Thich Nhat Hanh has been a real positive influence in my life. I was in the library searching for a book on fear and I randomly stumbled upon his book and his teachings. I’ve now read 3-4 books of his and they’ve all taught me something valuable that I can apply directly to my life. I feel like his teachings have something for everybody and I can’t imagine someone picking up one of his books and not being able to improve their life in some way.
“Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty four brand new hours before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment and
to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
This little mantra to say in the morning helps me bring attention to the present moment and to acknowledge that we are blessed to live another day. The last sentence brings attention to treat others with compassion, even if their views are different. It may seem simple but if I say it everyday, it does help me bring attention the present, to appreciate the day before me and to treat others with compassion.
I had waited weeks for this moment. Now was the time someone who knew something about boats was to come and let me know how much is wrong with the boat. Notice how I said “how much,” not if there is anything wrong with the boat because there will be something with any boat. Especially if the boat is from the late 70’s which this one is. Disco was popular when this boat was first made.
I was lucky enough to have a surveyor that welcomed questions and encouraged me to ask as many as I want. I thought for a moment about someone watching me 6 hours straight, doing my job and how annoyed I would probably be. Kudos to him for welcoming this kind of shadow. I mean, I was paying the guy a pretty penny so anything less from him would have been a shame.
The day came and the day went. I lucked out because this just happened to be a day that was relatively sunny in between lots of rain and windy days. The clouds had cleared, was it a sign? Maybe.
It started off really well with everything he checked being functional. It was great to know some of the sailboat lingo from all the books I’ve been reading to understand better what he was talking about. After reviewing practically everything on the boat, it was time to lift the boat out of the water to examine the hull. We slowly moved the boat through the marina and into the boatyard where it would be hauled out.
As we started to lift the boat, I questioned the owners if they thought the boatyard looked up the schematics of the boat beforehand. How do they know where to locate the straps so they don’t lift the boat in the wrong place. They did ask me the model of the boat so
I thought there was a chance they had done this. Turns out, nope! We watched in horror as they lifted the boat with one strap being directly on the propeller shaft. After getting the boat lifted, it turned out that “we missed a bullet”, the employee’s words exactly. I’m not sure how I was included in the “we” but we were nonetheless. It sort of soured everything up to that point. Why do I let some things bother me so much?
I need to learn to breath more. So many things are out of my control that I let affect my mood. I need to pause, take a deep breath and just let go. (Writing this down for future self)
Next, after forking out more money (this seems to be a theme with boats) we brought the boat out of the marina and gave it a quick sea trial, raising the sails, then putting the engine at full throttle. At the end of the day nothing terrible was discovered but I still wanted to wait for the results of the survey before making a final offer.
I’m not sure if it was the boatyard experience but when I got home I felt a little down. I had worked myself up for this day and now it had past. It reminds me of the principle of the yin and yang. With all the excitement, there will be some time of sadness or boredom. It’s just the way the world works. I’m a believer that we don’t know happy if we don’t know sad. I have to remember this while in the process of setting goals, and generally feeling ecstatic about things. It’s that, “I’ll be happy when…” that’s dangerous. It’s important to enjoy each moment and the journey along the way. I need to remind myself that this feeling will change, just like feelings of sadness will change. “This too shall pass,” is a mantra I sometimes repeat to myself. I only need to remember to say that to myself when I’m excited, that way I can handle the change in emotions more easily.
It’s been a few years since I had a pruning job. I forgot how joyful the simple process can be. The weather has gotten colder and the leaves have fallen off the roses, the perfect time to break out the pruners. Note,”pruners,” if you think pruning roses is about breaking out the hedge trimmers, you’re wrong. It’s much more than that.
It’s about sliding your hands down the stem to find buds you can’t see. Feeling for which direction the bump in the stem is pointing and either accepting the position or moving further down. You’ll mostly want to cut right above the buds facing outwards from the plants but I leave a few on the inside to fill the center so it’s not completely void of foliage.
Pruning roses is about peaking underneath the top leaves to find the stems breaking through the soil and underneath the graft, yelling “you chopped my head off!” These shoots that come from below the graft aren’t the rose you necessarily desire but they don’t know that. They just have a will to live but you must remove them or they will take over. You remove them to form the shape, to prevent overcrowding of stems and leaves that can cause poor airflow and disease.
You’ll want to take a step back from the beautiful specimen to examine it’s form. Often you can get so consumed in the pruning that you don’t know what it looks like from a regular viewing distance and not from the twelve inches your eyes are seeing it from. You may find a branch that you missed, a rose that wasn’t deadheaded, or a shape that just seems slightly off. I believe rose pruning has parallels to life. We can get so caught up in our day to day that we don’t take a step back to take a look at the larger picture. Maybe we need to trim something that is not serving us or change ever so slightly the direction of our life.
Things have taken a turn in the past six months in ways I could not imagine. Relationships have changed with not only people but locations. The past few months have been anything but easy. When it rains, it pours. While not always true, it was true this time as I got hit by a car on my commute home weeks after a big life event. I was laying in the street in pain thinking all of the bad thoughts. My one outlet, in a trying time, taken away from me for the time being. It really makes you think about what’s important.
In a relationship, you can seem so busy but the minute it’s gone, things seem empty. There is a void that needs filling. There are unhealthy ways that can fill that void. Although tempting, I had been down the easy path before and it is not pleasant nor productive. Riding my bike couldn’t be my outlet after getting hit by the car so I looked for something else. Finding a place to live and fill that space has lead me to my most recent quest, to find a sailboat and maybe even live on it.
Disclaimer: Filling a void with a material item is not what I consider healthy but I believe this could be a path to a different and simpler lifestyle. I won’t go too deep into the ways of processing emotions and material items as I’m no expert.
After 6 years as horticulturalist in the depths of Sonoma County, my job now involves a computer. Although not “tech” in a programmer sense, it for now contains me within the reach of the metropolitan areas, specifically Oakland. Finding a place that’s a reasonable cost or that doesn’t involve joining a commune and find my dog the devil is tough. The dreams of owning a regular house are beyond my reach and to be honest not what I want right now.
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate the tiny house movement and minimalism that is so popular in our culture today. As you can read from past posts on this blog, I’ve made efforts to downsize and lose the extra weight that often comes when staying in one place too long. Tiny homes aren’t practical in the middle of the Bay Area. There are too many zoning ordinances preventing one from parking a tiny house in just any backyard. You are forced to the outskirts of the Bay and even then, it’s hard to find a spot to park your house. But what does the Bay Area have, water of course!
I’ve always had dreams of living on a boat. Since I was a 16 and could drive to the marina where our modest 23′ cabin cruiser was kept. There I met a woman on a boat called Shatoosh (a story for another post) that showed me it was possible to live on a tiny boat with minimal needs or material items. At this marina along the Delta and winding levee roads, I could spend the night on the water in a small cozy space with everything one would need. The two burner stove, the table, and the head all within reach. Instead of feeling limited and cramped, I felt free.
The past six months have been incredibly hard at moments. Getting hit by a car and proceeding to get sick was one of the low points in my life. Out of these times comes change and from past experiences, positive change. I’m up for a new challenge and that’s why I’m searching for a sailboat. Although a sailboat will never replace a great relationship, I have hope it will provide a more positive future for the time being. Did I mention I don’t know how to sail?
If I were to drive, I’d wait for the last possible moment before turning the keys on the ignition and driving off before the car gets warm and puts it coat on. Rushing to make it a second earlier only to realize I was racing myself.
Instead, time is an estimate, not a calculated affair. I start the hot water and soon pour a dark cup of coffee. I let my little dog soak up all the warmth before letting him down to do his duty. He is hesitant to wake up and his legs a little wobbly from his doggy dreams. He gives me a look, a look that says why go to work, we have all we need here, warmth and food!
As convincing as he is, he just doesn’t understand, or does he? I put him back inside with a few treats that say, thanks for not taking too long. I bundle up and head out the back door. The walk is cool in the winter but there are others doing the same. Their four legged friends are getting their daily exercise and trying not to freeze their paws off. Is it just me or are people more friendly when there is just a few of us on the streets? The ones willing (or forced) to wake up early and venture into the cold. I say hello to everyone I see and I get one back. As only a few words are said, a bystander might not think much of it. I on the other hand think of the hello as “nice to see you out here, I hope you have a wonderful day.”
I think to myself, more people must walk! The senses that awaken when you walk through town and the sights often unseen when you speed by with that huge hunk of metal. Oh, what’s that? Turkeys in the middle of the intersection. These feathered friends get the stink eye and the blaring horn as people in cars grow more agitated that they won’t move to the sound. They seem deaf. Deaf to your schedule, they don’t care if you’re late for that presentation. They’re more worried about impressing that lady turkey. I laugh, I stop, and welcome these decorated birds and enjoy their company as it’s a different scene than the day before.
I’m almost there now, I see the people under the small roofed bus stop and I say hi. Again,. is it something about there being just a few of us? Does it make us just a little more friendly? I saw the same people the day before who were once strangers. They introduce themselves and over a few weeks we become friends who share the most intimate detail. All because of this bus. This bus where we congregate and take a method of transportation often thought too slow and too old. Well today, it’s just right.