Thursday, August 15, 2019

Living Koan

This fellow... I met him in a random encounter I don't know how many years ago, and I've seen seen him again in random encounters I don't know how many times since, here, there, and everywhere, all around town.

Tonight he rolled up on his bicycle, dropped his kickstand, and took a seat at the table with my son and me. He's somehow past the need to ask if he's intruding.

In fact, and by his own assertion, he's wired a little bit differently than the rest of us. Now in his thirties, his mom cared for him until her death earlier this year. He is "functional" in that he holds a job and can get out and about alone, but he is undoubtedly a bit touched.

Folks like this I think of as "messengers" of sorts: they operate just enough within the envelope of normal conversation to slip into your own flow without "turbulence," but inevitably something is going to happen that completely disrupts that flow or just splits your thought patterns enough to cause you to tilt your head and squint a little, leaving you wondering what this conversation is really all about.

That effect -- the mental "hiccup" -- is particularly interesting if you can get past the annoyance of something not making sense and you can catch yourself tying to fill in the blanks. These "messenger moments" are times when, out of the blue, I see something beneath my own surface appear before me -- a message for me from within me appears. Sometimes, it's an eerie realization that my thoughts and speech are not directed at the person sitting in front of me; rather, I'm reliving an older conversation with someone else, or maybe I'm giving advice to a version of myself, or maybe I'm realizing that --given new information and experience -- an old conversation was a mistake. Sometimes it's enough to see that I am projecting myself into the encounter and not really hearing the person in front of me...

But then again, maybe that fellow in front of me is doing the same, and we're not hearing each other at all. We're odd reflections of ourselves that catch our eye, triggering sequences and patterns as we relive them all again.

Soon, by the way, maybe it's not just people... after all, what can have our attention that is not entwined with our experience, thoughts and memories, hopes, our senses, habits, and so forth? If the world suddenly blurred into a van Gogh painting swirling about, wouldn't we still find ourselves in it? What would be your teacher, moment to moment, if you didn't believe it had to look like a person with robes, a stick, and a certificate? The teacher is everywhere if a teacher is what you believe you need; with any luck, it will be in a form you can recognize and accept.

And maybe once we're done experiencing that and we understand it, it's gone.

Another dead end? Maybe not. How can everything change if you can perceive it differently? What if the answers to any of your questions could be found all around you?

Still have questions? Have none? Back to practice.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Removed from Experience

I've seen the transformation occur more than once: A YouTube channel owner begins presenting material where he or she has some deep expertise and direct experience. Over time, people begin to take notice. The channel becomes more interactive, and the presenter begins to drift in response.

That "drift" begins cautiously, generally with the presenter offering opinion somewhat grounded in his or her experience. The audience naturally responds to opinion and the presenter is emboldened. More emboldened, the opinions drift further and further from the grounded subject matter expertise and experience. Eventually, the presenter is in unknown territory, making definitive statements outside his or her direct knowledge.  If lucky, the community will correct the presenter -- often in anger -- growing the community and again emboldening the presenter. Eventually there are opinions that are simply erroneous -- and it does not seem to matter to anyone.

It seems that one of three things can happen:
  1. Guided by the corrections, the presenter may acquire the new subject matter expertise;
  2. Supported by subject matter experts who are always ready to step in with corrections, the presenter may indirectly represent subject matter experts' statements, but without understanding why; or,
  3. The presenter may thrive in the celebrity status, regardless of any expertise, completely untethered.
It has always seemed strange to me that people are willing to accept what is presented without challenge, but they do, routinely.

If "success" for you means finding truth ~ even finding those technical details that are important to you mission ~ then these tendencies are quite an obstruction. If "success" means finding a path wherein you have the unquestioning support of others, then perhaps it's time to step off into the unknown and to gain that subject matter expertise in raising waves and surfing them.

Why let truth stand in your way? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

One Friday Morning

The doorbell rang far too early, as if a ring at all would be welcome...

... and then again.

I looked out an upstairs window, and ~ just beyond the eave ~ was a tall, curly dark mop.

... and then a third time.

It was the neighbor kid, where "kid" now must mean 18+ years old. He lives with his grandparents, the homeowners. His father sometimes lived there, too, until he recently died quite unexpectedly in his mid-40s.  His grandfather is hard to track as the ambulance visits every few days at different hours to take him to the hospital. When his grandmother is seen, the young fellow is often pushing her in her wheelchair up or down their steep driveway and accompanying her in a taxi or car service to visit the grandfather or run other errands.

While I recognized the young fellow's hair, I had completely missed the grandmother a few feet beneath him in her chair until I opened the door. She was a bit shaken ~ something was amiss. I braced myself for the the obvious news... which did not come. Instead, she had trouble coming up with the words, so asked her grandson to ask on her behalf:

"Would it be alright if we listed you as our emergency contact?" he asked.

She added, "In case something happens to us and he needs a place to stay for a few days..."

"Of course."

They were relieved and shook my hand. She wiped away some welled-up tears. I asked about her husband (not well) and her (stoic, but not untroubled), then wished them well and saw them off with some solace.

Closer to lunch, my wife was a bit out of sorts ~ not quite herself. She recognized it but couldn't explain it. After lunch, I suggested that she might enjoy a nap ~ I'd tend to our son.

She climbed the stairs and went to sleep...

... and maybe 350 miles away, her grandmother did not wake up.

Lost in relaying the news, my son brought me back with a reminder that I'd left his tea steeping far to long.

I sat beside my dog's grave for a bit wondering how often we may have passed Death in our walks through the neighborhood, and I thought of the Pieta sculpture ~ and of all of the mother-figures with unconditional love for their troubled sons ~ how they appear in my life, and what it all may mean for everyone.

Shadows dance and identities are fluid ~ the messages and visions within us project outward ~ the dead and the living alike are all speaking in tongues. Someday, maybe the reflections will be understood. Someday, maybe the light itself will be recognized.

Who knows?