Tired for some reason: I haven't been eating well enough, there's the activity of the new job, I seem to be constantly surrounded by sick people, and the weather is jerking my body around a bit. In true San Francisco fashion, it was in the 80s and 90s on Saturday and Sunday, then back to 60 and windy on Monday morning.
Loomis picked me to participate in some online survey thing--I'm not sure if it was random or if someone said "Hey, we need a curmudgeon" and my friend the Registrar set me up--but aside from the awkwardness of the software, it's pretty interesting, because there are consistent sets of answers (we can't see the other answers until we enter ours, so it's blind, which is the right thing to do). There's a lot of concern about the faculty being treated well and given room to grow, and about keeping it accessible to lower-income students, and better integrating the boarding and day-student communities.
I finished No go But God, which stays pretty fantastic through to the end, and I realized I didn't actually understand anything useful about Islam before reading the book. By comparison, imagine trying to understand European history from a somewhat distant perspective where you don't know the internal history of Christianity. It doesn't make any sense, it's a black box with no entry point, because how are you going to understand Europe without talking about the interactions of the Pope and the various monarchs, the Inquisition, Martin Luther and the Reformation, the Crusades (which had religious language if not motivation)? Reza Aslan starts at the beginning and identifies all the strains of Islamic thought and follows them up to the present day, explicitly laying out what we can otherwise just suspect by looking at Iraq and Afghanistan, which is that the Great Conflict happening right now is actually within Islam rather than between Islam and the West.
On Monday I'm giving a talk to the sangha, called a "Way-Seeking Mind" talk. It's the first talk my teacher asks her students to give, and basically describes how one arrived at Zen practice. For me, this is such a long story, stretching back into childhood, that I've never told it, even to myself, and it's been occupying my thoughts a lot. I've got it mostly laid out, though; I started writing it down, but that didn't feel right, so I'm going to write some words down to remind me of the key points to hit, and then we'll see what comes out. It's just a story, after all, and I'm pretty good at telling stories, especially my own.
And finally, it's tempting to think that the world is really really dangerous, and it's only some miracle we survived to adulthood. But if you look around, surviving childhood was really more common than not. Which is why this woman let her 9-year old ride the subway alone. The article spurred her to start Free Range Kids. Yes, yes, you have to protect them. Surprise! They might get hurt or die anyway. Might as well raise them to learn to be independent. (If that's not enough to overcome your neuroses, if you don't grant them some measure of independence, they'll be living with you when they're 27 and they won't see anything wrong with it.)