Thursday, October 12, 2017

   The Man and
the Monk-cycle 

I first heard about the trike from mutual friends in Floating Doctors. I had been using my neighbor's tricycle while she was in Asia. It made my movement around the island a lot easier and covering more ground I didn't have to lump all the day's chores into one long walking meditation. From the reports i learned that the designer, engineer, build crew leader, tricycle visionary was getting a lot of enjoyment from the project that was to be his gift to me. His gift to me because, "I wanted to do something nice for you."
The MAN:
John has been here for awhile and is well known on this island. you either know him as a friend, a business man, a good man, or the guy in the "motorized scooter chair thing". John was injured when he had 17 years and was left paralyzed from the shoulders down. The details and subsequent challenges of his injury come out when asked but they are only background to his life now. People who are paralyzed face challenges every day of their lives so John decided to take his to an island off the coast of a "developing" nation. He has met his challenges head on with blend of scholarly sarcasm and a dry, clever wit.
He's the bravest guy I know.
John's toolbox is his brain and he assembled a crew to build the 
M-C and he designed the ideal trike for me on a collection of cardboard box pieces and napkins with soy sauce on them. i enjoyed listening to the enthusiasm for the project in his voice as he explained tire size and gearing and even had me come to his warehouse to check a googled picture of a Vajrayana monk to make sure of the colors so they could paint the trike. Some minor delays due to availability of parts and availability of pit crew. I went to the warehouse to get the M-C and I enjoyed that feeling of anticipation that comes on birthdays and Christmas mornings. It was a beauty with color coordinated by google and Julio Iglesias, Johns scooter chair thing chief mechanic and assembly by Pepi and his crew. I was humbled by the effort and know it was neither an easy or inexpensive project but the fun was just starting or not starting yet depending on how you look at it. I didn't make it out of the driveway before there was a snap and the pedals moved but the M-C didn't. Sheared a pin on the rear axle so a stronger one was inserted and off I went on the maiden voyage which led to another snapping, spinning, no movement bike walk back home.A friend saw me and explained how to use a trike and then offered assistance when he heard mechanical failure. A bigger pin inserted and off I went again until a bigger snap and I broke the axle. So Pepi, a craftsman who could weld a fart to a cloud, went to work fixing the axle only to have me break it again a few days later. Bigger axle from the mainland, more welding and I was ready for days of buzzing around the island, with a basket on the back and my face in the wind. Problem was the M-C was hard to get rolling and you couldn't turn because the front wheel would start scrubbing. Six of us stood there as I went on about free wheeling and trike axles when the collective light bulb went off and in a five minute adjustment I was off and riding.
I wanted to get a bike here two years ago but every time I was going to get one I dislocated my hip, had surgery and started rehab all over again. Friends were worried about the idea of me on two wheels with any kind of speed and using my neighbor's trike was the perfect fit for the clumsy monk. 
it was then that John decided to build the Monk-Cycle, to do something nice for me.
"A gift consists not in what is done or given,
but in the intention of the giver or doer."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The next day I went out to Palmar Tent Lodge on Red Frog Beach and tripped on a step getting up to my tent and broke my left wrist and will have a cast for six weeks. Go figure...

Monday, November 16, 2015

The River # 5...
There is a small tree that was uprooted by the rain infused river days ago. A young tree from the riverbank somewhere upstream from my view on the bench. It lies on top of the big boulder no longer being fed by the earth or nourished by the waters of the river. Its life force ebbing with roots exposed to the dry cold air. It is not alone today in it's ending.
Our world has once again been uprooted and tossed in the harsh waters of the flow of life. Death and destruction are the conversation of the day. Everyone wants to alter the river of their world and save all the trees on the riverbanks.
The river flows on oblivious to the dying young tree because that is what rivers do. Other trees continue to thrive on the banks of the river, nourished by the flow of the water busy in their growth and unable to assist the young tree because trees have voices but not arms.
I listen to the trees and the waters and even though we don't have a language with an alphabet we share a life force.
I am reminded of my bigger world here and all the peoples of the world where we might not share a language but we share the force of life. We too sit by our riverbanks with the flow of life going by us, sometimes harsh, sometimes peaceful. We can't alter the flow so all we do is watch and wonder.
I sit here often enough to know that the river will again flow peacefully and I am far enough away to survive the harshness of it's natural rhythms.
Today I appreciate it all. The river, the sounds of the wind, water and the trees and I know that it will all go on after me, throughout time. The water will rise once again and take the young tree further down the river and all the other trees will continue to grow with life.
Living and dying is like that because that's the way it is...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I am content…
I am content with the fullness of my life.
 I have five wonderful children and six sweet grand children who are my legacy in this world. 
I have a teacher who gives me the gift of his presence and knowledge.
I have a practice that inspires and guides my path.
I seem to have it all.
Like the river I sit by every day, the flow of my life goes on to a place where it will find it’s finish in the vast ocean of fulfillment.
But yet the waters, my life, are beyond my view toward that spaciousness. I construct the path of the river to the ocean as if I knew the direction it takes and I know that is mind, not true.
I have a longing now for only the second time in this life. I want to change the direction of the river to my own course. I want to take the suffering of one other and make it mine. To assume the suffering and give away my contentment. If only it was that easy.
At the start of my 70th year I want to trade places with one half my time and let him go on and sit by his river without the burden of his suffering as I have more history than future.
If only it was that easy and possible.
I know it isn’t.
First Nation people have pain eaters who can take the pain of another and make it theirs.
That is my hope but not my reality.
Each of us is in the river on our own course and we find our way as best we can. The strength of our faith, our practice, is our tiller as we negotiate the rapids, boulders and obstructions that come in our lifestream. In the flow we carry the weight of the frailty of our humanness and destined by our suffering.
If I could change places and assume the other’s suffering I would do so gladly with humility and grace.
But I can’t.
So I guess I’m not content…

Monday, October 26, 2015


No one ever said life would be easy. There are always bumps in the road. 
For some they are dips and little bumps but for others they are the hole in the road in the dark night of life that can knock you off your path and cause you to swerve, correct and wonder how bad the damage might be.
How we correct is the determination to get back on the path, in the right direction and continue the journey.
Some people are afraid of the road and don’t want to go on. Some are confident that they are in the right vehicle and know how to stay the course.
We have a choice. We can be afraid to go forward or we can be brave and go on.
Your choice is determined by your faith in your ability to handle any bump and the hope that your destination makes the trip worthwhile…

Monday, October 5, 2015

The River is my Teacher

Sitting by the river in my favorite looking space I see how the rain infused river changed the subtle flow of before.The water still flows and the big rocks are unmoved by the turbulence but the smaller rocks and the banks now have a different face.
the flow of our life can be tranquil or turbulent as well and if we are like the smaller rocks we will roll with it and find that when the waters recede and life is in its flow again, although the  banks may not look the same the flow is still going on and us with it.
I understand that turbulence will happen in my life and even with its roar and power I can stay buoyant, not resist and wind up where it takes me. I will be some place else, different banks but in the same river life.
Everything changes and nothing is permanent but the flow of life will always be there, with and without me.
Today I understand this more and realize the river stands a better chance than I do and is a good teacher...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

the flow of the water is endless
the rivers and oceans supreme
the earth is altered
and as rocks become sand
the flow of water goes on.
like fish at spawn
we go against the stream of mind
swimming against the flow
that is constant
until mastering the current
with the buoyancy of practice
we float in emptiness…

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Awake and Aware…

Sitting on the bench by the river I watched the furry wild bees, we called them bumblebees, working the final flowers of the season and I wondered. Were they going about the inherent chores of the gathering of pollen for the benefit of the community of the hive or were they doing their task with the urgency of the impending change in the season and for many their final work?
I thought about my life, our lives, if we were passing these days with regularity or aware that time is of the essence? I was reminded of the saying at the zen center carved in wood above the wood knocker announcing our time to come and meditate in the morning:

““Life and death are of supreme importance.  Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.  Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken.  Take heed, do not squander your life.”
Do we go about our day as if there will always be another or do we take on the day with meaning and approach all our work with the same sense of urgency as these furry wild bees? Are we as the Buddha said when asked by Ananda,
 "Are you the messiah?"
"No", answered Buddha.
"Then are you a healer?"
"No", Buddha replied.
"Then are you a teacher?" the student persisted.
"No, I am not a teacher."
"Then what are you?" asked the student, exasperated.
"I am awake", Buddha replied.
 Are we as he was, awake and are we aware of the importance of each moment in each day? Are we too busy living to live fully? I can only answer these questions with my own life as reference but watching the bees it gives me pause. 
I remember the teacher who admonished that human beings are the only specie that does not live life directly. We have opinions, concepts and beliefs that color our living, that cover the direct experience of our life. 
I take this as an opportunity to spend this time, now, to be awake and to devote attention to the moments in my day and fully occupy the space in which I stand, living fully in the moments of my day.