A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Everyday Zen

I whipped right through a wonderful little book that I found at our local shop, Two Rivers, titled In Buddha's Kitchen. It details the changes that take place in the author, both a former professional chef and a university professor (I think I loved her just for having multiple careers - like me:) who offers to temporarily take over the kitchen at a Buddhist retreat center when the chef falls ill. Author Kimberley Snow creatively weaves together the story of how she became a chef in the first place with the transformations that take place in her as she studies Tibetan buddhism and attempts to run a kitchen without "playing God" as the normal role of chef in our culture dictates.

She was clever and careful to jumble around names and places, most likely to protect the guilty more than the innocent, but with a little online detective work, I determined that Kimberley had been living and working at this center in the northern California mountains, where the teachings of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche are shared and practiced.

One of the pleasures of this book was reading the lighthearted anecdotes, but another was that of having someone present the human frailities of making changes in the self, moving forward and backward while finding the way. I have to admit that at this transitional time in my own life, I have been moving way too fast to be able to be very introspective about the changes taking place. I am devoting myself to two non-profits, working over 60 hours to achieve the "security" of my 30-hour teaching weeks of years past, and wondering where I will land when I grow up.

I greatly love working with young children, but realize that as I approach "cronehood", I will probably do better to teach younger, stronger, faster people how to work with the very young. I have a lot of energy most of the time, and can still run and catch my young charges, pick them up and swing them in the air. I also have some of the wisdom necessary to run a business, although, at the training on non-profit Board leadership I attended today, I was one of the majority admitting to deep insecurities dealing with budgets and numbers.

I doubt that I will ever be able to say with confidence that I know just where the money's coming from and if it couldn't be handled better in another way. At least I am willing to look at it now, and admit that things don't just fall into place, even if they should because the cause is so noble. It takes both vision and persistence to bring other people into a just cause, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help these two organizations, and not particularly concerned about how they are helping me... I am earning wages and have (poor) health benefits, and don't think much beyond that, but there are times, after thirty years of working for and with people, where I dream of making my living purely from creating... and not needing to "worry" any about people and their needs... not very noble.

I do believe in the importance of working steadily to eliminate the five poisons of anger, attachment, ignorance, jealousy and pride from my life while at the same time embracing the six perfections of generosity, patience, diligence, moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom. To me, this has little to do with sitting on the meditation cushion, or burning incense or the other "rituals" typically envisioned, but more with how I actively live my life. So, I will keep working for others for the time being, and spend my creativity sparingly in comparison... I was very happy to finish three more Cloths for Katrina while attending today's training. If you haven't yet joined us, know that there is still a great need to be helping relief agencies by sending along finished washcloths and soaps... and my dear friend Tonora, who lives in Florida, says that the devastation from this third hurricane is hard to NOT be very depressed with... please keep good thoughts for her and all others who are face to face with the destruction this season of storms has wrought.


Blogger KnitNana said...

Oh Birdsong, you're better than you think...I've talked NPs with you! And as to how you incorporate these principles into your life each day, you just focus on what you're doing - knitting is the prime example, chopping vegies is another. Becoming intentional in what we do is the daily meditation of real life! (sometimes easier said that done, of course!)

6:45 AM  

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