To Do List

Give the ancient little oak ukelele to your friend at work. She’ll enjoy it.

Sell your 5-string banjo, as simple as they come, in its solid case with the rope handle by which you’ve carried it to workshops. If you haven’t learned to play it yet…

Sell the basic-but-serviceable electric guitar, even though you love the curvy shape, and dark, polished wooden body.

Return the good electric one to Michael. He can have fun playing in its dozens of alternate tunings and different voices.

Keep your favorite acoustic guitar, and another to pass around at parties. 

Keep the little red electric one. It could be fun to goof around with.

Keep your mandolin and fiddle, too.

Pack up boxes of books. The programming books and cookbooks, Dilbert and Miss Manners, biographies and histories, physics and feminism. 

Drop off books on dealing with an addict. Your sister has been gone for years, and someone else at the recovery center will be needing them. 

Keep the books about Aikido, music, gardening, and horsemanship.

You are not going to single-handedly restore public access to trails through your community. Find someone else who can use your boxes of files, piles of notebooks, and rolls of maps. You are not the keeper of local history. Give these things to someone who is.

Take down the colorful glass suncatchers that were enchanting 20 years ago, but now just gather dust and block the view. The painting of koi can go, too.

Clear out the garage, too, that place where unneeded things go when you can’t quite get rid of them. Get rid of them now. 

That cast-iron dutch oven set you meant to donate to a raffle? Donate it.

Sort through those boxes of desk clutter from past jobs. Do you want to have a desk in an office again? No. Burn the boats.

Keep the tools, gardening supplies, and camping gear.

Keep the tractor!

Oh yeah… The saddle rack, covered in a dusty sheet, and the big cabinet full of nearly-new riding gear. Clear it out. English saddles and Western, and bareback pad. Bridles, stirrups, cinches, and blankets. Clean it up and drop it off at your friend’s consignment shop. Even the saddle rack goes. Most things in the dressing room of the  horse trailer, too. And all the clothes, the breeches, show clothes, jackets. Off to new homes.

Everything goes except that one saddle, handmade by a friend, which would perfectly fit a sweet-natured drafty little mare with no withers. Just in case.

Give away, donate, or sell anything you can. Throw the rest in the dumpster, and then have even that hauled away.

Make room for movement and openings for creativity. Clear out space for friends. Declutter, unclog, and open up. Dump the teacup.

—–

It’s been very difficult for me to get down to some of the hard work of cleaning out things I no longer use or need. It finally occurred to me a few days ago that this process is very much like handling the estate of a loved one. These things represent a life that is over. They meant something to somebody. It’s hard to clear out things and say goodbye, even when they were your own things, and your own life. But the stuff from the former resident has to go if a new person is going to be living here. 

Practice

Everything we do is training,
Like if we grouse about it raining,
We learn the habit of complaining.
Practice gratitude, instead.

We build our habits brick by brick,
That make us healthier, or sick.
Our actions cause these things to stick.
What we do, we will become.

We tell our passions just to hush.
We hurry things, and learn to rush.
We worry our spirits into mush
When we could chill instead.

Constant practice is our call.
Not “practice” as in basketball,
A full-time thing, including all;
The way we live our lives.

There’s not a separate time or space,
It’s every hour, and every place,
There is no finish, it’s not a race,
The practice is the goal.

Practice settling, opening, breathing,
Living, growing, even grieving.
These threads form the cloth we’re weaving
Into who we really are.

Feel into the body’s system
It has a certain ancient wisdom
We might discover, if we listen
Centered, grounded love.

[I’m not quite happy with this, but as I’ve hit the deadline I set for getting started on another thing today I’m calling it good for the moment and sharing it. I may edit it later.]

The whole idea is you have to let go of all types of longings, wantings, desires. You have to become a true devotee. It means you don’t care anymore. You’re not interested in getting anywhere or trying to do anything. Simply get lost in the teaching itself. Without looking for answers, without trying to become enlightened. Without saying I have to do this, I have to do that. You just live every moment, by moment, by moment in devotion, in love, in joy, not thinking whether you’re going to get enlightened or not get enlightened. Whether you’ll make it in this life or not. The person who is like this is already enlightened, already free.

~ Robert Adams

Shared on Facebook by Detachment 

What better reason to train?

One morning recently a group of high school students visited the dojo to experience a special class, to get a feel for what Aikido has to offer us. They were a very nice bunch of young people – thoughtful, articulate, and open-minded. Aikido is a really broad and challenging subject to grasp in only an hour or so, but they picked things up pretty quickly, and made some very perceptive and insightful observations. It occurred to me that at their age they have developed quite good language skills, and still retain the clarity of vision and honesty that children have – not yet jaded.

A theme throughout the class was looking at Aikido as a practice of noticing and letting go of our resistance in life. Our natural inclination in relationship to others is to be light, open, joyful, loving, to see clearly, express ourselves, and trust. To be connected. But when resistance blocks that way of being we are left with anger, sadness, cynicism, living in fear and confusion. Shut down and alone.

At one point Sensei was demonstrating a blend, with me as uke. He was showing what it looks like when we are coming from resistance, tight, cringing, contracted. Maybe being pushy or reactive. I’m sure I’ve forgotten the exact words, but he was asking something like “what is my resistance keeping me from expressing?” The kids threw out a few answers safe answers. And then from one girl, “Your love for her.”

There were some uncomfortable giggles. It may have sounded like she was teasing. But I think she was serious – it was a sweet and honest comment – and I think she nailed it. Our resistance, in relationship to others, whether it shows up as fear, uncertainty, shame, or whatever, keeps us from expressing our love for each other.

When we get right down to it, could there really be any better reason to train?