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I know its been a while. It turns out that “Camp Anywhere but Here” is a lot better than “Camp Nowhere”. The last few months were quiet. Busy, but quiet. And quiet is good. It just goes to show no matter how smart we think we are, we still attach to things that aren’t good, and aren’t good for us. I am actually glad i got to go to “Camp Anywhere but Here.” I met some great people and accomplished some good things. It was an all around pleasant experience. Relatively speaking. My apologies for not blogging but i did have my hands full. Soon its off for a new adventure, and this time i will have more time. More time for myself. And more time for the things i want to do. Time, like quiet is good.

L.

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   Our attachments  cause us suffering.  I am really attached to my new car so when i gets totalled i suffer.  I am attached to my boyfriend so when he breaks up with me i suffer. I am super attached to this image i have of myself, so in order to maintain it i suffer in the gym.  Sound about right?

   That isn’t to say all attachments are bad. An adopted child needs to develop attachments to her new parents.  If we were never attached to our boyfriends/ girlfriends we never would get married and have kids wich we are deeply attached to (hopefully.)

   But how do we break free of the unnecessary attachments that cause us suffering?  I live in Camp Nowhere. It’s not my ideal location. I am one step above camping. My tent is dry, i sometimes get a hot shower, and i manage to eat at least once a day.  If given the choice i would rather be almost anywhere but here. Or so i thought.

   I am moving to another camp.  The thought of moving to “Camp Anywhere But Here” sent waves of panic and dismay through me. I am comfortable where i am. I have my own space, it’s quiet and i know everyone in my tent. I have routines and i know what to expect on a daily basis. I don’t need to move. Send someone else…. I’m attached. 

 Why?

   Why would i be attached to such a dreadful place? The reality is  i don’t get a hot shower every day,  everything i own is covered in sand. I don’t have very many friends here. And i work more hours that not because there isn’t anything else to do.

   And Camp Anywhere But Here  is probably just like Camp Nowhere.  And i certainly wont get home to my family any faster by staying in Camp Nowhere. In fact time might seem to go by faster in Camp Anywhere But Here. But i still don’t want to move. And i can’t figure out why i’m attached. If i can figure that out maybe i can break the attachment.  And enjoy the change.

L.

You know something strange has happened. Some of my favorite Buddhist bloggers are now blocked by the internet filter i am using. But what is confusing is all of the blocked ones are wordpress blogs. But not all of the wordpress blogs i read are blocked. (Think all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.)  Some of you, my dear cohorts,  are squares!  And it bums me out, because i miss your blogs.

L.

I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere.  It’s not like i can pop over to my local mediation center, or temple, and get some guidance.  Heck i can’t even stop into my local bookstore and grab  a book or two. Though Amazon.com has very fast shipping, even to the middle of nowhere.

So in my small amount of free time i use the internet to search for information, guidance, like-minded people, something.  Something that tells me not only am i not crazy, but i’m not alone. There is so much information out there. Holy cow! Tons of it. I wonder how on earth can i ever sift through it? How am i going to know what is right, what is wrong, and what is the rantings of a guy sitting in his basement with tinfoil on his head.  (No offence to the basement dwelling tinfoil hat enthusiasts….)

Recently there started a new Buddhist group where i am.  Chaplains are great by the way.  Most of them honestly want to help you grow spiritually, no matter what your faith is,  even if your faith doesn’t match theirs. But i look forward to seeing what this new group has to offer, to see what everyone brings to the group. And what I can bring to them. One of the greatest things about Buddhism is the individuality of the practice. Each of us has our own path.  Pulling from whatever is available, to nourish our own needs. 

 I haven’t had the chance to read all of  the Buddhas teachings.  But i have learned from nearly every tradition that i have read into, however briefly, that the Buddha encouraged scrutiny.  He wanted his students to think for themselves and look at every thing critically.  I don’t think this was to encourage anarchy but rather to help develop the  Buddha nature in all of us.  We all intrinsically know  the way to go.  Deep within us i think  we do.  What we have to develop is the ability to tap into that, to draw it out to the surface.  To incorporate it in our daily lives.  And more than just that nice bit of lip service.  To keep it in the back of our minds constantly.

One of my struggles is the inability to quiet my mind. I always have a secondary dialogue going.  Sometimes its a song that i wake up  singing, a pondering of a problem i can’t solve, or even (sadly enough) preparations for an ass chewing i know is coming.  It’s like a second hard drive running in the background of my brain. It has come in handy, I  nearly always have an instant answer, i can play chess like nobody’s business and i can plan a weeks menus while attentively listening to a conversation.

But it has major drawbacks. Aside from making me sound like a raving loon, I have the hardest time sitting quietly. I can’t turn off that secondary thought process.  And god help me if i wake up in the middle of the night. That background process is too loud to drown out.

Somewhere, i read that Tibetan Buddhists learn early on to constantly repeat mantras silently or in a low voice. Having never been to Tibet I have no idea if this is true or not but it doesn’t matter. What a great idea.

If i can re-train my secondary thought process to repeat mantra after mantra what a score that would be. Even if i wasn’t able to manage it 24/7. If i could just do it long enough to calm myself, fall asleep, meditate, whatever i needed to do that my normal secondary thought process was preventing me from doing. That would be a huge step forward for me.  

So from somewhere in my studies i find another morsel of nourishment. A wonderful bit to help strengthen my practice, and myself.  I may not be a Buddhist in the Tibetan tradition. That little bit may not even be a fact. It could be a rambling from that dude in the basement pretending the tinfoil is because he’s getting his roots done. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is i can find a use for it. I can benefit from mastering it. And if i can master it, i can share it with others and maybe help them.

And that is what matters most.

L.

Ugh I hate rumors. Dont get me wrong,  there still is that teenage girl inside who loves to hear who is dating, who is fighting. You know its gossip, it doesnt have to be mean spirited, you listen, and you giggle and you go about your day. But what I hate is a totally made up worthelss rumor that is intended to hurt someone. 

 Malicious misinformation. 

Someone recently told my husband a baseless rumor about our return date.  This person literally made this up on the spot, and then added in some unit names and tried to make it sound official but very hush hush.  Things like this are so dangerous because of the emotional torment that they bring. None of us want to be here.  Not really.  And for the families back home it is harder.  They have to go about their day missing a huge chunk of their lives, trying to pretend that piece isn’t missing.  And all the uncertainty that goes with it.  For us to not come back is a very real possibility.

Then we spend our precious little time we do get to talk with our families trying to calm and reassure our spouses, and restore (a bit of ) order  to our families from thousands of miles a way. It’s difficult.  And I would rather be talking with my husband about christmas presents, or the kids school pictures,  or anything that makes me feel connected to them.

Spouses cary such a huge load when we are deployed.  Having people back home, flaunt rumors to make themselves seem more important, (or whatever reason they do it) makes it harder for everyone.

One person, within a span of five minutes, can upset so many lives  for days. 

L.

I recently put up a fly strip. Totally tacky, (visually and literally) but its necessary.  I know,  as a Buddhist I belive everything has a right to its own life. Even flies. And belive it or not I hate putting it up. Like I said its necessary. All summer there were no bugs to be found.  None.  Leading me to wonder what life form could flourish here if the insects didn’t even dare. 

But now that the weather has turned, and the rain comes in torrential waves, everything thrives. Bugs, rats, I even saw feline footprints in my office.  Where on earth were these things living when it was a bazillion degrees out?  But along with the local fauna comes local disease. Things I would never want to get, nor  bring home to my kids.  We established early on there is no five second rule in the dust.  And my fellow service members have been known to  eat nearly anything possible, especially if you bet them they can’t.  So for us to say no five second rule  you’d better listen.

Now if I can just get them to wash their hands…   hand sanitizer anyone?

So it took me a day to cool off.  And a few days to feel like sharing again. No worries. We all have bad days right? Lately I’m seriously trying to bury myself in my work. Time flies so fast when you’re busy. And I have several milestones to look forward to. Christmas, New Years, the January pay raise…March first.

Out here, every day turns into a ‘milestone’.  That is if you can remember what day it is. Seriously, this place is a black (brown) hole… a desert Bermuda triangle.  The only way I know what day it is, is by the reports I have to turn in.  I probably would spend all my time at work if  I thought that I could get more done in the extra time.  I already told you how obsessive I am.  Is it a shock to know I’m a workaholic as well?  

One good bit of news. There is a new Buddhist group forming where I am.  We will see how it goes.

L.

I have an anger issue. It’s not that I blow up and scream and curse.  It’s not that I beat my family for the fun of it.  It’s that so many things make me angry.  So many stupid small things.  Take today for example.  I found out that a policy I put in place for one of my work areas was done away with by someone who does not have the authority to change anything at my work site.   I was outraged.  Even before I heard the whole story.  It’s probably not even true.  All I got was hearsay.  It’s so not worth my energy to be angry over it.  But I was.

I don’t understand. I used to have so much patience.  But somehow I have lost the ability to stop, take a breath, and count to ten.  And once I am angry,  even if  I don’t want to be,  it will color the rest of my day.  And other small things will make me even angrier.

But right now I am so angry  that I don’t even want to talk. 

L.

Writing  online I am always trying to be careful of what I say.  I have had other blogs and online interactions with various people.  I never really know who is at the other end of the wire.  I could be giving out way too much, or very sensitive information. And as much as we don’t want to belive it, our words are still out there long after our fingers have left our keyboards.

The same is true for email.  I have had several occasions where I honestly couldn’t remember agreeing to chaperone the kids zoo trips or bake for the charity drive. But there it was in black and white.  It can also be more serious.

Just recently a co-worker asked me to do something I wasnt comfortable with.  Apparently he underestimated my integrity,  or over estimated his position in the company.  Either way he was trying to get out of a mistake he had made and in the process  tried to get me to take the fall for it.  I covered myself. I told him I was confused as to what he wanted and to email it to me.

Well like I said he underestimated me.  He emailed exactly what I needed to do.  And even responded with clarifying instructions when I asked him to verify the illegal parts.

I  mean really, how stupid does he think I am?  When the investigation gets underway I have all the protection I need.   It’s right there in black and white and digital.

 Be careful what you say.  You cant un-ring the bell and you can’t ever erase all digital traces…

L.

Recently I received  a copy of a promotion list. All the people who will get promoted over the next year. My name isn’t on it.  Initially I was  disappointed.  I was really hoping to get selected for promotion.  But then I thought about it.  I wasn’t really in competition for promotion.  So no big deal.  I didn’t get rejected.  I am not inferior to the ones that got selected.  So how do I direct all of this energy I built up in the form of anticipation? Do I let it turn to anger over non-selection. Do I use it to obsess over my faults and scrutinize what made me not promotable?

I can’t. That is not healthy for me in any way shape or form.  And when I say I can’t, I mean I won’t let myself.  It’s possible for me to do. Very easy in fact. I am the queen of obsession. But what good would it do me? It wouldn’t change the results.  I can’t be angry or resent the ones that got selected. They were selected because they earned it.  Nothing was taken from me.

I am currently reading The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva. In it he writes:

If someone else receives a gift,

Or if that gift stays in the benefactor’s house,

In neither case will it be yours–

So given or withheld why is it your concern?

He of  course was not talking about me, or promotions in general. But it is a great reminder for me. I wasn’t really in competition for this “gift.” I can’t be upset I didnt get it.  And how can I be upset at those that did? I should, and am happy for them.  Several of my friends were on that list.  And I  think they all deserve it.  So that is where I will channel all the energy built as anticipation..into being happy at their being recognised for their merits.  And celebrating with them will in turn make me happy.

Happiness is, after all, contagious.

L.