Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘stress relief’

Zen in our Techno-Monetary society

This journal entry was originally posted in 2012.

It seemed worth repeating.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Sunset Moon

It wasn’t easy choosing a name for the blog Armchair Zen, though that’s how I’ve referred to my personal philosophy for some time. Names like “Zen in the modern world” and “Everyday Zen” and the like seemed to be taken. I guess everyone has the same idea.

Mostly the idea of ACZ is to share thoughts and philosophy with those that want to seek enlightenment, peace in their daily lives, harmony with the world, nature, the cosmos and life itself. It’s not about achieving perfection or some higher plane or a place in the next life or eternity. It’s about understanding our capabilities and limitations in this life, it’s about acceptance, understanding, compassion, forgiving and letting go.

As it says in About, these things are nothing new. Applying them to today’s world is not always that easy. We live in a world I term a Techno-Monetary society. We’re surrounded by wonderful technologies from life-saving medicine, global communications, electronic entertainment, space exploration and productivity greater than mankind has ever known, bolstered by the machines and artificial intelligences of our modern world.

In ancient times and old days, individuals and whole communities were isolated, and did not have the benefit of the vast volumes of knowledge mankind has compiled since. Their lives were filled with strife, at the mercy of the elements, filled with superstitions, fears, and lack of understanding of things that seem simple to us today. The sun, the solar system, what makes rain, thunder, tornadoes. They had more time, and perhaps a greater need, to seek peace within their lives.

We are also slaves to the monetary system. In all the developed countries (probably 90% of the globe), we need to work at something to earn money for rent, taxes, clothing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. This is really not new, nor does it strictly apply to developed countries or societies. Go back a couple thousand years and we find people did not live the simple agrarian lives we might imagine. Subsistence farmers & ranchers, mountain-men and even minimalist communities of today need to barter goods or trade cash for the things they can’t make. Cooking kettles, sewing needles, broadcloth, tack supplies, sugar, salt, bacon.

Finding our personal zen and peace within our lives seems like a considerable challenge after negotiating traffic, signing in at work, talking to customers, clients or co-workers that are not seeking enlightened ways, and any number of non-zen, non-nature, non-peace-encouraging things we must do.

Still, I find my ACZ to be pervasive. It hasn’t always been that way. I was “Two Jakes” for many years, seeking solace in nature and creative expression during my precious evenings and weekends, and turning off the peace machine when going to battle with the world. After some years of concentration, practice and informal self-cognitive behavioral therapy, the zen has spread to all hours of the day.

Nowadays there are few interactions with others wherein the conscious-competence of ACZ does not rule. Filter-monitoring, managing emotions & reactions, thinking forgiveness & acceptance, seeking to navigate all situations for the best outcome of all under the guidance of enlightened thought & behavior. Spread loving compassion by being loving and compassionate. Spread forgiveness and acceptance by being forgiving and accepting. Appreciate the beauty of the world around us by opening our eyes and minds and truly seeing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always simple!

That’s really all for this post. Perhaps it’s not a lot of meat, but an encouragement to those that may be seeking the path to peace. Sure, it takes a little time and concentration, but it can be done without extensive training or effort or money or social status or massive brain power.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect. Everyone is welcome.

The cosmos, and I, love each and every thing without judgement.

That includes you!

Be at peace,

Paz

My Cosmos

The Corner Star

The Corner Star

When I take the time to remember that this is My Cosmos, relief washes over me.

The world of this creature on this green rock is downright bizarre compared to the consistent, predictable, unhurried pace of the universe.

No need to run to the Corner Star before it closes because it burns always, with enough fuel to run four billion more years or so.

By then, it’ll be of no concern to me or my kin.

In spite of the seemingly-fantastic speeds, vast expanses measured, unfathomable numbers expressed using the mechanical and mathematical terms of the species trapped on a single tiny planet, the cosmos will not be rushed.

You and I cannot compel it to finish the Quasar before our vacation. We can’t postpone or reschedule the meteor shower due to cloud cover over North America. We can’t call in and skip the crash of our galaxy into the next as we hurtle through space at six hundred kilometers per second on a collision course.

And so, with relief, I said aloud to the sky, “Well, this is My Cosmos. I’ll do whatever I want with it.” I may seize the day or let it pass. I can fritter away the minuscule ration of hours afforded me. Trapped here inside this mind, on this planet, in this wondrous thing called life and time, complete and total freedom awaits me.

“The world is your exercise book.” roughly paraphrasing Richard Bach in Illusions.

You’re free to write your reps, or write lies, or scribble, or tear out the pages.

Go ahead. It’s Your Cosmos.

 

Be at peace,

 

Paz

Rural Zen: January

Welcome January!

Welcome January!

Some folks live on tropical islands, where the weather is the same every day. Sunshiny mornings, breezy noons, afternoon showers and beautiful red sunsets. It sure sounds pretty.

I have fallen in love with the visceral experiences of my Northeast home, the changing seasons.  My son is fond of saying “Without winter, we wouldn’t appreciate the spring.”, and there’s some truth to that I suppose.

Winter is a reminder (when it’s 12 degrees and the wind is whipping snow in my face) that the cosmos is cold. Absolute zero they call it, which represents something like 400 degrees below zero on our Farenheit scale.

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!

A glance at the thermometer, and Chuy looks at me. It stands to reason if you wear a fur coat all the time, you’re not so inclined to notice the cold. Unable to disappoint my furry friend, I don the gear of January. Long johns under pants, double socks, three layers of shirts & sweaters. Hat(s), scarf, Ranger boots, insulated gloves, and finally, snowshoes.

We strike out, my four-legged cohort and I, as if we have been called to rescue alpine skiers, so eager are we to be out in the magic of the season. The snow is beautiful, breathtaking, gorgeous…choose your own superlative. Unsure precisely why, I love the look of the snow. Heaped on pines, drifting in the driveway, painting the hillsides and valleys of Engleville. Perhaps it’s the freshness, the clean-ness, the pure white powder like a coat of fluffy paint, making everything look bright and new. Perhaps it’s the transient nature of the elements. The snow, the ice, snow birds, the crystal clear starfield at night, the red spire of a sun rising through a light snow shower, all these will be memory before we know it, when we round that corner to spring.

Superlatives

Superlatives

There’s something more, something driving me, calling me out into the pristine winter world. Like a child impatient to go out and build snowmen and ride my sled down anything resembling a hill. Chuy is just a catalyst, a good excuse to go do something that seems imprudent. To go take a walk in the winter wood when most normal folks are trying to hide inside, throwing more wood on the fire.

There are other participants in this insanity. Sure, the folks on the snowmobiles are behind windscreens, gripping heated handlebars. Across the valley I can hear loggers felling trees. Chainsaws and skid steers, work and movement producing heat. Folks out on the frozen ponds auger holes to fish through fourteen inches of ice.

Fishers of Ice

Fishers of Ice

On the trail, chickadees seem to follow our progress up the hill. Now and then a rabbit may be seen, chewing off the tops of plants buried in a foot of snow. At the intersections of foot trails the ground is littered with prints of every kind. You can stand in one place and count the tracks and marks of a half-dozen animal friends. Big, comic bird feet prints left by wild turkeys, scratching through the snow to get to grasses and ground. Tiny paw prints that seem almost unreal, tracing the path of a wee deer mouse as he transits what must seem like a vast wasteland above the snow. Immediately below, tunnels, burrows through the snow where mice and moles may make their rounds without the need to come “to the surface”. Rabbit tracks race about, sometimes leaping great five-foot strides eluding predators. Coyote tracks, on the move, not far behind the rabbit, willing to settle for the mouse.

Colors are striking against the white backdrop. Or would it be a foreground? Whatever we call this coating of crystallized frozen water, it highlights and contrasts every subtlety and nuance of a winterized world. Pinebark looks red-brown, lichens hanging on tenaciously sport bright green sprigs. The blue of the spruce, the lighter green of the fir. Red-osier dogwoods and remnants of last year’s Staghorn Sumac add a dash of crimson, unmatched by the cardinal that stops briefly in a nearby pine.

Chuy takes to the south loop, where we rarely trod, though for no real reason. He takes me to the treeline between the pine stands and Widowmaker Hill. In places, the pines, concord grape vines, undergrowth and overgrowth are better suited for those that don’t walk erect. Better suited for four-legged beings standing less than lowest-pine-branch tall.

South Loop, January

South Loop, January

In the snow is found artwork. Sweeping gestures, with a rhythmic pattern, a dozen brushes marking the snow with impressions. At first, it looks like wind painting. Aside from drifts, swirls, and snowbank formations of every kind, the grasses and weeds arching in the wind will sweep back and forth, leaving arcs of myriad sizes, breadths, lengths. This is a wing painting. There is a story here, where there are two wing impressions and no footsteps.

Here, a sharp-eyed Red-tailed Hawk, a Barn Owl, or a Northern Harrier spotted something in the snow, or perhaps beneath it. Pointed into the wind, with the sun positioned so it will cast no shadow on the trail, on steady wings it glides, eyes and instincts fixed on the moving morsel. Wings and tail make the slightest corrections on entry. Keep the speed, a little to the left, swoop around the vine-entangled hedgerow, drop vertically between the pines and the bare apple and hornbeam trees, open talons…BAM! With one clutch of claw the rodent is doomed to be lunch. With a single, powerful thrusting revolution of light-as-air bones and feathers, the wings bear both victor and victim aloft, retiring elsewhere to enjoy the victuals.

Story in Snow

Story in Snow

Lost in these simple moments. Only writing about it afterward brings realization that in that moment, all faculties are invested. There is no here or now or next or tomorrow or yesterday. There is this. I am a child of the universe, one alone and yet simultaneously part of the whole of many. Animals carry no baggage around labeled “yesterday”, “today”, “now”, “tomorrow”, “Ten years ago”, “when I retire”. Concepts of me and you and them do not exist.

There is this.

And I am a part. Of the pines and spruces. Of the snow and trail. Of the hawk and mouse. Of the dog and human. An infinitesimal piece of an infinite universe.

The sun is setting. We walk on.

 

Be at peace,

 

Paz

Sabatical

AquaMarie Sunset

AquaMarie Sunset

It’s good for the soul to get away from it all. Well, unless you already live away from it all, which really describes home now that I think of it.

Life dropped one of those ripples in my pond this spring. One of those things that causes us to pause. To evaluate and assess. To scrutinize our present and future, to clarify our course as we plod through the days. If not for a few ripples, we would appreciate less the calm waters on which we sail if we are fortunate.

So for July, sail we did. We set sail for beautiful Forked lake in the Adirondack mountains. A son, a couple good friends, a couple of tents and a crystal clear lake full of delicious Largemouth Bass. Ah, a formula for relaxation.

Captain's seat

Captain’s seat

Caught enough fish to feed the pack Saturday night. A fresh bass shore dinner. There’s something rewarding in a neolithic way about bringing home food for the tribe. It doesn’t hurt that appetites double when you spend the weekend outdoors.

 

Dinner for the tribe

Dinner for the tribe

While I haven’t been writing posts and updating blogs, I’ve been pursuing my Armchair Zen out in the real world. There have been so many beauty-filled days this summer, and we (Chuy & I) have wrung the most we could out of most of them. Really, it’s an ACZ tenet to try to disconnect from the over-connected world we now live in.

 

Ryan & me

Ryan & me

Somehow, spending three days together in our boats, on the shore, around the campfire and sharing tents doesn’t sound too disconnected to me.

In fact, this sounds like the kind of connection that’s just what a wrinkled and rippled old Armchair Zen Master needs.

Connecting with nature, with friends, with my kids, my grandkids.

Just a reminder: the above things are real.

The TV, the smartphone, the iPod and ipad, the laptop, the slate, the tablet and Kindle…not real.

If you’re a follower of ACZ, you’ll know what I mean. If not, you can go into the archives and stumble down our path. Or, you’re free to virtually leave this virtual world and virtually travel to the other virtual worlds splayed before you in living backlit electronic color.

Another option: shut this stuff off, and get out into the big blue & green world.

Take someone by the hand and bring them with you.

If you have no one else, drop a line.

Ryan, Chuy & I are always available.

The Big Blue

The Big Blue

Take care & keep in touch.

 

Be at peace,

 

Paz

You can predict the future!

Winter menagerie

Winter menagerie

People say “you can’t predict the future”. I disagree.

Folks talk about living in the moment, but you can’t stop yourself from living in the future.

Think about it. Imagine if you just started walking and didn’t think about anything except that next step, truly living in the moment. Well, suppose the next step is right off a cliff? Before you pick your foot up you’re bound to predict a certain future here, and you know what? That’s good, or we’d all be dead.

The human brain is not thinking in the proverbial now, but always in the next.

Is there ground beneath me to support my feet?

If I stand will I strike my head on a ceiling?

If I breath in now I can avoid suffocation, things like that.

Animals predict the future, too, so don’t start with that Most Highly Developed species attitude.

Think about the constant and complex physics a bobcat is dealing with chasing a zig-zagging rabbit through the snow.

Imagine a bird of prey closing on a rodent moving through thick grass.

We flat-out count on a lot of presumptive predictions of the future. Maybe this seems obvious or even silly to some, but if you grasp this idea it helps us to understand the subconscious workings of our minds.

In “Think Not-Thinking” (ACZ Archive, 3/21/11) the process of meditation is examined. Meditation is intended to quiet the mind, to reduce stress or anxiety. When effective, it can allow you to turn down the subconscious future-telling.

This is important because your brain can’t stop living in the future, can’t stop checking the to-do list and planner. Even the Most Highly Developed Species can’t turn off the engines of instinct.

So don’t beat yourself up because you feel you can’t “live in the now” all the time. Your brain is looking out for you and those depending on you, even in your sleep, every minute of every day. It’s normal for your mind to be ruminating or mulling or planning all the time, and we’re glad about it.

Otherwise, we’d all freeze and starve.

If we didn’t walk off a cliff first.

Be at peace,

Paz

Creativity and Seeing

When you think of it, folks in the blogosphere are creative people. It takes a creative whim to want to write something intended for a general or unknown audience. Whatever may be your “homepage”, everyone posts stories and pix about their lives onto their little piece of the cloud, but in most “social networks”, folks are addressing a specific invited group of family, friends and acquaintances.

Searching for red 128

The original thought here was to compose an entry encouraging you to embrace your creative side, and express it in any way you can. It’s an ancient instinct for humans, (an instinct shared by a number of animals that decorate their nests). Go all the way back to face painting and cave paintings and you see a legacy of the human desire to create something. Something with a message and value to others. Something that will connect us to another human being brain-to-brain and heart-to-heart. Something that will exist and speak for us, stand on its own, even if we are absent or long-gone.

Language, of course, made it possible for us to do this with the characters on the printed page. To describe joy and beauty and anguish and heartbreak, humor and sadness, wonder and imagination.

Many folks have a great apprehension against calling themselves writers or artists. I refer to myself as “amateur”, in the sense that my artistic pursuits do not achieve widespread success in the forms of notoriety, acclaim or income. (Well, I did make money playing in a few bands and making signs in my younger days.) Okay, let’s say no great success or commercial success or whatever you want to call it, but does that mean the art is any less art?

Well, some of that’s a topic for debate another time. What I’d like to share at this time is the wonderous influence art has had in my life and my perception, even my understanding of human perception. And fish perception if you lump fly tying in there. Some people are artists at fly tying. I’m not even amateur. More like a hack. But seriously, the French call it “to fool the eye”, and I guess if you can “fool the eye” of a rainbow trout, you’re an artist!

October rain

So here’s your “Seeing” test. Okay, it’s not really a test at all, it’s just an observation and study of your brain’s powerful perception of the real world. One at a time, imagine these plants:

A tulip.

A maple tree.

A lilac bush.

Are you imagining what these look like in your mind’s eye? Go back if you must. It’s not a trick or a race.

How about a rose bush?

Marigolds.

Pumpkins.

Okay, okay. Enough of the test. You were supposed to be imagining these plants. Pumpkins was a great last-minute thought. Did you see orange pumpkins? What color were the roses? How about the lilacs? What kind of birds are below?

Always leaving.

If you thought these were Canada geese, you are correct. Okay, so how do you know they’re Canada geese when all you can see are these black specs? (My kids said every photo I ever took of a bird showed a speck.)

Was the tree full of leaves? The rose full of flowers? The lilac in bloom? Were there orange pumpkins?

Did you see a bare maple tree without leaves, in the snow? Did you see a lilac tree in winter dormancy, or covered with green leaves of summer, yet without blossoms? Did you see pumpkin vines and blossoms, but plants without fruit?

Odds are, you saw all these things in full life and bloom. Like a story book, a stereotype of what a rose or pumpkin looks like. Even the geese were identified by pattern recognition!

What do you see?

When I took up oil painting, I had to learn to “re-see” things. In painting it’s referred to as “unteaching” that which we’d been inadvertently “taught”. Tree trunks are brown with green lollipop tops. The sun is yellow, the sky is blue, clouds are white, the water bright blue. All those things may be true at some times, but what about colors in the clouds? How about white water and brown water and water the color of whatever is reflected in it? Is a leafy tree colored green in the light and gray in the shadows? Are shadows black?

Thanks to my “amateur” attempts at oil painting, I have learned to see what is really there. As I course through my days I see the spectrum of colors the water droplets reflect into a cloud. Sometimes you can see the red or green or blue, and grays and purples are frequent. Sometimes the sky is bright cerulean blue and sometimes bold aquamarine and sometimes a pale blue, a frosty pastel.

Sunrise spectrum.

Trees are anything but lollipop-shaped, (except for a few oddities), and grow with a purpose, reaching and climbing, expanding their girth as they age. Trunks are gray and brown and black with green, and white with stripes, sometimes smooth, sometimes ragged. Leaves in shadows are the same color as those in the light, so how do we perceive this? What of color saturation, hue and intensity?

It is by trying to recreate that which I see that has led me to seeing what is really there. Now I am constantly observing, re-learning, truly understanding what the world around me looks like.

Many times I see things and say “If I painted that just the way it is, you’d say it doesn’t look real!”.  Try reading an entry-level book about painting, drawing or pastels. “Drawing from the right side of the brain” is standard fare for artists, and teaches us this very concept.

Even if you don’t indulge your creativity in these forms of art, I’ll guarantee they’ll help you to see!

Be at peace,

Paz

 

Maybe you’re not ready for this.

Trying to formulate a way to relate this concept: I wasn’t ready to truly experience Armchair Zen 20 years ago. Maybe I should say I thought I was trying to live a type of zen life, but it was more like boot camp. I was doing drills and following directions though I had no sub-conscious competence.  Still, my mind and focus were filled with and attached to  the material world, the manufactured society world, the looking-glass world humankind scurries around in.

Training wheels off.

My brain desired all the elements of ACZ. Coveted them. Fought for them. Judged those that would fail to desire them or stand in the way. Isn’t that ironic? To be in a fully realized state of Armchair Zen, one must put all selfish thoughts aside. One must never judge another existence in a Universe you neither control nor fully understand. Fighting is right out.

 

So, give me a break, and give yourself one, too, if you’re me of 20 years ago.

Controlling the money to get the thing was the myopic goal.

Forget things, and you’ll find they take a very comfortable place all around you, and you may enjoy one another without conflict.

“Keeping” “Someone” from interfering with my life, forcing me to do what I wanted not.

No one can really force you, now can they? Perhaps you may have to work to stay on your path. Perhaps you may have to abandon fear and need for control, control itself, power, worry, and predicting the future. Sure, humankind has taught you a lot, but learning to discern the subtleties between good lessons and bad is not easy.

If I do this and this and this it will equal three. Damn, why isn’t this working?

You didn’t finish primary education in a year, or college in a week or pregnancy in a day. Seeds planted yesterday just look like wet dirt. Life has a waiting game because it takes that long. Period. No reasoning, nothing deep. If you prefer to paraphrase it you could say “Because that’s how long it takes.”, or “It takes that long because it does.” or any number of catchy enlightened phrases.

The gentlest push

Listen, in spite of popular opinion, life, for the majority of us achieving the dubious distinction of an average one, is very long, punctuated with frequent and sometimes lengthy periods of boredom, life in the trenches. Call them ruts if you choose, but work is happening in trenches. Work that needs to be done, and somebody needs to step up and do it. Work that benefits many more people inhabiting the level ground above.

I equate this time with the several decades of marrying and raising children and working jobs and all the living, breathing moments tied up in the busy work required of living and breathing. Brains are only so large, and have a limited capacity, and when you overfill them, things spill out to make room for more. Just keep breathing.

So you’re learning. You’re working towards something. You’re discovering something. (Ready or not. Discoveries can come at the most surprising and sometimes inopportune times.) You’re gardening in your head and caring for all the little sprouts and trying to deduce which are weeds and which are glorious flowers.

How will you know when you’re ready? Well, I think different areas will be ready at different times.

One year you’ll be ready to fully realize the relation of possessions to our lives. Valuable, but fleeting and not truly important.

One year you’ll let yourself be lost in the magical inebriation that is great wonder. Once it starts, it grows increasingly more encompassing, like a ringlet on water.

One year you’ll fully realize forgiveness when you catch yourself being forgiving.

First you will understand how to forgive everyone else.

Ultimately you’ll realize that without judgement, there is nothing to be forgiven, and that goes for you, too.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.

Off you go, little one

In the meantime, cut yourself some slack. You weren’t expected to do algebra in kindergarten, were you?

Okay, okay. You’re not required to live a peaceful life in harmony with the buzz of the cosmos.

You’re welcome to hang on to all that strife and worry as long as you want. Liberty. It’s your life.

Whenever you’re ready.

 

Be at peace, (or study for it),

 

Paz

It’s not for everybody

Wonder years

 

We are each products of our upbringing. Our lives to this point, mostly shaped during our early childhood and wonder years, and continually built upon each day until now. (see “Ring Theory”, ACZ Archives, February 2011)

 In my line of work, that day job I have to support my life in this Techno-Monetary society, to pay for things like this blog site, we deal with a number of skills. Our jobs are half technical, half construction, half art and half people-business (sort of paraphrasing Yogi Berra). Some of the folks that try just don’t make the cut, and I tell them “it’s not for everybody”. It takes a unique set of skills and the ability to handle some difficult aspects of the job, such as frequent overnight travel.

 The same can be said of Armchair Zen, or perhaps any number or all manner of philosophies, behaviors or outlooks. Someone wrote to me once and said something to the effect of “I don’t need to practice a certain belief to feel at peace, you just get there.” Well, I won’t argue with that, because that’s their belief, but I know in my case it took many years and a lot of introspection and self-imposed amateur cognitive behavioral therapy, and I’m still not done, I’m sure. If it wasn’t for a number of triggers and some writings of sages, I may never have tried to seek the path of peace.

 Still, just like sushi or football, it’s not for everybody. It seems some people are comfortable in their anger or hostility towards the world, or they feel helpless and overwhelmed, drowning in their negativity. I can’t understand some of it, but it almost appears that they like being angry or bummed-out or suffering all the time.

 Much of that could be considered attention-seeking behavior, and some of it is clearly defensive. It seems some people like or need to be at the center of things, and they draw attention with their tales of woe, worry and angst. It seems some people have a hard, often aggressive and verbally defensive exterior, and I can’t help but think it’s a lot of hooey covering up a great deal of insecurity.

 Many times I have tried to work with someone in one of these states, pouring buckets of Armchair Zen over their heads, hoping to save them from their worries, save them from themselves, essentially. I’ve noted how often there is no suggestion that can help them, no way out of their dilemma. That’s when I say “Clearly you don’t want to consider any other options here, as it would interfere with your suffering.

 In his book Illusions, author Richard Bach wrote a bit that I have adopted and used for the past 35 years or so, to wit: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.”

 So I’m partial to introspective philosophy, self-scrutiny, and all the rest that makes up Armchair Zen. It doesn’t mean I have to move to Tibet and give away all my worldly possessions. (Though strangely I see monks with cell phones on TV…hmm) It just seems to me that CHOOSING to think in certain ways, KNOWING why we think or feel certain things, QUESTIONING if this is the me I’d imagined for myself, and PRACTICING that which I think is in harmony with the cosmos is a smarter way to go.

 But, you know, it’s not for everybody.

 Be at peace,

 Paz

Zen in our Techno-Monetary society

Sunset Moon

It wasn’t easy choosing a name for the blog Armchair Zen, though that’s how I’ve referred to my personal philosophy for some time. Names like “Zen in the modern world” and “Everyday Zen” and the like seemed to be taken. I guess everyone has the same idea.

Mostly the idea of ACZ is to share thoughts and philosophy with those that want to seek enlightenment, peace in their daily lives, harmony with the world, nature, the cosmos and life itself. It’s not about achieving perfection or some higher plane or a place in the next life or eternity. It’s about understanding our capabilities and limitations in this life, it’s about acceptance, understanding, compassion, forgiving and letting go.

As it says in About, these things are nothing new. Applying them to today’s world is not always that easy. We live in a world I term a Techno-Monetary society. We’re surrounded by wonderful technologies from life-saving medicine, global communications, electronic entertainment, space exploration and productivity greater than mankind has ever known, bolstered by the machines and artificial intelligences of our modern world.

In ancient times and old days, individuals and whole communities were isolated, and did not have the benefit of the vast volumes of knowledge mankind has compiled since. Their lives were filled with strife, at the mercy of the elements, filled with superstitions, fears, and lack of understanding of things that seem simple to us today. The sun, the solar system, what makes rain, thunder, tornadoes. They had more time, and perhaps a greater need, to seek peace within their lives.

We are also slaves to the monetary system. In all the developed countries (probably 90% of the globe), we need to work at something to earn money for rent, taxes, clothing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. This is really not new, nor does it strictly apply to developed countries or societies. Go back a couple thousand years and we find people did not live the simple agrarian lives we might imagine. Subsistence farmers & ranchers, mountain-men and even minimalist communities of today need to barter goods or trade cash for the things they can’t make. Cooking kettles, sewing needles, broadcloth, tack supplies, sugar, salt, bacon.

Finding our personal zen and peace within our lives seems like a considerable challenge after negotiating traffic, signing in at work, talking to customers, clients or co-workers that are not seeking enlightened ways, and any number of non-zen, non-nature, non-peace-encouraging things we must do.

Still, I find my ACZ to be pervasive. It hasn’t always been that way. I was “Two Jakes” for many years, seeking solace in nature and creative expression during my precious evenings and weekends, and turning off the peace machine when going to battle with the world. After some years of concentration, practice and informal self-cognitive behavioral therapy, the zen has spread to all hours of the day.

Nowadays there are few interactions with others wherein the conscious-competence of ACZ does not rule. Filter-monitoring, managing emotions & reactions, thinking forgiveness & acceptance, seeking to navigate all situations for the best outcome of all under the guidance of enlightened thought & behavior. Spread loving compassion by being loving and compassionate. Spread forgiveness and acceptance by being forgiving and accepting. Appreciate the beauty of the world around us by opening our eyes and minds and truly seeing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always simple!

That’s really all for this post. Perhaps it’s not a lot of meat, but an encouragement to those that may be seeking the path to peace. Sure, it takes a little time and concentration, but it can be done without extensive training or effort or money or social status or massive brain power.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect. Everyone is welcome.

The cosmos, and I, love each and every thing without judgement.

That includes you!

Be at peace,

Paz

Carpe diem or crappy diem?

Summer morning

The rest of Horace’s famous quote is often overlooked by most folks. The whole phrase is “Carpe diem quam minimum credulo postero”.
Roughly translated, it means “Seize the day, don’t wait for tomorrow”, or perhaps “put minimum credence in tomorrow”. There are a number of slight variations. “Don’t put off to tomorrow what can be done today.” or even “Don’t do today what can be put off indefinitely!”.

Sometimes we can “seize the day”, embrace it, race headlong into it smiling ear-to-ear with vigor. Those are some of the greatest days, providing moments to remember, the high spots in our lives.

Other times, it seems we just can’t pull it together, or something slams our great day and tries to run it off the rails.

Two mantras I use for days that will not be seized:

“You can turn your day around!”

and conversely

“Know when to write off a day.”.

The first one is obvious. Some difficulty or semi-disaster doesn’t have to mean you spend the rest of the day in the doldrums. There are a variety of things you can do, from internal dialogue to acceptance. A change of venue. Plow forward in spite of trouble. Take a break, take a walk, take a breather, take the afternoon off. It’s a matter of keeping a positive attitude and doing something, whatever is within your bag of tricks, to break the chain of negativity, and let the rest of the day unfold on its own. Sometimes, a little stick-to-it-iveness is all it takes, and what seemed a bad day can turn out to be grand, or at least survivable.

The second one is of equal importance. Know when to write off a day. Sometimes, all the pushing of the proverbial rock up the hill just ends up with the rock rolling back over you. Repeatedly.

You woke up late on the one day of the week when you have a meeting at 8 and have to be on time. Then you go to make coffee and that’s when you remember you forgot to buy the coffee yesterday. Then you discover that your clothes don’t just need a fluff ‘n’fold, but somehow the dirty laundry bypassed the hamper and ended up in the clean basket. You go to brush your teeth and the hot water faucet comes off in your hand, so you go to brush your teeth in the kitchen only to discover the water heater has tripped a breaker, and the water is ice-cold.  You go out to your car to discover you left the door open and the seat has snow on it, and as you grumble and sit down with no coffee and cold teeth in your dirty pants on the seat full of snow you discover the dome light has been on all night and the battery is dead. You jump-start the car with the lawn tractor which you thankfully neglected to put in the barn before the snow flew, and slam the car in gear only to find you have a flat tire.

Know when to write off a day.

“Yeah,  Hi Kelly, I won’t be in today. Tell them I’ll phone into the meeting and attend on speakerphone.”

The rest of the day I set my sites on tomorrow. It’s one day out of the 28,000 I’m allotted. Let it go.

Well, maybe I’ll try fixing that faucet. What? I left my tools at work?

Back to bed.

Be at peace,

Paz

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