I rarely participate in traditional holidays. I skip Thanksgiving gorging, X-mas excess, and especially inebriated New Year's mob scenes. I prefer to be quiet and calm. In that vein I thought I'd share a couple of alternatives to the 'noise'.
Tuesday, December 31, 8:30pm Zazen and walking meditation from 8:30pm until midnight, when the New Year is welcomed in by ringing the bell 108 times (to release the 108 delusions). This will be followed with a fire in the courtyard, letting go of 2013 by burning accumulated scraps and old habits that we aspire to drop away in the coming year. Tea and noodles in the house follow. Everyone is welcome.
Check a zen center in your area.
New Year's Day throughout the country:
On January 1, 2014, all 50 states are offering First Day Hikes in state parks across the country. For California State Parks, the "First Day Hikes" are the kick-off for the sesquicentennial, celebrating 150 years!
"In recent years, studies have shown that meditation-like thought (an exercise in the very attentional control that forms the center of mindfulness), for as little as fifteen minutes a day, can shift frontal brain activity toward a pattern that has been associated with more positive and more approach-oriented emotional states, and that looking at scenes of nature, for even a short while, can help us become more insightful, more creative, and more productive."
~ Maria Konnikova, Master-Mind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes
Being in nature, rather than merely "looking at scenes", is easy for me. I do it every day without effort, as a routine, as a ritual. I'm blessed to live on the border of thousands of acres of wilderness. I can easily walk for hours without any signs of civilization. I walk on deer trails that meander gracefully along hillsides beneath redwood, oak, cedar, alder, maple, cottonwood, fir, madrone and surrounded by wild roses, violets, forget-me-nots and thyme. I feel more at ease walking past bobcat and mountain lion dens than I do walking downtown.
Sometimes Marcel joins me. He's a natural at tuning-out and slowing down and he'll scale any steep slope that I choose, without hesitation. He's a wonderful hiking companion.
I want a motorcycle...again. I go through phases of longing, have for some years now. When the urge strikes I'll visit a vintage bike shop and dream about which model I'd pick, browsing...
...I fantasize and then I let the urge pass. But it's baaaack! Maybe it's the effect of the warm temps we've been having, feels like spring fever, but I've been visiting the shops again and sitting on the dream bikes, transported in my mind to timeless country roads...
click on this one...
1961 Matchless (UK)...
"..and if you think I'm ready,
you may lead me to the chasm,
where the rivers of our vision
flow into one another..."
I adore this groovy motorcycle song by Phosphorescent:
I realize the paradox between this and my previous post wherein I proclaim to be quiet and contemplative. Put it down to being a Gemini. Can I get an Amen?!
P.S. You can find the trailer for this movie on YouT, it's almost X-rated and totally kitsch.
Spent a beautiful day with my beautiful son Jesse on his 29th (!) Birthday. We started the day with crepes at a sun-drenched restaurant, followed by a hike across the land at UCSC with a rich view of the entire Monterey Bay. The sun was glistening, glass-like, on the ocean. It was perfect t-shirt weather. A glorious hot day that makes you say, "Now this is California!" Feliz Cumpleaños Jesse boy! Nice to see you shining.
Looking back at some baby photos...
at Greyhound Rock
I can look at you all day
learning to sit
at the creek by our cottage, Felton
our old 1957 Lincoln Premiere
in the Mojave desert
little red boots from Spain
...at our 1930s cottage
on the tracks
Dia de Virgin Guadalupe
Okay. Need to take a new photo with 'big boy' skateboard.
Happy Birthday Jessmo!
Here's a song for you Jess (from my favorite Scottish Soul singer, Paolo Nutini). I know you'll appreciate that the song, believe it or not, is about mota.
"It was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I'll die..."
Jake Smith, aka The White Buffalo, at 39 years is an old soul. He's a master storyteller, songwriter and impassioned singer all embodied in a strapping 6 foot 7 inch frame anointed with golden tendrils, a seeming contrast not unlike his vocal style. He moves easily between his bad-to-the-bone baritone and a tender croon. Best of both worlds. Look for his new album Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways. Merci Jake.