Septemus 54

A Time for Di7cipline

Septeen1802

I’m going to have to rethink my whole approach to being. I can’t just let everything fly out of me anymore. I’ve got to develop my intention.

I’ve noticed that the universe has a knack for pointing out the next lesson, and sometimes, its finger isn’t subtle.

I was jogging after Lucas left, just to clear my head.

Septeen1905

It feels good at night, when it’s silent out to settle into the rhythm of my feet on the pavement. I was just finding my cadence when I heard Panda’s voice, loud and clear:

“Sept? I’m sorry I bit your not-friend. He made you sad and angry. He hurt you, so I hurt him. Is he ok? It was only a bite, honest. I didn’t eat him.”

So that’s what happened to Lucas. My sister bit him? No wonder I flashed on Panda when Lucas was rubbing his arm.

This is so not right, on so many levels.

Panda picked up my feelings, even though I wasn’t sending to her. I’ve been like some rogue broadcasting tower that hasn’t figured out frequencies yet, spilling all my emotional junk to the pagotogo.

This is not OK. They’ve got their own stuff to deal with. Plus, this is my, like, my personal stuff.  I really, really don’t want to share my private angsty teenage garbage with all my siblings. They’re just kids; I’m a hot mess. This is so not right.

Yobaska. I am so embarrassed.

I’m glad Pops was there to talk after I finished my run and got out of the shower. I told him the kids were picking up everything I felt–I left out the part about Panda exacting my revenge on Stupid Nose.

“I’m just going to have to shut myself down,” I told Pops, “like a switched-off robot.”

Septeen1901

“I don’t think that’s the answer, son,” he said. “You’ve got a gift. It’s not right to turn off your natural form of communication.”

“But it’s like a data dump,” I said. “That’s not communication. That’s spillage.”

Septeen1903

He listened. I explained.

I have to get this under control. I’ve decided to stop for a while. I will keep on communicating telepathically with him, and with my baby brother inside of him, because we live together in the same physical space, and I can’t shut off my feelings at home. But until I figure out how to get control over this, I’m not going to be broadcasting to the pagotogo. Not even songs.

“Not even if they need you?” Pops asked.

Oh. Why does it have to be so difficult to do the best thing always?

“OK,” I replied. “If they need me, yes. I will practice sending to them directly, just the song, with just that specific information. The rest of the stuff, I shut off.”

Septeen1902

So now that I’ve decided the best thing to do, I’ve got to figure out how to do it. I’m going to work some meditation time into my day. And yoga. And I think I’ll read those Buddha books Pops got out for me. And also the Bhagavad Gita. And maybe Walden. And Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I think I will visualize a cone of crystalline light around me–energy passes in through the top and down into the earth below my feet, but nothing escapes out the side.

Later on, once I’ve got this under control, I can experiment with lifting the cone when I’ve got a specific message to send out to a specific person. Or maybe I bore a hole through it, so the message comes out in a laser point. But that’s going to come much, much later. I’m entering preschool, and lasers are college.

But that still leaves Panda and the consequences of a bite on the arm. Biting someone is not OK, even if she is awesome for wanting to stick up for me.

I decided that I would write her an actual, physical letter and mail it to her. It’s a chance for me to practice discipline: communicating the old-fashioned, labor-intensive way, when just sending it out there would be so much easier.

Septeen1805

Dear Panda,

I got your message, and I’ve got lots to say:

Firstly, you are one bad-ass sister! You are most awesome. Thank you for sticking up for me.

Secondly, thanks for telling me the truth about it. That’s just one more way you’re awesome.

Septeen1804

Thirdly, it’s really not OK to bite somebody. I mean, if you need to protect your life or someone else’s, maybe you can bite–for protection. But not for revenge. For one thing, revenge is hardly ever needed. For another, there’s almost always another way to make things right. Or at least acceptable.

Fourthly, Lucas really didn’t do anything wrong. He just chose somebody else over me. He’s free to do that. And besides, I never told him how I felt in actual spoken words. Pops says spoken or written words are important here. We can’t always rely on transmitted feelings without them.

That’s why I’m writing you instead of communicating the other way.

I’ve decided I won’t be sending thought-messages for a while. Not until I figure out how to do this better. But I will keep listening. I’ll always listen. And if you need me, for anything, or if you even just want to say, “Hi,” I will always hear you. You’re my little sister!

And thanks for asking after Lucas. He is OK. His arm is just a little stiff is all. I don’t think I’ll be seeing him much anymore. But that’s OK, too. Or it will be. Eventually. When I grow a new heart. Just kidding. Not really, but it will all be OK for sure.

You know why? My pops is going to have a baby, and I’m going to be one busy bagoto! I will mail you a picture once the little guy is born. Oh–good news! The baby’s extra-terrestrial, too!

Stay cool, my paPandagoto!

Your brother (and your biggest fan),

Sept

Septeen1803

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Author’s note: Many thanks to Thymeless for sending Panda’s message! Follow Pandora’s Box to keep up with Panda and Harmony’s thoughts and lives.

Shift 20: Practice

shift2019

This is what I see when I wake up. I got new clothes, a purple hoodie that I love and some t-shirts. I feel happy to see my hoodie hanging there, on an actual clothes hanger. And then when I look across the divide and see Marquise’s gray hoodie hanging on an actual hanger, too, I feel so happy I can’t stay in bed any more. I gotta get up and bounce!

This is what I hear when I wake up: Xavier murdering racoons. He says he’s gotta practice if he wants to make orchestra, and he’s got to make orchestra, because have you seen the first violinist? He says she’s gorgeous.

shift2006

Amy Guajardo practices every morning, too. Even though she’s learning the keyboard, her music sounds good. I guess it’s easier to play something that you just push keys on, rather than having to draw a horse-hair bow across tiny metal threads.

shift2005

When I wake up early enough, I like to shoot a few hoops before school. I suck at basketball. But with practice, right?

So far we’re all pretty bad at it. I’ve got this idea, though, that we can make a team and compete in Five on Five.

shift2021

Since YOTO is run by actual yogis, we’ve got yoga classes all the time. They open up classes for the community, too, when we’re at school, and they make a lot of money that way. But the morning and evening sessions are reserved for us. Aadhya, the coordinator, usually teaches them. I like her classes.

shift2016

Amy asked me once why I thought they had yoga here. I mean it’s obvious: We learn focus. And that helps with everything.

She said, no. That wasn’t why. It’s so we stop rebelling.

“We accept, right? And then, when crappy stuff happens, we accept it. It sounds like selling out to me.”

I was about to say something when she continued.

“It sounds like selling out. But it’s not, really. See, Vivaan told me that the only way you can really change anything–yourself, other people–well, you can’t change other people–but the world–is by accepting first. Accept, then change.”

shift2011

I guess we all get something different out of yoga. We get what we need.

I asked Aadhya about that after class one day.

“Can yoga be different things to different people?”

She got real still and looked at me for a while.

“Yoga involves looking within to meet the true nature of the mind, body, and emotions. Are your mind, body, and emotions different than those of other people?”

shift2022

I didn’t know how to answer her. At first, the answer was “Yes!” But then, the more I looked at the question, the answer mutated into “No.” So now I wonder if our minds, being in a body, and having emotions makes us more similar than different.

I don’t know, though. I was still thinking that over when I had a weird conversation with one of the volunteers there. This lady was telling me that she usually just contributes money. But that lately, she’s been contributing time and money.

“And taking classes, too!”

shift2001

“Yoga does me good,” she said. “It keeps me young. It helps me understand what they mean by ‘inner riches,’ you know?”

She droned on and on. I stopped listening. Next thing I knew, she was offering to get me a make-over.

“You’d look real pretty with a new hair-cut, a little make-up, and a nice new wardrobe . You’ve got a rocking bod–might as well show it off!”

shift2002

I closed my eyes and breathed.

In me was a little ball of rage that wanted to explode out and hurt somebody. I was triggered. My uncle used to say stuff like that to me, before Gran forbade him from coming over. “Put on a dress, why dontcha? You’d be real pretty. You’re a pretty girl. Show some leg!” I wanted to punch him. After he started doing stuff, I wanted to kill him.

Now I felt that rage stirring up from the back of my brain, down through my spine and out to my fingers. My fists were clenched. I simply noticed it.

I breathed.

Acceptance. Yeah, I can see that maybe yoga does teach that. It beats useless anger, at any rate.

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Aimless: A Kindness Warrior Call to Action

kindness03

The world is bigger than a single country.

A country is bigger than those its system places in positions in the government.

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A country, the world, is composed of individuals, of you and me.

There’s a reason that you were born into this time, this place. You are needed. This country, this world, need your individuality, your perspective, your own unique shine. Your own singular voice.

During the Bush era, dissenting voices fell silent. And so the Patriot Act passed with barely a murmur, and civil liberties were lost.  Halliburton siphoned at least $39.5 billion from the U. S.

We needed voices then to speak up. Few did.

We need voices now and in the coming years to speak up. And we will.

kindness02

The first step–what it all rests on–is for each of us to take care of ourselves. Go outside today, or look around your home or office, and find something beautiful that you treasure. Listen to music that uplifts you. Eat a meal that raises your vibration. Nurture your spirit, your soul, your health, your well-being.

When you’re strong, take care of others, too. Speak your truth. Stand up for yourself and others when you need to and when it’s the right thing to do. Care for your home. Care for the earth. Care for our beautiful, diverse communities.

kindness04

What is stronger than fear? Mindfulness.

What is stronger than hate? Compassion and understanding.

What’s stronger than disappointment? Trust in our own ability to care for ourselves, our homes, our gardens, our neighbors and communities, and this beautiful planet we live on. Every day, we have tasks to do, and when we do them well, we make a difference. Even washing dishes while being impeccably present can transform the world.

We have a crucible now through which we can move to emerge transformed.

Change yourself, change the world.

Be yourself, be the world.

Stay strong, Kindness Warriors!

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Three Rivers 16.1

Sixteenth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

16. The gap inside is filled with presence

sixteen01

Savannah Trejo loved to watch her young wife. Sierra moved with calmness. To be near her was to sit beneath a willow on a summer afternoon. Worries drifted away with the dandelion puffs.

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In the few years they’d been married, frenzy had dissolved from Savannah’s life–this, despite being the mother to two teens: Elaine, the foster child that Sierra and Savannah legally adopted, and Leigh, Savannah’s natural-born daughter.

sixteen04

The girls weren’t angels: Elaine fell into moods, and Leigh would do nearly anything to pull off a successful prank. But somehow, Sierra made it seem that everything was ok: even the tension of Elaine’s hormonal cliffs and valleys or the principal’s call after an entire row of lockers were sealed shut with Leigh’s favorite brand of bubblegum.

For Sierra, life–in all its complications–was simple: accept everything. Nothing lasts, so nothing need be clung to nor resisted.

sixteen10

Shortly after they’d first met, Savannah tried to learn Sierra’s secret.

They sat together at a café, and Savannah leaned over the table to look into Sierra’s eyes.

“How do you do it?” she asked.

“Do what?”

When Savannah finally managed to explain what she was asking, which was challenging because she wasn’t sure herself, Sierra just laughed.

“There’s no trick!” she said. “Do you remember when you were a baby?”

Savannah shook her head. “I don’t remember anything before Leigh was born. I mean, I know the facts, but I don’t remember how anything felt. It’s as if my life ended and then started again. Everything from before is merely hypothetical. Do you remember?”

“I do!” said Sierra. Sierra’s earliest memories were of lying in her crib while the sunlight poured in through the nursery windows. “Happiness, I discovered, was as easy as holding my toes! As natural as the sunlight! That’s all there is to it,” she explained. “Simply breathe! We have more than we need to be happy! We have everything.”

Savannah loved to watch Sierra walk through the park behind their home.

sixteen12

“Are you meditating?” she asked sometimes.

sixteen11

“I’m walking,” Sierra replied. “Walking and breathing and feeling the soles of my feet on the earth.”

sixteen09

Savannah walked through the park while Sierra did a sun salutation. She wondered if she could walk long enough that her thoughts would stop. She wanted to ask Sierra if her thoughts stopped while she practiced walking meditation, but Sierra was in the middle of her yoga routine. Savannah continued to walk the path as it wound past the garden, behind their house, through the many arches and back past the sunny lawn where her young wife practiced yoga. With each step, she watched her breath. One, two, three, four–on the inhale. One, two, three, four, five–on the exhale.

sixteen08

With each inhale, she thought: I walk on the earth. With each exhale: the ground is beneath me. With the next inhale: the sky is above me. Exhale: the ground is beneath. Around and around. Her feet sounded on the cement pathway, and the sound resonated inside.

She stopped to watch Sierra finish the routine. Stillness within, stillness without.

sixteen07

“I think my thoughts stopped,” she said to Sierra, while Sierra rolled the yoga mat.

Sierra smiled.

They held hands and walked together down the path, while slowly thoughts found their ways back into the minds of each woman.

“Let’s have salad and scrambled eggs for supper!” Sierra said.

They met a community gardener on the way home.

“Oh! We should tell her about the next Green Party meeting!” Sierra said.

Savannah watched the two women talk. Her mind still had so much space within–is this what peace feels like? We don’t need the Green Party, Savannah thought. All we need is this. Stillness and quiet.

sixteen06

They said goodbye to the gardener, who’d promised to attend their next rally, and as they approached the street, they came upon an old man.

“Good evening, M. Deveralle,” Sierra said.

“Ah, ma belle!” said the old man. “What is the young rebel doing wandering through the park this fine evening?”

sixteen05

As they chatted, Savannah learned of the old man’s experience with political reform. “We will change the old ways once again,” he said. “You tell that to Alec. All he needs to do is call. I am always ready for the consultation.”

They bid goodnight to Claude Deveralle and walked the rest of the way home.

“He was once the leader of the Socialist Movement,” Sierra said.

“That old man?” Savannah asked.

“That man,” Sierra replied. “He has such stories to tell. Such experience.”

Savannah sat at the counter while Sierra chopped the salad.

“Are you sad, dear?” she asked.

“Oh,” said Sierra, “I suppose so. It will pass.”

sixteen13

A hot shower, the supper of salad and scrambled eggs, and the sadness lifted and jokes flowed between the two.

sixteen03

And then the doors slammed and the two daughters were home.

“School is the biggest crock of garbage,” pronounced Elaine. She sat on the couch and glared.

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While Savannah washed the dishes, Sierra sat next to her, not talking, simply sitting, smiling, resting and breathing. Elaine sighed and leaned against her mother. “If only everyone were like you,” she said.

Before bed, Leigh came down with an announcement.

“I’ve figured it out. I want to be a botanist. Either that or an astronaut. No, a botanist. Do you think that botanists make good money?”

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Her mothers laughed.

“I doubt that many botanists become botanists for the money,” said Savannah.

“No,” said Sierra, “but you know? There are so many good jobs for botanists!  And for gardeners, too! And if Alec wins, Three Rivers will be hiring even more of both!”

“I think I’ll be a botanist,” repeated Leigh. “I like trees.”

After the girls went up to their rooms, Sierra and Savannah tidied up the living room, putting away the books and magazines, watering the house plants, folding the afghans and comforters.

“I hope our daughters pick up something of you,” Savannah said, “so that when they move out into this big world, they’ll always have a center of calm, like we do, here in our home.”

“They’ll live their own way,” Sierra replied, “for it’s their lives, isn’t it?”

sixteen02

Wonder 24

Beryl

2401

What a help Charlie is around the house! No surprise–he’s always been considerate and helpful, even when he was a little kid, and now that he’s a teen, he’s capable of actually helping, rather than getting in the way with a smile.

The day after Mae’s birthday, I insisted that Charlie take a break from chores.

“I know you really want to work on that song you’re composing,” I told him. “Do it! Leave the dishes to me.”

2402

My secret is that doing the dishes is one of my greatest joys. It grounds me. I walked through the yard, gathering the plates, cups, and forks resting on every flat surface, and I felt the earth beneath my feet, the bay-cooled air on my arms, the scent of poppies and wildflowers, the weight of the stack of dishes in my hand: I felt myself settle into me. It’s my selfish pleasure, not a chore.

Charlie joined me for lunch.

“What’s on the agenda for this afternoon, spud?” I asked him.

“I finished that piece, the quadrille,” he said. “Maybe I’ll write another.”

2407

“Do you want to?”

“Not particularly. I don’t feel that special inspiration yet.”

“Maybe you could help me,” I suggested. “I want to improve my bowing.”

“Seriously?”

2403

We talked about violin technique. Charlie said that his teacher stressed bow angles, but that he always felt that breathing was more important.

“It’s fundamental,” he said. “Think about it: you’re part of the instrument. Its sound waves travel through you, through those spaces in your bones, even. So if you’re tense and not breathing, then the sound will be tense, too. You gotta learn to relax. That’s a thousand times more important than the angle at which you’re holding the bow.”

“Everything’s like that, don’t you think, Chazzie?”

He thought for a moment.

2408

“I guess so,” he said at last. “I was thinking about futebol. First I was thinking that I needed to be tense to play, but my coach is always shouting at us to relaxe. And think about how Pai plays, total relaxation.”

“I’m always relaxed when I’m painting,” I said.

2404

Chazzie insisted on doing the dishes, and while he cleaned up, I lay back on the bed, looking up at the ceiling and tracing the pattern of the elephant I always find in the plaster. The elephant looks relaxed–his trunk is drooping, ears sagging.

When I relax, I feel calm in my stomach, so then when I get a creative urge, and I feel it traveling up through the soles of my feet, there’s no obstacle in the way. It just flows right through to my arms, through my paintbrush and onto the canvas.

Now to learn to do that while playing the violin.

“Relax, breathe!” Chazzie said.

2405

It’s hard to do when the music sounds so bad!

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