It was cold last night. My neighbors warned me of freezing water pipes. After having lived in Ice Box State, I wanted to shrug such warnings off, but houses are built differently here. So Most Special Spouse disconnected all water hoses outside, and we left the kitchen cabinet under the sink open. I had already brought in my cyca the night before. I have it in a pot, so that I can move it easily. It is a wonderful plat, often referred to as sago palm, even though it is not a palm at all, but a cycad, a very old plant from the time the dinosaurs roamed the earth. It is a resilient plant, and can grow in full shade or full sun. It should be safe in gardening zone 8, meaning that it can take some frost, but I do not wish to risk it. My neighbor’s cyca is several years old, and it has grown fairly large, even in a pot. The photo above is from Beach Island with the cyca in the ground.
I like to grow plants that have some meaning, the ancient cyca, the pass along cassia from a friend who moved to a country on the other side of the globe, echinacea for its medicinal qualities, nasturtiums for they are a faint reminder of my mother, and the like. Those plants hold a special place. And I am happy to discover new ones, such as the cyca that I bought last spring.
I am taking the day off, no administrative emails or other university related activities, no cleaning house stuff, just sitting here on the bed, not even at the desk, with Black Dog next to me. Teenage Daughter is still asleep. This is unusual since she is an early riser, and that is not an oxymoron in her case. But she spent the last two nights with friends, the first night here at our house, the second at one of the friends, and now she has to catch up on sleep. It is always fascinating how, at some point, the body will no longer put up with whatever we do to it. So I am glad to see Teenage Daughter still sleeping.
I had yesterday my tea hour with my close friend from third country over there. She talked about the long anticipated visit of her sister who is two years older, and even though she loves her dearly, she always feels inadequate around her. We ended up talking about how it is unavoidable to compare ourselves to others, at least for the two of us. In fifth grade I looked at awe at those who were in eighth grade. As a university student, professors were demigods in my eyes. After becoming a professor, those with tenure were the ones to be admired. The variables are indefinite and differ: those owning their own house, those with a loving spouse or partner, those with children, those with a mother, those who are thinner, those who are fuller figured, those who can wear high heels, those who are smarter, those who appear to have no problems with self-confidence, I guess the list could go on and on. Vulnerability is part of the human condition. I know that, and still I have to remind myself from time to time, to live in the moment and not think that everything will be better once I am in eighth grade, have the job I always wanted to have, have tenure, you name it. A fulfilled life is the one lived in the moment and not tied to anything in the future. It is good to set goals, but will you be truly happier once you lost ten pounds? Only if you enjoy the moment and not jump on what still ‘needs’ to be achieved. Ten pounds are great, yes, but I will never be able to wear that dress like xy and the like, these are deadly thoughts, deadly to the self-confidence.
An 'academic friend' of mine who received tenure at a great institution with one of the top programs in the country and a book with one of the most reputable presses experienced a severe case of post tenure depression. There she was, having achieved the thing she had wished for most since high school, and then she suddenly faced emptiness, and all the things she had not ‘achieved’ caved in on her. Achieved in the sense what one could have, what others do have, what one does not have. Comparing oneself to others. Has this not been a reoccurring theme while I have been writing this blog? Am I repeating myself? I guess I am. I know what I should and should not do, but knowing does not prevent me from doing what I should not do. My friend knows that she should not compare herself to her sister, and still she does it. How much of our behavior is imprinted patterns? I really have to get a pair of sharp scissors to cut my own pattern apart, maybe those zigzag scissors would do. What would happen if we had no patterns in our life? Would we feel lost? Not belonging? Lonely? Like a motherless child?
Living the moment, following the path, the path leads the way. Enjoying the journey while looking around and putting one foot in front of the other on the path. Last year I bought a deck of Osho Zen Tarot cards. This is not a divination tarot, no telling the future or the like. It is deck of looking into the inner self. I bought my deck via amazon, but I just discovered also a website for the cards, and one can click to look at some of them and read the explanations. I hardly take them out, but I did last night, just the general five cards spread with all cards, and transformation turned out to be my “issue” card. I like the card.
I found it again online. Here are the explanations for the card:
A master in Zen is not simply a teacher. In all the religions there are only teachers. They teach you about subjects which you don't know, and they ask you to believe because there is no way to bring those experiences into objective reality. Neither has the teacher known them - he has believed them; he transfers his belief to somebody else.
Zen is not a believer's world. It is not for the faithful ones; it is for those daring souls who can drop all belief, unbelief, doubt, reason, mind, and simply enter into their pure existence without boundaries. But it brings a tremendous transformation.
Hence, let me say that while others are involved in philosophies, Zen is involved in metamorphosis, in a transformation. It is authentic alchemy: it changes you from base metal into gold. But its language has to be understood, not with your reasoning and intellectual mind but with your loving heart. Or even just listening, not bothering whether it is true or not. And a moment comes suddenly that you see it, which has been eluding you your whole life. Suddenly, what Gautam Buddha called "eighty-four thousand doors" open.
Osho Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest Chapter 6
The central figure in this card sits atop the vast flower of the void, and holds the symbols of transformation - the sword that cuts through illusion, the snake that rejuvenates itself by shedding its skin, the broken chain of limitations, and the yin/yang symbol of transcending duality. One of its hands rests on its lap, open and receptive. The other reaches down to touch the mouth of a sleeping face, symbolizing the silence that comes when we are at rest.
This is a time for a deep let-go. Allow any pain, sorrow, or difficulty just to be there, accepting its "facticity." It is very much like the experience of Gautam Buddha when, after years of seeking, he finally gave up, knowing there was nothing more that he could do. That very night, he became enlightened.
Transformation comes, like death, in its own time. And, like death, it takes you from one dimension into another.
Yes, I do like this card. And I am fine with transformation coming in its own time.