Monday, November 3, 2008

One Day to Go

I have been neglectful of The Buddha Diaries in the past few days.  My apologies to those who have checked in and found nothing new.  At the end of last week, Thursday and Friday, I was joining my friend who teaches at Cal State Fullerton in his classes, as I do once every semester, and it's always a demanding and exhilarating experience.  At the same time, these were the first days back in our Laguna Beach cottage--now habitable, but far from finished.  The painters have been working in the house, and work continues on the cabinets.  Everywhere there is construction dust, along with the slowly diminishing piles of furniture and boxes packed with everything from books to kitchen pots and crockery.

And then, Friday night, George the dog came in with mud up to his ankles--spreading it generously around the house and on the carpets and the bed before we noticed--and we discovered the source in a marsh down by the clean-out valve where the sewer leads to the street.  Emergency calls Friday night, the plumber's visit on Saturday.  The snake.  A temporary fix--at vast expense.  And an injunction to call the city in on Monday morning.  The city people have just been and gone.  They promise to "camera" the drains later in week.

And then... the election.  It's the last weekend of this seemingly endless campaign.  Ellie and I both losing sleep over the outcome.  If we were better Buddhists, we would of course be less attached to the outcome.  But we are attached.  As for many others, I suspect, it obsesses our thoughts and feelings.  Yesterday, I sat with George outside our local Trader Joe's--he's not allowed inside because he has four legs and a tail, not to mention a fur coat, so Ellie had gone in to take care of the shopping alone--and watched the people parking their cars and walking in and out of the store.  I found myself absurdly trying to determine who would be voting for Obama, who for McCain.  A Mercedes... did that mean McCain?  T-Shirt and jeans... Obama?  A beard...  A fancy hair-do...  An expensive dress?

And I realized, of course, the futility of the exercise.  It has nothing to do with any of these things.  I realized that there's no way in the world to distinguish from the outside what ideas and intentions any human being might be carrying in his mind.  Or hers.  The hard part in all this, for me, is to avoid projecting ill-intentions or stupidity upon those with whom I disagree.  There is ill-intention and stupidity, surely, on both sides--and still I tend to think there is more on one side than the other!  

These matters arose yesterday at sangha.  What a pleasure it was, after several weeks of absence, to be back sitting with our regular group of friends, the relish an hour of pure silence and an hour of conversation with people who really do think, and really do examine their own thoughts and attitudes.  Among many interesting questions we addressed was this one: how might our practice help us, Wednesday morning, should things not turn out as we all hope?   

I'm going to leave that one unanswered this morning.  The contractor has just arrived.  I have discovered another problem with the exterior electrical, and need to attend to that.  There are calls to make.  There are more boxes to unpack.  There are exterior paint colors to choose, electrical fixtures to pick out.  There are books to be replaced on library shelves, pictures to be rehung...  

And one day to go...  More later.  

9 comments:

carly said...

re:Among many interesting questions we addressed was this one: how might our practice help us, Wednesday morning, should things not turn out as we all hope?

I don't understand this. Of course, things are not likely to turn out as we hope. Things are going to turn out only so far as we (can) know the seeds and make preparations. And only a sage knows the seeds.

Catherine said...

Thank you for a wonderful post!

Up here in Canada, many are just as attached to election results as Americans. I found myself slipping into this, off and on, but I try to get through it all by breathing slowly and reminding myself not to judge those with whom I may disagree. The beauty of humanity is that we are all different; pain tends to arise when we become intransigent. And that happens everywhere, no matter who you vote for.

Still, my thoughts are with you and your countrymen right now.

mandt said...

"Yesterday, I sat with George outside our local Trader Joe's--he's not allowed inside because he has four legs and a tail, not to mention a fur coat" LOL We tell retailers that Bodhi Dog is a guide dog and the eco-friendly inspector. But he blew that last week, hanging out at the dog treat section, making a fuss and then peeing on a McCain sticker someone stuck on the shopping cart. We now insist that he is a canine Bodhisattva and has rights!

robin andrea said...

We went to Trader Joe's today. I wore my Obama button, so you wouldn't have had to guess about me. The cashier rang us up, and then said, "I like your button. That's all I can say." Tomorrow is the day. I've permitted myself both the elation and despair over the outcome already. I'm practiced for both.

We'll be thinking of you and Ellie.

citizen of the world said...

Practice, schamctice - if the election goes badly, come Wednesday, I'll be crying like a baby. A baby filled with despair.

Cardozo said...

Take heart, everyone! The polls look very good.

Campaigning hard in Virginia,

Dan

carly said...

"(The mystery of) life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."

Zen proverb

"One should be satisfied with the attainable."

"When one learns the confidence of inner strength, all outer terrors glance off."

iChing

mandt said...

"The hard part in all this, for me, is to avoid projecting ill-intentions or stupidity upon those with whom I disagree." But that's so much fun and no better an indication that our trickster narcissism is loosening a wheel on our karma cart! :)

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, everyone! Sorry I haven't had time to respond individually to these comments, but what with the election and the remodel, it's been hard to find the time just to post the entries...