Discombobulated

Yesterday I learned that I can’t use soft contact lenses, so I will be wearing glasses until the cataract surgery which I now learn will probably be available in six months, not three.  For every decade of wearing hard contacts, it takes the eye a month to adjust back, so in my case, 60 years, six months.

I know this is an opportunity, and that I’d been stuck in a rut, and so this morning I sit here – hmmm – what is my mood?

I’m extremely aware of vision these days and I feel my vision cloud when I read and watch Marjorie Taylor Green deny wind turbines and solar panels because she doesn’t “wanna have to go to bed when the sun sets”.   I thought it was a joke but no, I watch her saying it, and there’s applause.  After all, who wants to go back to washing their clothes in a tub?  Those who expose the dangers of Trump, what he tried and is still trying to do, that those people aren’t re-elected I find sobering.

A democracy can’t survive an uneducated populace and as much as I choose to stay positive, it’s hard not to wonder about this country and how we are now viewed in the world, especially since Trump’s theft of classified information endangers us all.

And with that, I’m with the changing clouds in the sky. What a gift!

The landscape moves as do I.

Morning Sky an Eye

Change

When I was 13, I was thrilled to get contact lenses. I could see both forward and to the sides. I’d worn glasses since fourth grade and now the world opened.  Each time my eyes were checked, I stayed with hard contacts because they worked for me.  At some point, my prescription was changed to one contact for distance, and one for near, so I could see all ways: books, computer, far.  Wonderful!!  Habit entrenched.  No need for change in sixty years.

Yesterday I saw the opthamologist.  I already knew from my optometrist that I had a cataract in the right eye so I was prepared for surgery.  I learned though that I had cataracts in both eyes and 60 years of wearing hard contacts had shaped my eyes, and therefore I had to wait three months for the eyes to adjust to their natural form.  After three months and an evaluation, I could then schedule surgery for one eye, and two weeks later the other would follow.  That meant six weeks of healing, so lifting nothing over 20 pounds or getting the eye wet.  That sounded okay since I would be able to see without glasses or contacts.  One eye would be set up for close and the other far, just as I was used to.  Great!! No ruts in my road.

I put the hard contacts back in to drive home, feeling happy and a little off-kilter from the dilating.  I took the contacts out for the last time and sadly put them away. I  put on my not up-to-date prescription glasses that I never wear.  Why would I?  Contacts work great.

Then I went to the computer. It was a blur. I strained this way and that to make out the words. Hmmm! Not so fun. I knew I could call my optometrist to order some soft contacts but for now I felt a little uneasy. I went to bed early and rose in the night to meditate.

Now, this morning, I can see the words on the computer so my eyes seem to be adjusting to these glasses, and I will investigate and order soft lenses. I’m in the curious exploration of what it is to see, and not taking seeing for granted.

These words of Sogyal Rinpoche comfort me:

Samsara is the mind turned outwardly, lost in its projections. Nirvana is the mind turned inwardly, recognizing its true nature.

Outside the medical office

Walking Tennessee Valley the other day

Attention

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Simone Weil

Light and Shadow

Living Garden on the wall at Mollie Stones

In our yard

Connecting

This morning I was using seeing as part of my meditation, so focusing on an object.  I was focused on the oak tree outside my window which sits in front of the redwood tree.  I could see morning light through the trees still untouched by  light as our house faces south on a hill on the side of a valley.

When I closed my eyes to rest them from seeing, and then opened them I saw a squirrel sitting outside the window on a branch looking in at me.  He or she then scampered away.  Perhaps my attention scampered, too, as I reflect now on the gifts of pausing to see the dimensions in liveliness, to honor and savor the connected realms in which we live.

I was so focused on the tree and dimensions and light that I had forgotten all that hosts where I live and how we twine. Of course, my pause might be of interest to a squirrel outside, and it could have been my imagination, but I don’t think so. It was part of a bond, a momentary branch.

Pema Chodron: 

If your everyday practice is to open all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that – then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.

View through the window – squirrel was sitting on the low branch dipping to the left
The wonders of a branch resting without a squirrel

Mrs. T.

When my youngest entered kindergarten, I went through the Terwilliger training to become a nature guide.  Each week we learned from a naturalist.  We passed around a snake and felt the heartbeat of a sparrow.  I learned what science could be about, a living interdependence of niches and variety. I was in awe. 

I became the site guide for Ring Mountain, a place near me owned by Nature Conservancy.  It was preserved because a plant grew only there: the Tiburon Mariposa Lily.  It had sprung up in serpentine soil, and survived isolated by sandstone.  A geologist said one could walk across the country to experience the variety of rocks on Ring Mountain. 

We guided groups of children in fourth and sixth grade up and then down the mountain.  We showed them how the Coast Miwok survived there, how everything they needed was here. Living under a buckeye tree, next to a stream, there is summer shade and winter sun. We made a grocery list. The bay provided an abundance of food as did the oak trees. Quail were easy to trap. There was soapwort for cleansing, and mint for tea.

We ground acorns in the rock worn by centuries of grinding, and saw pieces of clam shell left in the midden.  As we looked out at the bay, we spoke of how we balance the need for housing with land that is preserved.

At the top we saw petroglyphs, carvings to honor looking west where the sun sets.

Mrs. T. would have us raise our arms in a V like a vulture, and hold them straight out for a hawk.

Yesterday on a walk at Tennessee Valley I saw a quail perched as sentry.  The quail knew I wasn’t a threat. I knew the sound of the quail from Mrs. T.  – quaquerko – quaquerko.

Today I’m surprised to see myself in the background of this photo promoting and honoring Terwilliger films.  I’m wearing blue, and I see my son, and in the video both sons.  It was many years ago, and now, the past is preserved as we carry forward as gently as possible our footprint on planet earth, our home.  

Here’s the video:

https://www.terwilligerfilms.org

Quail Sentry yesterday at Tennessee Valley

The walk to the ocean at Tennessee Valley

Vision

Grace

Rocks on the beach

Receptivity

This morning I notice that I feel differently than yesterday morning.  Impermanence is beginning to land in me, to float, in this moment anyway.  The tides move in and out four times a day – high, low, high low – each day different, each moment, and so this morning I look out on sunshine and feel reflectivity guiding me.   I allow myself to feel the moon moving toward Thursday fullness, the sturgeon moon, a Supermoon, the last Supermoon of this year.

Thoreau:

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

Land’s End – December, 2020

Smiling

My son and I are doing an on-line course in Tibetan meditation.   I’m noticing a difference in my responses and so I was feeling a little self-congratulatory, which is certainly not part of the course, but then I hit the roadblock of judgment because I’m not as “mindful” as I want, or think, I should be.  At least I’m noticing, and of course, the course is about non-judgment and non-criticism.  

Synchronously, I had just read this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: 

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

I read it and then my son responded to my text lamenting that I’m not “mindful” more often.  Without knowing I’d just read the wisdom of Thich, he replied: 

Whenever you notice, smile even if you’re disappointed or annoyed. Smiling works both directions: you do it when mood is positive and it can also cause positive mood. So it reinforces that noticing is good.

Wisdom. Ease.

I’m reminded of what Marion Rosen, my beloved Rosen Method teacher,  demonstrated when she’d spread her arms wide like a bird, and now try to say, “I’m sad or unhappy.”  

Try it!! 

Spreading arms out wide, head flung back, the heart opens, and it’s easy to say and feel in perfect harmony, “I’m Happy! I’m Joy!”.

And so today, well, this moment, my arms are spread wide to reflect the smile on my face.

On another note, I’m reading a book by Julie Cruikshank.  Do Glaciers Listen?

It’s another entry into understanding our relationship with the environment we are and share.

Indigenous people knew and know. We can know and honor too.

Words on a bench in my neighborhood

Near the bench, crocheted sunflowers in support of Ukraine

Generosity of Sound

In meditating today, I hear the sounds of children playing. Generosity of sound comes to mind.

There must be a party as adult voices provide a background for the textured aliveness and enthusiasm in the voices of children.

Generosity touches the air, strokes connection moving and shared.  

Ears open, clear, and stretch in the generous outpouring and generation of sound.

In his book The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche writes about perception using the example of an experiment with a T.   Individuals are shown a T, a T with both segments the same length, but people see the segments differently. 

Those who live in flat areas like the Netherlands see the horizontal line as longer.  Those raised in mountainous regions like Nepal see the vertical line as longer.  I live where it’s flat and there’s a mountain, so I wonder how my eye integrates the expanse in the arm and leg of the T.

Right now, I listen to the sounds of children as their voices rise and fall like waves landing and sinking into the sand of my day.

Exuberance and Power in Silence and Sound

Nuclear Prayer Day

On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. This weekend we pray for peace. A few years ago my husband was in Japan with a Japanese man with whom he worked. They stood at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and paused to honor and reflect on how their fathers fought on different sides of the war, and now they, their sons, worked together. May that continue. You can find your way to pray on-line or simply settle into your own way of adding peace to the world today, as everyday, of course.

The fog has been a gentle blanket. Yesterday around 5:30 PM, I was at Stinson Beach and when I looked up I saw sun on the hills. May we balance on peace, knowing even amidst the current difficulties, the sun shines her light on us.

Looking up from Stinson Beach as I was wrapped in a soft, gentle blanket of fog