- from the Dead Can Dance song which will appear on Scotchsongs - the Scotch mix cd.
I am in Oakland, California. The sun is out but I am in - hungover on conversation, teachings, transmissions and tea. B., (a newish close friend, and one of my two hosts) and I swear tomorrow will be an all outside day. It's been easy to stay in - inside the offices of the magazine I edit book review stuff for (plural: we are moving them this week! Woo hoo!), to stay inside our minds, turning over the wonder of connecting again and again and again. This morning, after I had a good grief cry (mostly released by the wonder hands and mind of a friend of Birdfarms', who began my vacation yesterday auspiciously with a massage), B. announced "Let's only talk about inspiring and joyful things today. Even if the pretense seems fake." And it's worked well. We are slowly creeping out into the world. Today we meandered Valencia , and everytime death or illness or defiant desires seemed to turn our eyes down and in, we would laugh at a graffiti or good pair of fishnets and remember to be grateful (easily said and done in one of America's most vibrant quarters!). So today I post, for tomorrow we are going to go out and tourist a bit: B. has been here a couple of years, and is moving on soon to his next nomadic hemi-home, and it's been ten years since I have been here. This has been a needed vacation for both of us, and we need to get out.
I keep "my political life" so separate from "my Buddhist life", in conversation. Yet today, at Dog Eared books, an omen hit me so hard I had to use the borrowed digital camera I brought for my workshop to document it: the "political" magazine we work on, on the shelf, right next to Shambhala Sun. What a gap that made, a broken place inside my own assumptions, widened by shock from both L. ( new good friend, and other host/ess) and B., who edit substantial political magazines, that I should even worry about keeping them apart, in conversation. From the moment I arrived here they have been nothing but curious about the contemplative teaching I am doing and the Buddhist "path" I am more seriously pursuing daily. To the point where last night, B. told me (at 2am and after three bottles of wine) that he understands the heart of Buddhism, that he respects it, but he's just not sure he can go to it like I can. And that was fine. We sat with that and the full moon and the mission spread out before us in a lucious baudy midnight visual feast, and smiled, the conversation exhausted but complete.
I had wanted a "teacher" for so long. My few days in Sonoma before coming here were a very, very deep immersion directly into that world. Three days of direct transmission, meditation through film and viewfinder, review, reshoot, review reshoot. "See. Then shoot what you see. Nothing more". To visit a single point repeatedly, and watch it change content each time, was a deeper lesson than I could ever hope, always the physical learner, to get by sitting. Miksang is very, very deep for me now. I fear it - haven't looked at all I shot, haven't taken many photographs here yet, save the seemingly ironic magazine rack concurrence, something is very sacred about what is being passed on to me, and I can see it in my mind's eye.
I *love* new friendships. I really appreciate the openness with one another, the dire desperation to repeat stories until the plotline is clear for both sides. The lack of a need to judge. The openness. I especially appreciate such strong, new connections with B. and L. because of all the work I have done on maintaining my older, deeper, longer term friendships in the last couple of years. A couple of years ago I got scared that I couldn't let people in past a certain point. Or even that I let strangers into my inside space faster than friends, somehow. Always a new me for someone to discover, to cover the old. But now that I am working a lot of that out, I can bring the challenge-feeling of older friendships to newer ones, so excitement is mixed with vigor. And certainly these two in particular, for each their own separate reasons, are prime candidates for appreciating that kind of joy and struggle.
I am shooting what I see. Something in what was transmitted to me is keeping me very clear. I feel very sun-like, solid behind clouds, still made of gas, but knowing I stand for something in this world. I am shooting what I see: no more, no less. Birds on a wire. A shadow anchor in the sun. Red pointing us to blue, then letting us run. New friends, old friends, dead friends. Anchors that uplift, release.