Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tonglen Intention at the Berkeley Marina

The waves' air feels warm
Though I know, of course, that the water itself is cold.

Crashing lightly against rocks placed there by humans 
all around the perimeter of this new land-filled peninsula to hold the trash in,
the waves feel somehow less "real" than by the true bay. But where is that?
I stand on a garbage pit and so does everybody, all around our bay.

But who cares? Who cares if the dirt was trucked in and the snakes weren’t born here?
The red-shouldered black bird doesn't care. She has a house and she’s singing.

Not the blue heron, either, though I fear he is too used to us, by the way he did not flee today even when I was close enough to hear his massive feathers scoop up the air when he finally did.
He never lost his focus on the prey he was hunting, ignoring me the way an autistic child enraptures himself with his own concerns.

The European starling doesn’t care her bushes grew from seedlings started 25 miles away in a suburban nursery. I don’t dare suggest to her that the nesting site she's chosen is inauthentic. She would tell me, “So what? I am authentic.”
And I’d duck my head in shame and fear because she’d be right and she might hit me on the head with her beak; they do that, you know.

The Clark's grebe's cap and neck lines are crisp, black and white dinner attire. Seeing her I relax; she's an old friend. She dives under and I wait for her. She emerges farther away than I'd guessed and I try and imagine her underwater streamlined glide. I can't because now I'm distracted by all the trash floating by the rocks. I wish for a huge net, the kind at swimming pools but with a longer pole. There's plastic everywhere and I look away.

I visit the sky chair. Thin and broad loops of steel, powder coated blue, create frames of sky. I have a physical memory of lying it in when it still had the matching steel bench. Today I sit on the rock chair someone put there instead. I miss the bench. The view was better.

The water looks like powerful broad strokes of melted dark chocolate. It is soothing today as it was when I came here once, sick with colitis, and tried to image it smoothing out my ulcerous large intestine. I came here, too, when first diagnosed with my second illness. I tried to walk it off, back when I still had hope I could exercise my diabetes away.

Today I have much worse problems but
nothing in particular is wrong today.

I let the water soothe away my non-problems and then remember
I have another option than feeling guilty that I’m white and rich and having a day of no problems at this serene safe place:

Tonglen. It's a Buddhist mediation technique I’m trying to learn from a Pema Chodrön CD.
Breathe in the bad stuff and breathe out calm; breathe out these soothing waters and share it.
Don’t hog the good feelings or the pain. We’re all connected and nothing stays the same,
Pain one day and joy the next.

So I sit in this sky chair with the water and the red-shouldered blackbird now chirping ferociously at me and I try and send it out to all those who are

Lying in a hospital room getting diagnosed with something that will end their lives.
Trapped in their own house, buried and dying in a Washington mud-slide.
Nigerian parents of 300 abducted girls
with a government who won't help.

One heavy headed cormorant flies low over the water, the path of least resistance back to the breakwater. The black bird’s call is persistent and I get the feeling he doesn't want me here anymore.

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