Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Edges

 I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime mastering an instrument, only to find that I live in a deaf society.

The scale of it all, the grandeur, the epicness of it all, is beginning to tighten around my neck.

It is said that a dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one.  That never made any sense to me on a practical level, unless the blade is so dull that it is uneven or chipped, in which case it would tear your skin instead of cut it cleanly.  Honestly, though, you would have to be in motion, for when you press a dull blade into your skin nothing happens… that’s boring.  A dull blade in motion is also more likely to deflect off of intended surfaces to be cut and catch a finger or appendage, and the added pressure needed to penetrate something with a dull blade, then redirecting to a surface as fragile as skin would certainly cause some damage.  You could also successfully stab someone with a spoon, though, so…

Insert life metaphors freely.

 Why does life have to be suffering?  That was a question I posed in a Dokusan with Tenshin Roshi.  He went on a rant about life being, without a doubt, suffering.  I don’t think he understood my question, like most don’t understand what I’m talking about or what I’m trying to do, like when I asked how the Zen community feels about nudity, referencing my work, he went on a rant about intention.  Well, I already get that, but that doesn’t tell me how the Zen community feels about something that should be natural and accepted, when, in fact, it is still treated more as taboo, mostly in relation to societal expectation.  Is the Zen community victim to societal expectations, because I was always under the impression that it existed to defy such silly things.
  So, I pose the question to you, why does life have to be suffering?  Why can’t it just be life, and we choose whether or not we suffer?  We all go through the same shit; we all feel the same shit; ad infinitum; nothing about the human condition has changed in recorded history, and nothing will likely change before we destroy ourselves.  Read the Ancients.  If there is anything that they had absolutely figured out, it was the human condition, and by their mentioning ancient times, it is painfully apparent that they had plenty of experience with it, passed down from generation to generation, again, ad infinitum.  If life, which continues on regardless, is truly suffering, then all that really matters is how we choose to respond to it.  By that rationale there is no suffering, only life.
We can let life bother us, and dwell on the stupid shit that they tell us to dwell on, or we can smile and move on to the more important things.  Suffering is nothing more than an ideal created by institutions and religious structures to keep you going back to the source and paying for alleviation of something that they’ve convinced you exists.  Just live your life; don’t suffer anything.  This is, of course, another conundrum, coming from someone who is fully immersed in the hamster wheel of societal expectations.  I am only living my life on the terms of the structure that I have been given, and the people that I’ve surrounded myself by.  While I am not living the life I wish to live, I am not suffering this life, I’m living it.
Two separate thoughts, days apart, crammed together, scribbled in my journal in the brief moments I have in my car, away from life, but preparing for it.  Last night I made the near fatal mistake of pulling out the old analogue tapes of my first born as a baby.  There is a reason I hide them away; there is also a book I could write on the affect they have.  I survived, and continue to not suffer any of this silly shit.  Suddenly, Tuesday and Wednesday have become a deep breath between the chaos, and I really wish I could’ve been out shooting these beautiful clouds, but there is no one here to go with me.  My girls are out of town.  I am wandering around aimlessly and staring at walls.  Tomorrow I return to the hamster wheel.

Just sharpen your damn knife.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Strange Brew

Life... takes us to strange places.  It is very easy to feel victimized by where we end up, be it good or bad in reality.  Often times we find ourselves swirled into someone else's dreams and realities.  Opportunities become what other people offer you, and what you earn in their world, rarely what you actually wanted with your life.  It is easy, also, to genuinely appreciate what things are handed to you.  When that does happen, you have to reevaluate everything, restructure everything, and let go of a lot of plans and dreams of your own... for the sake of other people and what you need to accomplish for them... right now.  This can feel like a kick and a scream, or it can feel like a deep breath and a smile.  This weekend we soft opened this Brewpub that has been slowly building for years, and that I have been working at for about three months, and while it was amazing watching people drink and enjoy the beer that I have been helping to make, there really wasn't much time to simply enjoy it while running back and forth between two jobs.  I worked myself sick.
There is that part of me that is proud of running around and working almost 40 hours in three days, but then there is also the rational part of me that sees that all that work basically just barely gets me back to working the hours that I lost when the restaurant closed for lunch two months ago, leaving my family under a considerable amount of financial strain.  We make it work, because that's what you do.  The punchline to the 14 hour days is that there is no overtime, opening the restaurant, then heading over to close the brewpub, two separate businesses, technically... more rational panics.  Everyone is exhausted, though, you can see it on their faces.  I am really just lucky to be included in this transitional/settling phase, and will continue to do whatever they need me to do, because that's what I do, but while my boss went out and bought another car, I'm beyond broke, and just trying to smile through all of this.  More practical stuff.  Eight years ago, with this same employer at a different restaurant, I intimated in a blog post that I would rather starve to death on the side of the road doing what I love, than run my ass off for high school money, which got me fired.
I still had my primary job as a projectionist and I wasn't supporting anyone, so it wasn't that big of a deal.  Not a month went by before I was offered a job running a kitchen, which I had never done, but I did it.  That business folded and I went on to the next kitchen.  I got sick of that and went on to the next kitchen.  When I was fired and evicted from my now obsolete projectionist job, all I really knew I could do was work in a kitchen, so I washed dishes and did prep wherever I could in the desert, in a strange place where no one knew who I was.  Now, I'm working in two of the best kitchens on my little mountain, and am the only employee in my little mountain's only brewery.  That's pretty fucking extraordinary, and while I do bitch a lot about the fairness of payscales and actual work involved in comparison to living expenses in modern society, I do feel very fortunate to be where I am.  Everything is beautiful.  lAvaNyamaya.

I still just want to shoot.

We should shoot.

Come have a beer.