Just back from Sikkim — it’s been less than a week and I’m still re-orienting to what’s called ‘my life’ on this side of the world. Teachers, monks, and fellow pilgrims at Deorali Chorten were super-gracious to me as a woman stranger. It was intriguing to exchange thoughts with practitioners trained so differently from us in the West. The monks cared for my well being; and Rajesh, my guest house host, is a sparkle of light — taking life lightly when it should be and seriously when it must be. This photo was from an outing day when I felt super-happy and in such a simple way, hanging out with friends and being playful and silly, at ease. Look how sweet these faces are! Other times I was too frikin lonely with almost no other visitors in the entire state during monsoon. Here’s the road up to Chorten Gompa monastery. What really happened? Meditation practice is usually impossible for oneself to measure. But sometimes inner changes feel like monsoon rain.
(This isn’t ‘my baby’ … it’s just the video’s title.)
I’ve been in awe of walking lately, and in the joy of it this late spring. Flowers and gardens of Somerville and Cambridge, people out and about, running or walking wearing lighter clothing. There’s a depth and texture of experience — and interaction — thousands of times greater than from inside a car, or even a bike (ecstatic too, in a different way). Walking, the pace lets the environment come alive. Yesterday, for example, on my way to Cambridge Insight, a driver in a blue car stopped to let me go ahead on a crosswalk. He was clearly in a great mood, playing a cumbia, windows open. We did the ‘you go, no you go’ dance for a while and finally — he won. His happy smile was a gift that I can still see in mind a day later.
There are very many ‘baby’s first step’ videos online. I liked how the dad in the video is tender and encouraging, clearly used to spending time with his daughter. Emily Shih, apparently the mom and camera woman, posted this clip in 2006. This little girl surely doesn’t remember the thrills and spills of this momentous event in her life (other than from seeing herself starring in this video?).
For about a year now my left knee has been hurting, making me realize it’s an ability not to take for granted. For now, taking more walks seems to be helping — knock on wood — along with anti-inflammatory supplements, leg lifts and foot crunches.
Apparently ‘walking’ began with some of our ancestors’ arboreal maneuvers (you can sort of see the arboreal quality in the bounciness of the girl in this video) along twigs and shaky branches, holding with our hands and shuffling with our feet. Modern-looking footprints were found in Kenya, 1.5 million years old, left by a group of hominids who were walking along a river shore, together.
Yesterday, my Facebook friend Urgyen Tenpa reported his heart skipped a beat watching his daughter (10 months old…?) suddenly go erect and bipedal, running toward the Buddhist altar in their desert home. And I remember when I knew my dad wasn’t going to get up again.
This morning I woke up at 3:19 AM — having a cold for two weeks has had some weird side effects. Got up, meditated and wrote. At about 8 AM I crept back into bed beside David and slept for about an hour.
What woke me was the oddest dream — if I were a musician I would have written it down as a composition — the opposite of a nightmare.
First these groaning beatboxing sounds. They were beautiful and musical. Then a part visual, part auditory bit — crowds rushing through a curved, tiled, underground tunnel, like a Metro. They’re coming around the corner and singing simultaneously in choral bursts something like “Ho! Ha! Ho! Ha!” These figures are dressed in business clothing. They aren’t actually live people, but sophisticated pastel cartoons of people in simplified shapes. The tiles in the tunnel are pastel yellow and the people are pale turquoise.
Meanwhile, I’m chanting to someone, “What are you revealing, Thomas?”
All three of these musical events are happening at once. I’m curious about the groaning sounds, so Thomas and I duck around the corner of a room and see a supine woman of middle age, who’s not me (I admit that I perceive her as not beautiful but interesting-looking) and is asleep, wearing a short jersey dress, in the same position I’m sleeping in. She’s the one making these musical groaning beatbox noises in her sleep. This exquisite ensemble of sounds repeats itself two or three times — the groans, the rushing stampeding chorus, and my chanted question. “What are you revealing, Thomas!” Thomas is a disembodied person. When I wake up, I’m excited by how exquisite and energizing the sounds were. The dream didn’t feel very personal or psychological and I was surprised by the artistic imagery, too. Later in the day, partly because of the odd sleep hours, I occasionally felt a little sideways, as if I might step into another dimension — the extra-dimensional feeling seemed related to this dream. Here’s a photo I took on Somerville Ave. today, walking near my house, that touches on the spirit of it.