Oakland International Airport 7-23-12
My hair extends to my mid-back. It’s frizzy on top, and two-toned. The top third is white and gray and the bottom two thirds is brown.
I… Don’t… Care.
It’s been more than three years since I posted to my blog, and – miraculously – it is still here waiting for me. As I sit here in the Southwest terminal I reflect – should I still keep a blog? What purpose does it serve? Is anything I say just bound to be boring?
The story is this: I finished a group three year three month retreat in a Tibetan Buddhist tradition about a month ago. Since then, I have transitioned slowly from spending most of my time helping my teacher with rituals, while packing up my cabin inside the retreat facility, then gradually moving out into the world at large. Now, I have brought my stuff up to my home in Oakland. I’ve spent time with many friends, in many noisy restaurants.
On Flight 127 to Dullas International Airport
The long hair is traditional for retreat. One classically leaves it uncut for the three years. I think this odd looking mop is supposed to hold blessings from all the meditation and prayer I’ve done over these years. In my case, there is no way to know… perhaps it is simply the repository of split ends. On further thought, a common meditation is to visualize oneself as a luminous wisdom divinity emanating countless offering goddesses, who themselves emanate goddesses, etc. and finally make offerings to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattva in infinite world systems. That seems like split ends to me, does it to you? Do the ends of split ends themselves split? Quick, get me a magnifying glass!
The last time I had hair this long was in high school in the 7O’s. At that time, everyone had long uncut hair, both boys and girls. Now, in this era where it is a bit unfashionable, especially for middle aged women, most of my co-retreatants – perhaps everyone but me – have already cut it off and made themselves more, well, becoming. Perhaps they want a lover or a job, or both. But, that is not my agenda right now. My fantasies revolve around reviving my house, and having some privacy, autonomy, comfort, and quiet.
Hence, I return to Sausal Creek, the urban oasis. I have a fantasy of having a backyard island of native perennials on my little part of the “creek,” which in my neighborhood runs through a open culvert. Before I left, I worked long and hard landscaping some of the backyard by hand, removing almost all of the Algerian Ivy (formerly known as English Ivy), and planting (expensive) native plants. When I came back and looked, albeit not close up, not much remains of my work.
The marauding Algerian Ivy has gown back worse than before, in three years even growing 15 feet up my native oaks. Few of my native perennials are obvious. This is a gentle way of saying they are probably dead. I think they needed to be watered even in the second growing season, just a little. Humans have unknowingly trampled through my feeble attempt at landscaping. The native bush anemome that I had hoped would be five feet tall by now, boasting it’s white flowers, is no where to be found. Metaphorically, my sand mandala has been wiped clean. As some famous dry wit once said: “Perennials are plants that, if they had lived, would have gone on to bloom year after year.”
Perhaps the next sand mandala I create now in companionship with nature will last a little longer. Perhaps not. In any event, for now the ground and sky is still mine to enjoy. Me in my long hair, the hair that appears to the world as that of an alcoholic who is so immersed in drink she no longer thinks or cares about anything else. But I know a different story.