Wednesday, November 29, 2006

26 Months

"Because you can"

We were watching this really lousy generic movie that was about as imaginative as trying to figure out who Jessica Simpson is recently dating (brain-dead material). The only thing positive that I got out of it once I'd jammed my finger on the off button was that we should do the things we really want to do in life. Just because we can. How many hours do we waste discovering new ways to keep us from doing everything we want to do? For me, that's easy, I just have to look at my bathroom or open the folder that holds my novel or check out the dust on my Butsudon. All of these things are on my back burner when they should actually be what I'm focusing on.

I'm a Buddhist. I practice Buddhism with the SGI, which is based on Nichiren Buddhism. I can confidently say that what I have learned about this life philosophy seems very profound without being too erudite and magical. Very rarely am I asked to suspend my disbelief and when I have questions about certain aspects, my own perspectives are just as valuable as of those who are trying to teach me. What I do know is that Life is an incredible enigma that we are constantly discovering and tasting and cherishing and somehow I simply want to value the experience as much as possible.

One of the foundations of our practice is taking action. It's a daily practice, which means that we meditate every day by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo over and over and over again. This daily active force then helps us develop our lives so that we may become more enlightened individuals and begin to affect change in our environment. It's not as simple as it sounds and without taking action daily it simply doesn't have the effect we desire, just like everything else we do in our life. Whether it's our families or our work environment or our international relationships, nothing will come of them if we don't put forth an effort to create value in life.

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

It's widely recognized that nothing will occur if we don't take the initial steps. Over the past 26 months I've been able to witness this basic fundamental premise of life in action. Lucas has continuously amazed us with all of his advancement. He's gone from not being able to hold up his head to jumping and dancing and shouting and laughing hysterically and demanding and hugging (he gives such great hugs). That natural drive to succeed is thriving within him and helps push him forward. All of us went through exactly what he's going through now, and some of us still have that within us naturally while others...find a way to stifle it.

"I am alive. I am alive and that's the best that I can do."

Somewhere along the line this sentiment became enough, acceptable, no matter if it isn't true. It might sound good in a song or a melancholy poem but it's not true. We aren't even close to being the best. Not as a species. Not as a country. Not as human beings. We have a long way to go. One of the things that used to scare the hell out of me was the understanding that I wasn't going to get all of it. That I would travel through this existence and there would be things I wouldn't experience, beauty that I wouldn't witness, wisdom that would forever evade me. That life would continue on without me. Yeah, I know how selfish that sounds but those are the types of thoughts that would make my skin crawl. It made me feel minuscule, worthless, unimportant.

But here's the thing. All of that stuff that I used to fear is going to happen whether I like it or not and yeah, one day my life will vanish into the ether and no one will remember me. But that doesn't mean that my life is worthless. It doesn't mean that everything that I'm experiencing right now is inconsequential. Only if I let it.

After I began to chant I began to have a different perspective on that view of missing out on life. I realized that I have the fortune (as do all human beings) to inexperience life to the fullest. That I will be able to do the things that I want to do right up until the moment my life is over. I will always be able to learn and teach and write and expound on the complexities of this life. And instead of fearing this these thoughts now they fill me with joy.

The only way that our lives lack merit is when we don't try to live them fully and vibrantly. How do we do that? We create value any way that we can. We cherish those around us, our family and friends, our neighbors and those who work alongside us. We raise our children with love and compassion. We teach others what we know so that we can all grow together. We embrace the value in all cultures equally understanding that what we don't know can help us become better human beings. We strive to accomplish all that lives in our wild imaginations, our dreams even if those rooms have become dusty and cobwebby. We do the things that we want to do.

Because we can.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

25 Months

We have descended into the uncharted territory of the two-year-old. The terrible twos! or the terrific twos, depending on how you want to look at it. That pretty much goes for everything in life, right? It's all about your perspective. It's wonderful to appreciate such a little beautiful presence in our life or AHHHHH! when will I have some time for myself! Right now we're still positive most of the time so we'll lean toward describing our son's first month in the terrific twos.

We went to the desert last week for the first time this year and the experience wasn't as enjoyable as we hoped, but Lucas was quite happy with the trip. It was a magical place for him with all the pokey plants and big rocks and more big rocks (another dig rock!) and planes flying overhead and a fire-pit and the soft quiet of emptiness. He played in the dirt for hours with his pals Naomi and Asher. Plus he slept like a baby instead of a two-year-old (wait, two-year-olds still sleep like babies) unlike the two people who brought him into this world. And he was blinded by the moon.

The moon couldn't get more full or more bright. It was more like a cool sun rising in the sky so that you weren't quite sure that it wasn't the new dawn on some distant lost world. It was freakin' bright! Flashlights were unnecessary and so was the dreamless sleep that never quite happens in the desert anyway. This time we cursed that round face with a twisted smile that laughed at the headache pounding the inside of your skull as you tossed and turned and prayed for a quick end to the endless torture. I would have revealed ancient secrets unknown to myself even if it meant the world would descend into a perpetual darkness of night, which is obviously the moons true intention. On a daily basis the sun is chased away from our day by that wretched demon who never looks back.

So, yeah, it wasn't our best camping trip.

But it was really interesting being there with a two-year-old compared to a one-year-old, which was the last time we went camping in the desert with Lucas. If you don't know, the desert flora has evolved dramatically throughout time into wicked prickly thorny shrubs that hook and barb you to death. Even the most benign plant somehow finds a way to scratch you. Well, the last time we arrived with Lucas and set him down on the sand he immediately started stumbling around causing our hearts to stop everytime an agave reared near. He'd only begun to walk a few weeks before anyway so you pretty much had to lurch around after him trying to imagine if he'd be more or less cute with an eyepatch. And this was like day and I'd say a half-moon night. He was bounding around the plants, scrambling over rocks and skirting the fire with ease. He's become very comfortable with his ability to be upright and we've become very comfortable with him. I was hardly startled by anything he seemed to be doing and not once did I think of eyepatches or bandages. He even had his first rock climbing experience, pushing and pulling himself over and around rocks (another dig rock!) twice his size without once needing a hand from papa. I was really proud of him.

I guess the desert experience was worth it after all, and it's also become quite apparent that I adore my son...especially now that he's in his terrific twos.

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