Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rain And Tea Parties

Yesterday I once again attended an all day off site meeting. My early morning walk along downtown streets was enjoyable as we were finally having some cool autumn weather. I didn't, however, bother to watch the morning weather report so I was totally unprepared for the downpour of rain that awaited me at day's end. I walked a couple of blocks in the rain to my wife's office. Since the rain was kind of heavy and we were in the heart of Louisville's downtown entertainment district, we decided to stop in a restaurant, have dinner, and wait out the rain. We went into a place called "The Pub". When you crossed the threshold you found yourself transported to London, England, at least in your mind. It was tempted to consider downing a few pints of Guinness. Had I been staying in a nearby hotel, I would have done so. I did enjoy the quiet atmosphere and the ambiance although the food was unspectacular. Unfortunately for us, but good for the earth, the rain continued to come down and we still had to face the evening commute with all the other tired workers who just wanted to get home. It was still raining when I went to bed and it has continued to rain throughout the night. O God, I am grateful for the rain but please send some south to my friends in Georgia and to the people in California battling the wildfires.

My week end was mostly quiet. Princess Chloe came over for the night on Saturday. In this season of witches, ghosts, and skeletons, we had a conversation about bones and skin. She seemed impressed that we all have a skeleton inside us and that it's all covered with skin. It's always fun to wake up early in the morning with Chloe sitting up in bed saying "Pa Paw, I want to go make your coffee". My wife never seems to mind when I get up with Chloe at 7:30 AM while she pretends to not know we are even awake. Chloe also prepared a tea party for my wife. Some of the invited guests were Barbie, Spongebob Squarepants, and a stuffed Opossum. Yes, you read that correctly. Of all the stuffed animals on an entire wall of toys, she picked a an opossum!

Someone recently asked me to explain what Zen is. The following is my simple understanding of what Zen means to me. There are many books written about this subject so some will likely find my understanding simplistic. The truth is that I am a simple person. I do not like complexity. When I study or encounter something complex, I try to break it down into simpler terms. I feel, however, that my understanding gets to the heart of what Zen is.

Zen is a kind of philosophy that is found within Buddhism. In simple terms, for me, Zen is about mindfulness. Mindfulness is being where you are and doing what you are doing. It's about being present to the moment and trying not to let your mind wander and be somewhere different from where your body is. It's being one with the moment. Sometimes when I write about a "perfect moment", I am describing what I consider a Zen moment. It is a moment of total oneness and clarity. It is a moment where life suddenly makes sense if only for a brief time. I remember a winter day once where I arrived home to an empty house. It was cold and there were heavy snow flurries in the air. I made a cup of hot Cafe Vienna coffee. Holding the warm mug in my hand, I sat by a window, in silence, and I simply got lost in the snow. It was a moment of complete peace and total oneness with nature. For me, this is Zen. These kinds of moments, at least for me, are also contemplation.

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