Friday, February 28, 2014

the car-care clinic...

"The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected." Robert Frost

The other night I attended a women's car-care clinic. Surprisingly, twenty others showed up. The person who gave the workshop gathered us around a car on the heist.

I learned about transmission fluid, air filters, and all good car-care practical stuff. After her talk we each went to work. Lifting the hood we checked the oil, fluids and battery terminals. As I hunted for the psi number to check the air pressure in the tires my picture was taken as it had been rather frequently.

Arriving home two hours later, still feeling the excitement of the power I now had over my little Toyota, I was happy I had gone. As I washed the grease off my hands, I caught a reflection of myself in the bedroom mirror and remembered how many times the camera, during the clinic, was pointed my way.

Why?  The face in the mirror with it's wrinkles, sags and spots was not gorgeous or young -- nor was my mechanical expertise impressive. The other participants were younger by a decade or two or three. Then it dawned, "They think I am old!" It was such a ridiculous thought I started to laugh.

Apparently, a "slight of... eye" trick was played on them and maybe on me. I was so engaged learning, exploring, researching how to maintain my car I hadn't noticed age. I felt inspirited just wiping the grease off my hands.

After the mirror visit, I said to my daughter, "They thought I was old tonight." Then added. "I think the universe tricked us because, I am not old." Silence. She looked at me cautiously, not quite wanting to deny the truth that stood before her. Catching her look, I modified my statement, "I am old yet I am not old." All the great life running through me felt ageless -- a bit like the "energize-bunny"  but not quite.

I knew I had presented her with a quandary. Observing each other in silence, she contemplated this life-force with the wrinkles standing before her. What could she say? What could I say? We both started to laugh. (I am not sure at what.) Yet, maybe the afternoon does know what the morning never suspects." Maybe...

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

stepping out of thought...

"When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are." E. Tolle

Then who am I if thoughts are not my identity? What is left? I think constantly? My descriptions of who I think I am, my identity, are endless. One time I think, "I am good, generous, and thoughtful, another time, "I am neglectful, selfish, and thoughtless depending upon mood or event. Morning, I feel one thing, evening another about the same situation. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, change like the decal flashing a bird or a dollar sign on my credit card -- depending on which way it is tilted.

Thoughts  are quite willing to manufacture me an identify. As an artist there are times in a painting where it feels/thinks like "give-up-time", I am no artist. The colors or composition are off and the waste-basket is handy. Yet when staying with it, saying no to the "I can't" or "I am not a ..." the painting works. I am an artist again. Similar thoughts like, "I am bad, good, fat or gorgeous" imprison me, thus creating a false sense of self connected to my emotional history or social conditioning. I need to allow the imperfections without making them an identity.

What is "real" in me that does not change.  Who is behind or under my thoughts, feelings, emotions, skin?  How do I find out? Tolle instructed a young man who asked a similar question, to feel inside himself for the one ingredient that doesn't change, to listen in alert stillness, listen in a moment of inner spaciousness and find oneself beneath it all -- not thinking but aware in timeless Presence.

"Live a life without thought." an ancient friend also instructed me a few years ago. Puzzled, I began observing my thinking. Her suggestion was to "Briefly step out of the voice in your head, stand back from these thought-processes and their reflection in the body as an emotion. Breathe consciously, center yourself in the moment and a rising inner spaciousness manifests where before there was the cluster of thoughts and the turmoil of emotion." I discover thought is separate.

Stepping out of the voice in my head, into a heart place that never changes, into a Presence that is always here and an awareness that watches this personality called Augusta, I know "the thinker is not me." To paraphrase Lao-tzu, if I name God I haven't got it. If my thought says, "I am sad, happy, artist, grandma with a period at the end...," I haven't got it either yet sacredness always waits in each for my presence.

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