Monday, June 30, 2008

45 Months

Look at our beautiful boy! He has such a presence. Anything that he desires will be his.

I went to a Buddhist meeting in San Francisco that was specifically geared toward men. In our Buddhist organization, the majority of men who practice are much more mature and have been connected to the philosophy for decades. It was a long bus trip from San Diego, late on a Friday night and the meeting was to be held on Saturday, the next day. The trip was hellish, endless bumps and jolts, attempting to sleep in a bus seat, snores all around, and people who I simply don't have any connection with beyond our mutual Buddhist practice.

By the time that we arrived in San Francisco early on Saturday, I wasn't very encouraged by the adventure. I called Xtina and vented a little about my predicament. She encouraged me to go into the meeting with an open heart, really embracing every aspect of the program. I took her words to heart and from the opening act to the last sansho, it seemed like everyone who spoke was saying something extremely important for me to hear.

One young man, Jesse Goins, gave an experience that really connected to the value of being a father. The most interesting part of his experience was his own problems with self-esteem that had to deal with growing up because of his relationship with a domineering father. I immediately related to what he was mentioning and began to feel like he was practically speaking directly to me.

In Buddhism there is a concept devoted to changing our karma, and one of the things that is mentioned is the idea that you can change your family's karma from seven generations in the past to seven generations in the future. For a long time, I've been practicing this form of Buddhism for almost ten years now, I couldn't really understand this idea. How was it possible to change your ancestor's karma? But, as Jesse spoke, I began to see Lucas in my mind and all of the intricate human weavings that resulted in his precious life. I realized that karma isn't this irrefutable omnipotent presence that shapes our every move but it does exist deep within our lives. It's habits, that have been shaped and formed for generations! One of the reasons that I began to practice Nichiren Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai International, is due to the idea that we are in control of our lives. I spent years involved with a philosophy where I gave up all of my power to another being, one that would guide me to happiness and righteousness, but it never happened. I wallowed in doubt and depression until I eventually rejected its tenets. I am the type of person that must be able to deal with life in a conscious way and with a logical perspective.

We have the power to change our own personal karma right now. Our personal traits and habits were developed over hundreds of years, passed down from our ancestors. They didn't simply occur because we felt like being depressed or confident or selfish or hateful. These are things that we learned from our parents who learned from their parents who learned from their parents and so on and so on. It takes tremendous effort to break that cycle and most of us don't even think about whether or not we should break it anyway. But we all have certain traits in our lives that do not provide any value, that hinder us in our relationship with our environment, that destroy our lives from the inside out. The philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism teaches us that we can change those aspects of our nature and turn them into something nurturing and beautiful, that we can break that karmic cycle in this lifetime and once we do just that, our children will also be free of that karma as well.

As a young adult Jesse had two children with two different women and neither relationship ended up working out. He then had two children who lived on the other side of the country and needed to develop some kind of healthy connection to this fundamental karmic link. It wasn't until he chanted on transforming his deep habits and developing true happiness in his own life, that he began to see change in the lives of his children. When they grew older, they didn't have any of the anxiety or anguish that plagued him as a young man. They were confident and gracious individuals, the complete opposite of who he was at that age.

Many times I have expressed my concern regarding Lucas coming of age as a young man in our society. The pitfalls and insecurities are too numerous to detail, but I don't want him to suffer through those crucial adolescent years in the same ways that I did. I already know that I am transforming my karma in this regard tremendously, just discussing it and dealing with it in some constructive manner is an incredible step along the path. It was wonderfully rewarding for me to attend this unlikely meeting hundreds of miles away from my home in order to refresh this aspect of my growth.

At the beginning of the meeting, another young man spoke of challenging ourselves to transform something important in our lives at the moment, that this meeting was a kick-off toward making that happen. As a father, I needed that reminder and that was the reason I attended that meeting in San Francisco. I've been changing so many of my habits this year and have focused a lot of my energy on writing, which has always been my true passion. It's been an absolutely rewarding experience but I also haven't made much of an effort to give up my time for my children, sometimes I neglect my fatherly duties to focus on my passion. I want Lucas and I to have a beautiful relationship and I want him to grow up confident and compassionate so that he may develop his life in his own unique way with unlimited potential. I have to work on my karma in order to make that happen. I hope to look back the way that Jesse has and find that my face is brimming with joy when I look upon my sweet boy, when I see the wonderful man that he's become.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Five Months: Part Two

There comes a moment in each child's life when they are cherished so deeply as a vital specimen of human ingenuity. I think that this is that moment for me, five months old, for whenever I put them in my arms, they fit so perfectly and their warm heat settles down into me. When I hold Quinn like that, I feel how special she is to me. Once Lucas reached a certain age, the essence of baby left his small frame and amnesia struck my brain, I couldn't recall this place that I held with him. Now that Quinn has reached this age, it's all flooding back into my heart. These creatures are so special and so pure, you can't help but love them fully.

She's beginning to develop rapidly now. She manipulates her hands with more dexterity and even reacts when something falls from her grasp or lingers too near. She's sitting now with strength in her back and always watching with full eyes. So many people tell me that she looks just like me and I guess that's true, but her eyes are so big and bright and round. She has cartoon eyes, just like Lucas did but in a different way. I don't know if that's simply how babies develop, with big bright eyes or if my biased perspective just adores my two beauties infinitely.

She definitely has my smile. I remember for all of my youth I had to listen to a million people tell me about how beautiful my smile was, which only caused me to smile more until I ached from the exertion. It wasn't until later, in my twenties, that I grew tired of blessing the whole world with that smile, so I squashed it and only used it when I absolutely felt happy or when I got supremely blasted. Now, when she graces us with one of her giant grins (quite often by the way), I see exactly what everyone was talking about. Then I remember my dad and my cousins and all of the Pavlicks grinning like that and it springs the very smile upon my lips. What a pleasure to embrace life so full of ardor. I hope that she smiles forever because she really has it, really makes you feel exquisite inside.

Don't children have that ability though? It only takes the process of squeezing a five month old baby close to your heart to pull out any negative claws that coldly clutch at your insides. A softness erupts from deep within your belly and emanates with vital nutrients throughout your body and your mind drifts beyond the squalid affairs of the world. You are a precious protector of this amazing life that has chosen you to be the parent. What a glorious honor. What a noble moment for anyone to behold.

Quinn helps me everyday. When I forget how important I am to the world. When I loose faith in my power. When the horizon gets hazy. When the dark smoke fills my heart. She is a precious entity that lifts me above the clouds, higher than I ever imagined I could go.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008


In the only Local Rag that is worth opening in San Diego, I received an Honorable Mention in their annual photo contest.



(Photo Courtesy of Phoenix)

New Muxtape featuring a bunch of pop classics, starting off with probably the greatest pop song ever made! Popilicious goodness!

Phoenix-Everything Is Everything
O.M.D.-(Forever) Live and Die
Jens Lekman-You Are the Light (By Which I Travel Into This and That)
Chungking-Come With Me
Kings of Convenience-Failure
Hail Social-Cherry Cola Funk
Joy Zipper-Dosed and Became Invisible
Hot Chip-Ready for the Floor
Camper Van Beethoven-Sweethearts
Elliot Smith-Son of Sam
Belle and Sebastian-State I'm In
Stars-Calendar Girl

Pop It!


Friday, June 06, 2008

44 Months

Never before have my emotions swung so dramatically as when I became a parent. Sometimes I'm shocked by this new revelation and sincerely understand how their are certain people out there who simply cannot do it. But in the end, what choice do we have? We were the ones who decided that parenthood was our calling, either willingly (as in my case) or through sheer stupidity (hmmmm, it's called a condom you jackass). This is the land that we now inhabit and it's like that movie "Sex and Lucia", which takes place on an island in the Mediterranean that isn't actually connected to the earth. So it's floating on the water! For some of the inhabitants, it takes some time to adjust to the drifting feeling of disconnectivity.

That's us! Parents doing whatever they can to adapt to their newfound circumstances to which they were completely unawares. Sure, there were those who attempted to warn or explain or describe or teach or infuse the experience of parenthood upon our nubile minds, but nothing is as fitting as presenting yourself within the moment and hoping that yee shall be triumphant in the end. A proposition that, for the most part, comes to fruition as you watch the little ones grow before your eyes. They are precious and vital souls that call to the longing of humanity, an aspect of our nature that thrives in bearing witness to the special beauty in others. But in an instant those peaceful feelings of bliss can rocket from your grasp and cast you upon the rocks of despair.

For instance, two weeks ago we traveled to San Francisco to visit Xtina's brother with both of the kidlets in tow, something we try to do at least a couple times a year. Even though he's so faraway, Rick holds a special place in all of our hearts. The trip was a wonderful joy, even getting to see the Padres pummel the Giants at ATT Park, the first time we were able to attend the stadium since it was built. On our fourth day, we headed out to Oakland to an antique flea market. I've never seen so much junk in my life! But inside all of the madness were some real neat finds and Xtina and her brother were in heaven. After a couple of hours, I began to feel the weight of the shopping and the burn of the sun so I decided to go back to the car. I ended up with both kids and we hiked a mile across the arid terrain of the parking lot and settled into the comfort of our rental van. Things were pleasant for awhile, with Quinn chilling on the floor in the back and Lucas and I playing with his new deck of Hulk cards. After an arduous game of war, which never ended, Lucas went to the back and played with Quinn while I tried to recall the proper form of solitaire. I didn't make it through the stack once before I heard a thump and Quinn going into hysterics.

Now, I don't know what happened exactly but when I looked back, Lucas was climbing off Quinn with a scared look on his face and Quinn was so red she wasn't breathing. It was one of those melt downs that actually don't start right away, she has to charge herself up for a real good shout. My peaceful world went to chaos in two seconds flat. Needless to say, the relief I was searching for by retreating to the car from the flea market never truly materialized because for the next thirty minutes I was trying to calm down Quinn, who I wasn't entirely sure wasn't hurt real bad. Being in a space like that is diametrically opposed to relaxation. I was so angrified and terrified and claustrophobified and harried that I wanted to slam my fist into the world and start an earthquake so that everyone would understand the immensity of my misfortune.

And, of course, Lucas was the immediate recipient of my rage, fear, whatever was whistling through me. He huddled in the back seat and waited for me to bark at him and the entire time all I could think about was that warm place that collapsed from my grasp with just a slight shift in the matrix.

We are so intimately connected in life. When I first started practicing Buddhism, one of the concepts that was constantly discussed was the idea of interconnectedness. That all human beings are fluidly in contact with each other and their environment and even the universe. That, when we make a cause, not only are we affecting our own lives but everything else around us as well. Now, I understand that concept with my intellectually philosophical brain but sometimes, especially in our culture, it's so easy just to think about oneself and not the ways that I'm affecting everyone else on the planet. Well, since we've had children, it's become glaringly obvious how much we are affected by our environment. They are so dependent on us that everything they need is delivered right upon our doorstep and because we are such empathic creatures, we respond to those needs despite our personal desires or dreams.

In the end, I know that I'll appreciate the fact that despite what I was feeling in my heart, I didn't just say "leave me alone!" and turned my back on them. These times when they cling to us with such emotion will not last forever and just being available to them is a great cause, something that may be appreciated in the future.

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