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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Turkey & Tranquility

Well, another month of my life has drifted by, and I am still here working away at keeping some of my life's more notable events from escaping the memory of time. :)

Here is a little post-Turkey roundup: Don't ever get a disagreement with your family just before Thanksgiving. (i.e. You might be spending it alone, honesty apparently equals solitude) --- Well, at least I stood firm on my position with my brother outlaw even if it cost me a fancy feast. My kids flew in and had a wonderful time, we had our own private Turkey feast, and I must say it was probably as equally boring and sublime as it was stress-free. (if that makes any sense) Definitely the most uneventful and forgettable, while at the same time being quite calming. Calmness just doesn't seem to match any memories of my overly complicated, hectic and frantic affairs of "turkey with 20", as it has been for most of my life.

Overall, the kids were great and I do miss them dearly when they depart. Sure, it is fun being fancy free and able to do just about anything I want all of the time, but I seem to find plenty of interesting ways to fill that time --- not too much of which is truly Andy time. So, I decided to work on that just recently.

I pulled out all of my Chinese calligraphy materials including my extremely rare 300 year old hand-carved Shoushan & Jade inkstone, which weighs about 20lbs and decided that it wasn't "getting any younger" sitting in its special padded felt and gold tassled Dragon case, so I fired it up and went to work. (I mean play) - The ritual behind calligraphy or Chinese brush-painting is not the goal but the process. Every single phase is important as much if not more important than the result, which any proper Zen student worth his raked sand, would confirm means nothing and results are to be forgetten and left in the past. No Mind, No Clutter, No Drama, No Worry --- nothing but clarity --- "no mind"

A quiet drop of water and a slow deliberate grind of 100 year old black pine, hand painted inkstick onto the silky smooth stone face is quite relaxing. The focus is centered on nothing else but the ink and the releasing of stress from life itself. Your thoughts, your rambling, your life is to become as pure and clear as a gentle stream - it doesn't think about where it is supposed to be or to go, it just is. That is the magic of this for me --- losing the drama of life and for a brief moment truly residing into the path of clarity, where no one's opinion, no one's thoughts, no one's voice is heard or even desired.

The strokes of the tear-drop bamboo brush glide with deliberate force across the rice paper canvas and "art is made" --- but it is the art created in the spirit that matters more than what dries on the canvas. I think we all need to find something that allows us to truly center, to find our peace, our own place for "no mind" ---

As I look forward to Christmas, I look forward to my children and the rest of my life to be unfolded. I know I need more time to figure this part of my life out and I just don't have the answers nor the desire to know the outcomes, nor the urges to look into the well of the past. I just want to be myself, be happy in the present and then enjoy what gets created on the canvas of my life.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Over the hump......Hammond. :)

Wow. Nearly a month and half since last blog post... :P

"Bye-Bye, Hammond" --- It is a silly phrase that I say each and every time that any weather reporter (meteorologist) on TV says, "High of 74 in *Hammond*", "*Hammond* received .75 inches of rain today", "Low of 48 in *Hammond*" --- Ding, Ding --- Right on cue, Mr. Pavlov! "Bye-Bye Hammond" --- silly, wonderful phrase that childishly indicates my abdication of a 10+ year ownership of my primary home, my domicile, my past life. After Katrina did quite a number on it, I truly never thought I would ever get it back into proper shape, much less sold. It has always been a struggle to own, to maintain and to manage it due to the amount of acreage and then expense of the upkeep. But, I kept working on at it religiously nearly each weekend over the last two years. And....I finally beat that house! I finally overcame every last obstacle and when I finally sold that place, it was 10x nicer than when I had discovered it as a rough gem a decade before. It was a truly wonderful place... I cannot determine its future, but at least I conquered it in the present and set it upon a wonderful course.

I will never forget the property, the memories, nor the importance of that piece of land to my emotional, physically and spiritual growth. It's was all good at the end of the day. :)

So, with that finally behind me --- I had the proper mindset to regain focus on a bunch of other areas, namely my own sanity and my kids. I immediately made reservations and flew my daughter in for a late October visit. A few days later, I made additional reservations for Thanksgiving and Christmas for Katey and Nick. I look forward to having them come visit and enjoy a wonderful holiday season. I am now just determined to work on myself, finding more time to help others with volunteer work once again, enjoying my mindless hobbies, and just try to regain some of my lost strength. I cannot afford any strange drama, emotional strain, stress or anything counter-productive to where I choose to be. I know life is uncertain, but sometimes you have to make decisions about what you will tolerate inside your strange little world and what you choose to leave out.

At the end of the day, Hammond was indeed a catalyst for my own personal growth and I am humbly grateful for both the journey and the destination.