Saturday, December 25, 2004

Night brings eighty-four thousand poems of Buddha ~Su Shih, 11th Century Chinese Poet .....Happy Holidays! Posted by Hello

Friday, December 24, 2004

Tree Trimming

Tonight my husband Steve's girlfriend came over to help us decorate the Christmas tree. I think this is my favorite part of all the holiday stuff, especially since Steve introduced me to his tradition of opening champagne while we do it. While Steve is the connoisseur of wines, I mostly like champagne because it is the ritual drink of celebrations.

Krissy was delighted to see the Worried Santa. Actually, there are two Worried Santas. Steve wasn't completely satisfied with the first, so he went out and found another tube of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups.

Of course the evening began with a hitch. Earlier today Steve finally succumbed and bought a fake tree with lights already attached, rather than a tree that's been killed for the annual sacrificial offering. One whole layer of lights would not light, and Krissy saved the day by bringing a light tester from the store. She was the one who got the lights working. Her prize was putting the star on the top. Then we all three filled the branches with our ornaments, starting with the special ones. The good ones have stories. Such as the santa head with green hat from Pat Wilson, Weezer's drummer. He and his wife also gave us a little sheep. That was the year we held a Christmas party when we could least afford it. Or the fragile glass mini candle ornaments from Steve's grandma. Or the glass pickle that I'd given Steve, because where I grew up, you always had a pickle on the tree. Where Krissy grew up, you always had a bird in nest. And I did have one to put up, origami. The first year I as an adult started having a tree, I made a bunch of origami ornaments.

We drank champagne, and ate imported cheese and little pecan tartletts. Once we were done we turned out all the lights but the tree. It was quite late. It was very nice to have Steve's other love with us, very fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Hyakujo's Fox

Early on in my relationship (if you can call it that) with Mr. Bad Boy, I told a few of my friends I knew I was in danger of living 500 lives as a fox. Hyakujo's Fox is a famous koan that comes up often even in the just-sitting Soto Zen sect. Hyakujo was a Zen master who was asked by a student if the enlightened person is subject to karma. As a reward for his answer of "No," he was doomed to live 500 years as a fox. At least that's how I saw it, doomed. I knew there would be bad karma for getting involved with a pathological liar, yet I chose to be drawn in. I hoped I could change that pattern somehow, and for that I was willing to take on some negative karma. One of my friends did not see the fox story as so gloomy, because even if your actions do create negative karma, you do not have to live with those results forever. Eventually Hyakujo's fox was able to receive an abbot's funeral, and the karmic rebirths were over. The lesson to be learned was that enlightened ones are still subject to karma, but they are not fooled by karma.

I was surprised to see some of my wishes for that love echoed in Zoketsu Norman Fischer's talk that I've linked to. He says, "When we accept what is as what is and make our best effort with all our heart, willing to accept what will come out of it, and to work with that, then we are free- not from karma, but with karma, in karma, embraced by and embracing karma." I had hoped that my whole-hearted embrace of love for him, no matter how bad he was, could show him a freedom, a way to let go of his controlling and manipulating ways.

Zoketsu goes on to say:

No way of living is correct always- it may be correct and true, but just for now. Every moment we are at the crux- the place where life and death meet, the place where time and the timeless meet, the place where Buddha and yourself meet nose to nose and merge. Crux, cross, also, in our culture, evokes the idea of terrible suffering, bottomless suffering, that contains within it the seed of redemption.

This seed of redemption, this is what I pointed towards when I told him that I hoped his heart would break. Right now, he just doesn't allow it. He doesn't allow people in. He wouldn't allow love in. I hope my love for him has an element of timelessness to it, so that if that does happen, he knows it is there, has been there for him.

Zoketsu also says, "Maybe karma isn't a question of right and wrong or good and bad but Buddha doing what Buddha has to do to get the job done- to evolve toward enlightenment. So it might not be bad to have 500 lives as a fox if that is what you need." I think I did need that. I'm still struggling with those 500 lives. Every day, like a drug habit, the urge to think about him is reborn. Even when I think I've figured out and released my more base motives, thoughts arise again. The urge to call him arises again, and I resist that urge each day. Today I realized I am grateful for that a little bit. It reminds me that I can make poor choices and I must continue to be mindful, continue to be vigilant. It also reminds me that 500 lives as a fox might well be worth it if another person can be released from his animal realm, where the needs of others don't matter, only the basic drives to survive.

I couldn't, I wouldn't have gone as far as I did with this person if I had been single. I knew I couldn't count on this person for certain things you look for in a significant other: companionship; dependability; even trust. Many told me, including my husband, "You deserve better." I know, but I do have better: my husband. I know I am grateful I will have a wonderful holiday with Steve. If there's anything falling in love with another has taught me, it's that my love for Steve only grows deeper and more secure.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Love Poems

I'm dealing with the depression that comes when a romance is over. I've been gathering my thoughts, but I'm not doing very well. From the first, this was a problematic love. Early on, a phrase came to me that I wrote on a postit and stuck to my monitor, "It is as it should be."

What is it about love that makes one write poetry? It seems to me the feeling is just too large to try containing it in prose. Poetry has that odd conundrum of containing more form, more containment, to express these uncontainable things. I wrote some good, some bad. I could never get a response from him. After a brief period in the beginning, he stopped responding to anything I wrote, I think because he wasn't as good at writing. I was left with communication in person and by phone, and he excelled at verbal communication, or should I say, manipulation. So I was left with pouring my heart into it and getting no response. At least with the final of the poems to him he volunteered that he didn't understand it.

I did see him one last time because I wanted to express somehow that there was some nobility to my love. My love was obsessive, lusty, hungry, but I also hoped my loving him could do him some good. I thought long and hard about what I would say. I had a vision of using an arrow, and I thought of the Zen saying, "like arrows meeting in midair." I knew I might only have one chance to find that elusive target, and wrote a small bit on a postit that also made its way to my monitor:

For the arrow
to strike at
the heart of the matter,
be very clear.
Depend on only
One shot.

I told him I hoped his heart would break over the way he hurts people. Of course he received that defensively, but calmed down when I explained that until he could open to such feeling, he couldn't love, couldn't be happy. He understands the harm he's done intellectually, but doesn't feel it. I told him that if or when that happened, I hoped he would remember that a good woman had chosen to fall in love with him knowing that he would break her heart. He couldn't understand that, why someone would choose something that would be so painful. I told him maybe he didn't need to understand it now, but I hoped he would then.

Some good things have come from this. He really wasn't good for me. Once it was over I could look with a critical eye at the ways in which he would deliberately hurt me, chisel little pieces out of my self-esteem, and I realized I really want to do things for me now. I want to be healthier in spirit, emotions, and body, and I made some commitments to that end. I have begun writing and meditating with a feeling of coming home that I haven't felt in years. I have begun some exercises that I find bearable. I told a friend that I felt I had come full circle in this journey of love when I really fell in love for the first time seven years ago, and had my heart broken then.

I'm not out of the woods yet, as I confess in this poem I wrote on December 9, 2004. I don't plan on sharing it with him.

An Avowal

I knew
I knew
that it was

but I didn't want
to look.

like the south pole
of a magnet
repulsed by the south pole

my gaze slid
away from those thoughts

...that remnants
of low self-esteem
had been triggered

that karmic ghosts
who don't believe
I deserve better
had been awakened

that somehow
if I tried hard enough
I could make him
love me.

easier to indulge
and fantasize
towards the north pole

attracted to those
sensuous tingles
those dangerous mysteries

never mind that
I could become trapped
unable to extricate myself

with that shadowy underside
tainting the goodness.

I wanted to stretch
the thrill

make it last longer
go deeper.

look too long
at that creepy undercurrent
and I knew the thrill
would fizzle

the poles
might just switch

and I would return
to my normal attractions
less wickedly painful.

I don't yet
trust myself

the attraction
of north to south
still tugs at me

I wanted
to lock them
in place.

I still fantasize
about chance meetings

and passions
overcoming integrity

and pain
so delicious.