The typical, well-meaning liberal approach to solving social tensions is to treat every value as equal, and then try to force a leveling or redistribution of resources (money, rights, goods, land) while leaving the values untouched. The typical conservative approach is take its particular values and try to foist them on everybody else. The developmental approach is to realize that there are many different values and worldviews; that some are more complex than others; that many of the problems at one stage of development can only be defused by evolving to a higher level; and that only by recognizing and facilitating this evolution can social justice be finally served.
~ Ken Wilber, Integral Psychology: Consciusness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy
I am not sure what to think about anything anymore. Some days I can’t figure out how we got to this time and place in the world, some days I think I can clearly see how we got here, and other days things are so surreal that I’m almost positive I somehow stepped into another dimension, one in which the paths taken are so different from what I know and remember that they must have been walked by a me from another timeline where things diverged when I made a contrary choice about some small matter and well, here we are. A butterfly flapped its wings and the inevitable change happened. I’m sure I’m not the only person feeling this way.
As we get older, and if we’re fortunate and privileged, life begins to teach us about letting go. I suppose it is in preparation for the big Let-Go. Maybe it starts with wanting to simplify your life or, if you have children, with the empty nest and downsizing. Then life itself takes a hand in the shedding process by removing people who raised us or were part of the raising of us. If the timing is as we think it should be, first the older folks leave us. Eventually, we begin to lose acquaintances and colleagues and friends.
Life pares us down. Our elders go through it. Maybe we pay attention when a grandparent says, “I’m not sure why I’m still here,” and realize what they mean is that their parents are gone, their siblings are gone, their spouse is gone, and all their friends, too, have gone on before them. It is more likely that we don’t pay too much attention because we’re young and busy and still think we’re immortal (or at least don’t want to acknowledge that death is always with us).
Just as compassion is the wish that all sentient beings be free of suffering, loving-kindness is the wish that all may enjoy happiness. As with compassion, when cultivating loving-kindness it is important to start by taking a specific individual as a focus of our meditation, and we then extend the scope of our concern further and further, to eventually encompass and embrace all sentient beings. Again, we begin by taking a neutral person, a person who inspires no strong feelings in us, as our object of meditation. We then extend this meditation to individual friends and family members and, ultimately, our particular enemies.
We must use a real individual as the focus of our meditation, and then enhance our compassion and loving-kindness toward that person so that we can really experience compassion and loving-kindness toward others. We work on one person at a time.
~ Dalai Lama XIV
As we approach autumn, I’ve been thinking about my word for the year: Loving-kindness. I’ve been doing a loving-kindness or metta practice almost daily throughout the year. I start, as suggested by many, with myself. May I be free from harm. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I awaken. May my heart be open to the infinite possibilities of love and life. May I dwell in peace. Or words to that effect. I extend that to friends, family, those I love. I extend it further to acquaintances, the waitress at the restaurant where we had dinner last night, the cashier at the grocery store, Fay the mail lady, the neighbor I’ve seen on walks but not yet met. And then there is the true work of extending it to those who have harmed or angered or, as the Dalai Lama puts it, “our particular enemies.” On the days when my heart is open and I feel I can truly extend this loving-kindness to those I strongly dislike, I find myself feeling pity and wonder if pity is a form of compassion (the dictionary claims this is so), if maybe pity is the best I can dig up for certain people in high places, or am I failing at compassion, failing at loving-kindness?
How was your weekend? M and I had a relatively quiet but celebratory weekend. The 41st anniversary of our wedding was yesterday. We went for a bicycle ride in the morning, worked outside for a little while in the afternoon, and then lounged around in the pool to relax and cool off. The weather was gorgeous. Not too hot. Just warm enough that you could still call it August.
We went out for dinner, up to Princess Anne for a small feast at The Washington Inn and Tavern, built in 1744 and renovated and reopened last year (or maybe it was the year before?). They have what they call the Sunday Supper Menu, somewhat limited but wonderful choices. Their menu is seasonal, the food sourced locally if possible. I had a cup of delicious gazpacho for a starter. M had the shrimp and grits. Our entrees were the fish and chips for me, the chicken pot pie for M, but it really doesn’t matter who ordered what since we end up sharing. Everything was very good, including the service by the waitress/bartender who took care of us. If you’re in the Princess Anne area, stop by for lunch or dinner. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Other random things: Today I finished the unpacking from our last trip. I was a little slow getting to it, always finding something else to do instead. Unpacking doesn’t come with the same level of excitement that packing does. I don’t think we’ll be traveling again for a while so it’s time to put the suitcases back in the attic. We do have friends planning visits next month, something I am looking forward to.
There is also a tropical system (if named, it will be Irma) on its way up towards us. Nothing like what they are seeing in Texas with Harvey. According to the latest forecast, we’ll get some wind (up to 30 mph) and rain (1-2 inches) from it, probably riptides and big waves at the beach. Some of the last storms that blew through here were worse than that. Still, I keep an eye on the forecast because things can change so quickly. Today started out nice enough. By lunchtime it was cloudy and windy. Potential Tropical Cyclone Ten will skirt by here sometime tomorrow if the latest forecast is correct. There is another tropical wave a few hundred miles southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands that they expect will form into a tropical depression in the next 48 hours or so. It’s too soon to tell where that one will go or how big it will grow (if it grows at all).
It is day 57 of my year-long challenge to better my health through nutrition, yoga, meditation, and exercise (also known as All The Right Things or self-care). There is not much new to report in that area. I’ve had what I think of as slippery days (yesterday’s fish and chips, for example), but that’s okay. This is not a sprint and I’m not looking for perfection. Just a healthier way of living and being. Just. lol! It really is a tall order, rearranging one’s lifestyle. I do feel better for it which often makes me wonder why it is so easy to slide back into less healthful ways of living and being. You would think the pleasure of good health would override the pleasure of old habits, but it doesn’t seem to during the beginning phases.
As part of the transition into autumn, I will be doing a 5-day at-home retreat of sorts that will include five days of a fast-mimicking diet. I’ve already experimented with something similar to a fast-mimicking diet, and it was amazing how light and wonderful I felt after just a few days. Did I ever share the article about fasting with you? I think I did but just in case, here’s the link again. It’s well worth a look-see. If you’re interested in joining along with me and holding your own at-home retreat, let me know. Maybe we can get a group thing started. I’m looking at putting together a schedule of activities for the five days, setting aside time for journaling, art, reading, yoga, meditation, and walks. Left to my own devices, I’m more likely to play it by ear (and possibly not do many of those things). The plan, for now, is to hold my little at-home retreat the week of September 25th.
I reckon that’s enough from me and the Wabi-Sabi Ranch on this cloudy Monday. I don’t think we’ll see the sunset this evening (which is scheduled for 7:38 PM). It’s not worth the trip to the Point, but we could go out to the dock and listen to the birds, watch the terrapins and crabs swim by, and just enjoy the beauty of the scenery for a while. The wind will keep us cool and insect-free. I’ll meet you out there around 7 PM.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 261) The twins’ morning visit. I did not see the mama deer today. I wonder if it was time to let them go on their own? 262) Wildflowers blooming in the meadows and salt marshes. 263) Beets, greens, and other fresh, wonderful vegetables. 264) Anniversary celebrations, bicycle rides, and time with M. It’s been a wonderful adventure thus far. 265) Smiles, laughter, and moments of pure joy.