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I wonder if I will ever really run out of ideas or topics to write about. It does seem as long as I am alive ideas will come to mind. I like this idea of living in the now to “find out”. I have a whole slew of mantras I say in the morning and evening as reminders all pointing to the moment: what is life asking of me now; If death alone is certain and time of death certain what should I do now; Yes to this moment; I vow to meet others on equal ground; Freedom is knowing I can go to a different window to experience and respond to life; Am I at ease and the last one – Let’s find out!

All of these are different ways of practice and bringing me back to the now. I wonder how many times per day I am brought back to it and how much I live in my thoughts without even realizing it? Each one of these sayings may point to the now, but offer up a practice in a slightly different manner.

What is life asking of me now? That is a question I sit with and being present the answer comes in time in that moment of readiness. The answer comes.

If death alone is certain, time of death uncertain, what should I do now? I am reminded of the word squander in this passage. Death is inevitable and we don’t know when that will be, so why allow oneself to get caught up in the pettiness of life, the self created dramas, emotional entanglements, and other things that we use to squander our life. I do, but far less it seems. Yes to this moment.

When I get an extreme feeling of emotion of some kind, one in which may just be a natural occurrence or one in which is self created, either way, Yes to this moment informs me to breathe, and is a reminder that just like when I am sitting in meditation observing this phenomenon to simply let it happen, don’t grasp and let it pass. And inevitably it does.

During those times that it is an all day event, I say these over and over which is very much in line with Buddhist mantras reminding us that there are things that can be changed and others that happen outside of our grasping.

Is there ease? I have not used this much, but like all of these I know that there will come a time in which I will need this saying for my practice. Is there ease? A question that signals me to search within to determine where there is dis-ease, or suffering. And I may ask the question after that, What is life asking of me now to figure out the cause of the dis-ease. Maybe I am holding on to something or creating drama. Whatever the cause, scanning for dis-ease and asking the question are the practice.

The newest “Let’s find out!” I put an exclamation point after because I am excited and passionate about life. This saying reminds me that there is no need to have expectations. Expectations are a sure fire setup for suffering. Because most likely nothing comes the way we exactly envision. And also that takes us out of the moment and into the future.

Living in either places future or past creates a fertile ground for suffering. Let’s find out is about living in the moment, be in the journey and what’s there later is out of our grasp. It also has an implication of wonderment and curiosity. I awaken in the morning. Whereas many dread the day or get right into their thinking and plans, I prefer to sit, get into the moment and then with a sense of vigor greet the day with a let’s see what’s in store attitude. The same goes with writing, life plans and goals. It is in the doing, that “first foot forward” that will inevitably lead us somewhere.

We may have a sense, but it is never exactly what we envision.

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I coined a phrase, the “Star Wars Principle.” I googled it and nobody has used the phrase. Sure I know what you are thinking, some obsessed fan. Well truth be told, I am not a fan and in fact I have only seen the first three. The reason why I came up with this phrase is because I have been pondering for quite some time the idea of the phrase made famous by the franchise – “the force.” In my humble opinion this is nothing more than an embellishment of a simple concept for the sake of drama and the continued storylines. Don’t get me wrong I think the earlier stories were brilliant, however over time it has become convoluted and contrived.

In real life, the force is nothing more than an understanding of how to shape the moment. In order to be able to have the skill to call forth the force one needs to be present and have a keen understanding of how human character, including one’s own works. This is not an easy undertaking. It calls for one to practice some form of meditation for long periods of time, in addition to studying character and mind. This then gives a sense of clarity to determine what you need to do to get out of your own way in order to be present enough to have the skill to shape the moment.

This force is really something that we all have the ability to do, but do not because we go about our day on autopilot not living in the moment. When someone does realize they have this ability and use the “force,” the other person is unaware on a conscious moment-to-moment level that something is happening. As is clearly stated in the Star Wars films, with this ability comes responsibility not to abuse the powers that have been cultivated, and in fact work to helping others to achieve it. This is very much in line with Buddhist vows that “beings are numberless I vow to save them.”

At this point it all sounds so esoteric, which is why the Star Wars storylines about the force is so brilliant. They have taken this concept and turned it into a tangible form for entertainment. But this force can be used in very simple day-to-day ways. One such example is working a room. When working a room full of people it begins the moment the moment you step through the door way or onto the stage or any other place that one encounters a group. It starts with how you see the moment, how you connect with others, how you let the nervousness and habits fall away to make room for the moment so that you can see with utmost clarity and subtlety. What you say and how you say it is never the same, because if you are truly in the moment, you will shape how you say what you want to say consciously. And what you might have planned on saying is not what is being called for in the moment.

This still may be unclear. Let’s try another tact – the individual and a handshake. The moment you shake a hand or greet someone, that moment it is in your hands (pun intended) to be able to shape how you want it to go. Ironically, it is a difficult thing to do while at the same time simple because all you need to decide is how you want to convey that moment and occurring moments afterward. I used to say that when I was living in NYC and dating I could tell just from the introduction, usually a handshake with a woman how the date would go. If it felt masculine or hard, then it was something that would not go beyond one date or in some cases cut short.

Also it is not just a one-way street, rather it goes both ways. What I mean by that is that one must also make room for the other person’s feeling and experience knowing that they too are playing a part in the shaping. There is a sense of responsibility to shape it, which is being open to the moment between the other, not just from one side. Controlling comes when other people are not taken into account and just comes from one side. There is no room for the other person to move within the moment to be shaped. Control has sharper edges and far less malleable. Shape has soft softer rounder edges and moves with the moment on an organic level.

I am reminded of this during an acting exercise back in my days in NYC. We each had to stand up say the line, “to be or not to be, that is the question” multiple times. And each time it had to be different, because no two moments are ever the same. We had to feel out the moments based on simple movements like taking a step or raising a hand up while we spoke the lines. This is nothing more than the force, shaping and being present with each moment.

May the force be with you all.   

In times like these a level head is needed now more than ever. And yet we have the opposite running countries. If you were to survey citizens across the world what it is they want in life, it would be food, education, health care, shelter and a fighting chance for the next generation or two to have the same things. And yet is it really human nature to make it so complicated that we have to struggle to maintain an even adequate standard of living? Why is it acceptable for the few who have amassed both money and power to continue to make more and more money so the rest have access to less and less? Is greed and power so much of an aphrodisiac that people lose sight of their humanity? I have news for you – we will die.

Death limits what we can take with us and makes things equal in the end. This begs the question how can one enjoy in a lifetime that amount of money totaling in the billions? And why is this acceptable? I remember the day when making millions was quite an accomplishment. Billions would take multiple lifetimes to spend. It’s not like that amount of money can stave off the inevitable. It will happen no matter what, and leaving a legacy at what cost? What makes this unacceptable is that there is a cost to be paid when individuals become this wealthy. Someone somewhere down the line that you and I will never see pays the price. Actually many are paying the price, whether it is in the form of low wages, child labor, unfair labor conditions or all of the above. Nobody is immune to paying the price when someone makes that much money – nobody!

What makes matters worse is that average folk think if that person can be rich so can I. People get sucked into the myth of, “I can be if I just say it is so and do it.” Truth be told it – it isn’t true. The unfortunate consequence is it becomes a dog eat dog world at the cost of humanity. A free for all where we step over one another and get what little pieces are left at whatever cost. And if you cannot hit it big, then the least you can do is put on airs by literally adorning yourself with the accouterments of the rich by buying name brands that proudly send a message of wealth or upward heading mobility – a facade. While at the same time amassing mountains of debt. Actually, if you think about it you are most likely simultaneously creating debt for yourself and paying the wealthy more and more. While you both will be leaving a legacy, the rich in an obvious way you will be leaving a negative legacy. And that is required to be paid off because thanks to the rich you have been paying have influenced politicians to enact laws that make you have to repay any debt accrued on a credit card or unpaid loan you may have taken out before you up and died.

Initially they will memorialize you and talk up a good game at the funeral. Funerals bring that out in people. When the food stops coming and the friends who were there for your family move on with their lives, your wife, husband or significant other are stuck with not only the memories of photos during poignant times in your life, but also with what starts out to be monthly credit card and loan bills. The legacy continues with unpaid bills accruing interest while they continue to grieve having lost sight of life. This is normal, but not to the bill collectors who begin to call weekly. Calls are answered to explain the extenuating circumstances. At first they lend a sympathetic ear. It is a false empathy meant as a form of manipulation as they connect to the grief. Really they are taking notes so that each time they call they wear them down. Over time the goal is to get them to pay so that they too can get their commission for a job well done. You see they are in debt just like your mourning family members. But they will never say anything because they pay their bills on time, they tell themselves each time they make a phone call.

No savings left and the calls are daily now. When will they start knocking on the door? Soon they repossess the car, then the furniture. I didn’t know my deceased rented the furniture. Makes sense in hindsight it looks too nice. The car, no not the car! Once that is gone there’s very little left except the house. Bankruptcy is the last option – A word that connotes disgrace and shame. Thing is they can no longer get out of it that easy. Thanks to your friendly neighborhood politician who come knocking on doors during the election season to get votes has voted not in their best interest. He sided with the rich who own the companies that make the most off of your still grieving family members. Declaring bankruptcy is not an option because the rich want what’s theirs – more money. The only way out is to follow in the footsteps of what you have started this in the first place. It’s killing them one way or another.

In the end how do you want to be remembered? By building a mountain of debt? Or living within your means?


IF I like this word. A simple two-letter word used in a myriad of ways. I think it has a deeper more poignant meaning than the other two-letter word IT for example. It is kind of a lazy word to use. People substitute it instead of explaining something in details. IF like my friend said the other day is an active word. It, the word IF that is, can be used in mathematical equations, one of my least favorite school subjects by the way. That still does not prevent it from being used in equations. For example, if 5 is added to three what is the answer, of course 8. Now that is a very simple example and the word can be used in much more complicated math problems, but the problem is the moment I start to get into those types of problems I break out in a sweat and my breathing becomes shallow – the beginnings of a panic attack. So I will leave it here with one simple math example.

The real reason I wanted to bring the word IF to your attention is that for me it is related to life. In fact as I typed it I noticed they are the two letters in the middle of the word life. how cool is that? Much like a math problem except it is not an equation in that sense, rather in the sense that there is an IF equation in our lives, and each person has their individual equation for what I call a life of well-being. What does this possibly mean you might ask? Well I will answer that question for you in the form of an IF example that pertains to my life. If I make health, creativity, community and spirituality a priority in my life I can live a balanced life of well-being. Now on the surface the equation seems quite simple, but like many things it is more complicated than that. Let’s break each one down. If I want to live a life of balance and well-being and if I make health a priority then I need to eat healthy food, exercise daily and get a decent amount of sleep. Let’s go even further. If I want food to be part of the equation then I would eat less carbs, more natural foods such as veggies and cut out any form of processed foods and refined sugar. If I want exercise to be part of my equation, then I need to ride my bike, run and go to the gym or any other form of exercise. The IF to the equation of health is also sleep. And that is at least 6 hours or more of sleep. Then we add to the equation of spirituality, this part of the equation is very personal and can be in the form of organized religion, meditation or just a personal philosophy and relationship with the world. My equation consists of daily meditation and a few interesting readings related to Zen and other thought provoking books that continue to help me find balance. And the final equation to the IF word is community and friends. Recently I wrote about community and had a count on the number of communities that I am connected to and the total is 14. I will not list them here, but the point is that community is very important for many reasons besides just well-being. And of course nothing more need be said really about friends and how that fits in the equation.

Now I have laid out a a simple IF equation. The main word here is simple. It, there’s that word again, is really that straightforward. Seriously, it is not rocket science. And yet so many of us complicate it or put obstacles in the way. Our ego is a tough nut to crack and cracking it is the key to well-being. And that key is to not listen to it. Just do it! That is IF you want to.


Bodies strewn about writhing in pain, with blood splatter canvasing the ice like a Jackson Pollock painting, ladies and gentleman it’s broomball!

Once a week from Japan I Skype a family member in Minneapolis to say hi and see what’s up. The first topic of conversation is always the weather. Lately it has been about how much snow there is in Minnesota – a lot! After a recent call I started reminiscing about Minnesota winters and how much I miss them. Winter exists in Japan and I go skiing twice a year with family, we just have to get in a car, bus or train for a few hours to reach it. What I miss most is the easy access to winter sports such as cross country skiing, hockey and my favorite, broomball. Ask anyone who has never experienced life in a winter wonderland what broomball is and 100% will be clueless.

To the untrained eye broomball looks like a trailer trash form of hockey in which participants unable to afford to buy the necessary equipment like skates, hockey sticks and a puck opted for dumpster diving and came up with brooms, old winter boots and a volleyball. This is not the case. In fact broomball is a legitimate sport with teams, leagues and tournaments. There are commonalities with hockey such as six players to a side, an ice rink and goals. Other than that it’s a game all its own.

Made with rubber soles, the boots do not mix well with ice causing extreme slippage adding to the danger factor. The lethal combination of rubber soles and a lack of head protection increase the chance of a noggin cracking. The broom is the centerpiece of equipment and used to bash the volleyball. The object of the game is simple, put the ball into the opposing team’s goal. This is not an easy task due to the slick ice and the opposing team trying to slam you into the boards. Like passing a hockey puck, passing the ball to a teammate is next to an impossible task.

This game is about timing and team members overshooting their position sliding past an incoming pass is common. With skates you can stop on a dime thanks to the sharp edges. Boots offer no stopping power whatsoever. Besides timing, it comes down to speed, balance and an understanding of physics. I failed out of physics in college and ended up relying on my speed, which explains why I nearly always overshot my mark.

Like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters, at the ready in my starting position at one end of the rink hoping this time physics and gravity work in my favor, my starter pistol is a teammate screaming at the top of his lungs “Unleash the fury!” At that moment I start my dash gathering speed as I go from one end of the rink to the other with an aspiration to remain on my feet for the duration before getting the pass. Receiving the pass just as I reach top speed, shooting and scoring was a rare occasion. Most of the time the ball would end up behind me and at bone breaking speed I would crash into the boards surrounding the rink injuring my shoulder and pride, or the next best thing run headlong into the opposing team knocking them down like a set of bowling pins. Whenever that happened spectators would yell out in unison STRIKE!

Hockey fans go to games to cheer on their favorite team, but we all know the real reason is to see fights. Fighting is the highlight. Hockey fights are barbaric and brutal in which tempers flare at the slightest infraction. Loyal broomball fans of course support their teams, but what really puts butts in the seats is the promise of seeing cracked skulls. To the tried and true, it doesn’t matter win or lose the rallying cry of both teams is the same – “Victory is ours only when enough blood is spilt!”

Weary and woozy from a well fought battle and concussions, we enter our local watering hole to glorious applause knowing we did our best for our diehard fans and Jackson – leaving enough blood for his next masterpiece.