Monday, July 16, 2012


“Life is short,
Break the rules.
Forgive quickly,
Kiss slowly,
Love truly.
Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret anything
That makes you smile.”

~ Mark Twain

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to Pema Chodron

14 July is Ani Pema Chodron's birthday. I am grateful to her for her teachings of the dharma. Her teachings carried me through an unpleasant period of my life. It has taught me some things about my delusions about my practice (or my neglect of my practice).

May all beings be happy.

I leave everyone with this little anecdote from Pema Chodron. It's about karma, and every time I struggle through the little difficulties in life, I find this story helpful:

I remember my first interview with my teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche very well because I was hesitant to talk to him about what was really the problem in my life. Instead, I wasted the whole interview chattering. Every once in a while he said, "How's your meditation?" and I said, "Oh, fine," and then just chattered on. When it was almost over I blurted out, in the last half-second, "I'm having this terrible time and I'm full of anger."

Rinpoche walked me to toward the door and said, "Well, what that feels like is a big wave that comes along and knocks you down. You find yourself lying in the bottom of the ocean with your face in the sand, and even though all the sand is going up your nose and into your mouth and your eyes and your ears, you stand up and you begin walking again. The next wave comes and knocks you down. The waves just keep coming, but each time you get knocked down, you stand up and keep walking. After a while, you'll find that the waves appear to be getting smaller."

That's how karma works. If you keep lying there, you'll drown, but you don't even have the privilege of dying. You just live with the sense of drowning all the time. So don't get discouraged and think, "Well, I was feeling depressed and I was hiding under the covers, but then I got out of bed, I took a shower. How come I'm not living in a Disney movie now? I thought I was going to turn into Snow White. How come I'm not living happily ever after?" The waves keep coming and knocking you down, but you stand up again and with some sense of rousing yourself. As Rinpoche said, "After a while, you find that the waves seem to be getting smaller." That's really what happens.

~ From "Wisdom of No Escape", Pema Chodron

Friday, July 13, 2012

Witness Love

My mom has corns on her feet. A few nights ago, I saw my dad prepare a basin of warm water for my mom to soak her feet. IThe warm water softens up the corns, which makes it easier for my dad when he helps cut away the corns on my mom's feet.

It's not the most pleasant thing to talk about, but it's a very raw, human thing to do. We cut out nails, we scratch ourselves, we cut our corns. In its simplicity, it's a very honest moment of being in touch with our humanity.

Why do I share this? Because it’s one of those times when I see what marriage means. What love means. Not the text messages sent over FB or flowers or diamonds. It’s someone you love staying by your side when you are losing your mind. It’s getting down to help you with the icky stuff in life, like helping you with your corns.

I think about how one day my dad might have to help my mom with diapers and other stuff, and it makes me cry – what it means to grow old, and have someone who will stay by your side through it all. I want that.

And yeah, I love my dad.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Someone That I Used to Know

At some points in my life, I kept replaying some songs over a long period, weeks, sometimes months. Then one day, I stop. The interest waned. Or perhaps the soundtrack to my state of mind has changed tracks, and I needed something else instead.

I was in a relationship last year. It started off happy, then grew strange, angry and toxic. I wish I could say I was blameless. I am certain my story isn't going to match hers. Who is to say who has the truer version? Truth is your side, my side, and something in the middle.

Right now, this seems like the soundtrack of the month (s). Gotye got it right with the two sided story of a relationship. Two people that came together, were happy, then it was over, with some bitterness, some cruelty - and blame. Blame is the human instinct to relieve discomfort.

I think about the part sang by Kimbra sometimes:

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
Part of me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know…

It is my version as much as it is her. We believe the other party screwed us over. Who is right? I don't know. I will insist I am right, but I know my point of view is biased.

I hope you are at peace and in a good place.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I have just finished reading Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother?. Now - I really enjoyed her last book, Fun Home, which is a memoir of a sort about her dad, a closeted homosexual who possibly killed himself. Are you My Mother? now deals with her relationship with her mother - and it's bloated, and someone uneven. I didn't really enjoy it, although there were some funny moments. Not really going to think too much about it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books

This blog started a lot time ago as my blog about reading. Then I started doing yoga, learning more about the dharma, and the blog became a kind of spiritual exploration through blogging. It's been a long journey since those fine days. I lost myself for a while. Had my heart broken twice. Now I'm starting to come back to myself again. Some things feel familiar. Some things feel different. I need to let go how it is supposed to feel, and just be.

But I do like coming back to the little things that I loved - I guess I still love them. I haven't really had a chance to travel recently - or read. Then I came across this list of The 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books. I might have read it some time back (who knows?) But right here, right now, it made me want to start drawing up a reading list, and working through the list again. I used to do that every year with my 100 Books to Read Lists.

What the hell? Let's just start.

1) A Dragon Apparent, by Norman Lewis
2) A House in Bali, by Colin McPhee
3) A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
4) A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby
5) A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor
6) A Turn in the South, by V.S. Naipaul
7) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson
8) A Winter in Arabia, by Freya Stark
9) Among the Russians, by Colin Thubron
10) An Area of Darkness, by V.S. Naipaul
11) Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger
12) Arctic Dreams, by Barry Lopez
13) The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton
14) As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, by Laurie Lee
15) Baghdad Without a Map, by Tony Horwitz
16) Balkan Ghosts, by Robert D. Kaplan
17) Beyond Euphrates, by Freya Stark
18) The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer, by Eric Hansen
19) Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, by Lawrence Durrell
20) Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, by Rebecca West
21) Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin
22) Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon
23) Brazilian Adventure, by Peter Fleming
24) Chasing the Sea, by Tom Bissell
25) City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple
26) Coasting, by Jonathan Raban
27) Coming Into the Country, by John McPhee
28) Dark Star Safari, by Paul Theroux
29) Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey
30) Down the Nile, by Rosemary Mahoney
31) Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
32) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe
33) Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
34) Facing the Congo, by Jeffrey Tayler
35) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson
36) Four Corners, by Kira Salak
37) Full Circle, by Michael Palin
38) Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle, by Dervla Murphy
39) Golden Earth, by Norman Lewis
40) Great Plains, by Ian Frazier
41) The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux
42) Holidays in Hell, by P.J. O’Rourke
43) Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell
44) Hunting Mister Heartbreak, by Jonathan Raban
45) In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
46) In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin
47) In Siberia, by Colin Thubron
48) In Trouble Again, by Redmond O’Hanlon
49) The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
50) Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
51) Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
52) Iron and Silk, by Mark Salzman
53) Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl
54) The Lady and the Monk, by Pico Iyer
55) Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain
56) The Log From the Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck
57) The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz
58) The Lost Continent, by Bill Bryson
59) Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketu Mehta
60) The Motorcycle Diaries, by Ernesto “Che” Guevara
61) The Muses Are Heard, by Truman Capote
62) No Mercy, by Redmond O’Hanlon
63) Notes From a Small Island, by Bill Bryson
64) Nothing to Declare, by Mary Morris
65) Old Glory, by Jonathan Raban
66) The Old Patagonian Express, by Paul Theroux
67) Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen
68) Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard
69) The Pillars of Hercules, by Paul Theroux
70) The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart
71) Riding to the Tigris, by Freya Stark
72) The Rings of Saturn, by W.G. Sebald
73) The River at the Center of the World, by Simon Winchester
74) River Town, by Peter Hessler
75) Road Fever, by Tim Cahill
76) The Road to Oxiana, by Robert Byron
77) Roughing It, by Mark Twain
78) Sea and Sardinia, by D.H. Lawrence
79) Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer
80) The Sex Lives of Cannibals, by J. Maarten Troost
81) The Size of the World, by Jeff Greenwald
82) Slowly Down the Ganges, by Eric Newby
83) The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen
84) The Soccer War, by Ryszard Kapuscinski
85) The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin
86) Terra Incognita, by Sara Wheeler
87) Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue, by Paul Bowles
88) Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson
89) Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck
90) Travels With Myself and Another, by Martha Gellhorn
91) Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, by Jan Morris
92) Two Towns in Provence, by M.F.K. Fisher
93) Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
94) Video Night in Kathmandu, by Pico Iyer
95) West With the Night, by Beryl Markham
96) When the Going was Good, by Evelyn Waugh
97) The World of Venice, by Jan Morris
98) The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
99) Wrong About Japan, by Peter Carey
100) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig