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Spiritual Growth – San Fran http://socialinsanfrancisco.com Join the Fun! Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:57:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Undoing the Messages of a Lifetime http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/undoing-the-messages-of-a-lifetime/ Sun, 11 Oct 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/undoing-the-messages-of-a-lifetime/

By KM Huber

Once again, there has been a mass shooting in the United States. As a Zen Buddhist, my position is obvious. This post is about revolutionary acts that involve a call to the heart.

I am not the first to do so or, unfortunately, the last. Would that I were.

Often, my position is considered naïve. That it may be but this is what I know: a change of heart produces results every time. It is our hearts that ultimately get our minds to re-thinking.

Awareness.

Compassion.

Equanimity.

Loving-kindness.

These are revolutionary acts. Their endgame is peace. Their leitmotif, trust that we will do what is required.

Just as the experience of peace is available to us in every moment so is the ability to commit revolutionary acts. They change us, usually forever. In trust, we experience the flow of change.

Change cycles through our lives like seasons. Acknowledgement or no, we will experience it, often as a storm, for change is energy. As we know, energy, even on its best behavior, is chaotic.

Trust reminds us there will be another morning, another opportunity for revolutionary acts.

It is one thing to know the sun will rise but it is another to trust in what the rising of the sun brings. Regardless, each day dawns in total vulnerability, the wellspring of trust.

It is an extraordinary example of tenderness, this daily dawn reminder of what we are capable.

This revolutionary act of treating ourselves tenderly can begin to undo the aversive messages of a lifetime.

Tara Brach

It is no effort to store a lifetime of aversive messages, for each experience can be so labeled, if we choose. The energy of boxing up a life is minimal for it requires no updating just the initial experience and then re-runs. It becomes its own newsreel, skewed in comfort.

Ah, aversive, the coming undone of an attitude or feeling. Ours is a slow dawn, this throwing off of aversion, yet we do rise as we face what we once would not.

We stand in revolutionary awareness, ready to commit acts of compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity.

Rage has its own set of acts—not revolutionary–its endgame fear, pain, and death. We are averse to its message, its messengers, and its weapons–guns, knives, poison, bombs—we are diminished by each death, all of the life landscape forever changed.

Revolutionary acts may or may not make us stronger—I do not know—I am not sure that is their purpose. I suspect it is awareness. What I do know is the open heart is a revolutionary beat ready to rush rage.

To undo rage is to undo the averse messages of a lifetime. It takes tender conviction, a commitment to a lifetime of revolutionary acts. That is my call to action, my arms open to all.

These are not days for sunshine patriots for the dawn is grey.

Revolutionary acts do not require the radiance of a sunrise, just a dawning, a promise the sun will rise. Trust is enough to keep the open heart beating. Revolutionary acts rise not to war but to the absence of battle. Theirs is the tender touch of awareness.

To open our hearts is a revolutionary act, one requiring constant vigilance and a belief that the sun still rises.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

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The Rose-Colored Glasses of If Only http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/the-rose-colored-glasses-of-if-only/ Sun, 04 Oct 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/the-rose-colored-glasses-of-if-only/

By KM Huber

“If only” is a realm where life is always contained. In this world, I create the scenario to prove that what I want is all I will ever need. No matter how complex or basic, each scenario is based upon life already experienced.

Let me give you an example. If only I were able to go for a walk in a flawless autumn of red and gold or stroll on sugar sand beaches lapped clean.

“If only” allows me to travel the length and breadth of my life as it never happened—without a glitch–it sets the world right in a matter of seconds, which is also how long such a scenario lasts.

After all, it is a joke. And my ego loves to play it.

“Knock-Knock.”

‘Who’s there?”

“If only….”

My ego likes this joke, for it is always on me. I hear it most often on days that I am looking to the outside world for what I want. Within, I feel a lack. The knock-knock joke offers me entrance into my collage of life experiences, the land of “if only.”

If only “keeps the person facing the wrong way— backward instead of forward. It wastes time. It can become a habit, it can become…an excuse for not trying anymore” (Arthur Gordon).

In longing to return to what we are certain has been our best, we close the door on options that may be our best yet. When we enter “if only,” we exit life as it is, trading the unknown for the known.

The world of “if only” offers a smorgasbord of comfort: food, drink, all kinds of ways to self-medicate. It is the stuff of ennui, this dearth of curiosity, and therein, the ego sows seeds of doubt.

“If only” is not the stuff of dreams for it excludes mystery.

Life begins and ends in mystery, as Diane Ackerman says, reminding us “…[that] a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” We miss the visit if we close the door on mystery, too afraid to try again.

Who is to say that in this savage and beautiful country we will not discover food and drink to satisfy, to nourish, to keep us curious for what comes next. Is there not comfort in curiosity? Maybe not. Certainly, there is vitality.

The ego will always knock. It is not ours to ignore or to suppress but to observe that the ego is knocking. We need not invite the ego in or trot along its well-worn path.

After all, it is not really a path but a rut, worn deep and smooth, leading to life already lived.

In observing rather than answering the knock-knock of “if only,” we face forward, grateful for being alive—we are part of the great mystery–all of our wants and hopes wrapped within.

Whatever happens to you, don’t fall in despair.

Even if all the doors are closed, a secret path will be there

for you that no one knows.

You can’t see it yet but so many paradises are at the end of this path.

Be grateful!

It is easy to thank after obtaining what you want,

thank before having what you want.

Rumi

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

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Feeding a Craving is Feeding the Ego http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/feeding-a-craving-is-feeding-the-ego/ Sun, 27 Sep 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/feeding-a-craving-is-feeding-the-ego/

By KM Huber

We experience the world around us with and through a physical body, no less unique than Zen, our meditative state. Both provide sustenance for the mind-body.

In meditation, there is being; in feeding and caring for the body, there is doing.  How we nourish our every day presence in life affects how we respond to the events of our lives.

Each of us is a unique point of light, a bright, shining moment within the eternal life force. Zen, our meditative state, is just as individualistic. Uniqueness is what we carry into our every day.

We are offered a multitude of ways to develop a daily meditative practice. As for diet, there are billion-dollar industries offering nutrition through a series of steps, a number of days, eliminating certain foods altogether.

Just as there is no one way to meditate, neither is there one diet or food plan for everyone. Developing a diet unique to the mind-body’s nutritional requirements is as easy as walking through a minefield.

It seems safest to nibble one’s way in all the while clinging to what is sweetest. In clinging to food that comforts, it is difficult to discover our mind-body’s unique nutritional requirements.

In the meditative state, one sits with the dark and light wolves of emotion, feeding or denying neither but rather, observing both so there is no separation of the two. Observation eliminates competition.

This is not as easy to do with food cravings—at times it is impossible–the principle is the same, however. Clinging to foods that momentarily comfort us rather than nurture our mind-body, is like keeping our light and dark wolves in constant competition.

Our thinking becomes dualistic, either/or. We eat for comfort, unaware of our true hunger as we deny our body’s nutritional needs. Rather than feeding our mind-body, we are feeding a craving, which is only a thought, an ever empty one at that.

Feeding a craving is akin to feeding the ego. No comfort is possible for the ego always wants more. In Buddhism, such comfort food eating is a form of shenpa, often translated as “attachment.”

Shenpa is in all areas of life for old behaviors die hard, if they die at all. Pema Chodron refers to shenpa as “biting the hook.” As comfort food eating has been a lifelong issue for me, I prefer this translation.

Whether or not we bite the hook is not the issue— it is human nature that we will—it is in the awareness of our attachment that we spit out the hook and begin anew.  Each moment offers that opportunity.

This has certainly been true for me in my comfort food sessions, which are infrequent but still happen. There are no more binges. Honestly, I do not know that I would survive one.

Because these comfort food moments are much fewer and far between, my mind-body is not as forgiving. I can feel it struggle with food that does not support its nutritional needs.

There is a sense of frustration in processing empty calories that offer sluggish and stiff body movement, muddled thinking, zigzagging emotions ranging from euphoria to the blues.

Overall, there is fatigue, enough to scare me into thinking the mind-body might want to quit. But that is only my attaching to a thought that has not been fed as it soars on empty emotion.

To live, thrive, is the nature of the mind-body–all unique points of human light coming together as one–to experience life in the physical dimension, including biting the hook.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

 

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The Question That Gives Pause http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/the-question-that-gives-pause/ Sun, 20 Sep 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/the-question-that-gives-pause/

By KM Huber

Recently, I came across a quotation that considered the effect of one question as a way to give pause when facing a tense moment, when feeling anger or aggression, whenever there is pain.

The question? “What else might this mean?”

To ask the question is to create distance from the situation, to prevent an immediate and perhaps pointed reaction. We give ourselves the opportunity to make the compassionate response.

Rather than clinging to the pain of the moment, we release it. We are not boxed up in a mindset or limited in our choices. In choosing the compassionate response, we open to the unimaginable.

We are not relinquishing our beliefs or changing our goals. We are not giving up or accepting less. We are standing in the reality we have, taking a moment to step back and make the choice that suits the moment.

We find ourselves less concerned with identity, the beliefs of “I,” and more concerned, maybe even intrigued, with how we might offer more to many.

Asking what else might this mean reminds me of a well-worn meme—when life gives you lemons make lemonade— there was a time that I would roll my eyes whenever I was told this. And, I was told frequently.

At some point, and I have no memory of any “aha” moment, I considered lemons and lemonade. What might it mean to experiment with life’s lemons—it would take patience–I discovered curiosity and grew to trust it.

Another question that occurred to me was whether or not I was lowering my standards. These days, I live a routine of no routine, relieved of the stress of tasks assigned to specific times.

There is enough freedom so that on the days when life is one lemon after another, lemonade seems more than sufficient. I never know how tart or naturally sweet the lemonade might be.

I sip and stay curious.

In the last two months, I produced more solid writing than I have in the last year and a half.

Physically, I am markedly different. I am not referring to walking with a cane or wearing a soft neck collar. These are temporary results of myelopathy but not why I am different.

As I considered just what else myelopathy might mean for me, the question of lowering my standards took a turn with my ego. That required more than one glass of lemonade.

In short, myelopathy relieved my suffering for I had no choice except to slow down. Myelopathy accomplished what nearly 40 years of autoimmune disease could not.

In slowing down, I gained life anew. I was different from the moment I awakened from the surgery. I have just begun to consider what this might mean for me.

Although my pace of life is slow, more measured, it is now possible for me to comfortably complete two or three errands in one outing, something I have not been able to do.

In rest, I find awareness, options never imagined. No longer am I pushing through to the end of a task, exhausting all of my resources.

In exhaustion, however, I found energy. To me, they are opposite ends of the same spectrum. I aim for even. The day does not dawn to certain tasks, it lights up with curiosity. Standards reveal themselves.

Still, there are daily lemons.

My arms remain heavy–my biceps feel as if there are weights on them–here, little is changed since the spinal cord surgery. The same is true for the numbness/tingling in my hands, particularly my index fingers and thumbs.

I use voice recognition software so that the frustration of typing does not impede the writing. My thumbs and index fingers have difficulty pinching or picking up small objects such as pens or pills, a mushroom slice, coins for the laundry.

Daily, I do dexterity exercises for my fingers and thumbs, a bit of strengthening for my arms as well. There is no pushing just gentle flexibility. There is a lot of lemonade as well.

For all those moments when the world rages, as it does for all of us, if I ask, “what else might this mean,” I choose the compassionate response. It is not about having an answer. It is about asking the question.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

 

 

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Co-Existing With Your Ego: Let it Be http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/co-existing-with-your-ego-let-it-be/ Sun, 13 Sep 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/co-existing-with-your-ego-let-it-be/

By KM Huber

As much as I would like to do away with all artificial constructs of time,  the best I can do is settle into 24 hours, immersing myself in the amount of time most assured to me, a single day.

Within these hours, I am not pushing, shaping, or molding a future outcome. Rather, I focus on the rhythm, the beat of the moment and what it requires. I cut up vegetables to put into scrambled eggs, slice ginger root for my daily tea.

There is also the daily revising of words, working a single sentence round and round only to realize its moment has not yet come—or has.

My daily routine has become one of no routine.

More and more I am aware of the flow in being. There is a rhythm in a routine of no routine, all but palpable. Labels float by, never overstaying their welcome.

When I stray from the moment, the past gives me a sense of the present. As Mark Nepo reminds, it is not that we stray from the moment that is important—that is part of being human—what is imperative is that we return to it.

Regaining a sense of the present through the past is valuable but I have noticed it also opens the door for my ego. And as I recently discovered, my ego is like the Hydra, the mythological beast of many heads and thus, many voices.

Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra.

You cut off one head and another head replaces it.

You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost,

then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Val Boyko introduced me to this metaphor in a post on her wonderful blog, Find Your Middle Ground. Far too often, I strike at my ego, as if I might actually conquer it once and for all.

In cutting off one head, I only create another.  As Val advises, what is the point of that? She reminds that the new ego may be even more deceptive.

It is a powerful incentive to float on the rhythm of a routine of no routine, allowing the moment to reveal its rhythm. There are fewer heads, fewer strikes.

The rhythm of a routine of no routine encompasses body sensations as well as the emotions of the mind. They are signals, physical points of light. Their intensity varies but sometimes a signal is the total experience of the moment.

It is not for me to escape or suppress it. Like not cutting off the head of the Hydra, I observe the sensation. It will only still if I sit with it. It is the well of energy available to me.

Some days, the bottom of the well seems close; other days, the well seems bottomless. Either way, if I sip and do not gulp, the available energy will sustain me.

Every day, there are requirements that must be met for a routine of no routine is not without its responsibilities. If and how I meet those responsibilities depends on whether or not I sip to the moment.

If I take large gulps–as if to anticipate the day–I will be back at my well sooner and more often. These are days frenzied with energy, brimming with new Hydra heads. They are laid waste, unproductive and exhaustive.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a routine of no routine is that it is available in every moment, as close as the next breath. It relies not upon expectation but upon breathing.

It is a rhythm in which the mind does not squeeze itself; the body does not constrict its vessels. Always, there is the breath that will release as well as renew.

There is no reason to cut off the heads of the Hydra. It is just as easy to allow them to nod to one another.  After all, they are my identity as a human.

Without identity, I am light.  In this moment, however, I am human.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

 

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Impermanence on the Fly http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/impermanence-on-the-fly/ Sun, 06 Sep 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/impermanence-on-the-fly/

By KM Huber

I grew up in a high plains desert where rivers rush, streams gush. Ponds are few. In the Rocky Mountain West, water is on the go, impermanence on the fly.

Now, my home is the meandering rivers and ponds of the Florida panhandle, subtropical lushness. That both the West and South offer life opportunity opposites—mile high to sea level—once occupied much of my thought and time.

Then, it was location, location, location rather than living richly in my present. I spent years pooling unwanted waters for the future, trying to re-create past ponds.

I have come to know such futility as ponding. In nature, ponding is the pooling of unwanted waters. In being, ponding is the absence of mindfulness, the pooling of thought outside the present.

Mindfulness never works as an exercise in focus. This “exercise” is like casting about the past and future rather than “living richly in the present” (Sylvia Plath).

And Plath also reminds us that to live richly in the present is the “hardest thing” to do.

It takes a lifetime.

This past week I found myself at Chapman, a pond I once visited daily as my life in the South began. I missed the rush of water, having little consideration for the life that teems within a pond.

All that changed within the comfort of Chapman, contained under canopied, moss-draped oaks and towering Ponderosa pine. Daily, I focused on the peace I attributed to Chapman pond, unaware the peace was within me, always available.

Of course, I was ponding, unaware of my life as I was living it, pooling up thoughts, the unwanted waters of my past and future.

I was fishing, a practice I began in childhood.

Always, I searched any and all waters to see if they supported fish. I had to know. Fishing would occupy me for decades. I practiced consistently.

As I aged, casting a line with no hook replaced catching a fish. With each cast, I did my best to imitate a fly afloat to tease a fish.

Whenever I went fishing, I was living richly, completely confined to the cast of the moment. Perhaps it was the beginning of a mindfulness practice; perhaps, it was just fishing.

I gained a sense of the tide of time, the fisher and the fished, impermanence at its best.

There was no ponding, no thoughts of bigger or lesser fish or even the one that got away—only the energy of the experience, the sensation that never stays.

I have not owned a rod and reel in years but still I fish. 

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

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Aging and Birthdays: Pretty Good So Far http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/aging-and-birthdays-pretty-good-so-far/ Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/aging-and-birthdays-pretty-good-so-far/

By KM Huber

This past week I marked my 63rd birthday. It was a week of gifts–each thoughtful, unique. It is humbling, this great exchange of good feeling. The joy lasts more than a single day or week. It is what fills the years of a lifetime.

I do not mind growing older. As a friend said not too long ago, “it has been pretty good so far.”

And it has. This third act of my life presents new challenges—as did the other two—it seems to be a natural progression.

Do the challenges fit each act? In retrospect, the answer is yes, unequivocally.

What has been true with each act is that aging has its advantages. That assurance keeps me curious. And the handmaiden of curiosity is often celebration.

Every birthday reaffirms how fortunate I am in the life I have. The older I am, the more advantages I have. Aging is a gift list. Each year, some are unique to that birthday while others are forever.

Unique to the age of 63, I am now past the pregnancy test protocol for women who still have a uterus and have not had a tubal ligation. This surgery protocol may be unique to where I live. Nonetheless, it is on and off my list.

While the number of my chronic illnesses seems to have increased, I have finally accepted the great advantage they provide: I can sleep whenever I am tired, eat when I am hungry no matter the time of day or night, and write when I have sufficient energy, the time my mind is clearest.

What chronic illness has given me for the rest of my life is the routine of no routine. It is a lifetime gift that I finally recognized in my 63rd year.

Many people fear retirement for the lack of routine. I am here to tell you do not fear it. It is up there with the greatest gifts you ever receive. You will never be more present in your life. Mindfulness gives you all the time you need. You need not wait for retirement.

As one day slides into another, the trappings of time that we have contrived—calendars, alarms, agendas– appear for what they are, our attempts to box up and label each moment.

Life is impermanent and neither boxes nor labels will hold.

I am no longer concerned about being awake during the dark hours that begin each day. It is a great time to listen to a recorded book. I do not disturb the dark with unnatural light. I do not disturb the day turning into itself.

These night-morning hours of opalescence are also prime “hunting” hours for feline EmmaRose. The prey is a catnip-filled “mouse” that is as easily airborne as it is grounded. The chase is a vocal one, high-pitched meows and a growl that seems much too large for a 5.5 pound cat.

The “hunt” was my birthday eve present from EmmaRose and later in the day, dear friends called and sang the birthday song. Both of these birthday eve gifts are unique to my 63rd birthday.

My birthday dawned as I sat on my favorite bench in Waverly Park, my first visit in many months. I shared the moment with three geese.

Animals, it seems, would mark my birthday in ways I could not have imagined.

Unique to this birthday was the gift of becoming a foster for an older elephant named Kora. Regular readers may remember a post on elephants reading hearts. The post featured the Sheldrick Trust in a video. Kora and I will age together.

The same thoughtful friend made sure that another animal was part of my birthday, my favorite pit bull. I was treated to a video of Frisbee catching and happy birthday dancing. Ever available for viewing, it is a lifetime gift.

Also unique to this year, just before my birthday week dawned, I was given a surprise, living-room concert by my favorite local singing duo, Hot Tamale. All I had to do was sit back in my recliner and listen. For an hour, I immersed myself in their story songs, sometimes reminiscent of the ’60s, sometimes just great blues but always Hot Tamale.

Every gift I received— food, spirits, cash, and so many words of joy–was its own card, offering its unique celebration of a day. Ageless, the day resides in memory, celebrated as an advantage of aging.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

 

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Reality is Messy But it Offers Options http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/reality-is-messy-but-it-offers-options/ Sun, 23 Aug 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/reality-is-messy-but-it-offers-options/

By KM Huber

Working with the reality we have is a bit of a slippery slope as joy never seems to stay long enough while pain never seems to leave soon enough.

Reality—the moment–is all we ever have. For however long it lasts, it is for us to do the best we can. Impermanence will do the rest.

And if we are not thrilled with the reality we have, we need only remember that like the weather, life will change. Reality always offers options.

Currently, my reality seems as if it is in a holding pattern. Doing the best I can to experience the moment I have, I admit I am often on the lookout for change.

Escaping the moment is easy to do but to work with the reality we have, we must return.

Recently, I came through cervical myelopathy surgery with remarkable success–truly, there were some unforgettable and stellar moments–but success has shown its shadow.

Success and shadow—as one—make up memory. Always there are moments of both but perhaps only in memory are the two as one.

Memory does not re-create reality. It allows us reflection, a way to wait upon reality, to work with the moment we have.

In shadow, my reality seems a growing force of chronic illness comprised of autoimmune disease, degenerative disc disease, and myelopathy.  There is no complete defeat possible, not physically. That is not my reality in any moment.

Accepting reality reduces my suffering and strengthens my resolve to explore the experience I have. By not attaching to the pain as the only reality I will ever know, pain passes like a shadow. Acceptance incites change.

Of course, I am not always as aware or as accepting. Sometimes, I have such an aversion to my reality that I am determined to change it, as if I could. After all, I am not accepting the actual experience. I am only trying to avoid it.

Sometimes, my aversion is quite elaborate, methodical even. Other times, I rush reality for all I am worth, grasping with everything I have. I suffer for my indifference to reality. It is as if I am fighting my own biology.

After all, each of my body’s cells works with the state of its reality. Each cell works for balance–aging and disease affect this process– yet each cell works with its own unique makeup. It accepts its options.

In working with the reality we have, we accept that moments do not restore each other. They offer us other options, new perspectives on reality that just a moment ago seemed so difficult, even impossible.

Reality is messy that way. It overlaps who we are with who we were just a moment ago, leaving a trail of consequences.

Neither good nor bad, they are reality lived, bits and pieces of experience. Some are stored as success; others slip in as shadow.

The wise adapt themselves to circumstances,

as water molds itself to the pitcher.

Chinese Proverb

 

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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Connection is Our Outlet for Outrage http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/connection-is-our-outlet-for-outrage/ Sun, 16 Aug 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/connection-is-our-outlet-for-outrage/

By KM Huber

If we do not have a reverence for all life, does any life really matter?

Having reverence for life is to extend good manners to every being on this planet. Having reverence for life means that we understand there is an energy that gives all of us life, including the natural world.

We extend good manners to every form of life around us. That is to understand reverence for life.

Edward Abbey said, “It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”

Yes, our exploitation of the natural world means that we must now defend and preserve it. In the natural world, death occurs as part of the lifecycle.

Death, at the hands of the human species, occurs for myriad reasons, many of which have nothing to do with survival and everything to do with anger.

We act as if we are in control of this planet. We are not. It is not the natural world that needs us. We need it.

More and more, our outrage separates us from revealing a reverence for life.  That separation may very well be killing us and the planet.

We are not united in our outrage. Rather, we compare and contrast the act of killing animals with other senseless, human deaths killed on the streets where they live.

There is not time to mourn one life before another is taken. There is no outlet for our outrage.

At the core of this divisive anger is a lack of compassion, although compassion is at the core of every major religious tradition as is the fragility and importance of each life on this planet.

We are not looking through a wide-angle lens. We have narrowed our scope.

There is confusion of equality with equanimity because we do not examine why we keep ourselves separate from rather than connecting with reverence for life.

All of this arguing over which life is more relevant/important is like comparing apples and oranges. How can one death matter more than another—ever–especially when we profess a reverence for all life?

We demand that an apple is an orange and vice versa. They have a relationship as fruit yet they are not the same from the outside in or the inside out.

Each apple or orange has unique characteristics. To have the same expectations for both is to deny life as well as our connection to it. We are denying our own existence.

No matter how many times we say it, one life does not matter more than another. Such a comparison separates us.

In Buddhism, being separate from life is to believe we have a kind of “supremacy” over all life, as if we owned it. We do not. Our belief in this ownership is why we suffer: we attach, we are averse, we are indifferent.

Our attachment to a certain way of life and our aversion to another way of life lead to a general indifference to death, until it touches us. Then, we have no outlet for our outrage.

We demand the natural world respect human boundaries. Often, species extinction is the price. What does it say about us that we are willing to destroy the very world that sustains us?

It is our unfortunate history and legacy that we have never understood this from our earliest days on this planet.

Matthew Wright explores this point in his excellent essay, “Cecil the lion’s death highlights the fact that humanity is the scourge of a fragile Earth”:

“…we unerringly manage to destroy every environment we go into. All, I suspect, downstream of a survival technique that worked quite well when there were only a few thousand of us and all we had were stone tools and sticks. “

In another fine essay on controlling our lives, “Breaking Free,” Liz Beres offers a unique perception on living in the here and now: she offers that it requires “an incessant acceptance of permeable principles. “

With “permeable principles,” we extend good manners. Life is approached with equanimity, with a respect for each and every life on this planet. There is a reverence for all life. We extend good manners.

These days, it is difficult not to be angry. Some days, I just cannot stop myself. However, I have learned that in hanging onto my anger, I will only give it life in other places, inadvertently or no.

In maintaining a connection with all life, I have an outlet for my outrage. That may sound too simplistic. Maybe it is but I know it is difficult to do. Human history reveals that.

The natural world provides for our existence. We need it. It does not need us. Never has.

Not all the anger in the world will change that.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

 

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Are You Living a Life of Signal Static? http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/are-you-living-a-life-of-signal-static/ Sun, 09 Aug 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/are-you-living-a-life-of-signal-static/

By KM Huber

More and more I am struck by the number of signals we receive on any given day. Yet, just because a signal is sent does not mean it is received. It can get lost in signal static.

How we receive signals certainly colors what we send, thoughtful response or immediate reaction.  Whether or not signals overwhelm us, we are always in relationship with them.

There is not a moment–or nanosecond for that matter–that a signal is not sent or received. Response is an individual matter.

Each signal is a demand on our attention, and often, we feel bombarded. In order to be part of 21st century life, it feels as if we must be sender and receiver simultaneously.

But being both exacts a high price to our own existence as well as to the world’s.

For me, signals are the energy of existence, a constant competition for our attention be it a hand gesture or the tugging of “our gut” begging us to respond.

Beyond our physical senses are magnetic fields and electric currents, and the technology that allows us to send and receive 24/7.

And what of the signals we do not know about? I suspect there are signals sent that remain unheard for there is much yet to explore in this dimension of existence that we inhabit.

Yet, we do not lack for signals. We are, however, lacking in our attention to signals.

In response to the signal overload of our lives, we pride ourselves on our ability to send and receive multiple signals. We believe we are good at it.

We split our attention among signals, responding as if each were not a unique signal. Yet, as weary as we are at the number of signals demanding our attention, we anxiously await the next signal coming through.

Our mind-body is all about maintaining balance, right down to each and every cell. It is a constant challenge for our mind-body to keep shifting in this scramble for signals.

Our mind is not hardwired for such splintering. There is no multiple signal software for the heart.

More than we ever admit, we mix up signals. Sometimes, we completely miss a signal while other times, we send a signal best left not sent.

It is a rerouting of the energy of existence, a change in the coming and going. The nature of our response creates a new series of signals. The created change has been sent.

It is like an O. Henry story, in which signal after signal is sent, often in desperation or good intention. Yet, in the final sentence of the story, we discover the signals scrambled. Attention misplaced or never given at all.

For things to reveal themselves to us,

we need to be ready to abandon our views about them

(Thich Nhat Hanh)

Moments are a series of signals, options readily available to us. We need to receive each signal singularly so that its unique story may unfold.

These stories are the moments of our lives. We owe each one our undivided attention so that we may respond mindfully.

It is for the earth to spin on its axis. Ours is not to spin but to stand and receive the signals–the experiences of our lives. How else will things reveal themselves to us?

Always, the choice is ours. We can focus on receiving a clear signal and respond or live a life of static, simultaneously sending and receiving, unaware of how we are changing existence.

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KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2015 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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