recollect, recycle, renew – thoughts for a new year


Happy New Year!

I hope you have created the intention to celebrate safely the transition to 2013.  It’s important, these transitions.  Shifting from one generation to the next, one culture to another, one identity to the unknown.  It takes some contemplation and diligence, best practice and due process, sitting without striving and steadiness of intention.

On all the social media outputs, the typical lead in headers implies we cannot fathom where this year went.  Last year, it was the same.  Years bygone too.  Apparently, we tend to be a bit slow on the uptake about this beast of Time that lumbers us through the transitions moment by moment.  Well, if it can’t be learned in the small things, it is bound to be taught harshly in the big ones.

This sounds smug but I have no trouble recollecting where the year went.  This anné du dragon, the time of the Water Dragon, the season of the naga, which began with piercing clarity and slowly dissolved into l’année du dragon confus.  No, nothing to do with the Old Boy Confucius, it was much ado about the vagaries of relationships and dreams that chose to fulfill themselves by some cosmic agenda.  It serves me right – as in Right Understanding – to have bought into the belief that magic can hold sway over impermanence, nonself, and the truth of life’s struggles.  And yet… it was important to ride the confused dragon as it swooped and tumbled through the atmosphere much like Felix Baumgartner in free fall.  I too didn’t think we would right ourselves in time to save our sorry asses.  A lesson learned: stick to the agenda, keep your heart/mind on the intent of what you are trying to do, don’t be so easily seduced unless it’s your husband with a great plan for not cooking dinner tonight.

So that was 2012, lessons about how great plans can become lusty and send us into freefall.

The good news is we finished our book, Mindfulness Starts Here, and it should be out by Spring 2013.  Hooray!  Don’t worry that you might miss the opening salvo of pleas for your indulgence.  You are my Tribe!  And together we will have online parties with door prizes and scantily clad beings for entertainment.  Or perhaps, you will receive a simpering request to just go buy the darned book.  I worked hard on it, you know!  Five years of my life!  For you.  Really.

Besides I’ll need all the support I can get because 2013 is the Year of the Black Water Snake – a naga in its poorest guise, a dragon flaked out in second-hand skin.  Apparently it means my luck will come and go, recycling at its best.  Hah!  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  At least by then, I will have had a year’s practice with this writhing dragon.

Other good news is a renewed commitment to practice.  Not just the sitting every day even though my butt has a Skinnerian response to the cushion.  I’ve started working with the online teachings on the suttas by Bhikkhu Bodhi.  You might want to check them out here.  One sutta at a time.  I’m not transitioning out of Zen but somewhere in the recesses of my mind I am beginning to suspect that sticking slavishly to the Mahayana sutras is making me a fundamentalist – great with the quotations but short on the Right Understanding.  Let’s face it, the Big Three of Zen (Heart, Diamond, your favourite sutra) have a built-in obscurity that can take us into the thickets thereby wasting a heck of a lot of time.  Watch for a post on this.

And that brings us back to time.

It is inseparable from transitions.  It is neither noun nor verb, neither adjective nor adverb.  Perhaps a participle – a form of action, shifting to qualify the subject, modifying it, giving it depth and breadth.

It is fleet-footed in a thought and solid in its conviction.  

It is the arc of life into death.

And, there is no way to ever know if it has been wasted or used wisely because it does not have an agenda and does not serve ours.

Have a safe and joyous transition into the New Year!

One thought on “recollect, recycle, renew – thoughts for a new year

  1. Fast away the old year passes … but it was a good one. Best wishes with your book! Hail the new ye lads and lasses … here’s to dashing headlong into the Year of the Black Water Snake!

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