Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yesterday morning I was feeling rather blue, life was feeling so
meaningless.  Life in a house offers so many ways to fill our time, we
have space to spread out our stuff and ourselves; we can pick up a
project for as long as it holds our attention, then leave them for
something else.  There is always something to do, you make some food,
then wash the dishes, then fool around on the computer, then maybe
take a shower, then lounge around doing nothing in particular . . .
Life on the street revolves around meeting survival needs and you
seize what opportunities you can.  When there is a bed available, we
sleep; when there is a clean bathroom available, we clean up to
whatever extent we can; if someone's offering food, we find room in
our stomachs.  The world dictates how we spend our time now to a large
degree, and this morning, the thought of being a little puppet
fighting for survival was fairly depressing.

I started thinking of what alternatives I had.  I started thinking of
Buddhist monks that can go live in a temple, devoting their lives to
god and finding their survival that way.  But I don't live in a
country with very many Buddhist temples, nor do I follow any existing
religion.  And as I sat in the tent this morning, trying not to cry, a
voice in my head starting telling me that I would have to take refuge
in a temple of my own creation; that if I wanted to devote my life to
god, that I should do so directly, I don't need a hierarchy of monks
or a mother superior to direct my life.  It made the day a lot easier
to get through.

There is a form of meditation called Vipassana in which you simply
sit.  No mantra to chant, you just sit and do not move, even if you
are uncomfortable.  I've been thinking of this every time I feel like
I have no purpose.  I simply sit, and embrace just being.  Sometimes I
feel like this body is an avatar being controlled by forces from
somewhere else, so when I can't divine any purpose in my life, when it
seems likes god doesn't have anything I need to be doing, I've been
putting this avatar into "rest mode" by practicing my Vipassana.

I've also been reading a lot. I want to talk more about the books
I've been reading but that'll have to wait. I'm actually trying to
type this on a friend's iPad at a ridiculous hour of the morning after
dealing with a very drunk Bruce at a party. But starting my mornings
by absorbing new information and new realities has been
transformative. My mom used to discourage me from reading during
breakfast before school (except my textbooks) because she thought that
it put my mind into a state to daydream rather than to concentrate. I
can see where she was coming from, but the imagination is so crucial
to our ability to learn - how can we conceive of new ideas without
imagination - that i think anyone of any age should exercise their
imagination as often as possible.

Here is an ironic and kind of sad secret: the first three paragraphs
were written weeks ago, and yet could have described how I was feeling
yesterday. I'm sad to say I'd completely forgotten my earlier dismay
and words of comfort. And yet not that long ago I found myself in the
strange but delightful position of driving in the mountains with
Bruce, completely lost, in the dark, shouting "I LOVE BEING
HOMELESS!". And in the moment I meant it with all my heart. It just
goes to show that in my constant quest, I still have a long way to go.
Having stripped away so many superficial, heavy, and unnecessary
trappings of this mortal life, I am left with more room to let my
creativity, compassion, and capacity for love grow and bloom. But
this newfound space in my life has also left shadows and dusty corners
that need to be dealt with now.

So this leads me to my new focus of the moment. One of the most
fundamental forces in the universe is intent; so much has been written
on this subject that I could hardly begin to cover it, but suffice to
say intent carries an enormous amount of power and by learning to use
this power, we become limitless. When I fall into melancholy and self
pity, I cannot use (nor, I suspect, even gain access) to the power of
intent. I become victim to my very thoughts and emotions and the
demons they let in. To avoid these traps as I continue to strengthen
my mind, heart, and energy, I make quests to focus my mind and my
behavior and thereby strengthen my connection to the power of intent.
Past quests have included my De-stash The Yarn I Have No Clue What To
Do With (which is actually going relatively well considering
everything) and other such fun little quests, but the theme of my
newest quest is a bit more broad: balancing novelty and entropy in my

Entropy seems to be overwhelming my life lately. Entropy is not a bad
thing; while many view entropy as decay, I view it as the metaphoric
compost that nurtures new creation and novelty. Except lately it
seems that entropy is the reigning force in my life. This does not
work for me, I live for creation, growth, expansion. Now more than
ever my life reminds me of that tangled ball of yarn that needs
patient hands to smooth out the knots. In fact, this morning when I
woke up supremely pissed off at the entropy in my life, winding a ball
of yarn was exactly what I did to try to regain some of my sanity.
There had been a small skein of red acrylic yarn lying around the tent
that we used for random tasks like anchoring parts of the tent to
trees so it would blow in on itself in the wind. In the process of
being tossed around the tent, the skein had lost its structure and
dissolved into a mess. So when I woke up mad enough to punch my
pillow, I grabbed the skein and staring winding it into a ball. By
the time I had finished, I felt a little better - not a whole lot, but
enough to make that crucial difference. During the course of the
morning I also thoroughly brushed out my hair that I had let get very
tangled, organized what few belongings we have down there, shook the
accumulated sand out of our bedding and laid it out nicely again, and
swept all the dirt and debris from our side of the tent into our
little dustpan. Having banished entropy from our tent for the
morning, I felt like I was back in control, that I was no longer
victim to my emotions, as I had been so devastatingly the day before.

But entropy has its place in the world, and I cannot spend all my time
trying to hold entropy in check lest I become totally neurotic;
keeping the tent clean and our basic survival needs met is enough for
now. The rest of my energy I plan to devote to two other aims. The
first is to keep perpetuating novelty in my life. Knitting and
crochet are most certainly a favorite way to keep fresh novelty in my
life; each project is a completely new experience, even if I were to
knit the same pattern a hundred times over, but the experience of
making each one would be different. But because I've been in such a
rut (twice now to such a degree of severity) so I want to push the
boundaries of my creativity. I intend to keep reading more. I've
always been a swift and enthusiastic reader, but in my old life, I
found myself reading the same favorites over and over. Since we've
been homeless, I've read approximately a book a week, new ones I've
never read before, and I intend to keep it up. I also intend to make
writing a daily habit again, even if it's just a line or two in my
battered notebook.

I also intend to break out my watercolors and paint more. Part of the
reason I rarely paint is that I feel it's such a cumbersome process to
get out all my supplies including a fresh cup of water and rags, and a
clean plate to use as a palate. So I intend to find a way to simplify
the way I store and use my paints so that when inspiration strikes, I
wil feel free to grab on. I've been saving up more crafting money
too; when we still lived in a house, I was setting aside spare change
whenever I could for my 'yarn fund', but when we got kicked out the
house, that loose change, along with all the rest from the floor of my
car, went into the 'oh shit we're homeless fund'. But I've got a
small amount set aside and it's growing slow and steadily; I'm
planning to start stalking the sales at Michaels in search of not only
yarn but beads, more watercolor brushes, and maybe even something
completely new like a simple crossstitch project kit. Or maybe a
super difficult one just to challenge my brain.

But this is just the first of two aforementioned aims. The second is
to more intensively focus my intent on restoring myself to optimal
well-being, in my physical self and my 'soft self' or 'ethereal self';
I want to be healthy in my body and in my chi, and then to take the
knowledge of this well-being and use it to help others to heal
themselves. And I plan to this with a variety of means, manipulations
of both my physical self and my internal energy with foods, plants,
exercises physical and mental . . . I hope to write more on this as I
investigate and incorporate new thins my life.

And so this determined little butterfly keeps on going, one wing beat
at a time . . .


  1. "And so this determined little butterfly keeps on going, one wing beat
    at a time . . ." Very admirable and inspirational.
    I'm a bit scared for you and worried. But this "roughin' it" journey seems like one of detox for you. I have hope that a change in fortune will occur for you two and you'll be able to live in harmony w/what you want and with the dictates of society.