I couldn't decide which of these to post, so I'll post them both and let you decide:
Springtime for lovers--
two bodies, thrusting together
fire burning within
Springtime in the park--
two bodies, thrusting together
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
This is the Flower Garden Banks reef, 50-100 miles or so south of the Louisiana/Texas border in the Gulf. I'd like to go diving there someday, but only after I lose a whole bunch of weight.
A year or so ago, I read a magazine article trying to push scuba as a Zen activity. I thought it was a dumb idea at the time. Now I think it kind of makes sense from a mental-relaxation standpoint--but only when there are no bullsharks swimming around or depleted air tanks to worry about. I'll have to think about it next time I go underwater.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
I've been thinking recently about the notion of guilt. I feel very guilty about my childrens' situation, even though I know on a logical, intellectual level that I am not at fault, and that the decisions I have had to make were made as objectively as possible and with their best interests at heart.
Anyway, my own guilty feelings have led me to think about guilt generally--what kinds of things I've felt guilty about in the past, what kinds of things I feel guilty about now, and whether it's healthy for me to feel guilty about anything. Also, an LDS apostle with the initials BKP not too long ago gave an address about guilt as a motivational factor. The notion of good guilt is not an idea I happen to agree with, actually; nevertheless, the BKP talk did turn a few wheels in my head as I was busy disagreeing with it.
When I was younger, I felt guilt over such normal teenage activities as masturbation, taking an occasional smoke or drink, and sexuality generally. I even felt guilty about having sexual dreams. With the help of life experience and, more recently, Zen, I recognize that a great many things just are--neither good nor bad, just are--and should not induce guilt. That really helps me as the father of two disabled kids. Still, I'd like to think I'm a moral person, and that some actions or thoughts perhaps should induce feelings of guilt and/or shame. Thoughts? Comments?
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Well, kind of, anyway. The other morning, the door at the Zen dojo was locked and I couldn't get in. I happened to run into a coworker on the street on my way over there. I came back to the office and vented to my coworker about the dojo door being locked. "You go there?" he asked. He explained that he had read about Zen in college and found it appealing, but that he had never pursued a practice. He then asked me whether I had any brochures and whether the dojo has a website. I obliged. I had a nice experience there this morning; nothing spectacular, just a few minutes of mental freedom.
I've noticed on my sitemeter that I have a few frequent readers who have never commented on anything. I don't mind that so much, but I'm just curious about why you read my scribblings. So, if you're one of these frequent readers, please leave a comment. Finally, thank everybody for your continued patronage.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Friday, March 18, 2005
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The other night, I had a dream in which my wife had an ex-husband who was enormous, violent, and apparently just released from prison. He was attempting to take the children whom the two of them had together, but over whom she had custody. He threatened to beat her and started chasing her and me. We ran into a building and I locked her into a room. I then chased the ex to his car, let the kids out, and beat the living crap out of the guy. I may have even killed him, I can't remember. Earlier the same night, I had a dream that had me actually screaming in my sleep. I don't remember anything at all about that dream. I'd much rather have my wild sex dreams. They're, um, interesting, and sex is better than violence any day, except in mob movies.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
This afternoon, we watched "Hero," starring Jet Li. The movie is un-freakin'-believable. The acting is different from Hollywood films, the pacing is slow, and there is far less dialogue than in most films. The martial arts sequences are superb, mixing great fighting with Matrix-like computer animation. The cinematography is brilliant--indeed, it may surpass "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago," and that's saying something. The filmmakers use colors, costumes, settings, and even calligraphy in a way that makes every scene of the film a work of art unto itself. A great example of film as art. Check it out!
Last evening, we actually went to a social event, with a group of people from the Zen dojo. It was at a Mexican place in Mid-City N.O. We haven't been together in years to anything social that didn't involve our childrens' disabilities. It was a nice evening with a nice group of people. I need to pay more attention to the social events at the office, too. Our boss is big on planning extracurricular outings, but we've not been able to attend them.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I've seen several bumper stickers recently with the slogan, "To hell with Iraq: Rebuild the Flora-Bama." The Flora-Bama is a piece of vanishing Americana--a dumpy roadhouse, right smack on the beach on Perdido Key. Also, it's symbolic of what many around here call the Redneck Riviera, despite the best efforts of the tourism authorities to sell it as something a little more upscale. It's big fun to go in there--it's like a maze of small barrooms and stages, with 3-4 bands playing on some nights. The Flora-Bama was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan, but the owners are determined to get the place up rebuilt. So, to hell with Iraq! Rebuild the Flora-Bama!
Monday, March 07, 2005
I tried to post this last night, but due to either the effing blogger software or my own computer, it got lost in the effing ether.
That weirdness out of the way, I had a moment of exquisite dad-ness on Saturday afternoon, albeit one that ended strangely. As background, when our kids were diagnosed with autism, I set out two parenting principles that I’ve pretty much managed to live up to: 1) I’ll attempt to give my kids as many “normal” childhood experiences as possible; and 2) I won’t be embarrassed by their behaviors. Both of those came into play on Saturday.
We bought our boys bicycles for Christmas, hoping that they could learn to ride them in the next year or so. Both bikes have training wheels. Kids with a dual diagnosis of autism and mental retardation have steep learning curves, except for those things that they really, really want to learn–then they become so focused that they can’t help but get it.
I took Toby and his bicycle out into the street on Saturday afternoon. Since Adam wasn’t around to scream bang his head on the front window, I was safe in taking Toby out solo. We started with Toby on the bike and me with my hands cranking his feet on the pedals to make him go. I had to crank one foot, let the bike move to a stop, then go and crank the other foot. Toby figured out how to brake, so he was frequently stopping the bike. We went this way up and down our street. He let up on his braking as we made our way around a very long block, and it looked like his next visit home would see major biking progress. I tried to turn him to the right to go back home, where DW was waiting with the digital camera. No luck; he wanted to go left. I asked if he wanted to go to the park, and he said “park!” Okay, I thought, we can go to the neighborhood playground 4-5 blocks away. We got to the turn for the park, and Toby fought my attempts to turn him in the right direction. Hmmm, I wondered what he had in mind. Oh well, best not to incite a temper tantrum.
By this point, he was pumping his feet on the pedals by himself; pushing down with one foot, then lifting both feet, then pushing down with the other foot. I maintained a gentle hand on his back, giving him an occasional push. This continued for a while, until we got to the entrance of our subdivision, just under a mile from our house; we had gone slightly over a mile at this point. Okay, time to turn around. Nope, he wouldn’t go for it. Again, best not to incite a tantrum.
We went across Airport Road and onto the bikepath. Toby took off like a bat out of hell. I had to move quickly–breaking into a full run at some points–just to keep up. Oh no. We have different ideas about the bicycle, I realized. I saw it as a fun activity and a rite of passage. He saw it as a way to get himself wherever he wanted to go. To his mind, what good is a bike if you can’t use it as a mode of transportation? The bikepath runs for maybe a mile and a half, ending at the local Head Start preschool about 100 yards or so before the Target parking lot. I had no choice; I had to stop him. Airport Road is too busy and too dangerous on a Saturday afternoon to take any chances. Toby exploded. I had to place him in a restraint hold in the Head Start parking lot as he head-butted, bit, hit, and screamed. This in view of dozens of passing cars. I hoped for either DW or some good Samaritan to come along. One nice thing about living here is that good Samaritans are not all that rare. Sure enough, a woman pulled up and offered us a ride home in her Suburban. Toby tantrumed for 15-20 minutes after we got home, then we went to Target in the car.
Public tantruming be damned, this was a triumphant moment for Toby. It was also a great moment for me as a father. To me, seeing him ride that bike was better than seeing a "typical" kid earning an Eagle Scout award. It was a real high.
Last night, I was tossing and turning about one aspect of this story I didn’t mention at the outset of this post. My own father was extremely impatient about my ineptitude when learning to ride a bike, especially when it came time to take off the training wheels. I remember vividly one time I began to tip over. My dad grabbed the bike from under me and threw it at the curb. He couldn’t hide the fact that I disappointed him in things like sports, even something so irrelevant as learning to ride a bike. As some of you know, I have some very deep insecurity about my masculine identity, and that hit hard last night as I tried to sleep off a very active weekend. Some things just can’t be suppressed, no matter how hard you try. However, I don’t want this to be about me, so let’s savor Toby’s triumph.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Most kids remember their favorite fish at the Aquarium. Mine remembers the exact locations of the elevators in the building. This morning saw us running from elevator to elevator and playing with the buttons so Toby could watch the doors open and shut.
Friday, March 04, 2005
A few silly haiku I wrote while watching my son play computer games:
It goes without saying
Blue's Clues and Thomas
Obsessive computer play --
Toby is at home.
My Split Personality
Fragrant incense burns
A dove lands on my shoulder.
Randy the Rasta
Heaven on the Earth;
Bob Marley sang about it.
What was he smoking?
History Channel Icon
Adolf Hitler on the air,
"Liberation from the self is living each day without a place to stand or ideas about who we are. That's when we can dance with life."
-- Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi
I think I've experienced a few moments of liberation as defined by Genpo Roshi during zazen/meditation. You pretty much have to open your mind up to whatever comes up to meditate successfully, and take the good with the bad. One morning in August or September 2004, I struggled to get my mind to slow as I began to sit. Suddenly, I was in a dreamlike state, my mind flying through the clouds in a blue sky. My mind was invisible and alone, with no body or any other physical entity attached to it. There were no boundaries, and my mind embraced everything, and everything embraced it. I felt free of all of the psychic baggage I usually carry around, and free of all the concepts of self-identification I cling to. I've had several other similar experiences over the past few months, though without the clouds and sky.
I've had a few other interesting mental moments during meditation. I was introduced to Buddhist thought by the Dalai Lama's "An Open Heart." He suggests choosing some emotional state or area in which one can improve, then focusing on that during meditation. I started with a couple of positive ones--love and compassion. I felt some wonderful energy throughout my body; I also felt some intense sadness. This past Sunday night, I was moping about my boys. I sat on my zafu and relaxed my mind. Suddenly, an intense feeling of love swept through me. It wasn't coming from inside me; it was my boys' love for me. It's difficult to explain. They are unable to express that themselves due to their brain disorders, and the feeling I had was awesome.
I wouldn't say that I've achieved a state of enlightenment or satori or whatever, but I think I've had several transient glimpses into what that is like. It's nice to have a spiritual/philosophical practice that works for me. And that's how I view Zen--it's not a religion to me; rather, it's a system of practice and philosophy that allows me to see within my own head and work to improve myself.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
I've added a few links that I suppose reflect both the light and dark sides of my personality. My lighter self has added links to two Zen-related blogs I like--Wandering Where You Will and The Xen Chronicles. Those blogs contain haiku and philosphical writings. My dark side has added a link to Court TV's addictive-as-heroin Crime Library. If you share my fascination with violence, crime, and criminals, that's the place. Be forewarned: You can spend hours on Crime Library and still want more.
I wonder. Is my fascination with Crime Library and Mafia movies a dark shadow piece of my optimistic, spiritually seeking side; a compensation for my shy, gentle nature; or is there something more to it? Bwahahahaha!
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
I haven't seen "The Aviator" or "Million Dollar Baby," so I can't venture an opinion about whether Martin Scorsese was robbed of another Oscar this year or not. However, this was Marty's fifth Oscar defeat. "Taxi Driver" lost to "Rocky" in 1976; "Raging Bull" lost to "Ordinary People" in 1980; "GoodFellas" lost to "Dances with Wolves" in 1990; and "Gangs of New York" lost to "Chicago" (a movie I loved) in 2002. Nothing against "Rocky" or "Ordinary People"--I hated "Dances with Wolves"--but "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," and "GoodFellas" are three classics of the American cinema. Perhaps the Academy is uncomfortable with Marty's explorations of the dark, violent Jungian shadow piece of the collective American psyche, I don't know. But, damn, I love those movies.