objects at rest, objects in motion.

I'm swiftly coming to a point where I finally want to get a couple of tattoos. It used to be that I couldn't think of anything I wanted permanently etched on me, but I think I've been solidifying over the past couple years, and I'm feeling better about the idea. They'd be relatively small, and someplace less conspicuous, maybe either the calf or shoulder.

Getting to this point has been a strange process. I've not been in a hurry to get a tattoo (obviously, else I would have gotten one at one of the times in the past when I had money), or to feel like I should be okay with getting one; I just haven't had any sense of anything deeply important enough to me that I like any of its visual symbols. But the past few months of excursions into Hell have catalyzed something in me that I can only describe as crystallization, a determination to slow down and really be the person I've always wanted to be and failed with varying degrees of spectacle. This means not hurrying my decisions, taking time to find out what I want and what is meaningful to me, no matter how much that pisses off anyone else. It's time to come clean as much as I feel safe, to say "yes" or "no" or "I don't know" when that's what I think or feel, and to stick by that as hard as I can. It's time to engage the world again, time to rediscover within myself the compassion and interest in people that I had years ago, and all the energy that I have for listening and talking and asking questions and helping people, and being a brief random meeting in someone's life who they rarely if ever see again but feel like talking to and leave behind maybe a little closer to the answers inside themselves.

I took a detour when I left school...curiosity was driving me nuts, so I threw myself off the Path and into the woods to go experience things I knew little or nothing about: sex, relationships, drugs, work. The world was filled with so many yummy-looking things I hadn't tried yet.

And it's easy, when you're focused on getting a job or working a job, and you've got money or you're worried about money, to just let it all slide. It's not like I've been sleepwalking the past few years, but over time in some ways I've gotten more angsty and less happy, as I spent less time being centered in my Self and spent more time being self-centered. That's how it feels, at least. Other people might not notice so much, except that maybe I wasn't as nice or considerate as I might have been. But I could tell, I've been able to tell, and I have experienced all the fun things from both sides, both being selfish and being centered, and man, is there ever a difference. Not like any of this has been psychologically scarring such that I'll need therapy for the next decade, but a lot of the ride has been pretty bumpy.

I'm like that, though. I used to tell my parents (possibly just in my head, I don't know if I ever said it out loud) that I needed to learn by making my own mistakes; that's because I'm really, terribly, awfully bad at taking things on authority. Part of why Zen makes sense to me is that it discourages spiritual knowledge by authority: learning something from the teacher or the book does not mean you understand it. Understanding comes from direct experience. As Bassho said, "Do not follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought."

    Taking refuge in the Buddha
    Taking refuge in the Dharma
    Taking refuge in the Sangha

    Do not create evil
    Practice good
    Actualize good for others

    Affirm life -- do not kill
    Be giving -- do not steal
    Honor the body -- do not misuse sexuality
    Manifest truth -- do not lie
    Proceed clearly -- do not cloud the mind
    See the perfection -- do not speak of others' errors and faults
    Realize self and other as one -- do not elevate the self and blame others
    Give generously -- do not be witholding
    Actualize harmony -- do not be angry
    Experience the intimacy of things -- do not defile the Three Treasures

Jeff brought me Indigo Girls CDs. He's my best friend, and I'm lucky to have him, and even luckier to have dragged him out to California where he found a job and a horde of other people who are lucky to have him. He's a powerful link to my past, and we've experienced a lot together and had our fair share of being miffed at each other since we met in fall of 1996(!!...I can barely conceive of beings friends with someone for that long). We've changed a lot, but we still get along and talk and curse like sailors at each other just because it's fun. I don't embarass him in public much any more, but that may just mean we need to hang out in public more often.

My friend Natalie from high school is going to rural Peru on Thursday for a Peace Corps stint. I don't know how rural it will be, since she said she'll be sending email updates. She's worried about isolation, so I must remember to keep in touch (not one of my strengths, traditionally).

Quincy said Semifreddi's could probably use someone who speaks Spanish, so in the next few days I will stop by there and see if they're hiring. It's a bakery, which probably means brain-crushingly early hours, but if I can earn money and still have time for aikido, I'll make it work. Bleh.

Bedtime comes early this week, as I try to heal my body from overtraining. Soon it will be time to down a bit of NyQuil and go to bed (the NyQuil will make sure I stay down for a while once I fall asleep--I could use kava kava, but I think the NyQuil may be a bit easier on my liver to use a few days in a row).