Thursday, January 20, 2011

Self control . . .

So I had one of my periodic cravings for chocolate that wasn't chocolate milk and realized I'd left my Premium Triple Chocolate M&M's at Laura's house in Tucson.  I had this momentary panic that there was no chocolate other than the drinkable kind in the house, which would be nearly unheard of for me.  Then it dawned on me back in December I got a quarter pound of fudge from the General Store on top of Mt. Lemmon.  And that most certainly DID make it home with me.

Out of the 1/8 of a pound of raspberry chocolate swirl fudge, and 1/8 lb pure chocolate fudge I bought I still have more than half of both of those.  So I took a slice of the one, let it slowly melt in my mouth, then the other and let that melt in my mouth, but them back in the ziplock, and back in the box.

I think it's all the years of mediation and mindfullness.  I can make a bag of premium M&M's last months and often do.  The Mt. Lemmon fudge will also be around for months, because when I take that little bit on my tongue, it's a timeless moment as the taste and texture slowly unfolds in my mouth.  Food for me in ways is like wine, or even sex, best if slowly savored over a long period of time.

Some folks envy my self control, I think it's just me being selfish in an odd way.  I cannot afford much, and despite having made simply obscene amounts of money once upon a time I've always lavished it on other people and not myself.  So I tend to savor the moments when they come.

If you're ever in Tucson Arizona, and can make it up to Mt. Lemmon and the general store there, by all means get some of the fudge.  It's some of the best I've had and that's saying something, given that I grew up in New England with some of the best fudge in the world at hand.

While I don't really consider Mt. Lemmon a mountain, it does sport some breath taking vistas, has a wonderful restaurant and great general store, I lived at higher elevations in the foothills of the Rockies when I lived in Colorado.  Now THOSE are mountains!

That said, Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina's is some serious must see territory.  And if you exercise some self control, fudge you by there will last a while. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time is a river that tells no lies...

A Zen Koan I'm partial to, that was featured in an episode of Stargate SG1 reads like this:

"The river tells no lies. Though standing on the shore the dishonest man still hears them."

Taoism teach us about "Wei Wu" which is, over simplified, knowing when to act or not act.  Mind you it's not just the Tao, the concept of action, or not, is littered liberally through Eastern thought.  In various forms of martial arts for example it is often better to flow rather than block, let an opponent over extend, become unbalanced in stance and energy and use that to your advantage instead of a hard block.  Sometimes refereed to as using an opponents energy against them, it's all about knowing when to act or not to act.

Taoism will teach us not to fight the river, for we are certain to drown if we do so, but to let the river take us where it will, share with us it's lessons and then deposit us upon the shore when we are done.

Time I have known as an illusion for many years, because it either exists when I choose to observe it, or vanishes from sight when I am mindful and present.  I can and have actively in my own life chosen to absent myself from time by constructive use of mindfulness.  Doesn't matter what I was doing, the illusion of time vanished when I did not observe it, almost in support of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.  Simply stated, Heisenberg forwarded the concept that the act of observing a given event, would act to change the result of the event.  Almost like the butterfly effect talked about in popular culture.  Namely the suggestion that the flapping of a butterflies wings on one side of the world could cause a Tsunami on the other side.

Some time ago I talked about entropy being almost a safety value, working deliberately and intentionally at the quantum level, to help bring balance to the greater universe. How in that split second of the irresistible object meeting the immovable force, a timeless moment of pure peace and beauty can be had if one is open to it. 

Back to popular culture for a moment we find a subplot in the Star Trek movie "Insurrection" where Picard is being taught about timeless moments by a woman hundreds of years older than him who looks like she's younger than him.  Picard later uses what he didn't think he learned to stop time long enough to save this woman's life.  I'm reminded of Hamlet at the moment.  

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." -- Hamlet Act I, Scene IV

Which I've always understood as a particularly salient point that alludes to truth being far stranger than fiction. Having had my share of timeless moments, and mindfulness taken to the point where entire days simply vanish without effort I turned my mind toward time once again.  Especially given that I know at a quantum level it is simply a means of measurement, no more real or important than length, width or depth.  In a universe not limited to three (four) dimensions, there are multiple dimensions of time.  Going out a step further, the Multiverse (or M-Verse) theory suggests that everything and anything that possibly can happen, has happened, somewhere, somewhen.  The TV series Stargate makes great use of this concept over it's 11 year run where time is simply a vehicle for story telling, and regular crossings into alternate, parallel universes is common place.

Another "popular culture" reference that inspired this post is Garth Brook's song "The River" where he talks about the dreamer being a vessel;

You know a dream is like a river 
Ever changing as it flows 
And the dreamer's just the vessel
That must follow where it goes 
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store 
Makes each day a constant battle 
Just to stay between the shores. 

"And I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry 
Like a bird upon the wind 
These waters are my sky 
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try 
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry."

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away 
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today 
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied 
Choose to chance the rapids 
And dare to dance the tide. 

(Chorus see above)

And there's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls 
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all. 

Yes I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry 
Like a bird upon the wind 
These waters are my sky 
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try 
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.

Yes, I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry 
'Til the river runs dry 

I woke up with this in my head this morning, it's a beautiful song in it's own right, but then it came to me, Time is a river too.  If we fight the river, we may drown, or at very least not learn from what it wishes to share with us.  If we simply stand beside the river, and let the water's slip away, we also may not benefit from the wisdom the river wishes to share with us.  Likewise, mindfulness, a form of meditation allows us to open ourselves up fully to what is around us, and simply take it all in, not judging, not shaping or forcing our will onto whatever may pass, but simply being very present in a given moment that becomes two, and four, and more, for however long one wishes to experience it.  Wu Wei, or better still, Wei Wu Wei.  Action without action.

Another Koan that comes to mind: "Put no distance between you and where you are."

In part it's about mindfulness, about being present, about the gifts the river will bring you.

Time will take one on a journey, and it will share with you what it will.  It will tell you no lies, but if you attempt to force your own views onto it, you will miss the beauty in the moments shared.
"The river tells no lies. Though standing on the shore the dishonest man still hears them."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All roads lead to the great path, many cross.

I've been growing, healing, moving in fits and starts down "the way" that leads back to the great path. When I can, rather than fight the river and surely drown, I let it take me where it will, and learn from what it shares with me.

Some years ago I met Laura because on our way to the great path, ours crossed.  We have been on and off walking for a while, working on being present.  So at one point when time and space conspired to have us within relative proximity and she suggested lunch, I agreed.  Two years ago that.  For me it was a big step.  I got up early (for me at the time) and drove the 50 miles up to Dayton from Cincinnati.  Several hours later we were both back on the road, me to "home" and her to her Dad's house.  It was a big step for me.

She's since become convinced I need to move to Tucson.  My plan has been to head home to Colorado.  I joked that I'd need to visit Tucson, explore some, get a feel for it before I'd consider it.  After all, my first move to Colorado so long ago was a result of a business trip there.  I got a taste and was hooked.  I let Earl take me from Colorado years ago, but with him gone now, my plan has been to go home one day soon.

That was two years ago.  I am not the same person I was, nor is Laura, but our relationship has grown. Last year during her annual pilgrimage to her father's house I met her in Dayton again, and had more fun.  Grew further because instead of just going up for lunch, I went up and stayed overnight at a Motel there and we had dinner and breakfast together.  Still she spoke of her enduring love for the Sonoran desert and her belief that I needed to move there.

And then she hatched an evil plot.

So December 9th after carefully planing, packing, and consulting with the weather God's, I set out in the Jumper toward her desert home.  As much about house and pet sitting while she and her boyfriend spend the holiday's with her Dad, as it was part of her evil plan to get her desert into my soul, I spent the last month there.  Yes, I drove almost four thousand miles round trip to house and pet sit.  But the logic was irrefutable.  I already knew and loved Emily (her Portie) and was certain that I'd have no problems with her other four legged people.  It would have cost her a small fortune to board them and they would have been stuck in cages and only periodically walked.  By driving down to the desert I'd be lessening their suffering, Laura would be able to rest easy and enjoy her trip knowing the wee ones were loved and free instead of locked in cages for more than a week.  It made sense all the way around.

On the 16th of January I bade farewell to the Sonoran desert and set course for my "Temporary Home" in Ohio.  The trip out and back, the more than a month I spent there, and the people I shared time with will be part of me forever.  Having now had a taste of the Sonoran desert I know I want more.  Laura's path and mine crossed some time ago, and we've been now and again walking together, even riding together, sharing what we know, and lending a hand and caring heart as we go.  You just  know I had to bring my bike with me right?  There will be more to follow on the subject, this is just a warm up.  This is just to say that Laura's evil plan has borne fruit, I enjoyed my time in the desert and all the paths of other people that crossed mine while I was there.