Sunday, December 31, 2006

a wonderful new year for all

Never Give up
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Too much energy in your country
is spent developing the mind
instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
but to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
in your heart and in the world
Work for peace
and I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up.
HH The XIVth Dalai Lama

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

a whiskery face

Nyima and Milo - especially the Liddaboy - are eager to earn their cowboy hats. Some weeks ago, while on our morning walk in the back meadow, we came across 2 large cows (one with impressive horns), a calf and a small bull, who had transgressed the fence. Joyfully, my pair raced up barking and chasing and manouvered the cows across that field, and then the next one, to a small gate bedecked with prayer flags, in the far corner. All of us were somewhat astonished by this turn of events, but, not wanting to miss an opportunity, I crawled under the fence and opened the gate from the other side. Naturally the cows backed away, towards Milo. He held his ground (despite those big horns on a large, reluctant cow), so there they were, nowhere to go except forward. He helped me move them through, as Nyima barked and ran up and down as back-up; i was very proud.
Well, the other day we encountered horses. On our morning run, beyond the gate, Gypsy and I both still in the truck, I spied a pick-up ahead, coming our way, so I pulled over next to the small dam. Then I heard Nyima, out of sight, barking with her "there is a big animal here", voice (different from her javalina or rabbit bark). I started calling, as Letha Cline - our friend from Young who owns the cows and horses we encounter - crawled along in her pick-up, bales of alfalfa in the back. Quite unexpectedly, she had found the horses way past our gate and, fortunately, she had their feed , so they were plodding happily behind.
Milo saw his chance to prove to Letha what a hero he is (Letha has taken a shine to the Liddaboy), and decided to help, herding them along, snapping at their heels, but keeping a safe distance. I called in my most authoritative voice, to which Nyima responded and jumped in the truck, but Milo had a more important job to accomplish. So the procession continued the 1/2 mile to the gate - 4 horses trotting, Milo in the middle of the road, barking, Letha in her pick-up, and the girls and I (Nyima beside herself with excitement that she couldn't be part of the fun) at the rear. Milo and the horses passed through our opened gate, at which point Letha and I stopped; enough was enough! I called even more ferociously, and this time, a proud Liddaboy turned back to our truck.
He is a joyful, not-so-little, dog. He paddles rather than walks, but always with an electric charge of happiness in his step; it makes me laugh to watch him paddle on his long legs towards me. His full formal name is actually Miles (Edward) O'Brien, a moniker rarely used (in honour not of the cable TV reporter, but Chief of Operations, Deep Space Nine). He has a couple of odd quirky habits, however. He is peculiar about breakfast - often stepping back as if I were offering him a repugnant dish, and sitting at a distance, only eating 5 minutes later.
And he hates to get in the car.
I have never known a dog to be so consistently reluctant - fearful - of getting in a vehicle. Nyima was like that at first, I am sure due to some bitter experience, but she quickly learned that cars are fun - open windows, travel, new sights and smells - and now is as eager as Gypsy for the gate to open so they can leap inside.
Not our Milo. He dances with them at the outset, but when the gate is opened he runs away. Every day the same. I call, plead, offer treats, we side-step back and forth around the broad oak trunk next to the gate. I point out to him the girls are in the car, we are going for a walk, but even, after 10 months of rides that only have pleasant outcomes, he somehow associates getting in the car with something bad.
It's no easier when the walk is finished. There we go round and round the car, or sometimes he sits underneath and won't come out, even gently snapping at me. Of course, eventually, somehow I win and cuddle him, lift him in, and tell him what a good boy he is. But nothing has yet changed his mind about that moment of choice to get inside of his own free will.
He has decided to shift his place in the pack - a move not supported by me; Nyima, however, is such a precious, gracious being she doesn't really care, as long as no-one is hurt or upset. Milo has been working at winning Gypsy over - not to challenge her, I think (that would be most unacceptable, all around), but because he knows she is the top dog. This morning I was so happy to watch Gypsy and he have a rough and tumble chasing game, she most vocal. Of course Nyima, always ready for play - joined in, but I have never seen Gypsy so directly interact with Miles.
My family - what can I say! They are an important part of my life, teach me, liven me up, ground me, make me laugh. Without Gypsy I would never have survived those early months here on my own, so to her i owe an immeasurable amount. Perhaps I wish I had trained them better, so they would always listen to me, not just at their own discretion. Then, without a doubt, Milo would earn his cowboy hat. As it is, well, I am not so sure. Not that it really matters to him or me, chasing cows and horses is fun, but better still is sitting on the couch leaning close, his whiskery face being stroked, his eyes growing heavy, until final collapse into a not-so-big ball of contentment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

breaking through

when i was in my early twenties I had a nervous breakdown. It was a cataclysmic experience, unlike anything I had ever endured, and even, some thirty years later, it still stands out in my lifespan quite unlike any other event.
it was so absolute and all-encompassing; if I had known to recognise the signs it may not have been so starkly suprising to wake up one day and have no idea who I was. I remember that day so vividly, it followed a night of such extreme inner restlessness that I walked in the mid-night darkness through streets in a city i did not know, to find the home of someone I did. I entered her home and paced the kitchen, not understanding what was going on, only realising something was terribly wrong. The household stirred, and we talked for a while, before I slept on the couch. The next day when I awoke there was an invisible glass wall between me and the world. i could not think, barely speak. I remember someone telling me i was scaring them, i was not myself. My response "How can you know who I am, I do not know who that is."
The following days were excrutiating. I had lost my identity, and was living in a shell no longer familiar. People I knew, in this city where I did not live, were kind. They had to lead me around like a small child; even the simplest question, "coffee or tea?", was unanswerable, I had no idea about anything. No frame of reference, so sense of past, just this fearful disconnect with the world i found myself in.
I travelled the several hundred miles back to my home city, hoping to find respite. There was none. I remember walking into my bedroom - my bedroom, where I had lived for maybe a year, where everything was mine - the books, the clothes, the posters, the bed. I stood in the doorway, a stranger, thinking - whose room is this. Intellectually, I knew it was mine, but there was no sense of belonging, of familiarity. It was a room, a life, I was its inhabitant, but I had lost the map to guide me through each day, each thought.
The friends I lived with were generous in their kindness, without their support I don't know where I would have gone. I saw a counsellor - only once- took no medication; i just lived with it, through it, being someone i wasn't, or didn't know. I remember walking into bookshops and drowning in the information and words sheathed in the covers on the shelves. I felt so empty and inadequate, incapable of thought or clarity. I yearned to know it all, be it all, instead I was swamped with confusion. I became incredibly open and honest with others regarding myself at this time; there was no-one to hide within. I was naked, exposed, vulnerable. I had to lay my heart and mind on the table with each and every encounter.
I suppose it was some inner resilience that go me through, after many many months. Somehow the inner and outer began to re-align, the dischord diminished. It was not so much that I became the person I had been, I learned to live as the person I had become. It was a fearful, painful, agonising period of my life.
I have lived through other events since then, where my world has fallen apart and i have not known how to survive - yet did - but this was the only time that my very sense of self completely shattered, where there seemed to be nothing to build on, to cling to, to work with.
Today I reflected on this period of my life, as I live through a time where my confidence is low. I am not anywhere near the place I was then - and I now have the tools of my faith to nurture me through anything - but I realised that in a way, this experience of my youth was both a turning point then, and a lesson for now. It was about letting go at a deep and fundamental level to any and every claim of familiar self. Habits, ideas, responses were stripped, or lost, or forgotten. There was nowhere to turn and no place to hide. Raw discomfort was my daily experience.
Who am i? Still, even now, I don't really know. I have replaced those habits, or re-kindled them, in the intervening years. Yet now I aspire to shed them, to break through and find that rawness, to expose that nakedness. To realise that which I have always held to be true - my very sense of self - is ultimately that which separates me from the deep, precious truth of who i truly am.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

not much to say

Thoughts for posts drift in and out of my mind; a couple are waiting for me to sit down and allow them to unfurl. But I am not in that place, right now. I am not in much of a place at all.
Hard to describe, and it doesn't really matter, because like every moment or feeling or thought it is so transitory that ultimately it defies description. It is not an inspired or inspiring place, however, so as much as writing is like a second skin to me, i cannot engage.
It is so much easier to do so many things when one is feeling really good, or perhaps even really bad. That furnace of extreme emotion can fuel activity, ideas, action. A place that feels devoid or flat may obscure the myriad dimensions of possibility.
It feels like a time of transition, i am neither here nor there. S0metimes fragile, wobbly, uncertain. Of what? That is the question i can never answer. Not of my path or faith, just everything else.
I went to Payson yesterday, took the whole family, I think to add substance to my frailty. We ended up spending close to 5 hours at the mechanics - me sitting in the lobby watching CNN, my babies sitting in the truck while the tires were changed and the brakes replaced. What an unsual day for them! Up on the hoist, all the activity. The mechanics didn't seem to mind, told me how sweet they were. And not one of the three said a word when a stranger took the vehicle - and them - for a test drive. Seems it didn't matter who was behind the wheel, as long as the window was open and something was happening! We went to the leash free park afterwards, as a reward for their patience; the truck interior is not so big! I think all in all, they had a good day. But is was late and dark by the time we got home.
The weather seems uncertain, as I am. Tonight the sky is covered again, the air biting. There was an expectation of snow a few days ago, which then passed by. Who knows what will happen now. Not me, I am sure of that.