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So I admit, I’ve been feeling  a little bit guilty these past two weeks as I’ve been saying goodbye to students, responding to questions like, “How are YOU doing?” (in that concerned tone one uses with the bereaved at a funeral), with a big smile on my face. Happy. I feel happy. I feel light and happy to be letting go of something that was done in my mind and is now done in the physical world. I celebrate so many things right now, like my freedom, my creativity, my health, my energy, my desire to enjoy my own life. And I also celebrate setting people free to find their own truth, to go more deeply into the world to find what else is there for them.

And yet it is interesting to watch how tightly they hold on, grasping for anything that will give some illusion of continuity for the story they wished would never end.

I read this today, from my favorite book of Zen stories, Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?, by Ajahn Brahm:

“Grief is what we add on to loss. It is a learned response, specific to some cultures only. It is not universal and it is not unavoidable….there is an alternative to grief. Not that grief is wrong, only that there is another possibility.

“Grief is seeing only what has been taken away from you. The celebration of a life is recognizing all that we were blessed with, and feeling so very grateful.” Read the rest of this entry »

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This is becoming a little like yoga to me. I find that something is missing from the rhythm of my day if I don’t take the time to write something. That’s a good sign of a new conscious habit developing!

Yesterday I discovered the “Zen” of shooting baskets. I had horrible memories associated with all ball sports from elementary and high school P.E. class, which was mandatory torture every day of my public schooling in the state of Illinois. Supposedly one of the blessings of public education was the worst part of my day for all those years. First of all, I was told that I was “unathletic”. I don’t know who first told me this, but it was something I was quite sure of for as long as I can remember. I was also afraid of hurting my fingers and being unable to practice my violin or piano. That was definitely my teachers’ fears projected onto me, but I also absorbed them and believed them into the core of my being.

My earliest memory of basketball was Mrs. Wakefield’s P.E. class, in second or third grade. Read the rest of this entry »

Most people are fearful of change. Our social systems are designed with this in mind. We are given a set of rules to follow, a group to feel we belong to, a language we speak in common, and in return we expect that nice warm feeling of security to fall asleep to each night.

The problem is most people secretly crave change. This is what I hypothesize, at least. We see the world as a projection of ourselves – our innocent hope, our sparkles of joy, our dark looming fears, our deepest regrets. How we feel at a particular moment of our lives can create a whole set of circumstances to validate that feeling. We see through eyes of our own choosing. And while the brain rapidly becomes accustomed to patterns and systems and habits, the heart – which is the seat of these longings of the soul – seeks constantly to breathe new life force into the experience of each moment. We long to feel alive.

The problem is we don’t realize that holding tightly to everything we already have, everything we think we “have to” have or “have to” do, everything that “should” have been, our lives begin to be ruled by fear of change, resignation that things will never change, and anger that we are tied to the way things will always be. “Suck it up”, our mind tells us. “Drown it in some alcohol,” suggests another voice. “You’ll never be able to change,” says another. And most of us actually believe these thoughts.

We want “better” results, “higher” status, “more” of everything, but we don’t want to face the reality and necessity of change. “You mean, in order to get what I want, I’ll have to do all that??!!” you say to yourself. “No way! I’ll stay right here, thank you very much.” Even if it means clinging to the past, holding on to things we no longer need, and pleasing people who are no longer part of our lives.

I recently saw the Pixar movie Up, a charming love story and beautiful film about an old widower, Carl, who, on the brink of grinding out his last days on earth in a state of rage and regret, decides to take a final risk and follow a childhood dream. On the eve of being carted off to die in the local nursing home, he acquires superhuman energy and inflates thousands of helium balloons, releases them through the chimney of his house, and the entire building takes flight, foundation and all.  [Definitely go see this movie, too! It’s a keeper!] Read the rest of this entry »

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