"I walk past one group of teenagers who are "voluntouring" with a church group. They've assembled on the street, where a chaperone is telling them that they're about to get an hour to explore the French Quarter on their own. He admonishes that if anyone sees something during this time that has an "adult theme," they're to turn away. "This is serious, guys," he says. "It could affect your spirituality." - "ReNew Orleans", Southwest Airlines Spirit, November 2006
I laughed out loud in my plane seat on my way to LA for Thanksgiving when I first read this. Luckily laughing is encouraged on Southwest Airlines flights.
This blog will compromise whatever you thought spirituality was. I guarantee it.
The last century ushered the end to the split between materiality and spirituality. In the 21st century, it's plain natural.
I get a hoot at observing how people perceive me. A new friend recently told me I ascribe too much to supernatural forces. I decided not to correct him. I have no idea what he means by supernatural.
I typically send out Salon invites to folks I know. I also include a few folks that I've only met once, or a few times folks that I don't know at all but were introduced by a mutual friend, and that I'd like to know better. Folks that I sense would expand the group's diversity of thinking.
One of these Salon newbies took one glance at my evite for the January 6th Epiphany Salon and declined: "Too new-agey. I knew I couldn't go."
Hmmmm, that's interesting. Eccentric, sure. Trippy, I'd been called worse. Irreverent, yep. Edgy, uh-huh. Off-the-wall, okay. But, new age? At first I took umbrage, then I found it particularly funny because it's usually me that steers away from new-age things. It took me eons to join Zaadz because it first came across to me as too "new-agey."
The fact of the matter is I feel about as comfortable talking to New-Agers as I do born-again pious Christians as I do atheists as I do to no-holds-barred hedonists who quite often mock "those hippie granola New-Agers".
So I think I get it that I may make some people uncomfortable talking about gurus, about oneness, about epiphany, about prayer, about unconditioned love. Fine. In the spirit of resolution, I'm going to finally challenge myself to rise to the old writer's adage, Show, Don't Tell, on my blog for 21 days straight because they say it takes that long to create a new habit. (That's through January 28th.)
Show-don't-tell reminds me of this passage about Beat poets. (To say Jack Kerouac has influenced me would be an understatement, btw.)
“Three centuries later, Kerouac provided an American definition of the [haiku] form: “POP-American (non-Japanese) Haiku, short three-line poems, or ‘pomes’, rhyming or nonrhyming, delineating ‘little Samadhis’ if possible, usually of a Buddhist connotation, aiming toward enlightenment”…
“This actual moment! That bedraggled crow! This moonlit evening, that cold rain on your skull! There you stand, inhabiting your body with animal clarity, wide-open senses, and no preconception or abstract idea can touch the experience itself. Buddhists call this tattva, thusness. “No ideas but in things,” William Carlos Williams famously wrote, setting ten thousand poems free from abstraction. He could have been reading Basho: “To know the pine, go to the pine. To know the bamboo, go to the bamboo.”
…Haiku’s simplicity of spirit is what so quickly allies it to Zen Buddhism. I like to think the current popularity of Zen in America is due in part to a tenacious belief that we remain a no-nonsense people, a people who talk straight and try to keep life simple - this and a mounting restlessness with our overabundance of things… This Thoreau-like hunger for unadorned living, and the belief that the richest insights can only be acquired through close-to-the-bone experience, carries on in the spirit of modern poets. It is nowhere more evident than in the embrace of the haiku ethic.”
- from “Rucksack Poetry: How Haiku Found a Home in America”, Winter 2004, Tricycle, (in The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 anthology)
Bonus: On the 21 days to a new habit meme (much more via Google Answers):
"Brain circuits take engrams (memory traces), and produce neuroconnections and neuropathways only if they are bombarded for 21 days in a row. This means that our brain does not accept ‘new’ data for a change of habit unless it is repeated each day for 21 days (without missing a day)." - Aristotle website
"...The more senses you can involve in the new habit, the more likely it is to become ingrained in the neural pathways, so, even if you're working on your self image in a mental construct, it's helpful to use all the faculties of your imagination to include sights, sounds, smells, and the senses of feeling and taste to strengthen the image which you come to associate with your new self image.
...If you miss a day, just keep going until you've been doing the new behavior for 21 days in a row."
Bonus: The Desolate Field, by William Carlos Williams (via The Beat Page)
Vast and grey, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and grey and --
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
My head is in the air
but who am I . . . ?
-- and my heart stops amazed
at the thought of love
vast and grey
yearning silently over me.
p.s. I loved Southwest Airlines devoted the November 2006 issue of their inflight mag to coverage of New Orleans. The editor, Eric Celeste, writes about his recent visit to New Orleans (just a snippet):
"It was still hot and muggy, a place where you expect your shirt to stick to your chest from sunrise to sunset. It still had the most fascinating array of scents you can find; one minute you pass a funky alley filled with odors from last night's revelry, the next you're standing in the doorway of a world-class eatery, mouth watering from the smells of sausage frying or strong coffee brewing.
Most of all, it was alive. Sure, part of the reason is because libations flow in the Quarter at all hours. But its vibrancy was not just because of the qualities that liken it to a fraternity party. It came from the cliché things you've always heard about the city: Its music is vibrant, its people warm, its culture unique.
We spent 48 hours walking the city, minus about nine hours of sleep. I had blisters on my feet for nearly a week. Didn't matter. To experience the French Quarter, you had to hit every dive bar with a piano, sample every restaurant your stomach would allow, talk to every street performer who didn't hit you up for money (and a few that did).
We returned more sure than ever that a) New Orleans was our favorite American city..."
Life. Vibrancy. Charm. Now, that's spirit.