put it all down.

Holy crap. It's like the US is trying to construct a Big Lie on the scale of Russia or China. (In trying to find the origin of "the Big Lie" on the Internet--I think it was Orwell's 1984--I did find this piece from 1991, which I find to be amusing and kind of sad given not only the death of civil liberties over the past year, but the pervasive use of government as an attack dog for the content industry desperate to protect its profits in the face of its broken technology. In any case, if you don't know, The Big Lie is the practice of simply denying and lying about everything to control what the people believe: propaganda, of a sort, but utterly and completely pervasive. We'll really hit The Big Lie in a couple of years when the government starts saying that poor people are poor because they choose to be that way, and possibly adds that the majority of them are mentally ill; if we go whole hog like China, political dissidents will be committed to "mental hospitals".) Does Bush think that if we stop counting the layoffs, they'll go away? I know my problems disappear when I stop working on them. No, really.

I went for the first half of practice today, then started to get tired again. I get tired easily this week, which is vaguely disturbing but I'm sure will pass. Also I've discovered that this cold has not in fact moved to my chest, but instead is hovering around the back of my throat, which is better, in the end (I won't get bronchitis that way).

There are a couple of seminars next month, one with Patrick Cassidy in Fresno and another with Hitohiro Saito, the son of Kayla-sensei's teacher, in Denver. I'd like to go to both, but Denver is probably out of reach unless I get some work--people are going to drive out, but even with the $95 seminar fee, which seems like a great deal, the costs of gas, food, and shelter would run maybe another $100. I can do Fresno, though, since we can sleep in the dojo.

It's been one of those days where I desire human company but don't really have the energy for it. Mona used to be really good about those (I don't know if she enjoyed them or not, but if not she humored me), but here we are, and I'm not ready to probe into that just now.

Excuse me a moment while I staple my hand to my forehead.

But seriously. It's so important to remember "now".

Evening Gatha

Let me respectfully remind you,
life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by
and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken. Take heed.
Do not squander your life.
This is not, on first or second or third reading, the most uplifting thing. Time is running out! Hurry up! You're going to die! And it's true, you will. (There's a great story about a modern Zen Master starting a talk to some potential benefactors of his monastery by saying "You are all going to die." I guess if I were a realized Buddha I wouldn't really care about diplomacy either.) You have some options in how to handle this, though. You can paralyze yourself with worry of some sort, possibly the most common reaction: I haven't accomplished enough in the past, I don't have enough time to accomplish more in the future, I want this thing or that job or this other kind of relationship and then everything will be fine and this gnawing emptiness inside me will stop. You can run and chase and hunt and accumulate and then when the inevitable end comes, you realize you always wanted a puppy and you really, really hate selling life insurance and Jesus God why the hell did you paint the bathroom that color?

Or, you can stand still for a minute. Take a deep breath in, slowly, all the way down, letting your stomach out and completely filling your lungs. No rush. Then let it out at a slower speed that feels good to you. Keep breathing like that and think of something you need to do. Start going to do it, noticing everything step as you walk, feeling your foot rise up and come down in contact with the floor from heel down to toe. Feel the doorknob in your hand as you turn it, whether it's cold, smooth metal, faceted glass, crappy plastic. Just take a minute to be in your body, to exist with an awareness of your soul incarnate in this flesh, to feel your sense of self extend from your feet to your ears.

Now try to feel like that all the time. Do each thing as if you never in your life did anything else.

I get songs that I listen to repeatedly, and this is my current favorite: "Bonny Brook", by Eddie From Ohio, off the Looking Out the Fishbowl album. I like the music, but it turns out the lyrics are wonderful too.

This made me laugh ("Maai" is the distance between you and your attacker--wonderful things can happen if you move closer to your attacker than they expect you to be).

It's almost midnight and I've been tired for three hours. All good to stop being sick and waking up before dawn, any day now.

But the palm trees outside still sound like rain when the wind blows through them, so everything is, and I can go to sleep.