Waken yourself, Watch yourself

Beautiful poetry from the Dhammapada.

Master your senses,
What you taste and smell,
What you see, what you hear.

In all things be a master
Of what you do and say and think.
Be free.

Are you quiet?
Quieten your body.
Quieten your mind.

By your own efforts
Waken yourself, watch yourself,
And live joyfully.

Follow the truth of the way.
Reflect upon it.
Make it your own.
Live it.
It will always sustain you.

I like the paradoxical image of the mastered person – controlled, reserved, quiet – being the free, joyful person. This could easily be from the Christian canon of scripture. Can anyone deny that that there is one source, one common watertable, from which all the world’s wells of true faith draw?

Adopting Older Children

This brochure put out by the State of Michigan about adopting older kids says a lot of good stuff. It’s a must read if you are thinking about adopting an older child. And God bless you if you are. People like you are much needed in our society.

I wish I had read this months ago. It pretty much nails many of the feelings we’ve had and the behaviors we’ve seen from Speedy. His caseworker wants us to make a commitment sometime in the next two weeks so his department can plan how to proceed. Reading this makes me a whole lot more comfortable with saying, “Yes.” Yes is scary. It’s nice to know that it’s normal to feel that way.

Free to Flow

Has it ever struck you that those who most fear to die are the ones who most fear to live? Life is flexible and free, and you are rigid and frozen. Life carries all things away, and you crave stability and permanence. You fear life and death because you cling. You cannot bear the thought of losing a relative or friend; you dread losing a pet theory or ideology or belief. When you cling to nothing, when you have no fear of losing anything, then you are free to flow like a mountain stream that is always fresh and sparkling and alive.” – Anthony DeMello

This week has, professionally at least, shaped up to be a week of disappointments. A high profile presentation that should have been a whole lot better than it was. A project proposal that has turned into a high level bureaucracy fight, requiring me to go speak eloquently in my project’s defense, only to let my own frustration and irritation undermine the effectiveness of my communication. An open management position that some are urging me to apply for despite the resolving clarity to me of how futile the chances are of actually getting the postition. A longer term project that I just can’t seem to wrap up the details on. Mediocrity. Sigh.

I’m in what Pema Chodron refers to as “The Big Squeeze.” The vise grip formed by the difference between my aspirations and ideas and the reality of my own performance. Seems like I am doomed to either fall short or not even try. There is no third choice.

My fear of failure is my fear of death. The clinging to ideas of what I should be, my aversion to disappointment, rejection are what keep me from being free to flow in my life.

So despite my temptations to quit and do busy work in my cube for the next ten years, I choose to fall short. I’ll apply for that management position, I’ll seek another opportunity to give that mediocre presentation and make it better, I’ll fight the quixotic bureaucratic fight, and I’ll persist on that long term project and finish behind schedule.

Today I embrace my own mediocrity. I hope that I always aspire to a little more than I can do. Rejections, failure, disappointment. Bring ‘em on.

I’d rather be faithful than good. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

The Outdoors Monster

I’m a mean dad. Did I mention that?

Since the weather’s been so nice, I came home, changed clothes, and made the children turn off the TV and g0………… outside! MWAHHahhahahaha!

We all went out and played around. The children were bored within 15 minutes. But I am a big believer in the instructive power of boredom. So I was not affected by their insistent pleas for access to electronic entertainment.

Speedy got so frustrated at my refusal to budge and my repeated attempts to lure him into some sort of activity involving circulating a ball back and forth that he yelled at me, “You’re mean. You’re a…a..Outdoors Monster!”

Before I was a dad, I bought into that cliche where the dad is pouring over bills and the boy walks up and asks his dad to play catch but the dad is too busy and so the boy goes away disappointed and then the boy grows up into a dad who pays bills instead of playing catch with his own boy. I decided that I was not going to be that dad. What I didn’t count on was not getting the kids who like to play catch.

I was going to be a catch-playing dad. Instead I became the Outdoors Monster.

Hold everything

Mr. Freshpants’ favorite lunch sandwich of late is white bread. That is, ham and cheese sandwich, dry, hold the ham and cheese. Two slices of white bread he eats like a sandwich.

Personally, he’d prefer to skip the sandwich. He’d sit and eat chips for his whole meal if we’d let him. Except for that “No Sandwich, no chips” rule Mom and Dad made especailly for him. So I’d think this minimum sandwich approach is Fresh’s creative way to get at the chips faster, but he asks for his bread sandwich even when there are no chips available. He’s such a loveable goofball. Four year olds are great.


Yesterday, Petunia grabbed the sidewalk chalk and marked on the blackboard easel we have sitting out on the back porch. She surveyed her work, then turned to look at Olivia, who was observing the older kids’ action from her walker on the porch. Petunia then went over and hugged Olivia.

Except it was an awkward looking hug that took an unusually long time. When Petunia stepped away, Olivia’s mostly bald head had blue chalk marks all over it. Apparently Petunia was impressed with the way the blue sidewalk chalk showed up on the black surface of the chalkboard (better than on any sidewalk, that’s for sure) and wanted to try it on another dark surface.

Yes, we had to have a quick reeducation session with Petunia. But it was still pretty funny. Olivia was beaming, sporting a blue bald baby-punk chalk tattoo.

You know, seems there’s never a camera around when you really need one.

Both sides now

Evidence that I am becoming my father:

Child: “Can I have a {snack food/dessert item}?
Me: “No, dinner is in half an hour.”
Child: “But I’m starving!”
Me: “Well have an {apple /unnapealing healthy food}.”
Child: “Ugh. I don’t want an {apple /unnapealing healthy food}.”
Me: “Well then you must not be starving. Wait until dinner.”

Once upon a time I played the Child in that conversation. Now I am my father. I also do a similar conversation involving juice or soda pop and water quite often. I’ve looked at parenting from both sides now.

Local Cooling

As a nearly life-long Houstonian, I cannot remember a day like today – a cool breezy day in August. The weather’s so nice here it’s kind of disturbing. I mean, Hell’s not exactly frozen over yet, but things are kind of moving that way.

Neural Darwinism

“It is silly reductionism, of course, to claim that you and I are just bags of molecules. But I do not believe consciousness arises from spooky forces. I don’t believe in some Cartesian dualistic domain that is inaccessible to science. The brain is embodied and the body is embedded in its environment. That trio must operate in an integrated way. You can’t separate the activity and development of the brain from the environment or the body.”

My selection bias at work (isn’t that the essence of blogging after all?). I agree quite heartily with what this Nobel Prize winning physiologist says in this interview – that consciousness is emergent from supporting physical connections, that there is no fundamental division between “natural” and “supernatural”, “body” and “mind.” This concept does not weaken my religious faith but rather strengthens it.

Like I said, selection bias at work.