Change of State of Being

Once in a blue moon, we encounter a situation that changes our state of being. Who I think I am won’t fit who I actually am now. The familiar labels ceases to describe what I am. It is disorienting.

Two versions of me are walking overlapping each other, with slight dissonance, which gradually becomes noticeable, as if we were a ghost of each other, trying to head to different direction, further and further apart from each other, while not being sure who is the past and who is the present. And most importantly, who is the future to be.

So I sit and stay still for a while to bring the present to the center. It’s not easy. My everyday routine is constructed based on who I was. My friends know me as a “powerhouse,” which I might not be anymore. The lifestyle I expected to pursue based on who I was might not be feasible.

I think of my friends who were forced to change their state of being. My once highly functional friend developed DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and has become immensely dysfunctional. It was a drastic change to her state of being. However, I became friends with her long after she had developed DID and for me it is how she always is. I couldn’t fathom her sense of loss. Another highly active friend developed ALS and was immobilized. I don’t have a word to describe her loss. Everyday, she had to adjust her expectation according to the function she lost that day. Time and time again she had lost her grasp of the present state of being and believed she could dance again.

I developed Ménière’s disease and had multiple attacks while I was working out of state. Lying in fetal position in the cold bathtub alone, vomiting, gagging and shaking, not knowing if I could go to work in the morning, I was afraid. I was afraid to be on board to go home. Then I was afraid to leave home. Several of my options for the future course of life were eliminated in that bathtub in a motel room in a strange city.

The highly functional, reliable powerhouse is no more. If the attack comes, I will become a puddle of vomit on the random floor.

The friend with DID and I exchange the notes over lunch and mourned for who we were together. She said my story was very familiar. She looked like she was comforted by the fact that I finally got at least part of how she felt. “I am not a kind of person who cancels appointment at the last minute,” I said. “Now, I have to if I have an attack.” “Neither did I,” she said. After the illness stroke, she, afflicted with multiple disorders, has been a constant no-show. That’s always been who she was to me.

While ALS, DID, Ménière’s, etc. induce drastic changes, aren’t we always changing? Probably I need to adjust my idea of who I am to my state of being every moment.

Sometimes, I see men and women walking with their ghosts. Old women dressed up in teenager appropriate garbs. I don’t judge how they dress. It’s their frozen look trapped in the ghost of who they were that gets me.

Our state of being is fluid. Let it flow and dance with life.

P.S. My dog, Simon, loves to play fetch. One day he broke his toes and had to walk on three legs while the broken one was in splints. After a couple of days, he was running on three legs as happy as he had been. Dogs adjust to the present reality so fluidly without dwelling on the loss. Dogs are amazing. They are my Zen teachers.

I will never see you again

1-IMG_0036Some occupations require us to remain on the bank and see the current of river flow. Teachers are the obvious one.  Kids come and go, come and go, never the same kid, but the life flows in front of their eyes continuously.  And the teacher him/herself never stays the same. Therapist might be another such occupation.

Whenever you are the one who remains on the bank, you will see the flow of the current.  One leaves, another comes, and leaves.  Seeing off people helps me to be aware that it was once a life time encounter with that particular person.  And it was once a life time encounter with that particular person I was.

The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world.   (Hojoki, Circa 1212)

I’ve been going to the same gym everyday for the last 2 and half years.  Trainers know me well.  It’s like a family.  I realized younger trainers were nomads. They come and they go.  I am the one who remains on the bank seeing them come and go.  It makes me feel sad when one of my favorite coaches leaves.  And I realize that I also was the one who came and went.

For the Boys

I am sad because I know I will never see you again.  I already miss you because I know I have missed the opportunity to know who you are and who you will be.

You say you might drop by when in the city.  I might happen to be there to see you coming down the stairs.

But I will never see you again in the way I see you today.

I see you moving out of the country as I did long time ago, with emotional devastation leaving behind, with anxiety and excitement in front of you.   Then, Young Man, you will be who you will be there in the land you have chosen even before I saw you for the first time.

Thinking about your youth and the path you are about to take fills my heart with a painfully raw love of life,  cruelty and grace of time, and preciousness of the moment: any single moment of my transient presence in your life.

You are not my child or my love.   You are one of the beautiful young men I happened to know.  (All young men are beautiful as all young women are.)  And I love you all as I love my child.

And I love who I was and who I could be at your age, leaving everything behind and flying out to the country to be my home.  I didn’t know I would never see her again.

Impermanence

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The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world.

Excerpt from Hojoki: The Ten Foot Square Hut by Kamo No Chomei.  Translated by Anthony Chambers 2007

I learned this old prose in high school in my old country.  It’s like a Shakespeare monologue.  You need to know by heart.  It’s all about Impermanence.  Impermanence was embedded in my old country’s collective unconscious.  It was a norm.   It is how it is.

Recently I was watching a kid’s educational TV program of my country.  It’s like Sesame Street, to teach children how to read, count, and have fun in the language.  And I heard kids reciting this prose.   My jaw dropped.  They teach preschool kids Impermanence?   Wow…

As born and brought up in a Buddhist culture, I’ve never questioned Impermanence.   It is how it is.  And still I often wander away, falsely believing otherwise, believing it is the same water as before.  And again the universe reminds me that I am the foam that floats on backwaters.

The truth will set us free.

Living in the Present Moment

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One’s Journey often starts before one knows it. My friend, Maria, became aware of weakness in her abdominal muscles in the summer of 2010. She didn’t know it was going to be her last summer. She was diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, in December 2010. Every summer, I think about how she lived the last year of her life and contemplate on the meaning of living in the present moment.

This could be my last summer.
This could be my last August.
This could be my last sunset.
This could be my last breath.
This could be the last time to see you.
I love you all.

Join me, if you would like, to be fully present in this moment of our life, in this summer, in this August, on this day, at this time of the day… It only takes a moment. And Breathe for my friend. Thank you… I love you all.

Zen of Cherry Blossom

The falling cherry blossoms,

The remaining cherry blossoms are also

The cherry blossoms to fall.

 Haiku by Ryokan Osho

Every year I think this might be the last time to see the cherry blossoms fall.  This particular type of cherry trees only blossom for a week in the spring.  They open and will be gone in a week. If you miss it, you won’t see it till the next year.  And who could be sure that you will be there to see the cherry blossom fall next year.

So I breathe in the almost colorless color of petals, listen to the sound of silently falling petals, and watch the air tinted with millions of white grey pink petals.

This could be the last time.

It’s about

Mortality.

impermanence.

The transient nature of our existence.

That’s exactly why it’s precious.

Love and appreciate your life now.  It could be the last time you see it.

The dog enjoyed the spring day with his full existence.  He is not with us anymore.

Become Your Dream

De la Vega Sightings.  I’ve encountered those images numerous times in my neighborhood past 15 years and I have never seen the artist in action.  I once entered an icecream store and found its counter covered with De La Vega images.  It makes me happy to find those images in chalk on my way to somewhere mandane.  It’s a reminder and the inherent impermanence of the message is zen worthy.

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