Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I have no idea. I'm so sore right now. The wife is about to watch Dancing With The Stars so I ponder. Perhaps I am trying to regain my youth. Perhaps I am simply trying to test my limits. Of course, some people climb mountains to test their limits. Some run across deserts. Some swim across oceans. It seems what I am asking of my body is not all that much. Yet, my body is not cooperating. It's not doing what I want it to do. I refuse to accept that this is what 51 years old looks like for me.
In the picture above, I am 5 and my dad is in the background walking around the track. I could run a mile in 9:00 when I was 5. I have trouble keeping up that pace now. I am hoping to be better once the snow is gone and I can run the trails more productively.
But...I'm lying to myself even now. My legs are in rough shape. I have some kind of shin pain. I just looked it up on WebMD and it appears I likely just have simple shin splints. I guess I never really understood what that truly is and how painful it can be. I need to run on the front of my foot more (part of my laziness) and stay away from running on hard surfaces. I figured out the latter on my own.
But...why do I run? I started at a young age. I took a break at 17 when I got confused with what was and who I was. I was never the same runner again although I ran fairly regular through to my early 30s. In organized sports I was forced to train regularly. I never took it tremendously seriously but left to my own devices, I slacked much more.
I wish I had today's drive in that young body. Zen teaches that the past is the past. It no longer exists. I need to accept who I am today. I am doing that on many levels.
Anyway...running. I honestly don't know why it is so important right now. It doesn't matter. I should ride it out while I have the energy. I just need to move...move with no apparatus...just my feet, body and mind.
I don't wear headphones. I don't understand how anyone can have proper balance/coordination without hearing the world...hearing the wind, woods and critters. I don't understand why anyone would block out the sounds of the woods or even the streets. I love coming across critters in the woods. This is cool:
Stuff like that happens in the woods. The marvelous randomness of the real world...
That was all written yesterday. It is now today. The question is: why do I run? I think it is mainly the no apparatus aspect. Like...you could run anywhere...even if you had no shoes...
There is definitely a Zen to running...the freedom of being alone in the woods with just one's thoughts. Or to be Zen and have no thoughts. Only experience what is going on around you and specifically, what is in front of you. Whatever. I used to do some of my best thinking while I was running. I was like a machine in my youth. I didn't appreciate it back then. It was my "normal."
Now I do running meditations...sometimes I think and sometimes I don't. Wax on, wax off.
I think I have a good plan to eradicate the shin splints. I looked up some stretches and exercises and will do them every day.
Why do I run? Because I can...
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
It's no secret...I love the woods and love riding in the woods. I love to bring a camera as a way to document my journeys and take pictures of interesting things I find. I don't have hemorrhoids in this picture.
In the photo above, I am at the start of a trail that runs for 78 miles from the Douglas State Forest in Douglas, MA to the ocean at Blue Shutter Beach in Charlestown, RI. I know where the whole trail goes but have never ridden the whole length of it at once. Some day I will. Below is a picture of Blue Shutter Beach...nice place...
The world can be so beautiful and yet, so ugly. The ugliest things in the world are greed and hate. In Buddhism, it is simple: do good and don't do evil.
Life is full of pain. I'm an empathic person and sometimes I feel like I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Like my own pain is not enough, I must carry every one else's as well. This may sound insane but it is who I am. This is why, over the last few years, I have decided that there is more to life than spending a large amount of my waking hours selling software or cell phones or any variety of other crap to crappy people. I think I have a higher purpose. I'm working on figuring out what that is and what it looks like. A good start would probably be to not call people crappy but some just are...and that is their problem and doesn't have to be mine.
I know what it doesn't look like. Life doesn't look like people treating people like pieces of furniture. It doesn't look like people controlling people or hurting people or taking from people. It doesn't look like a guy riding a bike with hemorrhoids.
I am a member of a Buddhist community. Life looks pretty good there. Life moves slowly. People care about each other. They care about what they eat. They don't care about having any more than they need. If they have more than they need, they give the rest to others in need. The people at the Zen Center remind me of what the Native people must have been like.
There is a TV in one of the common rooms at the Zen Center and I have never seen it on. I have never seen a cell phone or iPad or computer of any kind in use there. It makes me wonder: how much of the "stuff" that we have do we really need? How much of the stuff that we don't have but feel we need do we, in fact, really need?
What is a need? Do people even know any longer? Real needs are things like: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom. This morning I spoke to a 92 year old gentleman named Roland at an assisted living community. I have to tell you, he looked like he was in his 70s at the most. He wore a big smile and was happy to spend some time talking to me and I was happy to talk with him. Someone there called him the mayor. I'm pretty sure most of Roland's needs were fulfilled. I don't know for sure if he has affection in his life today but I think he does and I know he has the rest.
Roland is one of those angels you come across in your life. He teaches you a lesson if you are open to receive it. I want to spend more time with people like Roland. I don't want to ride a bike with hemorrhoids. That is just painful!
Sunday, October 20, 2013
So...it was a good weekend. One thing that happened is a great example of Karma. Well, it was two things that happened. Saturday afternoon and evening we had some guests over. One of the guests was a one year old little man. Earlier in the day, one of our cats had been playing with some sort of insect in the house. This is not an uncommon event so we didn't pay attention to what type of bug. Cats are great for keeping bugs from attacking their humans and we are truly grateful for that. Cats, of course, are known for helping with mice...well, they help with anything that moves that does not belong.
So, later in the day, that little man was playing on the floor in the living room. Unbeknownst to us, the bee was in the area half-dead on the floor. Little man sees the bee and picks it up and BOOM...the bee bites the little man. Oh boy. He did very well I have to say. He cried for about two minutes and then let it go and was smiling in five or so minutes. Have you ever been bitten by a bee? This was a tough little kid.
Anyway, I was feeling bad, like it was my fault. I should have known the cat was playing with a bee. I should have known it was still alive. I should have known it wasn't dead. Etc...but that way of thinking is truly silly, yes?
Well, the next day, today, I decide to go for a mountain bike ride. Pretty normal thing to do on a beautiful weekend afternoon. I get ready, grab my gloves and put them on. Well, there was a bee in the right glove and it bit me right where the thumb and forefinger meet. I was jumping all around the front yard, trying to get the glove off after I realized what was going on. In my mind, the first second, I'm like "Why does my hand feel like it's on fire?" To be honest, I didn't even see the bee. I didn't have to. It got me good as it had plenty of time to fully unload on me.
Let me tell you, that little kid is tough. That thing hurt for the whole bike ride and for a total of about three hours. It was hard to hold the right side of the handlebars. Moral? Was it Karma or just a coincidence? It did take away my guilt...so there's that...
This was the second time this year I got bit. I tend to go without shoes as much as possible in the summer. Early this past summer, I was walking across the lawn and stepped on a bee. BAM! The pain from that one didn't last as long as the one from today. Two years ago I got stung three times at once. I found out the hard way that there was a nest in a boxwood shrub in my front yard...I was trimming it and found a nest with the trimmer. I'm lucky I didn't get bit more than three times.
I used one of those long spraying insecticides for such a situation and destroyed whatever was living in that nest. I also almost completely destroyed the boxwood. That stuff is bad...pesticides. It killed about one third of the boxwood and I almost decided to remove the boxwood and give it a decent burial. It was dying slowly, mostly from the roots out. I decided to let it live and see what I could do to bring it back. I planted a rose bush in front of it and let nature take its course. The shrub finally stopped dying and started to grow again. This year, two years later I was able to tie it together and make it look normal.
I'm not sure if there is a moral there. Well, the moral I guess is use those pesticides wisely...use them only if you have to. Do we have to? I never will again. But all karmic disturbances aside, it was a good weekend. They're all good. It's good to be alive, good to be alive to get bit by a bee, to have feelings, to go for bike rides, spend time with friends and family, feel the sun on our faces or the rain on our skin etc...all the things we sometimes take for granted. Life!
Your homework: go outside and get bit by bee. It will prove you are alive. (Do not take part in this exercise if you are allergic to bees). In fact, don't actually do this at all...just trying to make a point...
Peace and until next time: Gå og leve livet!
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Oh the gym. This time of year I try get there three times per week and bike ride at least twice per week, sometime three. It's harder to bike ride as it is dark after work so biking during the week means using my helmet light and riding in the woods in the dark which is actually quite awesome. Some might say anyone wearing a light on his helmet is a dork...that's fair. But, were miners dorks?
But seriously, there are some funny guys at the gym. I didn't go much over the summer as I did a lot of bike riding and I haven't been as concerned about upper body work lately. So I missed out on all the fun of people watching at the gym. You see, I mainly ride the stationary bike so I have the luxury of watching just about everything that is going on in the main part of the gym. The only thing I can't see is what's going on behind me on the other cardio machines (boring stuff anyway). It would be great to film some of the stuff that goes on at the gym but these days that isn't so politically correct. I could get thrown out on my ass for instance.
Here's some of the types of guys there are at the gym...as they come to mind so no particular order and I may leave some out and have to add them at a later date:
The Hoverer: This is the guy that finds a girl he likes so he goes and hangs around her. Whenever she goes to different machine or station, he always makes sure he is nearby. He of course thinks she's cute but he hasn't grown much emotionally since the seventh grade. So, he doesn't talk to her...he just "hangs around" her. She of course gets creeped out pretty quick but he is oblivious. I mean, he's being smart. You know, not getting too close. How could she notice? Dude...everyone is watching you follow her around and everyone is scared you're a serial killer.
The Serial Killer: This guy is usually older. He just stares at women at length and won't even look away if they look at him. There are a few too many of these at the gym. These guys freak me out watching them stare at length at some of the women in the gym. No wonder there are so many gyms that are just for women. Hey, I check out women at the gym but I do it like a gentleman. If you see one of these guys, kick him in the nuts.
The Walk By Guy: This guy is smart enough not to hover around. Come on...that shit is obvious. This guy just walks by maybe seven or eight or ten times in a hour, checking out this one or that one's ass or boobs or both or whatever. Perhaps he is impressed with her technique. Yeah sure. This guy is as gross as the hoverer. This guy doesn't talk to anyone either and if she looks his way, he looks away. Of course, not in an obvious way. This guy occasionally may get reprimanded by the staff...hell, it happens to the hoverer too. But do they learn? Of course not. They'll be back for more. This guy generally has bad breath and B.O. and legs that look like they haven't seen the sun since before the turn of the century.
Muscle Guy and his Mini Guy: Do you have a set of these at your gym? I do at mine. There's a big dude, maybe six feet tall and wide and in good shape, big arms and so forth. Along side him is this mini version of himself. This mini guy is like five foot two. He's in good shape too but it's hard to notice. He follows the big guy around like they are chained together. He does all the same exercises and so forth. I don't know their story but have spent some time trying to figure it out. Either they are partners or the little guy is in love with the big guy but just plays the role as tagalong friend. Perhaps his love is unrequited. Or perhaps they are just simply friends and I have a creative mind. Hey, I'm one of those guys that likes to watch people at airports and the Boston Common, etc. and make up stories about them, so...
Backpack Dude: This guy is afraid someone is going to steal his stuff if he leaves it in a locker. I get that but why not buy a lock? If you can't afford a lock, how are you going to take someone out on a date after hovering and walking by? This guy doesn't come in with his work clothes on either. He comes in dressed to workout. Perhaps he is afraid of the locker room? Perhaps he has had that fear since the fifth grade. That was the year that many of us had the new pleasure of having to take showers after gym in school. You learn things then like: who's circumcised and who isn't. Who's big and who isn't. Who is perhaps further along in the hormone department...you know, the ones that are already abnormally hairy.
Sorry, I got off track. This backpack dude...whatever is in that backpack, he carries it around from machine to machine the whole time he is there. I imagine he has perhaps his keys and wallet, an extra shirt, extra underwear in case he soils the ones he has on...perhaps while doing squats and pushing just a little too much weight. Oops! What else could be in there? The book "Merv: An Autobiography" by Merv Griffin? Likely!
Personally, I put my crap in a locker without a lock. If someone wants my crap they can have it. They need my stuff more than I do if they have to take my sweatpants and their sketchy smell, my extra t-shirt that honestly, I can live without and as it gets colder some sort of jacket. You need a jacket? Take my jacket...I have more at home, ones that I haven't been putting on my sweaty body after a workout.
It's getting close to my time to finish up this evening. Perhaps I will return another time with more interesting people from the gym. If you go to the same gym regular and pay attention to what's going on around you, you all have experienced some characters. I would love to hear about them. Feel free to share them in the comments section. Now, I just remembered. I only notice this stuff when I go at night (of course the gym is much busier then too). When I go in the early morning, I pay attention to nothing as I am still not necessarily fully awake...
Until next time: Paz e que Deus bendiga!
Friday, September 27, 2013
Troughs to piss in...what a great idea. I remember when I was very young, going to Red Sox games with my dad. They literally had super long troughs to piss in. These were not urinals...they were urintroughs. Anyway, I couldn't even piss in those things as a young kid. They looked like this:
I think they might have been green though. I mean look at that ladies...you can't even get your men at home to get it all in the bowl. How much urine do you think is on the floor in that picture...in that whole bathroom? Believe it or not, a dozen guys could be pissing in that at once. How is a little kid supposed to pee when all that is going on around him? Who invented the urinal? The Romans? They seem like the types that would like to have a piss party. I mean, that's what it was like at Fenway. All kinds of drunk men and kids pissing all over the place. The dudes drinking beer of course would work very hard to not spill any of their beer while they were pissing on the floor. That makes sense.
I bring up urinals because I am sick of having to stand with my legs three feet apart at the one at work so I'm not stepping in another man's urine. There's just a single one like the first picture above and there's always a puddle under it. Some guys maybe have short members and can't reach the thing? Is that why some guys practically shove their whole abdomens inside those things? You know, the ones that understand that ALL the piss is supposed to go in the urinal. But seriously, the reason why there is so much piss on the floor is because there are guys that shake it all over the place when they are finishing up. They just can't control the shake. And by the way, if they shake it more than twice, they're playing with it. Thank you! I'll be here all night.
Somewhere in my office and/or the others on the fourth floor are guys with piss on their shoes. I mean on top for the ones with the shaking issues. Some might even have some on the bottom of their pants. Hell, some might have it all over. If a guy comes out of the bathroom with one eye all bloodshot and partly closed, he likely pissed in it. Then there's times when the urinal is being used so guys go in the stalls. GUYS...LIFT UP THE SEAT! I swear some guys must fantasize about people sitting in their piss.
Many guys used to piss without washing their hands back in the day. These days you can rest assured that MOST of the men you shake hands with don't have urine on those hands. So there's that. It's like Russian Roulette. That's generally one bullet in a six shooter. That's about right. Probably one out of six guys doesn't wash his hands. There was a Seinfeld episode where Jerry is dating a woman whose dad owns an Italian Restaurant. The father is going to make them a special pizza. Jerry is in the bathroom and the guy comes out of the stall, says hello and leaves without washing his hands. He's off to make the pizza (he was sitting in the stall...you know, doing his sit down business). Later, when it arrives at the table, Jerry can't eat it.
Now, how about porta-potties that have urinals? Well look the next time...there's piss everywhere. Half the guys in there are on the phone or texting and not even holding on. Sometimes, at events, they have hand sanitizer outside the urinals. That is certainly appreciated. They should also have disposable gloves that you can wear when you go in so you don't touch any urine or whatever else is on the walls and floors and oh, how about that toilet seat? Ladies, there's always piss on it right? I feel for you all when I think about you having to hover. Men do also if they have to do their sit down business. Some men just sit in the mess. They are usually the ones that piss all over themselves anyway. Some men sadly, and maybe some ladies, will clean that thing before they sit down because they are just people that have to sit down. I appreciate it when I go in after one of those. Sometimes in life it's the little things.
There's two kinds of guys that use urinals (well three if you count the guys that piss all over the place). There's the ones that unzipping is all they need to do their business and then there's the ones that have to unbutton their pants and undo their belts and have it all out there. They're being smart though... they don't want to piss on their pants. I have a great story from work at NYNEX. This was back in the early 90s. There was only one lady's room and one men's room. One day they decided to renovate the lady's room so they decided to let them use the men's room and the men had to use porta-potties outside until the work was finished. Back then I used to smoke. I'm outside one day smoking and this guy I work with comes out of the portable piss palace with a huge piss stain on his pants. They were beige. This was a dark stain about six inches across. I was like, "Dude, you pissed all over yourself." He responded, "Oh that's nothing" and he walked away. I was mortified.
Guys...get it ALL in the urinal or whatever you're pissing in and if you're pissing in the stall, LIFT THE SEAT! We really don't want to sit in or step in your piss! When I say "we" I mean us people that don't like strangers' piss on us...we don't even want our own piss on us like some of y'all...
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
It's no secret (if you know me) that I'm passionate about music. There are only a few things that I am truly "passionate" about and music is one of them. I can't play any instruments worth a damn but that's okay. The first instrument I picked up was a ukulele. I got it as a gift when I was like three? Anyway, I immediately loved it and played it left handed. I didn't know that accepted way and most play guitar-type instruments right handed. I loved that ukulele. Then, a short time after having it, someone (I can't recall who) told me I was playing it wrong. So they turned it around and told me that was the correct way to play it and to play it like that going forward. Well, in a short time it wasn't fun anymore and I moved on to something else. I wonder what would have happened if I had the strength of character and knowledge of myself at that young age to just keep on playing it the way that was comfortable and made sense. Well, we can't live in the past.
That story reminds me of a story I heard from a motivational speaker. A very young girl is in an art class with the rest of the students in the class. Maybe first grade (I don't recall exactly). Anyway, she paints a nice picture of a sky and grass and a tree and a house. It's essentially a landscape. She calls the teacher over to show her the wonderful work she did. The teacher praises her and then says, "There's just one thing missing," and proceeds to paint a bird flying in the sky, just a simple v-shaped bird in flight. The little girl started balling her eyes out. Why? Well, you can figure out the answer to that one...
The next instrument I attempted (against my will) was the piano. I was 6 years old when the nightmare started. My sister was made to play along also. She was a year older. Our first teacher was like Dracula, or at least he was to me as a 6 year old. He lived in a dark and dingy old mansion near downtown. He was tall, pale, walked quite erect and didn't smile. I hated it there as did my sister. I'm not sure how long it was before we switched to another teacher who worked out of the town's only music store/head shop. This was 1970.
Why were we taking piano lessons? My parents bought a Yamaha upright and well, they didn't buy it to collect dust. Why didn't THEY play it? I never learned to play the piano over several years of lessons. I just played notes. I did enjoy playing some songs but there was no heart or passion in those songs, just notes. I never understood what to do with those damn pedals either. I used to pretend (while I was forced to practice) that it was some kind of crazy car and the three pedals were, of course, a clutch, gas pedal and brake. I traveled to places that had no pianos...
Now I enjoy playing the piano because I play because I want to. I can read music so can play just about anything. You'd likely have trouble naming any of the songs I play, however. I still suck, but I take pleasure in my lack of talent. My favorite song of late is "November Rain" by Gun's & Roses. I think it sounds great when I play it. It would probably sound better if I used those pedals but these days I just ignore them. That's right...I'm that kind of rebel!
I don't currently own a piano but I am in the market when the right deal comes along. It doesn't have to be great but it does need to be decent. My last piano was a 1936 Stark upright. Stark made mostly player pianos so this was a rare gem. Most of the ivory was off the keys but otherwise it was fine. I had it tuned and the tuning dude said it was a pretty decent piano. He probably tells that to eveyone with an ugly piano. I had that piano in the basement den in my condo in Milford. When Barbara and I moved in together, I didn't want to pay to move it so I gave it to the first person that would take it away. I paid nothing for it also (just the cost to move it) so...share it forward...
I'll get into the music I like in my next post...(oh, and my short experience with a guitar)...peace...
Monday, September 24, 2012
That’s a very good question. For me I just did it. I had some idea from movies and TV but had never actually witnessed anyone meditating or asked anyone about it. I never read books on how to meditate. I would lie down on my bed, close my eyes and think about places I wanted to be and things I wanted to see. At times, I would astral project: feel like my spirit left my body and I was my spirit. My spirit would travel all over the world on these trips.
Looking back, that wasn’t really meditation. It was more like self-hypnosis. Buddhists believe in a vastly different meditation. You clear your mind. Don’t seek anything and don’t try to see pretty pictures. You bring your mind to where it was before you were born. That is Zen. No worries.
The guy in the following post does a very good job of explaining, to the beginner or anyone, 10 simple steps to meditate in the Buddhist tradition:
My next suggestion would be to go to a Zen Center. They generally have meditation classes for beginners and then opportunities to chant (a form of meditation) and sit meditation with the members and others. I am a member of the Providence Zen Center (PZC) in RI and also a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen. The Kwan Um School has locations all over the US and in many other countries all over the world. The PZC has beginner meditation training classes on Wednesday nights at 6:30 and sometimes they have them on Sundays. They are free to the public. Some on the internet call the Kwan Um School a cult. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whatever individuals wrote that were obviously making assumptions and probably never bothered to visit one of the many Zen Centers.
The people that live at, work at and visit these centers are the nicest, kindest and mellowest people. They ask nothing of newcomers like I feel I still am. I am working on becoming a Dharma Teacher and they are trying to slow me down. No one is encouraging it and none of them probably remember that I even have that interest. When I discussed doing the 5 Precepts (a step in becoming a teacher) with one of our Dharma Teachers, he said slow down. Everything will happen when it is supposed to happen. He also told me the only thing I should be concerned about is practicing my mediation and concentrating on what is in front of me.
The last time I sat with Jose, he asked me, “What is missing right now?” I said after some hesitation, “Nothing. I am at the Zen Center, we are talking. No past or future just what is happening right now.” He agreed. He also added, “When you try to rush to become more enlightened, it just doesn’t work. If you seek enlightenment, you won’t find it. Don’t make anything. Clear your mind and it may find you,” then he wacked my mat with his stick. A symbolic gesture as in the old days, a monk in training would have been hit with that stick. I’m not saying I’m a monk in training. In the old days they did not let lay persons into these temples. A Korean Zen Master brought his Zen teachings to the US and understood that things needed to be loosened up a bit to reach a much wider audience.
Okay, where was I? I also understand that going into a Buddhist Temple can be intimidating for a newcomer. It was very intimidating for me. I wanted to go to such a temple in Boston when I was around 23 years old. I walked by it over and over again when I walked to and from my car when I worked in the Back Bay. I never went in. Another 25 years went by before I finally entered the Providence Zen Center. This is where I have learned the most about Zen and about meditating. It took me 48 years to get to a Zen Temple. I’m not complaining. Things happen when they are supposed to.
Peace and clear mind! If you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section…