I have days where I think repeatedly that I should never have left Mexico. That I should have stayed, picked up some kind of odd jobs to make a living, disappear as a nice anonymous expat (really, I could get away with telling people my name is Julio and I'm from Spain or Bolivia or something--the Spanish-speaking world is so far-flung that you can make up a lot of your idioms and constructions and people just assume you're from someplace else). And today was such a day.

It's always an option, I guess.

So much of this feels like clinging, hanging on to ideas about myself. That I'm good at programming, I like cheese, I love this person, I'm not interested in this other person, I'm a good singer, I'm good at aikido, I'm bad at math, I am this that or the other thing or something else entirely. What I am. Who am I? Is it really important who I think I am? What do I lose by letting go?

I finally repotted my little maple trees today, clawing all the dirt out with my hand cultivator (I now own one (1) garden tool), keeping the roots wet with my spray bottle, and making some best guesses on how to prune the roots so the plants will fit in the new pot. My housemate said I looked "markedly unprepared for the exercise, and happily so", which describes it well. I mean, I had the tools I needed, but I tried not to be too paranoid about the specifics, other than reading a few pages of a book at the nursery, which I was too cheap to buy. That said cut the roots by about 2/3, and if you see a taproot, cut it all the way back, so I tried to cut back the thick roots, which I recall reading are mostly structural, and leaving the small roots. Well, kind of. We'll see. I've been feeling the trees have been very unhappy cramped in their pot, and I got the vibe that they're freer now in the smaller pot, and much more mellow. The leaves have been turning brown and dying, but it's fall and they're maple trees, so it's a little hard to tell if anything's wrong. But I prune as best I can. My goal at the moment is mainly just to keep them alive. If I have trouble with that I think I'll surreptitiously plant them in a forest around here someplace. You know, catch-and-release. Except with trees. Right.

I've been wanting a nice juicy quote from the Nag Hammadi scrolls to share, to give a sense of what they're like, and maybe why they've been referred to both as the first Christian heresies and the first Christian theology. Here we go, from the beginning of the Gospel of Philip:

Light and darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another; they are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, the evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its original nature. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal.

Names given to worldly things are very deceptive, for they divert our thoughts from what is correct to what is incorrect. Thus, one who hears the word "God" does not perceive what is correct, but perceives what is incorrect. So also with "the Father" and "the Son" and "the Holy Spirit" and "life" and "light" and "resurrection" and "the Church" and all the rest--people do not perceive what is correct, but they perceive what is incorrect, unless they have come to know what is correct. The names which are heard are in the world to deceive.

By way of comparison, a few lines from the Zen classic Identity of Relative and Absolute:

The words "high" and "low" are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair, like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position.
It's not that the world runs on dualism; it's just that we have difficulty perceiving that a duality is a differentiation that we impose on what may be a very profound, or at least obscure, unity. Like my swinging back and forth between freedom and a stuck sadness. They're the same, somehow, connected in a way I just haven't figured out.

Holy crap, I went to look up the word "profound" to make sure it meant everything I wanted it to mean, and it turns out you can use it as a verb. It reminds me that I really don't know much English that I haven't read in books. (If you don't find it in your dictionary, it's because I was consulting a dictionary from 1913, which is used by because it's free, and even in 1913 the verb usage was labeled obsolete:

    From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

      Profound \Pro*found"\, v. t.
           To cause to sink deeply; to cause to dive or penetrate far
                down. [Obs.] --Sir T. Browne.

    From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

      Profound \Pro*found"\, v. i.
           To dive deeply; to penetrate. [Obs.]
You get the idea. You can imagine the light pornography that came out of my posting that definition to several chat channels. It was pretty much everything you imagine, and I need not repeat it here.

Sleep comes soon.