Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Staying with It

I've been inside most of the day, really all day since the only going outside I did was to walk to the edge of the sidewalk, marvel at the snow and go back inside again. I logged into work and plugged away at a project much of the day, the rest of it was spent completing some online training I had listed as an accomplishment for 2008.

CK decided this morning to drive after finding another person wanting to do the same. The other woman also has experience driving on the snow and using chains. A vehicle was rented, chains were bought and the two of them set off up I-5 from Woodland, California at 11:55 this morning. I've been very relieved to be able to text with her off and on as well as talk with her a couple of times.

Nearly 2 hours ago they passed Eugene and were less than 100 miles from Portland. The would have started hitting the results of the snow and ice storm within the past hour and she sent out a message that they put the chains on about 35 minutes ago (about 8:45PM as I'm writing). I'm not sure if she'll be able to come directly to the flat where Atari and I are waiting for her, she may get dropped into downtown. If the MAX is running, and the Blue Line is, she would have to do the walk from the stop which takes about 15 minutes of brisk walking on a normal day. I may bundled up and meet her partway with more layers.

I worked on things until about 5PM today then decided to wrap it up for the day, my eyes were feeling a bit tired. Felt a little better after some asana practice, some deep forward bends, lots of down dog & twists, and a few sun salutations. I felt so stiff after sitting all day working, the relative cold outside, and an undercurrent of concern for CK. Then sat zazen for a little while, had a difficult time being present today once I tried to settle into stillness with that worry and ache.

Earlier in the day I had started some soup and it had filled the flat with a delicious smell. I finished zazen feeling hungry and impatient. I'd brought my dinner, soup and toast, out and realized that I'd started to check emails, news, road conditions, Twitter... All distraction while I was mindlessly eating dinner. I put the laptop aside and brought myself back to dinner, fully appreciating the very tasty soup I'd made.

I've been online either working or checking personal stuff (email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter) so much today that after eating I put aside my iBook at went back to my journal again. Added the words "NOW" and "HERE" on torn bits of blue paper, plus a red square (an homage to the "you are here" dots on maps) to the cover.

Last night I'd played around with the idea of putting the drawing of myself meditating in the journal. It isn't a realistic style image, it is me because I know it is. It is a drawing I did after explaining to HB what the fear feels like in my body. I had described a dark, heavy, cold blackness at the center of my chest. It felt like tendrils of that blackness snaked out, devouring all the warmth and light around me. Like a black hole consuming the matter around it.

After working on the colors for a while I went back and added just a little definition to show that there was a person there. When I put small lines in the face I decided to give the hint of a smile to the mouth. I wanted to see myself as knowing peace in that effort, despite the crushing, destructive feeling of the fear I still was able to maintain some equanimity. I spent a fair bit of time on carefully cutting out the piece, trying to preserve the tendrils of colors. I mounted it over gold foil, origami paper.

Neither the cover nor the piece inside feel completely finished to me yet. I've set them aside for the night, opting to write some and let my thoughts around them both settle. CK is on the outskirts of Portland now (about 10:24PM as I finish up this entry), making slow but steady progress.

It has been good practice, this past day of being alone. I look forward to waking up with CK tomorrow morning, knowing she is safely back in Portland. Back to the practice we share together.


Until I have something worthy

CK is still in Sacramento. Portland is covered in at least a half inch of ice on top of several inches of snow. At least another half inch of snow has fallen this afternoon. It is cold, windy and totally unlike Portland. Which is why CK is still in Sacramento. And I miss her a lot.

I'm at her flat, my other home is how it feels now. I don't have cable traction devices for the Outback and the ones DW had for her little car were too small so AM drove me over in the truck so I could stay here. Last night I'd noted just how cold the flat was and that Atari hadn't eaten very much. AM and I talked about it and agreed I'd just stay over here if she was still stuck.

Atari was so happy to see me. It took a good three hours to get the flat up to a comfortable temperature. I also turned on the electric blanket and he's now sprawled out on it, a paw outstretched, sleeping comfortably. He's been extra friendly and loving. I'm really glad that AM can be at the house taking care of Zonker & Phoebe and DW so I can be here to make Atari comfortable.

When I first go here I just stayed bundled up, on the bed (on top of the electric blanket), reading. Atari got on my lap after I'd put on some REI fleece pants I had over here and I read Lavinia for a while. It started to snow hard again so I decided to play with the snowshoes, walked up to the end of the street to get a feel for them, and took some pictures. Gratefully came inside, noting how much warmer it felt, and did some chores.

Before leaving the house I did something out of the ordinary. I grabbed some more art supplies. My sketch book and Art Stix had migrated over here, primarily so I could show her something I'd done. I grabbed up the book I'd bought a couple of years ago at Rainbow in San Francisco, my collection of paper (origami, samples from San Francisco, etc.), the pencils and my glue.

I was chatting with CK this evening and told her that I'd started to do a collage on the cover of this sketch book. It is just spiral bound with heavy card stock cover. The inside is filled with high quality, heavy, hemp paper. I bought it for myself on a trip visiting SJ and every time I've opened it I've held myself back. On some level thinking that I needed to save this nice book for really nice work, that anything I'd put in there now wouldn't be any good, unworthy of the book.

So it has been blank all this time. The cover got bent on the front providing a way for me to feel angry at myself for mistreating this special thing (I never use). I just move it around, occasionally open it and appreciate the paper inside, all the blank pages. The book I lug around now is cheap and I judge most of what's in there unworthy. Sometimes I color pieces on it to cut out and use elsewhere.

I love the idea of an artist's journal. I also feel somehow called to honor this desire in me to create this way. I guess it is another place where I get stuck calling myself an 'artist'. I think about journals and never start one, never satisfied with any unifying theme. I made one cool page dedicated to Mondrian in my other book but have never followed on my idea for doing pages around other artists I've enjoyed the work on.

In light of trying to see my creative efforts as worthy in my own eyes I started to cover the bent cover. Adding a collage of papers for creativity as well as reinforcing the bend so it will work better. It doesn't need a theme, I'll just add in things when I am inspired to make them. I already have a couple of ideas to start myself off. It is just the art that is here with me now, which is entirely worthy.


Snowed In

Last night I was aware of missing CK on a night when I usually don't see her. That somehow her being down the coast, her not being in the city made me miss her more. She was supposed to land at 2:30 this afternoon, but instead there is 6 inches of snow outside and she is in Sacramento at her Mom's.

I had been in a good mood, deciding to go down to Jantzen Beach to do a little holiday gift shopping with my stash of gift cards and practice some snow driving. Found a few things at one shop and was sitting on the floor in Barnes & Nobel looking at books when CK phoned me from the Oakland airport to say that Southwest had just cancelled all their flights into Portland for the day.

I wrapped up my decisions and drove carefully back to the house. As I went over the slough I noticed that I could barely see past the sides of the bridge, the snow was coming down steadily and there was very little visibility. The cancelled flights made a lot of sense then.

So AM, DW and I spent most of the day sitting around the house. I cleaned through my beading supplies (I need another case to sort beads into, have numerous random tubes and bags again) and started some knitting. Around 5PM it was out into the snow to go to CK's to check in on Atari who was cold and lonely. AM & I popped into Whole Foods briefly and picked up a couple of things. I then drove us to get gas then back to the house.

The snow has fallen steadily all day long. As I'm writing this it has started to turn into ice pellets. I miss CK. I'm chatting with her, have talked to her on the phone today, but I miss her being a handful of miles away at most. I miss being with her on a Saturday night, snuggled up in bed together.

Yeah, good practice. I realize I feel a buzzing irritation with the storm, with this whole trip to Sacramento and the stress she has felt around it all. Annoyance at not being with her on one of "our" nights. I'm trying not to judge the feelings, just note them, be compassionate to myself and the ways in which CK helps me find a way to be at peace with myself.

It is the practice of realizing that we do without the people we love. And it makes me realize that I love her. Over the past year I've felt that change, deepen beyond the sharp keen edge of new desire and passion. This is just a profound awareness of the ways in which I feel she completes my life.