Saturday, August 18, 2007

The long road to somewhere

I wasn't sure what labels to use with this entry because it involves my photography, my Dysthymia, my life and my future. Since my retirement in Decmeber 2005 I've been wandering a long road to somewhere, and where it leads I don't know. I describe it to my life coach as highway 50 from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. A slow, winding, scenic highway with many byways, turnoffs, and side roads going places the signs don't say. I say I'm not turning around or stopping, just going slow and enjoying the journey.

We're all on our own journey in and through life, on the road we choose to wander and be. And each of view our experiences and the scenes along our road. I can't speak for others, and while I can see their journey and road, and see the expressions of their journey, I can only speak for my own journey as I travel my road, and all the experiences, good, bad and indifferent. And even then I can't say I can speak for everything I experience, feel or think. That's the reality of our being, our selective memory of events and scenes.

We all travel the road differently - like Duh! - but, how many of us take notice of the road and trip itself? How many of us are focused on our plans and goals in life along the road and forget to pay attention to the the rest of the world? Why the question?

I'm a Taoist. I like observing life and the world around me. I often get lost observing events, scenes and people. It's one reason I'm a photographer, I like taking images I call walking around photos, what I see as I go through life. For instance I like sitting in cafes watching everyone else. And it's often clear to me people lose the idea of the world around them and the greater world at large.

I'm not one of those folks who follows one religion, belief or philosophy. I look at other religions and borrow some ideas from them to incorporate into my belief system. It's part of being a Taoist, to me anyway, of being open to other ideas. But mostly I borrow from the various forms of Buddhism. There is an interesting article in the Fall Quarterly issue of Buddhadharma, "Being in Real-time" about Dainin Katagiri Roshi's view the Dogen's concept of Being-Time.

The article talks about the impermanence of ourselves and understanding time in our life. And while reading this article I was listening to the NPR story on mammals and hearts about the lifespan of mammals is determined by size. They've discovered the lifespan of a mammal heart is about 1.5 billion beats. The larger the animal the slower the heart rate, and the longer the lifespan.

This worked in humans, given it's about 40 years which has been the normal lifespan of humans over most of our evolution. And the recent development of hygiene and medicine to extend the life of humans, adding about another 1 billion heartbeats. And this relates to the time we have on this earth. We measure our life by events, people, accomplishment, material goods, and so on, when in reality it's simply the number of heartbeats we're given.

The article talks about the past, present and future. The point is the present doesn't really exist, it's an instant between the past and the future. The past is gone and can't be redone and the future isn't known. We can only live in the moment in between the two, the present, the instant we are alive feeling our heartbeat, aware of the whole of the world and ourselves. Only if we are aware. All to often we're not, lost thinking about our past or working on our future.

And this is where I wander from this for awhile and try to be, as the saying goes, "Stand in your own space and know you are there." To feel the whole of the moment around me, and, just maybe, feel the whole of life going on at that brief moment. To be in time, space and being. It's a lifelong struggle for the serious student of Buddhism, and for me, I can hope for a moment now and then.

To stand on the top of the stairs, wondering. Its past and all the people who have walked them and the events that took place. Its future. And what it is at the moment I'm standing there. The light, time, space, life and my presence. To be gone in a moment. The imperanence of our life and the instant I stood there. And capturing the moment as I saw.

And while all those experts sell books that say it's about how we use our time, it's really about our understanding of time, space and being, ours, not just on this earth, but time, space and being as part of the universe - our imperanence. We're here for a heartbeat of time, and then next until we're not.

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