Showing posts from May, 2013

Wind and Intention - A Meditation

Leaves loosen their grip on life and become blown about by the wind. Trash by the roadside billows up and gets swept along in the wake of the traffic passing by. A tumbleweed bounces and rolls across the emptiness, only stopping when a tangle of brush or a fencerow rises up to halt its wandering. Things that are dead get blown by the wind, things with no mind of their own – lacking in intention.
I remember watching the pollen from our backyard Chinese Mulberry seemingly explode into the sunlight to drift like fog upon the barely moving breeze. And the maple seeds… I’d watch them helicopter down from the tree tops, landing nearby or far away as the particularity of their structure and the movement of the air dictated. Yes, and I’ve come to learn that those “dead” tumbleweeds disperse their propagules as they go, or when they’re stopped by something rooted in moist and life-giving soil. Things that bear life get blown by the wind – things that carry in them the intention of something l…

Letter to a Young Existentialist

Dear friend, You have come to question what all of this means: your life and love, your toil and entertainment; your tears which give way to laughter which give way to tears all over again; the ceaseless frenzied activity that you’ve been invited to join – activity that you fear will only serve to keep you occupied until such time as you return to dust, as all of life, as mighty civilizations, as entire species inevitably turn to dust, over and over again.
Young friend, you now stand peering into the dark, cold abyss of meaninglessness. Congratulations! Yes, congratulations. For you, young friend, are alive – fully and truly alive. Oh, sure, we’re all alive (until, of course, we’re not), but to live nobly on the brink of this cold and dark abyss is to be fully and truly alive. This and this alone will be your rock.
I know, I know..., these words must hardly sound like the kind of rain that can turn the desert that you are feeling now into the richly forested certainty that you so cra…

Living Below the Line - Reflections on the Challenge

Yesterday was my final day of the Live Below the Line challenge. Now, I can’t say that I’m unhappy about that, but I do think that I’ll be reflecting upon this week for some time to come. Fact is, I’ve learned a lot – both about what others have to deal with on a regular basis and about myself. I’ll elaborate on that, but let me jump to the bottom line first. It looks like my final tally for the five days comes to $6.90, or about $1.38 per day, “well below” the $1.50 constraint of the challenge. Yeay! But how did that happen? I thought I was going to be using every last penny!
As it turns out, I’ve got about another day’s supply of my soup concoction remaining after today. I simply overestimated my need in that regard. Thus, I gave myself a 1/6 credit on the cost of those ingredients. Likewise, the carrots; I only ate about half of them. Unfortunately, I only came to these conclusions late in the week, so I didn’t have the opportunity to add on any “luxury” items that might have othe…

Living Below the Line - A Darker Side of Poverty

About a year ago I did a couple of posts focusing on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi – Can Wabi-Sabi Save the World? & Envisioning a Wabi-Sabi World. I’ll leave it to the interested reader to check those out further, but what is salient to this present post is the meaning of the word wabi. English words frequently associated with wabi are: quietness, solitude, simplicity, and poverty (Iwamoto, 2008; Munsterberg, 1957; Suzuki, 1959). I bring this up in this current context because my experience of this Live Below the Line challenge has, in fact, been very wabi. It has fostered introspection, contemplation, and a deep spiritual appreciation of something that we normally take for granted – the food that we eat.
I wonder, however, if perhaps my previous two posts might have seemed to veer towards the romantic – making extreme poverty seem like a blessed nudge toward deeper spiritual understanding rather than the dire hardship that it is. Indeed, there is a reason that wabi-sabi h…