Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head


a walk...

...this is an audio representation of a walk around the block tonight - it's been edited a little...

Time within Time

What a blessing today's dependent co-arising was!  Another long, cold, tiresome, and rainy day, but these factors were the foundation for a time of great reflection/meditation/struggle/and insight.  

I stepped outside at 9:31 pm, took a deep breath, and begin walking as slowly (AWKWARDLY!) as possible.  At first I had to fight myself to take one mindful step at a time.  My whole physiological self was determined to fall lock-step into its habitual pace.  Into the rushed numbness/narcissism that is modern life.  But I wouldn't have it.  Not tonight.  I focused on my breath, allowed it to enter and exit, and lifted one foot after another, over and over again, with more intention than I've ever given the act of walking.  

It was cold and wet, but these facts never became nuisances.  At such a slow and mindful pace I was able to appreciate everything more fully.  The Dale Chihuly blown-glass quality of the leaves piled nonchalantly across the grass and sidewalk, a day's worth of water lending them a healthy sheen.  The pit-pat of raindrops falling miles and miles into bare branches where they waited, remained, and gathered mass until gravity pulled them downward, big collective drops bursting upon my shoulders.  

I felt myself falling into a natural rhythm, walking in and out of different dimensions of time.  There were, of course, the cars, carrying their passengers quickly across the city streets, trails of mist thrust up off the road from their spinning tires.  There were the pedestrians, walking to and fro, shoes scraping the pavement, high heels click-clacking, a polyrhythmic crescendo dopplering its way all around me.  The leaves, the bushes, the subtle star-like sparkle of streetlights reflected in the sidewalk.  Stillness in the margins, lurking in shadows, always ready to present itself, yet always passed by in haste.  Always traded for other destinations.  Always victim to our insufficient ability to be here, now, moment to moment, mindful of these different dimensions of time always already dependently co-arising around us.

My heart softened, and my walk began feeling like a vigil.  An attempt to spread, with each step, some measure of compassion or lovingkindness.  To send a prayer to each square inch of earth, cement, brick, and shingle.  To each inhabitant, each unknown neighbor, hoping their hearts might know peace and love.  That they might find a place of rest where breathing is good and sweet, where energy is restored.

This walking action/meditation was healthy for me.  It brought me face to face with myself.  With my insecurities, with familiar patterns I've failed to question.  Taking things so slowly shocked me, in a way, into a deeper awareness of my neighborhood and of myself.  I was able to look deeply at the healthy and unhealthy ways I relate to this place I call home.  And most importantly,  I was able to find a deep thankfulness and appreciation for all the loved ones in my life, for their unconditional positive regard toward me, for their joyful spirits, for their selfless hearts, and for their absolute infinite et cetera of good greatness!!!

An hour later, arriving in front of my apartment building, craning my head upwards toward the warm light leaking through our windowshades, I gave thanks.  Big thanks.  To God.  To family.  To friends.  To rain.  To trees.  To you.  And you.  And you as well.

What a blessing, friends.  

We were a group of four decidedly walking instead of driving to dinner. We tried our best to walk slowly all huddled together inside our coats, dodging puddles and sharing stories from our day we took the alley instead of the sidewalk. I noticed how much good trash there is in Ukrainian Village, vintage couch cushions soaked to the core and an old rolling chair. Gradually we picked up speed, with the restaurant in sight we ran across traffic only to find it closed for a private party... oh well, driving to Chinatown doesn't sound that bad after all, so we drove slowly.

Drip Drip Drip

I was exposed. Rain was opening me up. I could of cried. My camera was exposed. My legs turned into Emo Phillip's Speech. I craned. I poked. There were stares, but I shushed them with wavy arms, and sex eyes. "SLOW DOWN EVERYBODY! I DID!" I explained. "I JUST WENT AHEAD AND SLOWED DOWN AND I FEEL LIKE MAGIC. HECK, I FEEL LIKE MAGIC WEARING SUNGLASSES."

Walk Around the Block and a Detour

My friend Crys arrived via bus at point A of my block. We then walked 3/4ths of the way around the block, to point B, C, and D. From there, however, we detoured to the left and went up the street to the coffee shop. I was diligently working on my neighborhood mapping project when my young friends joined us. The eight year old drew a better house than I. So we spent a few hours there, let the girls draw with my colored pencil, talked spanish to a spanish teacher, got a 'zine, drank jones sodas and ate cookies... After we left we completed the circuit back to point D and on to A. The most interesting thing we saw on the walk itself was an old gutted cash register outside a store in the garbage pile with fall leaves on and in it. If you count the detour as continuing the walk then it lasted very long and we had a great time with two fourth graders.

Drizzle Fest

Despite the cold day of working outside in the rain, and my internal battle against sweatpants and tea, I ventured out immediately after work.
1. Without being too hard on myself, I realized it was very difficult to walk slow in the cold and rain. Brrrr...!
2. Must relax shoulders and enjoy something about this.
3. Ahh, yes...I love the sound of the rain on top my pink umbrella.
4. I took enjoyment at peering in at the decorations of those trusting citizens willing to keep their shades up.
5. I noticed how a pile of dog poo was in the exact shape of a pyramid...nicely done! I may have missed that were I walking my normal pace.


got to walk right after the rain, right before the sun started to set - that perfect setting where the clouds cover the sun just enough to make the air seem unusually dim yet clear.

makes the color of the leaves seem highlighted somehow - brilliant against the gray atmosphere, like the kind of hand of God directing my attention to where it should be: outside of me.

'i love my block' i thought, walking among leaves the size of my feet, looking at flowers standing tall and pretty on the brink of their winter demise, and cozy homes stacked side by side.

but turn the corner and the leaves dissipate, fade into blowing bits of garbage instead, cigarette butts, pavement eating up the yards of the buildings. i start to notice how cold it is, how i should be walking quicker than i am.

its like i walked from the inside of the block out - from the personal interior of homes and families to the cold exterior of businesses and car-filled streets. from the quiet inside to the incessant movement of the outside.

'i love my block', i thought.
adding an image is easy:
on the tool bar above the text box (where it says "font") click on the picture icon (in between the ABC over the check and the film icon) and a screen will pop up that will ask you to upload your image. good luck!
There was so much traveling today.  I was in a group for all of it and taking slow steps really wasn't an option.  I got frustrated by that, but then tried to take swift-conscious steps instead.  It dawned on me that completing every task with a set idea of what I'm going to do each day really isn't possible, and I'm glad/pissed off about that at the same time.  Glad that I'm not living a life that I can entirely dictate.  Pissed off that I don't have control of everyone-thing-where.  It's a lot of work to be flexible.  A choice.  Sometimes its not fun, but its always possible (I think).

Bookended kneeling at the Metra

I take the 7:12 Metra to work every morning. The only good thing about this is that I get to watch the sun rise over the downtown skyline. Sitting on my knees and watching this happen made me feel more comfortable in the space - like I was in my own living room waiting for the train.
I also sat on my knees while waiting for my 5:43 train home (not pictured). There are two things about my home commute I would like to share: 1.) when the Northbound train comes in and stops, it illuminates a tiny patch of track and some wild grass and brush. It is very easy to squint your eyes and pretend that you are in some tiny nowhere town in the middle of Nebraska, for example. 2.) Evanston likes to think of itself as a cosmopolitan place, but it suffers from less light pollution than Chicago and at night you can see stars and the sky is almost inky black.
I sat on my knees a third time also, but that has been written about already.


Time was freaking me out - and I was frustrated by the length of the line at the post office


So I knelt, and scooted, and re-thought my frustration.  The need to kneel was too weighty, and so I scrapped my plans to kneel where I planned to, and knelt where I was.  It was nice to have plan, but to let it go when a perfect opportunity presented itself was freeing.  It made me very self-conscious.  I don't really think people were looking at me, but just the same.........  Also - I saw a little boy much better - I couldn't see the top of his head.  I started to try and decide what things he might think of as the focal points in the room and made a sculpture out of some things that I gathered (ljs). 

Also - I don't get how to post a picture here - can anyone help me figure it out?