"No. No, we are not satisfied
and we will not be satisfied
until 'justice rolls down like water
and righteousness like a mighty stream.' "
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Fountain & Waterfall
in the lovely Yerba Beuna Gardens, San Francisco
Last year, when I flew out to San Francisco for the first time, I was stressing about the trip and asked my friend Eileen to send me some anti - worry mantras. She had already shared many; but, of course, when I needed them most -- when I was worrying! -- I couldn't remember them.
She e-mailed back with a simple mantra, easy to keep in mind while traveling or anytime:
Okay! I could remember that advice and, even better, I could follow it! She added some additional words of wisdom that I continue to find both intriguing and useful: "Just breathe. And remember that anxiety and excitement are in fact the same sensations physiologically speaking, just with either fear stories or looking - forward stories attached. I think that's an oversimplification, but it can help." Yes, it does help! Anxious or excited? Choose your story, determine your mood! The power of narrative! Or, better yet, Nostalgic Narrative Therapy!
At the Samovar Tea Lounge
Unhurried, not worried, ordered curry!
We also discussed worry and perfection. Will we ever be able to stop second guessing that life should be other than it is -- or to accept that, in the words of Toby Maguire's character David, the twin brother in Pleasantville: "It. Is. Not. Supposed. To. Be. Any. Way."
"A great way to feel that comes and goes," Eileen said, supplying the following anecdote: San Francisco Zen Chef "Ed Brown tells a wonderful story about making his first from - scratch biscuits when he began baking at Tassajara. He kept being upset because they didn't taste like or have the same texture as the real biscuits that he remembered from childhood -- 'til he realized that what he was Proustifyin' about were those Pillsbury cartons that you crack and extract the crescents & pop in. He used to do a kickass dharma talk, extrapolating to advertisements, etc., on all the ways we imagine we are not 'measuring up.' Nothing one doesn't already know, intellectually, but to really take it in, receive and accept -- aaahhh!"
for an unexpected connection!
The best kind, of course! A surprise telephone call from dear Cate, who it certainly seems should know Eileen, although they are each from a different phase of my life (i.e., Cate ~ Philly; Eileen ~ facebook) and have yet to become acquainted. Maybe after this blog post they will!
When I told Cate what I was working on, she jumped right in and told me all about Edward Espe Brown's Tassajara Bread Book and Deborah Madison's Greens Cook Book, and their celebrated San Francisco restaurant Greens. Okay, I know where we're eating next time we visit!
~ talented cook and student of Zen ~
for these cookery eatery references!
And now, back to Eileen for further annotation
and explication of our brief new mantra:
"Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry, Just Eat Curry!"
"I wonder if I even answered the simple question? She tends to leave out the obvious and important. That flurry of 'explain yourself, sir' (it feels more 'sir' than 'ma'am') that can overrun a thoughtful calm, 'Here is what I care about, and here are some ways I have earned a living at it.' So interesting, that wanting to be known for / as who you actually are, whilst resisting naming it; feeling like saying anything will somehow distort what might be 'felt - into' from just exposure over time. I remember when I decided to stop asking people that directly, like at parties, and began experimenting with other indirect probes [as I've heard they do in France]. But especially now, we are curious and wonder how others are putting it together / keeping body and soul together, and making sense and cents (that last word was corny, I just hadda end /stop). Also, facebook tends to just be verbal. I already know I am making a picture of my interests and concerns, in colors and shapes, for someone who wants to pay for my services. Doesn't even feel 'brave,' just feels obvious, easier, more relatable. From two phone calls I am intuiting what this person will enjoy. Quien sabe?"
Another nice lunch ~ this time at Cafe de la Presse
"Maybe it's a self-selection thing (big superego sorts), or maybe it's the scholarly crucible itself, but I can feel the 'military neck' want to happen. I so wanna be / have FUN. & ENUF (ha! I know u c that near - anagram). You know how in the Feldenkrais Method [similar to the Alexander Technique], you can 'visualize' a movement -- even if your body cannot or can no longer execute -- and it will have the same effect, neuro-howeverly? So then, can we not say that metabolizing insights is not doing nothing -- for the greater social organism, I mean. Is that what the Buddha meant by with our thoughts we make the world? All that time spent doubting the value of my natural way of doing my life? And, yes, I'll still do the odd 'motivational discussion,' but it will sound more like quietly coexisting and then 'reporting out to the group.' And inhale. And exhale."
Try to remember:
1. "Do Not Worry, Do Not Hurry, Just Eat Curry!
2. "It. Is. Not. Supposed. To. Be. Any. Way."
Parting Words of Wisdom
from StoryPeople by Brian Andreas
It doesn't have to look any particular way,
but around here, if it doesn't,
a lot of people will never speak to you again
[well, just don't worry about those people!]
as long as you don't get too picky
about what you mean by place.
and from the movie Pleasantville, 1998
script by Gary Ross
David, the previously nerdy teen - aged son has returned from "Pleasantville," wiser in his newfound knowledge that there's no such thing as a perfect life, not even over the rainbow. He finds his mother crying and gently asks her what is wrong.
You know, when your father was here I thought well this is it.
It's always gonna be like this.
I have the right house and the right car and the right life.
DAVID: There is no right house. There is no right car.
MOM: Oh, God. It's not supposed to be like this. . . .
DAVID: It's not supposed to be anything.
MOM: How'd you get so smart all of a sudden?
DAVID: (stops for a second, smiles to himself, shrugs): I had a good day."
SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Saturday, September 28th
Between now and then,
feel free to take a look at my
San Francisco Photo Albums: October 2012 & September 2013
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading