through the course of the day, from the simple to the sublime to the, well, stupid. I was wondering what was the best way to tell which of those inner voices was our authenticate inner voice.  Instinct and intuition are powerful attributes and it would be nice to believe that they were always accurate, that they were unerring.  But, I think that any careful observation of outcomes reveals that they are more-or-less ordinary.  Often more accurate in hindsight and less accurate in the moment of an event. These thoughts occupied my mind for the morning commute, which was light today.  I am guessing a lot of people got bit by the daylight savings time change and were staggering, blinking, from their beds and rushing through the morning routine.  In my office, a third of my personnel are running late this morning precisely because of that.  Or, precisely because their inner voice told them "hey, I can be late today and have a semi-plausible excuse!".  So, with that semi-plausible excuse for thinking, let me move into and engage the rest of the day.  Spring is coming, very soon - but not quite soon enough.

Monday, March 8, 2010

San Tomas Aquino Park 3

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San Tomas Aquino Park 2

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San Tomas Aquino Park

I just thought I would share a picture and a small milestone. We had a bit of sunshine on Sunday so, in the middle of the day, I parked at the VTA lot on Moorpark and Lawrence and slipped across the expressway and into San Tomas Aquino park. I took a meandering walk the length of the park in the sun, listening to the creek, the birds and the wind in the trees. It was the first time I've walked in the park since the "Toe Incident". It was beautiful.
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San Tomas Aquino Park 1

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's Inspiration from the Tao Te Ching

I selected a passage from the Tao randomly today and this is what my finger landed on.


“He lets all things come and go

Effortlessly, without desire.

He never expects results;

Thus he is never disappointed.

He is never disappointed;

Thus his spirit never grows old.”


Chapter 55, Tao Te Ching

Stephen Mitchell Translation


It resonated with me today, so I made it into a little background image for my computer and now it is displayed in front of me as a reminder as I go through my working day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dreams of Rain

We are in the middle of a nice California rain storm. It was a deluge this morning, during the commute, which was little more than a crawl. We’ve had a couple of instances during the course of the day where the rain has just come pouring down.  It was wild and beautiful.


My dreams last night involved rain. I dreamed that I was climbing a mountain, somewhere in the Cascades. It was a popular climb, with a lot of amateurs on the trail. My climbing partner and I were near a technical section of the climb, an ascent of about 150 feet across moss covered cliffs when the rain began. Due to the technical nature of the climb at that particular location the rain made it extremely treacherous and we focused on getting all the amateurs over the most dangerous part of the trail before the rain made it impassable and stranded anyone in dangerous conditions.  Elsewhere on the mountain, three climbers were injured and one killed in a particularly tricky descent. Rain has the capacity of transforming technical climbs into downright dangerous climbs.


In the dream we were able to get everyone onto a broad shelf where they were able to shelter overnight safely, if a bit uncomfortably, since the vast majority of people caught on the trail did not have the proper gear for sheltering in place. It was actually an enjoyable dream. It has been well over six months six I have been on any hike of substance and I am missing it and looking forward to the arrival of spring.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rilke - What Is Required Of Us...

What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are. - Rainer Maria Rilke

The Burden of Other Days

I woke up this morning with one of those phrases bouncing around in my head.  Sometimes it seems as if my subconscious likes to present things to me in dreams that contain key words or key phrases.  Perhaps my subconscious has a literary bias that makes it lean toward the importance of words.  Who can really say.  Anyway, the phrase I woke up with this morning was -


"The burden of other days."


It bounced around in my mind as I went through my morning routines and then rode into the office with me, so I thought I would take a few minutes this morning and write about it.


I think, what the phrase refers to, is thoughts I have had of late on the transitory nature of the past.  The past is an interesting place in that it feels real, but it isn't.  It was very real in the moment of course, but once the moment has slipped by the past is simply the memory of past events.


Sometimes we find ourselves carrying the burden of other days. I think of the burden of other days as unresolved memories. The things we wish we had said or not said.  The things we wish we had done or not done. We cannot really alter the territory of the past and though we carry them we cannot actually take the burden of other days anywhere.  They are simply things we carry in our memory. Many of them, it would probably be best if we simply let them go. A few, perhaps a precious few, have some value - or maybe it is just the shadow of value that leads us to believe that.


My conclusion is this.  As you go through the day try not to expend to much effort carrying the burden of other days. Let them go.  We have plenty of burdens to carry today.  Say the things you need to say.  Do the things you need to do.  Then let them go. Set aside the burden of other days.


On a note outside of the burden of other days – I had a wonderful weekend.  Sunday especially turned into a beautiful day with sunshine and pointless wandering, including a trip to the Texas Roadhouse in Union City and an excellent filet mignon. I wrapped up the day watching “When Nietzsche Wept”, staying Ben Cross and Armand Assante. It is an excellent movie.  T.R., my love, recommended it to me and we spent some time talking about it (and other things) after the movie was finished. The movie itself contains many complex and intricate observations about life and love. There were points during the movie where I wanted to stop the movie – simply so I could think about what they were discussing.  I am definitely going to watch the movie again.