Some small thoughts, like droplets in my mind.

Certainly, the emotion that most impedes progress in any endeavor is the emotion of fear. When I feel fear, it is a quickening in my heart, a sharpness in my in breath, a closing in of my mind. The world becomes smaller as my fears expand. Lately, I’ve been turning to the trees, looking up to the highest leaves and beyond to the clouds and sky. The world starts to expand again, and my breath slows, and my heart stills.

Certainty is what we seek. The feeling of uncertainty is most, most uncomfortable. When I’m uncertain, it can be incredibly difficult to elucidate 1) what I’m uncertain about, specifically; 2) how to handle myself in my uncertainty; and 3) how to feel certain once more. Maybe it’s impossible to ever really feel certain, but it’s important to attempt.

A realization from last night’s walk: when my dog runs up to me with her tail circling wildly, her eyes bright and wide, and her tongue launching wet gobs of happy saliva, it is briefly impossible to feel uncertain.

Next year I will be thirty. My friend Claire calls it “the magic of turning thirty.” I think I know what she means. There seems to be a noticeable difference between those women still meandering about in their twenties and those regal thirty-something ladies lounging on self-confident sofas. Six more months of aimless wandering before the beautifully consistent straight-and-narrow. Am I being too optimistic?

“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” – Pema Chödrön

Photo credit here.


Chance favors the prepared mind.

Quote from Pasteur.


This made him understand, he said, that we cannot hope to capture anything in life. It is best just to let go and see what comes to you instead.

From The Sun magazine, although I can’t remember which story or which month. It’s written on a card that sits in my office that I just remembered was there.

Put another way:

Your job is just to observe, and let Dhamma (The Truth, The Path) do the rest.

From SNG.

Since coming home after my most recent 10-day, this idea of letting go, unclenching the fists, dialing down the effort, nurturing faith that life will present to you what exactly you need has been on my mind. Many experiences have been presented to me already in the past two weeks, to hold and turn over and examine and wonder over. Imagine an active passivity, where you are intently interested in life yet you do not direct its flow. The world is too vast to continually pick over. You can succeed and find fulfillment in simple observation of experience.



The basic point of it all

Pema Chödrön:

The basic point of it [meditation] all is just to learn to be extremely honest and also wholehearted about what exists in your mind – thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, the whole thing that adds up to what we call “me” or “I”.

Nobody else can really begin to sort out for you what to accept and what to reject in terms of what wakes you up and what makes you fall asleep. Non one else can really sort out for you what to accept – what opens up your world – and what to reject – what seems to keep you going round and round in some kind of repetitive misery…

…Because we are decent, basically good people, we ourselves can sort out what to accept and what to reject. We can discern what will make us complete, sane, grown-up people, and what – if we are too involved in it – will keep us children forever.

This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us.

From The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness.

Photo credit.

Inconvenience; also, Alaskan arrival.

Pema Chödrön. An inspiration to me she has been since I discovered her in the Jackson County Library in 2013. She has just the right amount of comedy, realism, ugly honesty, and love in her teachings and books.

Her thoughts on “inconvenience”:

When you hear some teachings that ring true to you, and you feel some trust in practicing that way and some trust in it’s being a worthwhile way to live, then you’re in for a lot of inconvenience.

This is excerpted from her book, The Wisdom of No Escape: The Path of Loving-Kindness. My friend Andy Fischer, always looking out for my young spiritual edification, passed along this book to me on my way out of Ashland a month or so ago. I just finished it a few nights ago; I had been reading each chapter by the light of the Midnight Sun before falling asleep in my cozy cabin.

The idea that life phenomena can be classified as “inconvenient” or “convenient” really struck me. She says, “…if you follow your heart, you’re going to find that it’s often extremely inconvenient.”

I’m discovering that truth now, as I solidify my intentions to follow my heart, no matter what. We run from convenience to convenience so readily. We can feel our heart beat rising and the color come to our face when something is not convenient. We feel that we are not being paid our dues when life is inconvenient. When life is not easy, life is wrong somehow. How do I fix this to serve myself? We are always asking.

Can we wholeheartedly accept inconvenience? Can we also accept when phenomena are convenient? Can we live wholeheartedly? Can we just laugh about the whole thing?

In Alaska, I do things like paint my fingernails and listen to Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony.

I pretend to be a gardener and get mosquitoes all over my hands and blow them off and in turn blow all the lettuce seeds out of my cupped hand. I just don’t like to kill them, so I blow them away, which is terribly ineffective.

I smoosh little boules of sourdough into discs and put them in an ancient oven welded to a trailer from the 70s to bake for fresh sandwiches.

I drive my car, Ruby, over terribly buckled dirt/mud roads to visit peony fields and yurts.

There is talk of my potentially researching female arctic squirrel vaginal cell composition throughout the estrous cycle.

I ride my fat bike through sunlit forests of horsetail, wild rose, and birch.

I’m very happy here in my original home.


“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times