The wise will rejoice

Zaimu Challenge

I watched a short video this weekend, and it featured excerpts from a piece by Buddhist philosopher and peace activist Daisaku Ikeda. I haven’t felt anything resonate so deeply in a long time. I quickly jotted down all the words I could remember and then found part of the poem excerpted online:

Morning sky by nicole denise.
Morning sky by nicole denise.

Quietly ask yourself
if it isn’t in fact true
that each of us,
before being defeated by an external adversary,
is first defeated by ourselves.

The weak in spirit,
the cowardly,
even before wandering reluctantly
at the foot of the wall
that towers in their path,
shrink first before the sight
of their own shadow.
Terrified of illusory figures
of our own creation,
we are defeated by the bandits
that infest our heart.

The strong-willed,
the courageous,
are always the conquering masters
of their own minds.
Thus, they fear nothing,
remain unbowed, unflinching.
Whatever occurs,
they live in perfect accord
with the Daishonin’s counsel:
          The wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat.
They know that they themselves
are like that brilliant monarch, the sun.
Shooting bright beams
through the clouds
of impermanence and change,
they advance, heads held high
into the raging tempest.


From Be an eternal bastion of peace in Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda

It’s #NaNoWriMo Day…

Personal Narrative

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.01.06 PMToday is the first day of National Novel Writing Month. The competition, commonly hashtagged as #NaNoWriMo, encourages creative writers to draft 50,000 new words (a “novel”) in the month of November.

I’ve decided to participate this year, and I’ve set my own goal as I did when I wrote in 2013. My goal then was 30,000 words. Though that bar will be more difficult to accomplish this year, that’s my goal for 2015 as well. Yes, I create my own rules!

I’ve done more pre-work this year. Well, more isn’t saying much as I did none at all in the past. I’m very excited about my ideas in progress. They are a culmination of seeds long ago planted, and I can’t wait to tend to them.

Deciding on my project was a tug-of-war. The truth is, I can’t see an outlet for it. But believe it or not, that’s what made me truly press ahead with this idea and not another one. There’s no pressure to perform! There’s just fun and exploration! It’s an idea with themes, characters and conventions that are important to me, so I’m going to honor that inspiration and just write.

This has been the root of my most consistent acts of self-sabotage: worrying about the audience and the next steps instead of being true to my own ideas. Who’s gonna read it? Where might it go?

It doesn’t matter. I’m gonna read it and it’s going on the page.

Getting free is goodness. What’s holding you back? What small thing can you do today to set yourself free?

On the Timeliness of Untimely Calls

Personal Narrative

I was minding my own business. I had just pulled into the parking lot of a local pharmacy, where I aimed to return an overpriced item. My phone rang and an unknown Atlanta number flashed on the display. I’m not great about answering unknown numbers but 1) I have a new phone and all of my contacts didn’t transfer, and 2) I’m in the middle of job hunting and apartment hunting. Those things being the case, I picked up not knowing who may have been on the line.

A woman responded to my hello and stammered an introduction: “Um. Hi, my name is Sharon. I’m not sure if I’m calling the right place, or if you even have anything to do with it…so this may sound strange…but I used to work for…” She went on to explain who she was and how she knew my dad. She was a receptionist where he worked over 25 years ago. It was her first job out of college. He left a mark. She wanted to say thank you and see how he was.

She told me stumbled across a website about me while searching for his name. She offered me congratulations on finishing my doctorate and said she noticed a comment that seemed to imply my parents were deceased. I confirmed the sad news which prompted a series of sorries from her.

It is not unusual for people to contact me wondering how one or the other of my parents are, and it usually doesn’t effect me all that much. My mom passed away in 2003 and my dad in 2006. But today’s call struck me. I was nearly undone in the parking lot, suddenly missing my dad. I’ve never made it a secret of being a daddy’s girl and I was actually surprised I wasn’t more tearful about him or mom during my graduation festivities. But here I was, totally missing him, choking out thank you, but simultaneously present enough to wonder what he wanted me to know.

As random as this call seemed, I was suddenly sure it was very purposeful guidance. I’ve been sleepwalking the past couple of months. I just finished a 3+ year stint in graduate school with non-stop days (weeks? months?) of writing and thinking. I put myself on a vacation from “real life” while I transition from student to – whatever role I play now. I’ve been hibernating and whiling away my days, and my journaling and reiki practices have suffered. I’m no longer a leader in my Buddhist organization (due to moving around, not to lack of desire) and my practice has been a bit on the unfocused side. All of the things that help provide clarity and meaning in my life have been fading and blurring in the background. I’ve been on autopilot. Note: Autopilot isn’t a helpful setting if you’re trying to reinvent yourself and become clearer on your purpose and next steps.

And so here comes this call. While Sharon was talking, I scrounged up a piece of mail and a sharpie. I jotted what she said was most important to her and still rang true these decades later. She explained that my daddy was always calm and full of wisdom he was happy to share, he encouraged sensible solutions to problems, and told her (especially as a young person full of energy but no direction) to plan every step.

That definitely sounds like my dad. He was always quiet, steady, persistent, focused and driven. (And extremely silly too, just to be clear). I definitely believe this call was to nudge me back on track as 2010 comes to an end and the new decade begins. I take it as a reminder to both seek out and share wisdom, to take more responsibility in envisioning, planning and co-creating my future, yet to be patient as things unfold.

Here’s to the journey. Thanks Daddy! Happy new year!

xoxo