Monday, May 14, 2012

"In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged." Dalai Lama

  It's good to be back chatting with you and writing again, as you will see from the length of this post.  One of the bonus rewards of doing Heart-A-Rama is that when it ends, I open my door to find that spring has arrived.  Lilacs are in bloom, my orioles and humming birds have returned, and sun is shining in just the right spot so I can sit on the deck and read.  Jimmy Buffett and iced cappuccino season - the best of all things. 

I was MIA for of few Mondays due to HAR, and because Blogger changed the way it works and I have been too tired and am too dumb to figure it out.  I have the basics conquered, so I can at least type and drop in a picture or two., 

 During HAR weeks,  I could only find time to fit in a little light I turned to The Art of Happiness, one of those books that can be opened on any page.  Just let your eyes fall to a random line, and you're bound to find something thought provoking, insightful, meaningful, and yes, amusing.  Mr. Lama has a neat sense of humor.

The above quote isn't from The Art...but it is one that has always spoken loudly, and has resonated  deeply the past weeks, generating lots of good conversations.  Brad, who co-produces HAR with me, and I have spent time laughing...and complaining...about all the "bliss" seekers we have encountered lately.  We imagine them going off to weekend encampments, holding hands, singing Kumbaya, painting a flower on a rock.  The adventurous ones will take part in a  drum circle where they pound out their troubles and anxieties, before going home, scribbling all their woes on tiny slips of paper and setting them on fire in a ritualistic inferno, in a dangerously designed living room fire pit. 

The take-away from those getaways is a strong sense of what my college Philosophy professor called "me-ness'  - a confusing sense of entitlement.  What contributions those weekenders could make to Heart-A-Rama or any other organization is untold.  Stepping outside yourself is a surer way to discover purpose and meaning.  Heck,  I fear what I would find inside if I ran off for a weekend of digging deep, followed by a cleansing confessional with a 25 of my closest and newest companions.  Pish. 

In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama makes a distinction between pleasure and happiness, and  once that distinction is understood, he says, we can begin to rid our lives of things that detract from our happiness.  Reading parts of it again redefined for me what is important, and what personal paths I should take to get there...and it ain't painting on rocks.  He says that the purpose of life is to be happy; that happiness is determined by one's state of mind rather than by external circumstances or events.  The Dalai Lama says that we can re-shape our emotional lives by reshaping our thinking.  Again, he does not mention painting of rocks in order to accomplish this.

Ironically, while skipping around in this delightful book, two other Dalia-ish events occurred.  First, the DL himself turned up on The Piers Morgan Show.  You can't help but smile when you hear his tiny chuckle, and listen to his simple words.  Some people might say he is naive, but how can you not respect and be in awe of a guy who has been exiled from the home he loves, and shows no sign of bitterness, hatred, or longing? 

Second, out of the blue I received an email from a former student,  now a friend.  We exchanged a couple memory moments before getting into more meaningful discussion.  You see, Heidi and her husband -whose name is Michael Perry! - live in Washington D.C. and both are swamis.  It makes me laugh to say I know, and sort of have, my very own personal swami.  Heidi doesn't take herself too seriously and thinks it's fun as well.  Being a swami hasn't changed her basic spirit.  She is still that same feisty, intelligent, somewhat bawdy person that got my attention when she struggled to fit into a conservative high school, with little room for people with ideas as complex and out on a limb as hers.  So, it was great that we have re-connected, and I hope that we won't get lost again.

Now...time for a disclaimer.  I have been rather hard on the singing, drum beating rock painters.  The reality is, I know many of them and find them to be sincere, engaging, talented individuals.  I also understand that at some point we all need down time where we can explore, try new things, and pound on a fresh drum so to speak.  And, I will confess that, due to years of teaching guitar at Golden Ring Foldlore Center, I do indeed know all the words to Kumbaya!

What am I reading?  Our book group is reading Room.  The slow opening chapters challenged me, but I understand the author's technique here and put up with it hoping she would change directions in the second section.  She did, and I flew through the book from that point forward.  If the Jaycee Dugard case facinated you, try this book, which was written well in advance of the discovery of Dugard's multi-year hostile confinement.

I also started my Dickens for the year - The Pickwick Papers.  I may need Cliff notes to get me going on this one.

Thanks for stopping by.