Resist- II

Since about October, I have struggled a little with balancing our new ‘reality’ with some of my Buddhist way of thinking. “Things are happening as they should and I need not interfere” is kind of the gist I came away with during my studies.  In fact I spend quite a bit of time with my therapist discussing that balance between life, and a fulfilling life.  You know, the whole Buddhist “root of all my trouble is wanting” idea.  Yet I want things to change.  So much.  So much more every day.

I want Trump–No.  Not impeached.  No, poor man is sick.  I’d like him put in a small hospital room for the rest of his life.  A soft room with bars and bullet-proof glass on the windows, the gentle light of a tv as it plays The Apprentice on endless loops.  I’m all for hiring the handicapped, but the man is absolutely certifiably delusional.

I know a little about delusional from personal experience.  I know he truly believes what he says.  I know he doesn’t think we’re stupid.  He doesn’t think of us at all.   He truly believes he is entitled to anything or anyone any time he wants.  He believes it when he says he thinks he’s doing a swell job, and accomplished so much in so little time.  His claims of being prosecuted.  The ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ fit in perfectly in the life and mind of the delusional.  You must buy into his delusion, or you are the enemy.

His brief press conference of yesterday has only hardened my resolve to be involved.  He thinks he’s a 5 year old and can stomp all over your sand castle if he wants, just because it was better than his.  He is still that spoiled, confused child.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lot of sympathy, but just thinking about him that way makes me a little less angry, but a lot more scared.

I want us to get rid of Trump (and the rest of his swamp creatures if at all possible) as soon as possible.  It becomes obviously more urgent every day.  You did see at least some of his so-called press conference?  And still, there is this niggling feeling that I maybe shouldn’t interfere.  Shouldn’t be involved.  Maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse to stay in my own corner, complain and pass along worrisome memes.  It’s much easier not be involved.

Then today I read this article out of the Huffington Post:  They posed this question:

What can Zen Buddhism teach us about the art of effective activism in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency?

to  Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen master who has been a social and environmental activist for since his early days protesting the Vietnamese War.    This article addresses the issue of balancing Buddhist thinking with activism.

The article quotes from his book At Home in the World where he says:

“Mindfulness must be engaged.  Once we see that something needs to be done, we must take action. Seeing and action go together. Otherwise, what is the point in seeing?”

“Nonviolence is not a set of techniques that you can learn with your intellect,” he goes on to say. “Nonviolent action arises from the compassion, lucidity and understanding you have within.”

 

This article finally set to rest my qualms over my level of involvement.  And I hope I can bring his teachings of non-violent protests with me.  I hope we all can.  So teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, arm yourselves with the knowledge of peaceful protest and let’s get to work!

 

The Life of a House

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Appleton house ca 2009

I always feel sad when an old building falls into disuse and disrepair and gets torn down. The house I grew up in was a beautiful Victorian on the interior, with a parquet floor in the dining room and a terrazzo tile in the bath.  (And not terrazzo tile, but one solid floor.  With the clawfoot tub and old radiator, it was actually one of the prettiest bathrooms.)  I remember sitting on the radiators after coming in from ice skating, and slipping our shoes underneath to dry. I saw the house in 2009 and it has been a rental for 20 years. I can tell they have made the porches into bedrooms, and I shudder to think what the interior looks like. I am sure that one day in the not too distant future it will be torn down. That will indeed be a sad day. At least all my schools are still standing and being well used. And many of the other old buildings in my hometown have been well kept and upgraded.

 

Every tree on this lot was planted by my mother.  In fact we used to tease her that she was always planting ‘twigs’  Well 40 years later there are about eight 40 foot tall sugar maples gracing what used to be a larger yard.  They have widened the driveway significantly and eliminated nearly a third of the yard and tearing down some trees.

IMG_0092The house has been divided into two apartments, one upstairs, the other down.  I have no idea what they have done with the full basement and attic.   I notice a sky light in the roof, so maybe they are using that space as well.  The deck they have created for the upper apartment is using the same material my dad and brothers used to make a deck next to the garage.  Now that space is the muddy mess it had been before Dad built the deck.062 (2)

My dad worked 7 days–or rather nights–per week.  He tried working days once, but it seems as if that only lasted about a month.  Guess he was a night person.  He came home at 8 in the morning just as we headed out to school and slept until dinner at about 5.  Then he’d watch TV and nap until he left for work at 10 pm.  I didn’t like my dad, but he loved that house.  Every year he’d spend his two week vacation improving the house in one way or another.  One of the first things he did was replace the crumbling plaster with dry wall and painted the entire upstairs.  Himself.  He never hired help and much of the time us kids were too young to help.  He wanted his own space and so there came the year he moved the kitchen from one room to what had been a large pantry.  He spent one vacation re-doing the parquet floor in the dining room.  I remember the dust from that job.  One year he put in new carpet downstairs and repainted in both the living room and parlor.  Then there was the year he did the deck.  He never took a day off work.  Usually worked the holidays as well since that was a lot of extra money.  Plus I don’t think he liked having to deal with us kids.  I have to respect that.

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Appleton House ca 1890

One year in the 70s a lady came to the door.  She told us her grandfather had built the house back in 1890 (or so).  She was very kind and my mother invited her in to look around.  In thanks she gave us the photo here.  It was a beautiful house.  I hate the way they did away with the wood and replaced it with the ugly stone exterior.  Most of the gingerbread was also missing.  The side porch, facing front, was still an open space.  It was later enclosed in glass and was used as a solarium, but it remained unheated.  I wonder if they have heat in that room now?

 

t was a melancholy trip I took in 2009 to go back home after 30 years away.  Much had changed.  The streets were wider and many trees were missing.  Each end of town had been built up and had a lot of shopping, new houses, and hotels.  When I was a kid it was all open space.  Nothing up there except the highway and some parks.  I believe the parks have been enlarged.

The place where the railroad tracks ran through town is now a hiking/biking trail and planted with beautiful full bushes and trees.  They refer to it as the Mosquito Highway now.  When I was a kid the train still ran through town about once a week.  Just a little freight train.  The tracks were pulled out in the 80s.

Aerial View OconomowocIt’s sad when places change.  As they say, you can’t really ever go home again.  It’s never the same as we remember, and it always seems the changes feel negative and leaves me longing for the ‘good old days.’  I guess that’s what happens when we get older.  So does our house and schools and town.

In the case of my hometown, the downtown area still retains some of it’s Victorian charm and several buildings have been rehabbed and saved.  One of them has always been a bar, and on the opposite side was the pharmacy.  It is now a tourist trap, filled with trinkets saying, “Where the Hell is Menomonee Falls?”

I did drive through my father’s hometown, and where the family first settled back in 1870 or so.  It still retains much of it’s turn- of-the-century charm and for that I am grateful.  I drove by my grandma’s house, and it hadn’t changed much.  Even the old garage was still there.

 

modern-architecture_0Why do we attach so much importance to objects like buildings: houses, schools, and childhood haunts.  It is sad to see the death of a beautiful thing I guess, whether it is a memory or the house you grew up in.  But as I wrote in my previous post, it’s all part of the cycle.  Just as we die, our hometowns are transformed into something new and different, and not to our liking.  It’s always too much growth, too few trees, too wide of streets, too many freeways.  Now here I am moving into a new house, built in about 1920 full of ceramic tile and real wood floors.  Full of charm and I’m sure memories.  We will make our own memories there, and then one day, when we have turned to dust, so will that building, and many of the other places I remember to make room for what is new.

I’m learning to accept New, not as ugly, but as different.  There’s not much else you can do.

 

We Are Our Parents

moonIt strikes me more every day how much life doesn’t change.  You can try all you want, but you eventually realize you have become your parents.  It’s inevitable.  Always has been, always will be.  I could follow my family tree for eons, and find the same thing; we start out young and stupid, yet think we know it all.  Then in our mid to late 20s we realize we don’t know it all, and make an effort to learn everything.  We read, we watch, we study.  We raise a family and tell ourselves we won’t make the same mistakes our parents did.  Unfortunately we still make mistakes, just not the same ones.  Yet we think we do a good job.  We become successful in our business or work.  We work hard to prove ourselves worthy.  We muddle along, just like our parents, and their parents, and their parents.  Arguing about politics with our neighbor.  Discussing the news, debating the current war, whether it was a world war, or a tribal war. There has always been war of one kind or another.  We gathered food, then grew food, then we bought food.  But our need for food has obviously never changed.

Amanda and RuthieWe lament the current state of the world and are convinced it was better ‘in the olden days.’  Whether that was 30 or 40 or 100 years ago, it was always better ‘back then.’  We watch as our idols die.  In my mother’s time it was Frank Sinatra.  Grandma remembered when Rudy Valentino died.  (I’m sure there are some of you who don’t know Valentino was the heart-throb movie star of the early silent movies.)  I remember when John Lennon was shot, r any kaWe learn that we don’t know everything but we run out of energy to keep learning new things.  Our brains become full.  We become convinced that we are right.  We know it all, have seen it all.  Just like our parents.  And some of us stop growing.  Become stagnant in our beliefs.  Some of us choose to keep believing what our grandma used to tell us about how salt was good for you, or you needed cod liver oil every day, or that Blacks, or Hispanics (or women, or gays) should know their place and stay there.   Preferably out of sight and not next door to us.John Lennon

Once I realized all this was inevitable I was finally at peace with turning 50.  It took me nearly three years, but I got there.  I hate it.  I hate that nothing has really changed.  Sure we had the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the printing press, emancipation (for Blacks, for women, and now for LBGTQ).  We’ve always polluted our surroundings.  Don’t believe me?  Look at London in the Middle Ages, or Paris, or Amsterdam.  We dumped our waste in the streets, there was no trash pick up.  The streets were dirty and full of animal manure, and when it rained, the manure and waste would be washed into the lakes and rivers which we drank from.

davincis manThere have always been those less fortunate, the poor, the disabled, and unwanted.  Whether illegitimate children, those starving in drought stricken areas, so has it always been and always will be.

We have always loved our family and friends and hated our enemies.  It seems we cannot change our black and white vision of our world.  Us against them.  Us being the religious, them being the Atheists.  Those people–being anyone different from ourselves.  When I was growing up long hair on men was not acceptable.  And by long I mean 1964 Beatles long.   Bald men were seen as less virile and less attractive.  Now most men I see shave their heads.  I can’t understand it.  There is also the current trend of being completely hairless.  Which I totally do not understand.  I like a man with hair.  Long, bearded, and with at least some hair on their chest.   Where I come from good girls wore modest pastel dresses to church, bad girls wore bright red short-shorts.

Everything changes, and yet everything stays the same.  All is cyclical.  The phases of the moon, the tides, taxes, what is considered ‘good’ or attractive.  And yet we like to think ourselves so much better than previous generations.  We’re smarter because we know DNA sequencing, understand chromosomes and viruses, and own tiny computers.  Imagine if you dropped Leonardo DaVinci into a evolutionBest Buy.  How would Thomas Jefferson react to riding in a car.  What would Cro-Magnon Man think of today’s cities?  Culture shock for sure.  Culture changes.  The people, not so much.

So much of life inevitable, and impermanent.  There will never be an end to religion, for religion has always been with us, from our pagan days to Christianity, to Scientology.  People have a need to believe in something beyond this world.   Even Buddhists with all their understanding of the cycles of life and the impermanence of everything believe they come back to the world to try to be better the next time around.

Humanists are a little different.  They are like Buddhists in that they understand everyone has the right to happiness and to be treated with respect, but they don’t believe in an afterlife, or reincarnation.poppies

I like to think we are not reincarnated or live in heaven, but our essence, or soul, or atoms are returned to the world via our bones and ashes.  We become part of the world we left.  We are in the worms and dirt.  We are the grass and flowers and sun.  Everything is one and we each play a part in the construction of the world.  Leonardo DaVinci is still with us.  He falls on my flowers as rain.  John Lennon is still here as sand in the ocean.  I will always be here, though you won’t see me, and I won’t see you.

March Post for Peace

I am embarrassed by my recent posts about joining/inciting the civil revolution that I feel is coming to America.  While I still believe such an event seems inevitable at this point, I think my position was wrong.  I am a pacifist at heart.  Have been for a long time.  Why I would choose the side of violence is surprising to me.Peace Revolution

I’ve been watching videos of the Dalai Lama, and am really aware of the stupidity and futility of war.  No one ever wins except for the heads of state that started.  And who pays for this stupidity?  Those individuals who think they are “protecting your rights” by fighting in foreign lands.  Our youth.  The future of our country.

It is not up to the US to police the world.  It is not up to us to say how the US other countries should be run.  It is time we started taking care of our own problems instead of highjacking other governments to bend them to our will.  The US has paid millions, perhaps billions of dollars to the President of Afghanistan, and yet he wants our troops out.  The majority of America wants to bring our troops home, and yet the government persists in its current (mis)direction.  Our government is misusing taxpayers’ money on perpetuating war, externally and internally.  The citizens of the US need to stop that from happening.

The only way we can prevent the next war, civil or otherwise, is to teach our children the virtues of peace, not the supposed virtues of war.  The media glorifies it.  People in power give us flowery speeches of heroism and patriotism.  Which apparently is only demonstrated by dying in some stupid war or another.

How can we teach our children the virtues of peace against such speeches, and media attention?  We must explain to them Dalai Lamathat you have no enemies except those that are manufactured by the war mongers.  We must listen to people like the Dalai Lama, teach them more about Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  Show them that there can be peaceful resolutions to even the most serious issues.  The Dalai Lama left his country rather than try to fight the Chinese.  He knew there was no way the people of Tibet, despite their most noble intentions, could fight off the Chinese.  They had superior numbers as well as weapons.  He also knew what it would mean for his followers to be under Chinese rule.  And his people followed him.  Because they are Buddhists and they are taught from the start the virtues of peace.

Humanists, too, are huge believers in peace.  If you don’t know, this was a movement that had its beginnings in ancient forpeace6history, and brought forth and engaged by many philosophers and free-thinkers, from authors to atomic scientists and physicists.  According to Wikipedia:

In 1941, the American Humanist Association was organized. Noted members of The AHA included Isaac Asimov, who was the president from 1985 until his death in 1992, and writer Kurt Vonnegut, who followed as honorary president until his death in 2007. Gore Vidal became honorary president in 2009. Robert Buckman was the head of the association in Canada, and is now an honorary president.

After World War II, three prominent Humanists became the first directors of major divisions of the United Nations: Julian Huxley of UNESCO, Brock Chisholm of the World Health Organization, and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Kurt quoteOther Humanists include:

Philip Warren Anderson: American physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics. Was one of 21 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.

Margaret Atwood, author, was named Humanist of the Year in 1987 by the American Humanist Association, and is a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism.

Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and activist.

Arthur C. Clarke was a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism

Umberto Eco is a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism.

Albert Einstein served on the advisory board of the First Humanist Society of New York

heartYou get the idea.  These free-thinkers don’t follow the standard rhetoric.  They are physicists, scientists, philosophers, authors and artists.  They protest the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and support the rights of all people to be free of pain and suffering.  I would hope that those original Humanists raised children of similar thoughts, but I don’t know for sure.  I can’t imagine they did not.  Just as a child learns bigotry, racism and hate from their families, I should think Humanists raised children who believe in the rights of all people to be free of pain and suffering.  Along with the Buddhist ideal that all people  want, and deserve, a life free of pain and fear.

I regret my words of my previous posts about revolution.  I can’t explain my reasons for feeling like I did those couple of days.  But today I strive to stick to my ideals of peace, and endeavor to act in peaceful ways in all situations.  I will try not to let anger control me; thereby setting an example for others.

Peaceful Revolution

I realized that if people aren’t ready to hear something, it doesn’t matter how much research, documentation, or authority you have, they won’t hear it. This reminded me of the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”forpeace6

I quote this portion of Kozo Hattori’s latest blog over at Everyday Gurus because I find I have this tendency myself.  Believing so strongly in my own mind that I am correct.  So much so that I feel the need to ‘correct’ others’ (mis)beliefs.  I get blinded by my own way of seeing things and I forget I need to allow others to believe as they will.  It is not my intent to alienate anyone.   But the situation in the US is becoming serious.  While I anticipate there will be a revolution to bring about necessary changes, I hope for a peaceful, non-violent one, knowing how difficult that will be.  But Gandhi did it.  So did MLK.  It can be done.

Peace RevolutionI do believe if things do not correct themselves in the US, we are going to find ourselves living in a truly confused and awful place.  I realize that it has always been a terrible world.  Early man had to worry about disease and wild animals.  Modern man has to concern himself with cholesterol and gun-toting vigilantes.

I recall again the Dalai Lama talking about things that ‘further’.  I wonder about my reasons for posting my “Revolution” posts.  Do my posts ‘further’ the issue?  Or am I just upsetting people unnecessarily?  Am I just spouting off because I have this new-found freedom to express myself?

I do feel strongly that the US is on a bad road.  So do others, though for other reasons.  The ways to resolve these issues are not as black and white as I would like them to be.  In the greater scheme of things will it matter in 10 years, 20, 50 100 years?  That’s the Buddhist test: will it matter in 20 years?  I don’t know.  Will it?  Can we stop it?  Or is the US meant to die off much like the people who once thrived on Easter Island?

I also quote the following from Everyday Gurus:

I am dedicating myself to “be the change I wish to see in the world”… You are all my gurus. moai-statues-easter-island-1I appreciate your wisdom and guidance.

In trying to be the change I want to see, I believe in the idea of a necessary revolution, but just as  Martin Luther King and Gandhi demonstrated, even a revolution can be won by peaceful methods.  It is my hope that passive resistance will win the next one.  I hope.

MS Stuff

It’s been more than 6 months since I sprained my ankles.  Yes, ankleS, my right foot was a mild sprain, but the left I thought I’d broken it.  I don’t know, maybe I need to give up one of my exercises, adding the second Zumba is just too much.  I just want my ankles to last through the end of the next session.  No, that’s not true.  I hope they last a very long time!  That’s why I wonder if it’s worth the risk.  I’ll only take one Zumba class next session, and wear the braces and see how things are. DI buttons

I worry  I might have done permanent damage to the ligaments.  But I also think MS is making the healing process even longer.   Or aging.  Damn that aging thing.  Anyway, just when I need the exercise the most, and have found something I enjoy doing, karma puts a monkey wrench in it.

My thumbs are also really bad lately.  Just washing dishes is extremely difficult.  I’m going to have to cut back on that chore for right now.  I really need the family to step it up and pitch in.  Son is doing his share.  But I want Grandson to help as well.  He needs to learn to help out more.  I can’t do everything any more.  Vacuuming is also painful for me.

So I need to cut back on doing house cleaning.  Hey, a Bright Side of MS!

It’s always something isn’t it?  I have a new symptom: neck spasm.  Man it hurts.  And non stop.  Been two days like this, today being worse.   I wonder sometimes whether to go to my doc, or if I can just call her, and let her know when new things come up, or wait till I see her this summer?  It hurts worse when I move my head or talk.  So at least the family is happy.  lol  Another Bright Side of MS–at least for someone.  Ha!

zumbaWe all went out on the deck and did some transplanting of plants today.  It was nice to do it as a family on such a beautiful day.  I had to stop a couple of times and get off my feet for an hour or so, but I got several plants into new pots.  Even in pain, I can see the good stuff.  I don’t feel I deserve the pain, but I accept that it is there and there is nothing else to do but deal with it.  And I’m not too disappointed at relegating more of the household chores!  All in all Life is good.    Life can be good even if you have MS (or another chronic illness).  I’m starting to believe that.

 

(PS:  Another blogger  (http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/29421092/)  mentioned that she was getting my comments twice.  I have to hit ‘reply’ twice before it looks like it uploaded.  Hope this isn’t bugging anyone.  Who knows when WP’ll get to that.)

Just letting people know.)