Yesterday I was at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. My friend is recovering from surgery there and has a wonderful private room with a view. Looking up one sees sky and hills. Looking down one sees a huge bulldozed area where a new project will soon arise.
Leaving, I exited the multi-level parking lot to face crowded rows of tents.
We know the homeless problem is huge and complex, and because San Francisco and Berkeley have clamped down, the problem is spreading.
I’m shocked though to be reminded of the powerful bookBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo.
The book contrasts life in the luxury hotels in Mumbai with the people who live right next door, right under high-rise views.
The following comes from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle written by Roland Li and published on June 17, 2019, and I share this with no intention to attack Kaiser which provides excellent care.
Health care giant Kaiser Permanente plans to construct a 1.6 million-square-foot headquarters in Oakland, creating one of the largest new buildings in the Bay Area — larger in space, though not height, than San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower.
The article concludes: Last year, Kaiser committed $200 million to fund affordable housing and mitigate homelessness, including preserving 41 units of affordable housing in East Oakland.
Kaiser also partners with the Golden State Warriors on health and youth sports programs and is sponsoring the plaza around the basketball’s team new arena in Mission Bay.
It is said that “In Zen, We don’t find the answers. We lose the questions.”
I sit with that wondering how we care for All, and how far 41 units goes to handling what I saw yesterday.
I felt the 4.5 earthquake at 10:33 PM last night. It was centered in the East Bay so a mild shake for me, a small rattle of the room I was in. I’d forgotten until I read the news this morning.
I remember a memorial service I attended years ago. The priest, new to CA and the Bay area, said he felt that’s why we’re more open to change here. The earth literally moves under our feet. It’s certainly a nudge of awareness that life can change, and does.
I feel awake this morning, clear, as though some rust is shaken loose.
Yesterday a small group of us were talking about how we bring Sensory Awareness into our lives. Stefan Laeng says simply pick up a rock and put it down, no need for drama, a simple up and down, an experience of reaching, attachment, and letting go. Perhaps when the earth moves, that’s what it’s doing, simply lifting us up, giving a little shake, then putting us down, so we can notice, “What’s moving in me now?”
Charlotte Selver, my teacher of Sensory Awareness said: Without watching, without judging, just be awake. Simply be present with what you need and what is meeting you.
What do I need right now? I close my eyes, and lift stones of gravitational trust up and down, as the ocean plays with rocks on the beach.
There’s no wind, another day of no wind. My nine wind chimes are silent sentries, hanging straight, and yet PGE has continued to cut power to my area because they insist there is wind.
This continual bombardment of non-facts is getting to me, and yet I can be grateful. It allows me to work with balancing on same-same, and Is that so? I think to myself, “shoulders have space,” and in response, shoulder blades float apart, left and right, each a sail open to catch the wind, like wings in flight.
I don’t mind when I don’t have electricity because of wind and/or rain, but when there is neither, and the only sound is the sound of neighboring generators, I struggle with equanimity. I don’t live in the wilderness. I’m a ten minute drive from San Francisco when there is no traffic, which is rare. Yesterday traffic was grid-locked much of the day. We talk of evacuating during a fire. We can’t even move cars on a clear, calm day.
I note though that the Blue Angels haven’t been practicing for their weekend display. Perhaps someone realized it might appear insensitive to hear jets screaming and rumbling overhead when we sit below without power, knowing our president has given permission to slaughter people as well as the environment. Maybe cancelling the Blue Angels flying over the Bay Area might make sense.
We live in a world of interdependence, and that requires each organism to function at the height of intuitive and intellectual powers though we seem to be struggling with an honoring of that. Meanwhile, PGE insists the wind is coming, and while food spoils, there is no update, and there is no wind.
I comfort myself with the words of Thoreau. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” What I see, in this moment, is sunlight spreading gold over a landscape so still it could be a photo.
Meanwhile at 5 this morning, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with a local man who was grateful his coffee stand had power. I was grateful too. I bought two lattes, two hard-boiled eggs, two bananas, and two baked goodies for $14.00. I kept insisting he undercharged me. He said he doesn’t believe in $5.00 lattes. Maybe the whole lesson in this is an affirmation of what we already know. Shop local and support the person who provides coffee at five in the morning and eggs from chickens that live down the street. Coyote Coffee. Hooray!
I don’t want to appear in a less than positive mood. Aware of my occiput, I bend my head forward to beckon elasticity, and in response, the laughter of the universe, the ringing, twinkling of stars in the sky bell, chimes.
I wonder if God/Goddess isn’t playing with PGE as something must show there is wind when all is as calm as can be. They wouldn’t mislead, would they?
And so it is to enjoy the universe at play, and be with these words of Thich Nhat Hanh.
When we walk like we are rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth. Be aware of your contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you’re kissing the earth with your feet.
I can do that. Breathe in calm. Breathe out peace.
And now it’s afternoon.I wrote the above this morning content with a private vent. I didn’t have wifi and figured spewing anger into the air was even worse than walking angrily on the ground.
I decided to go outside and water the yard, but then I got another emergency text that outdoor watering was not okay, and indoor use was limited. Pumping water requires electricity and since PGE, well, you might begin to see. I was absorbing that, yes, okay, fine, we’ve done water rationing before but then I looked at my plants wilting in the heat, and explained the situation to them, and while we, well, while I, was trying to calm, Blue Angels rumbled and streaked overhead. It’s Fleet Week, and clearly not too windy for Blue Angels to fly.
And now I read of a fire in Moraga that was quickly extinguished, though the Moraga Police Chief Jon King said of the power shutoff. “Honestly, it made it more difficult. We rely a lot on technology.“
He added that, with no light and spotty cell service, the evacuations were a challenge. Police, firefighters and fellow neighbors went door-to-door to make sure residents got out.
All day I’ve received text and phone messages that PGE will be turning off power in my areaduring the night. They don’t know when it will be back on. Local schools and libraries have been informed so they will be closed. Tomorrow will be an interesting dayas I’m wondering what will be open and how far the range. Candles have been lit and will now be blown out. It’s Dream-time.
This morning in my meditation I felt layers in my eyes, levels of perception within the living mechanism of my head, and considered how that inner noticing might affect the patterns and dimensions in my visual and sensory intake. How do I parcel what I see? How minutely and wholly do I bring the outside world into my being?
The hands and feet contain more than half the bones in the human body. Each hand has 27 distinct bones.
I play with flexibility in my hands and feet, probes that meet, touch, receive, and change my world.
Barefoot, I stamp on a mat made of river stones. Stimulation rises in me like sap in trees. I greet the interface, connect what swirls, a Mobius strip.
Last night I sat outside with my cat Tiger. We sat in the moonlight, savoring stars, and listening to the hoots of an owl. This morning I watch the sky come to light with its brief blush of pink.
This comes from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac today.
On this day in 1971, John Lennon released his second solo album, Imagine. The title track was the best-selling song of his solo career and was included on BMI’s list of the top 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. Lennon said that he and Yoko Ono received a prayer book, which inspired him to write the song. He said: “The concept of positive prayer … If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion — not without religion but without this my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing — then it can be true.”
The song’s call for peace and tolerance continues to resonate with people all over the world. Jimmy Carter said, “[I]n many countries … you hear John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ used almost equally with national anthems.”
Yesterday I worked in the yard, aware of wind chimes. I wondered how it is to be still and then the wind blows through bringing movement and sound. Are we any different?
Even as the wind chime hangs there, movement is happening, just more slowly than we perceive. How do I cultivate stillness, and allow the wind to blow through me bringing movement and my own vibratory slant to the air?
A friend’s email always ends with these words of Naomi Shihab Nye from her poem “Kindness”.
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.”