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…has come too..

It has come to my attention that my mind is starting a process of being a bit of a bother to me personally.

Formerly I took a bit of pride in being able to see situations and their context clearly (for the most part, also some huge mistakes), and to be able to formulate a view of the world that seemed informed and rational (me being the rationalizer of course), and that clarity was present except for those years when I chose to not accept its presence.

These days, in the last year especially, there is a decline in memory and energy which often results in a type of lassitude that I’m not entirely comfortable with since it is not in my control, yet I am aware when it arises of itself.

I use all the usual strategies that aging folks do and like to talk about how those strategies don’t work so well because I forget to implement them in a timely fashion. As in beforehand.

So, this morning while musing on this, a new possibility opened up for me in how to see this situation as opportunity rather than an encroaching problem. It’s probably a combination of both aspects.

The way my mind is worryingly presenting itself of late is actually my seeing for the first time, on an on-going basis what my mind has been doing forever, its just that I’ve never noticed it before except during the process of mediation.

Through meditation I saw my awareness of the chattering mind as a plus, in order to orient me towards a different way of seeing what my thinking and mind really are, and that I have choices I hadn’t previously been aware of. Choices in how to think, what to think, what to believe when I’m thinking or what I believe without thinking. As well as the astounding number of different ‘minds’ that exist within me, which often don’t really communicate so much as just natter on and on.

So, I see my current/encroaching predicament as an opportunity to investigate and incorporate (mind/body), this awareness as a prompt to explore more thoroughly the place and use of this mind in positing spiritual questions, awareness and activity within the context of a more vibrant awareness that forgetfulness and sense of less-ness can offer.

It’s a matter of perception and choice, and I suspect I’ll have to learn, and see, if I can manage a consistent intention to view this process as a natural outcome of old age. One that has natural possibilities with positive outcomes being offered and which may just be mis-understood in our culture and society.

Anyway, that’s what’s coming to mind today. Everything in our lives comes to us a teaching if we make small shift in orientation and attitude and intention.

Columbus apparently was searching for India and got lost, said that he didn’t, and then realized he’d stumbled on to something quite unexpected that might useful. He wasn’t a genius he was someone looking for a place he’d heard about and was told it was “thataway” and found some support and went. We still don’t know the end of that story, because we are still living it.

Life is a journey

Destination inexplicable

Purpose difficult to see

Meaning hard to assign

Every day we wake up and

Wonder why where when

Loading the horses, camels,

Boats, carts and bags or

Pockets, look ahead and go.

Featured

Can’t say names…

On the 20th of June 1983, I was headed out of Napa, CA in a 1966 Chrystler New Yorker headed to San Francisco prepared to continue my near-death experience of the previous year when I grudgingly, yet not fully, accepted help to get me off the streets of The City, where I was sleeping and drinking myself to death. I ended up in a Salvation Army program out on Army Street and then a half-way house on 9th Street & Mission from which I used the wall phone to arrange for a job interview at Silverado Country Club in Napa. After three trips out there (driven by an old friend who had found me at that half-way house by contacting my mother back in DC), I was hired as a manager in their Food and Beverage Department and given a Condo to live in which was cleaned daily by maids and I became the supervisor of about forty people in the Restaurant at the club. That night I slept on good linen; the night before, at the half-way house on well-washed and worn cotton sheets. There. Everything was going to be fine! Stolen clothes, lies and fear.

The clothes I’d stolen from the Salvation Army when I worked on their collection truck, and my last GA check from the City of San Francisco for $124.00. I couldn’t cash it at The Club because that truth was nowhere near what I told them about me in order to get the job. Once again living a lie, as I had done for many years.

In retrospect the time of living on the streets, in shelters and at half-way houses was the closest I’d been to my actual reality. No amount of lying can cover up that you’ve got soiled pants and are asking people for money on Geary Street for an $.85 bottle of Thunderbird.

Welcome to Silverado Country Club, Mr. Schatz.

One day having lunch at one of the restaurants there, the waiter asked if I wanted some wine. I said, “Sure, how about a half-bottle of the Far Niente Chardonnay”…Whoops!

A month later I was let go for being intoxicated at work and I was no longer living there. So, with a used Chrystler and my pilfered Salvation Army clothes I found a room to rent and another month later I was headed back to SF to finish my sure return to the hellish and presumably short life of a street drunk.

On the way out of town on Hwy 29, I was drunk at 11:00 a.m., and heading to S.F. I glanced at a small shopping center and saw a sign for a Sewing Machine/Vacuum Cleaner store. Something made me turn in and pull-up in front of the store in a tiny strip mall with plenty of parking and leaving my car running (It had an electrical problem that I couldn’t fix, so to avoid a jump-start I left it idling), I walked into the shop, reeking of booze and desperation, and asked an uncomfortable lady there if I could look at their phone book. She gave it to me and I looked up Alcohol Recovery in the Yellow pages and found the name and address for the Napa County program on Old Sonoma Road. The lady wrote out directions for me (we rarely see the Bodhisattvas we encounter continually), and I drove there.

I pulled up at the front door of the Program offices, left my car running and went inside and was taken to the office of the Director, whose window looked out on my New Yorker idling untended and was invited to sit down. I’d been through this routine a few times when I finally began asking for help to get off the streets and I knew what to expect and the twists and turns my story should take.

The director, Jack Malin (Thank you Jack, a saint in casual work wear:), got the picture and told me that I could stay there for the 90 day recovery program and that it was an experimental “Social Model” that left the clients at leisure during the day but that there were daily meetings with counselors and in groups, and I would have to go to one AA meeting each day. I countered and said the most AA I would do was three meeting each week.

He said, among the most life changing words I ever encountered, “Helmut, you don’t understand, if you want to stay here you Have To Go TO At Least One AA Meeting Every Day! if you want to stay here.”

I got itI I would have to follow directions in order to get the free and compassionate help I was asking for and I agreed, and then he said, “You can go out and turn off your car. You are safe here.

In retrospect, after several years of sobriety and following the path of Buddhist meditation in concert with my 12th Step, I became able to see that I had been living in fear all my life and had really never felt safe and that explained so much of my karma and the choices I make. Here, I was being being offered refuge.

Refuge. As in Three Refuges. A place out of the storm. Shelter. Safety. Time. And, help. Help that I had to act on. Help that I could act on, not merely ‘accept’ and then wait for things to change. I could begin see my active role in changing me. And there was more, a lot more and it continues.

So, I slept that night on a thick plastic sheet in their “intake” bed and woke up on the 21st of June1983 and have been sober ever since.

Allowing change (Inevitable reality)

and asking for help (taking refuge)

from something beyond me

yet within. Doing the best I can.

Hope for the best,

Expect nothing,

Do the possible.

Pasts Visit Us…

Memories seem to arise unbidden. A smell, a sight, an object, photo, artifact or music or a phrase or word can be the initiators of our minds then constructing a memory. Associations, real or imagined, old and dusty or sparkling new are then set into motion and we replay a fading copy of an old film, some are so old they’re in black and white and have no sound. We have memories from before we were born although we usually don’t see them as such.

Many pasts have been coming up for me in the form of memories that have scenes and stories and ‘stuff’ going on that relate to events that seemingly I experienced. What appears to be a new factor, or one I’m just now noticing is that the memories are distinctly tied in feelings.

Feelings that pertain in that they can still move or affect me right now, here in this time and place. A smile, a regret, a sorrow, a joy, etc; but now they seem to be the point of the memory. And, interestingly that is the basis of the word “Resentment”; Re-sentere, to feel again.

There are many judgements, false and real insights, opinions, beliefs, knowingness and complete or partial delusion that feed those feelings and the feelings feed all the above. A quite interesting cycle that is difficult to step out of and difficult to let go of. At least that is my observation and that is coupled with the fact that we can express ourselves without having to actually re-feel, the things we learned from.

Memories of loss and failure seem to be fewer just because the distance that old age gives our perspective, and memories of achievement and gain shrink to tiny specs because our current reality does not include a lot of hope or wishing, yet tends more to gratitude and acceptance.

Still I was completely twisted into huge confusion and anger recently and it felt like it had a life of its own and it seemed to be very difficult to see it as part of me and not something outside of me. That experience directed me into looking more closely at how the karma of the past is also the karma of the present, just a long string that has to play itself out. Somewhere, somehow.

If I participate and take responsibility for every thing I’ve ever set into motion and accept the fact that I am, as presently constituted, the result of every decision I have ever made in my life. Whether I knew I was making a decision or mistakenly thought I was being forced to be or to respond or react in a certain way, is not relevant.

I have to take full responsibility for all of my past, and here’s the good part. It’s not a burden, its an opportunity to let go.

Letting go is not unburdening, it is allowing things, all things, to come and go. To come. To go.

Responsibility starts with Right View, the first step of the Eighfold Noble Path. The only way I can change is to change how I do things and what I do. And, what I choose not to do, is equally important.

The doing of not doing is a

Way to see clearly in a murkey

Sea that some things need a

Little help and others a lot.

Get going and be still, is

My advice to me, for good.

North Beach Wisdom…

Late 70’s, North Beach area of San Francisco. I was a regular at a bar two door doors down from another bar that was very well known via the media as a North Beach joint with ‘atmosphere’ that was relatively safe during the daytime. The clientele were mostly locals who didn’t really get going ’til about 8:00 p.m. and then that place was less safe for non-regulars. The joint I’m talking about was safe after a fashion too but way more “gritty” in that most of the regulars there had streams of income that were not visible and the Montgomery Street crowd didn’t go there for color or the experience, they could tell it was not for ‘tourists’. It had no Decor, it was just a bar. One of the bartenders was a gifted pick-pocket, that we all loved to watch when he came out from behind the bar to check something out by the entrance and then steal some stockbrokers wallet as he made his way through the after-work crowd safely bunched close to the exit.

When that bartender returned to the bar (the whole routine took about a minute), he’d set up the house (buy drinks for everybody), so nobody would have to buy their next drink (or reach for their wallet). Live theater for the regulars and a free drink too.

I could go in there anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. or later, and never worry. I would put down my pack of Pall Malls on the bar and come and go throughout the day and a place would usually be open were I left my cigarettes, if not, out of courtesy they would be down at the business-end of the bar with my change and I could just get back to doing whatever it was that I was doing. It was not my second home. It was home. The bartenders and owner and any regulars there knew me but not necessarily what I did. Although for a few years I worked a couple of block away at the most famous bar and restaurant in San Francisco through the 70’s and 80’s, but that was a straight job, sort of.

One morning around ten o’clock, I was standing outside with Dino and Johnny just talking. Dino was a fixture, an old school North Beach guy maybe fifteen years older than me and Johnny went all the way back to the 30’s. He was pro-boxer in the late 30′ and 40’s. A real live character and touchy tough guy whose girlfriend was a famous Roller Derby Queen. Johnny had a very raspy voice from being punched in the throat when he was a pro-boxer and probably a few times out of the ring too. Anyway, as we’re standing there yacking I watched walking towards us one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen anywhere, movies or real life. She was stunning.

As she walked past us (3 guys standing in front of a bar at 10 a.m. with no visible means of support), I couldn’t help but turn my head and follow her progress in admiration and yearning. Then I heard Johnny’s voice croaking next to me saying “Somewhere there’s a guy that’s tired of her”.

I thought that’s just not possible; I was not yet 30 and still leaning into being a great fool, so I couldn’t appreciate the worldly though not cynical truth that Johnny was expressing. He was just being a natural teacher, because that’s how things are done in certain settings, neighborhoods and cultures.

I’ve got lots of stories about this and that and hope to start telling them in a more organized way and that’s just one about Johnny; most of the other ones I know about him I can’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t, so I probably won’t.

But I have seen and been part of a lot of different things and as I get old(er), I appreciate many aspects of having been a fool who was very lucky and still likes to yack to pass the time. That bar was full of really interesting people and I drank my way down into the gutter from there and then, stumbled into a new way of life. That’s another bunch of stories.

Oh, there were lots of poets, writers, directors,

Actors and singers and publishers and real-life

Philosophers sprinkled through the hustlers and

Whores and thieves and hijackers and bookies;

Cops, snitches, stand-up guys, and

Often one person would be two or three of the above.

It just depended on the day and what time it was.

twelve years ago…

Below is a blog post from 12 years ago and am experiencing similar currents passing through me and the same solution applies. Sometimes I just forget that; moment by moment, month by month and year by year, etc.

SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2009

It seems that the past is coming up in patterns that I didn’t expect at all. I get blindsided by my karma at times.

Some things that drove me into emotional despair as a younger man have reappeared and are jerking me around emotionally as much as they did when I was young.

What is particularly interesting is that even though I can filter these new/old feelings through meditation, as well as experience and see them for what they are; I can’t just wish them away. They have a tenacity that is startling.

So, the practice laid out in front of me is to go very carefully in exploring these feelings, letting them come and letting them go; to be still when they arise so that I don’t do or say anything that will cause discomfort to others. Sounds easy enough but so far has been rather painful to adhere to. Painful in the sense that there is suffering when not getting what one would like to have and generally thinking that the world is, all in all, rather unfair in springing youthful inclinations on me at this late-ish stage of my life.

Luckily I’ve had these experiences before. Just about the time I think that I’ve got a good grip an some aspect of my life that I’ve found troublesome in the past it crops up in a slightly different form. Nevertheless, the same.

That in fact is, I suspect, the basic teaching that may be arising here.

It’s taken a really long time for this collection of habits to have arrived at this particular time and place in this particular body, they can’t be just brushed off or ignored. They are asking for help (yet again), and seemingly the only help I can truly give is to be still and have the faith that stillness is sufficient to help move this from the problem realm into the solution realm. Consequently having more freedom to move forward from this very spot which, just moments ago, seemed so fixed and permanent.

P.S. May10, 2021 The three major aspects and causes of suffering that Buddhism points too, are Greed, Aversion and Delusion.

Yay! For us…

A common phrase I use and have heard many others use and seems ubiquitous in many conversations within ourselves or with others, friends or strangers. It’s often an attempt to describe the condition of not being able to understand some concept, activity, situation or personal hopes and fears and their mingling.

“I’m crazy.” is a rather bold statement to make and is often a bit over-the-top in relation to what’s really going on, but in general I see it as an assertion that something in my personal world (which includes all of The World), is making me uncomfortable, creating confusion, fear, doubt, worry or a dream-like quality in my life that seems apart from my usual understandings.

It is not a condemnation, rather an understanding that much of the time my view of the world does not comport with reality across a broad spectrum of potentials. Recently, I’ve come to an understanding with those words that has turned them into the beginnings of an actionable clarity. To see that the statement is the beginning of an ultimate compassionate diagnosis that my mind is often slightly askew; hence “I’m crazy.”

Gently whispered, not yelled.

I have the tools to look at things more clearly and assess the “problem” and see where help is needed or called for or if things should just be left alone. Most troubles of the mind heal by leaving them alone. Not discarding or dismissing but setting them gently down, not in anybodies way, and then letting them be.

After some time, our view about them changes, and that changes them.

For the last few weeks I’ve become somewhat overly concerned about the seeming rapidity of a cognitive diminuendo I’ve observed within my daily activities. That, coupled with a lot of old habits in thinking from when I was young, angry, fearful and prone to misunderstanding all of life returned with a vigor that was troubling because I had thought for some time now I was past all “that”, and had become a mellow Buddhisty kind of guy. Yet, there it was all coming back and I was troubled and thought, “I’m going crazy!” (a trifle loudly), and left it at that in an attempt at resignation in place of examination.

Then, a couple of days ago I got a message from a good friend asking me for some help/advice and perhaps zoom-time to discuss some real on-going health (physical and emotional) concerns, within the context of our Zen practice. I’m no teacher by a long shot, but I feel comfortable enough to talk about solutions that have worked for me, in the same way that I can talk to a recovering alcoholic about practical ways to approach that difficult process of actualizing (making real), change within one’s habits and world outlook. In both instances the answers are almost always practical things we can set into motion to put us into a better position to see the problem /issue more realistically.

I’ve been sober almost 38 years after having ended up in the gutter begging for 85 cents for a bottle of wine (Short-dog of Thunderbird), and with help I was able to access more help and then participate in myrecovery. Alcoholism, like most issues in life is a spiritual problem as well as a habit/addiction, and just the tip-of-the-iceberg once we get serious in matters spiritual and life-affirming.

What I realized, once again, as I was talking and texting/e-mailing with my friend that I was having a problem that would be helped with the same advice or thoughts that I was offering. I was actually talking to myself also and a clarity was glimmering as a sense of hope and it was all actionable.

In other words, I could move from the stuckness in Wrong View to seeing how I could actively participate and transform that slowly but surely, over the ensuing period of time, into Right View.

Nothing fancy, no big concepts. Just being aware of how the body and mind are reacting to the same feelings, thoughts, emotions and memories (some completely false), that used to move me into discomfort and trouble- resulting behaviors, responses and reactions to daily life when I was young and ‘out amongst em’. As a young man I’m the one who excluded me, cast me out, made me feel the outsider.

Nobody did that too me. If they did it was a response to my own choices/actions, not the Universe having me as little being to bat around with Its Paws just for fun.

So, it was just a re-hash of my old (younger)self that was re-appearing for more consideration to allow a deeper cleansing to take place, when I participate; and allowing (allow, allow, allow) things to find their own peace within my effort to not be moved but rather remain calm within unfolding of old karma.

It turns out that is my purpose in life. Not to sit around and ask why me? But to investigate why not me? I’m not special, nor is anyone else. Yes, we all have an opportunity to learn, re-learn and re-re- how to change by trying to be more still than not, and allow a natural process of continuous Good to arise within us at all times. The inherent willingness we all have to help others is intertwined with an innate ability to help ourselves simultaneously, maybe not even knowing we had needed or gotten help; probably an aspect of synchronicity etc.

Yay for Us, we’re not born to

Be condemned from the

Start. We come to

Life to learn How to Be

Kind, first to our selves

Then to others and All

Living things. All of

Them, and we are Part

Of that Too.

Yay! For Us.

participating, ending, and…

I am having a “slow morning” as they say. It’s been a busy few days, A large Buddhist burial for a young man in Marin County who was run over and killed by a car as he was out celebrating a new job, plans for marriage, and house-hunting to have begun this week. He was run over by a teen-aged woman who stopped immediately and called 911 but it was too late. He was dead and she lives with the fact of having directly participated in someone’s death. Both sides just out for an evening with a life and future opening up in some fashion.

From a Buddhist point of view it’s one more instance of something being played out that is a result of actions set into motion in the past, and the resulting feelings now engendered become part of future actions, and so it all goes on and on.

There would be no teaching or learning happening if there were not an apparent and actionable solution for cycles set into motion. The teaching for this is what a lot of Buddhist practice points to. We can learn to respond and react to the world carefully, considerately and compassionately. We can practice this by being still within, and watching and observing through self-awareness, over time, that our feelings come and go and can influence our actions and responses with seemingly irrevocable consequences.

Yet, anything can be amended over time; with care, with love, with good-will and intention. To amend just means to make something better than it currently is. We can actively participate in changing how we view the world and its conditions and our place in it. This takes time, effort and patience and the result tends to be that we can be softer and easier on others and ourselves. In other words, we can live more carefully and put fewer future consequences into motion for ourselves and others. Now and in the future.

That funeral was a teaching for everyone who attended. After it was over, people went on and got lunch, bought gas or groceries and watered their garden and loved and fought and talked and thought and got brought back in to the swirl of life that seemingly has lots of time for feeding good feelings, as the antidote for bad feelings, and the cycle continues. That life is a constant and not episodic teaching isn’t readily apparent often because we seem to prefer and respond to events, rather than flow.

I am the only one who can interrupt this cycle of being moved by feelings and thinking that is all there is, and wondering why there doesn’t seem to be more. I am the only one who can do that for me, and I can’t do it for anyone else. I am the solution to the problems of life and the “world”. My life, my world.

Yikes! Often I’m just not ready for that; but it seems very true.

It is not a gigantic enterprise but it has huge impact in the same way that raindrops, when joined by others, can change the world in creating life, habitat, sustenance, growth as well as floods, droughts and various lacks depending on conditions that change constantly.

We, individually, can change the world, this one and a future one by how we are in it.

It doesn’t’t require heroics or drama, rather small efforts to be still and to see, to listen, to do, to not do, to help, to offer love, compassion and sympathy, for others and to ourselves, because we aren’t lost we are just little bewildered at times.

A burial on a hillside into hand-dug hole

Wrapped in a cotton sheet with

Hundreds of friends and family

Positioned, once again, to examine

The great question for all of us. Why?

drip drip flow…

We apparently are all going through a time of uncertainty, according to the various info-media I choose to encounter. A lot of that blather is about why we are uncertain, how we experience it, how much we don’t like it and what the prospects are of it changing through time and various conditions. My observation and experience so far is that the ‘going through’ is extending and we are seeing that this may never substantially revert back into the dream we’ve been having. The former Normal.

We may be waking up a little from some of those expectations and starting to see the possibility of settling into a world where nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be promised that is of any real value. Which is what the former “Normal” was, we just haven’t had  an all-inclusive wake-up call like Covid/Climate change since WWII…So, this time around we may be able to achieve various things that seem to be stubbornly elusive.

Kingdom of Heaven? Pursuit of Happiness? Freedom from Hunger? Equality of Races, of Sexes, of Genders, of Opportunities? A Fair Trial? Good Education for all? A Roof Over our Heads? Safety?  Freedom from Fear?  Of disease? Of dying before ‘our time’?…Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort? 

I’m not holding my breath on any of the above becoming a general reality in any foreseeable future that I can envision, although the arena of ‘Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort’ is kind of an encapsulation of all of the others and I believe that is achievable and possible for us individually.

The problem with the solution is it involves letting go of our most cherished beliefs, ideas and concepts. Those are the very things that define us. Raise us above…My beliefs, ideas and concepts define me. They make me real. So, this Me has to change.

Not us, not you. Me! I’m the only thing I can change. I can influence a lot of things and some people and I’d rather do that than change me

If you have a few minutes, hours, days, weeks months years, aeons, I’ll tell you all about how real I am by telling you about my ideas, beliefs and concepts. All that stuff is like a giant block of granite. its taken ages to form and now, it seems, I’m stuck with me.

Self-awareness is like a constant dripping of water on a block of granite. It changes it by diminishing it. Slowly.

Like all metaphor, the granite only works for the first iteration, so I’ll jump on to awareness. (The granite slinks away:)

By stopping for a few moments throughout my waking time and assessing what’s going on around me and what’s going through me (thinking/feeling), I can begin to take a position of being at a remove from my Self as a sometime unattached observer. I find that very interesting and sense that it may have huge possibilities and implications. Drip.

To be aware of what’s going through my mind in thinking and feeling and allowing it to just pass through (drip drip), and not worry where it’s going or came from (drip drip) takes a lot of effort and time (drip drip). Yet, at some point I can see this is a more Natural state (drip drip drip), than believing every little thing that my mind and feelings latch on too.

So, the solution to my problems seems to be becoming familiar and at ease with my own thought and feeling processes by just being still and allowing; quietly observing the mind as it goes on with its chatter and, after some time, it Naturally quiets down. Flow…

Seems like an opportunity for something and I still have to go about the daily business of living and helping myself and others. There seems to be plenty of time for all of it if I just allow things to be, to develop.

After some time there seems to be less worry and stress and fear and more sense of gratitude and a sort of ease. The key words being; After some time (and effort).

 

Interrupting the flow

Through curves and rocks

Creates the sound of

Life and chatter of an

Eternity. Murmurs of

Contentment follow.

 

12 years ago…

Going through old files, I found three years worth of a daily blog I did in ’09. ’10’ and ’11

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

Education (T.S. Elliot?)

I read somewhere that T.S. Elliot said/wrote something to the effect that, a truly educated person is someone who learned things they didn’t want to. Presumably this refers to folks churning through Latin or Greek grammar classes thinking they’d rather be at a pub. It certainly points to a quandary for the autodidact of my type.

I was never disciplined enough to follow the regimen of classes, schools and teachers, but I was curious and blessed with an ability to see connections that were more intuitive than intellectual. This is a reasonably good method to get an education if you keep at it for a long time, read continuously, and have a variety of things you find interesting and take the time to pursue them.

Sometimes though, I sort of wish that I had followed directions a little better.

Then again, I’m glad I didn’t, and gotten bent and stuffed into a niche that left me “productive” and “contributing” and facile in the ways of “going along to get along”.

Of course that could also be a good description of a fool (the nail that sticks out gets hammered down).

I find it ironic that today, by choice, and the absolute result of my contrary ways, I follow a path that asks me to discipline myself. As I go along this path I find more real freedom and openness than I ever could have imagined possible left to my own devices.

It seems that it is good to learn in structured settings and it is also good learn by jumping into the deep end.

Today I had a short conversation with a college student between freshman and sophomore years and was happy to hear his enthusiasm for college, but sort of uneasy when he described the reading program he had for the Summer. I thought , “That’s it? For a whole Summer? Three books? Yikes!”

To this young person I would suggest that he goes to two people he respects and two people he doesn’t, and ask each one to recommend three books to read. Get those books and read them this Summer.

I would recommend a book by Louis L’Amour titled “Education of Wandering Man”. I’ve never read any of his westerns but this memoir of his self-education as a itinerant worker and wanderer is a inspiring look at an independent thinkers approach.

We are truly fortunate to live in a time and place when literally all of the worlds written/gathered knowledge is accessible to anyone with a library card. WoW!!

…therefore I am.

A morning at California DMV and I am officially back in California. License plates and a new driver’s license. When the new license came in the mail I first thought, “Oh no! Wrong picture. That’s some old coot!” Then I remembered. It was a picture of an old coot.

So, I have slowly come to ease with my new (to me) status, Californian and Old Coot. And I like it just fine. When I first got here in 1970 it was to get relief from problems back in D.C. and Virginia where I got involved in a lot of stuff and things which were just the natural result (karma) of all the stuff I had been doing and become. In San Francisco they hardened into a personality and a life and a way of seeing the world that would be difficult to overcome. Nevertheless, at some point around age 35 I started to change. Not because I wanted too but needed to, if I wanted to live.

So, here I am in Bay area again, and again no plan and also not a getaway. I’m not running. I’m meandering because that is, it turns out, part of my path. Not seeking, not looking; more allowing and trusting that this life, the one I’m in, is sufficient and adequate to the purpose that I’ve assigned to it.

To reach out, yet not stretch. To yearn and not crave, to touch and not grasp, to release and not discard, to understand rather than insist. Participating in the inevitability of change in a way that right intentions tend toward the good.

To give my passions and indifference a rest, to let my knowing become love.

All those good folk at the DMV showing up for work every day to face a series of people who are anxious and needy and want to hit the road ASAP, and some of them will in ways they hadn’t anticipated. The confluence of everyday people going about the basics of modern life and doing the best they can within the parameters of their lives (karma) and their ideas, wishes, dreams, plans and designs; fears doubts and worries. In that DMV office every individual was related to all the others in basic hopes, dreams and worries. Some worked there, others came to get the service provided and all moved in and out of awareness and the wishes and actualities that came to their minds.

And, then its was lunchtime for some but not yet for others. This was all of humanity in one building at 5300 Claremont, Oakland, CA

A wonderful day. Some nice short conversations with neighbors and then on-line-paying toll-charges from my “Lap Around the US” almost 10,000 miles in six weeks last Fall. Pictures of my truck in some unremembered stretch of Highway in North Texas and a bridge in California taken by a camera along a road and now sending me a bill for $7.53

Life life life. It goes on until it doesn’t anymore. What beauty and grace there can be in not knowing and yet still caring.

The past and the present a

Seed on the ground next to a

Broken dried old twig. Which

Came first, yesterday or a

Hundred years ago? I can’t really say.

‘Cause I just don’t know.