Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year, Maybe

Every year at the end of December we naturally reflect on how our world has changed in the previous twelve months. We remember, we yearn, we celebrate, we regret. We look back on our lives --- our failures and accomplishments, significant events and milestones, the happy times and the not so great moments --- while the media feeds us a steady diet of historical retrospectives and pop culture lists to ponder (the worst, the best, and this year, especially, the dead).

By almost anyone's standards, this has been a shit year.

As the new year has drawn closer, social media has increasingly reflected the challenges 2016 foisted upon us. I can't swing a dead cat around my Twitter feed without hitting a "Hey 2016, Go Fuck Yourself" meme. Things are a bit more tame on my Facebook timeline, but the general sentiment is the same...things will get better next year. Because they have to.

But they don't.

While I don't know the larger personal context around many of the "Can 2016 Just Die Already" social media posts (after all, that's the magic of the internet - we learn a fragment of the truth without ever working to get the whole story), I am concerned that our expectation may be that somehow just making it to January will be enough to turn the tide, that simply flipping the calendar page will reset the game.

But it won't.

There is no magic at midnight on December 31st. Not this year, not ever. Robert Pirsig said, "The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there." That's how I'm choosing to think about 2017. If you want a happy new year, you better bring some happy.

I want 2017 to be a better year. I want to be less anxious and more joyful. I want my friends and family to experience more kindness and less bitterness. I want the world to be filled with more justice and less tragedy. It occurs to me that this is a simple but aggressive list of wants, and I have limited control over the outcome of most, if not all, events on this planet. That doesn't mean I'm helpless though. I determine my attitude. I decide how I present myself to others. I choose how well I listen and learn, how I communicate my message, how I adapt. I choose my own actions and reactions. I can shape the conversation.

And I will.

Weekend Zen, December 31 - January 1

The happiest moments my heart knows are those 
in which it is pouring forth its affections 
to a few esteemed characters.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Friday, December 30, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 30

I am afraid. Not of life, or death,
or nothingness, but of wasting it
as if I had never been.

~ Daniel Keyes

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, December 29

If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, 
then you are doing pretty well. 
We are beset by both the future and the past,
and there is no reality apart from the here and now. 

~ Peter Matthiessen

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, December 28

Loneliness is the human condition.
Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you
allows your soul room to grow.

~ Janet Fitch

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 27

If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much
extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, 
the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire,
the arrangements of the stars, and the form of a galaxy.
You are all just like that, and 
there is nothing wrong with you at all. 

~ Alan Watts

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 24-25

Mindfulness is the capacity to shine the light 
of awareness onto what's going on here and now. 

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, December 23, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 23

Let yourself be silently drawn by
the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.

~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, December 19

A garden is always a series of losses 
set against a few triumphs, like life itself.

~ May Sarton

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 17-18

Be content with what you have,
rejoice in the way things are. 
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

~ Lao Tzu

Friday, December 16, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 16

I am alone here in my own mind. 
There is no map and there is no road. 
It is one of a kind just as yours is.

~ Anne Sexton

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, December 15

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting
at your table and listen. You need not even listen,
simply wait. You need not even wait, just learn to 
become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world
will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. 

~ Franz Kafka

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, December 14

Step into the fire of self-discovery. 
This fire will not burn you,
it will only burn what you are not.

~ Mooji

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 13

How beautiful the world was when one looked at it
without searching, just looked, simply and innocently.

~ Herman Hesse

Monday, December 12, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 10-11

And if there is not any such thing as a long time,
nor the rest of your lives, nor from now on,
but there is only now, why then now is the thing 
to praise and I am very happy with it. 

~ Ernest Hemingway

Friday, December 9, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, December 9

Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued,
is always beyond our grasp, 
but which if you will sit down quietly,
may alight upon you.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, December 6

This life of ours would not cause you sorrow
if you thought of it as like
the mountain cherry blossoms
which bloom and fade in a day.

~ Murasaki Shikibu

Monday, December 5, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, December 5

The man who can drive himself further 
once the effort gets painful
is the man who will win. 

~ Roger Bannister

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekend Zen, December 3-4

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance
to love and to work and to play 
and to look up at the stars.

~ Henry Van Dyke

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, November 30

We all derive from the same source. 
There is no mystery about the origin of things.
We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians;
we have only to open up, 
only to discover what is already there.

~ Henry Miller

Monday, November 28, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weekend Zen, November 26-27

I don't know anything with certainty,
but seeing the stars makes me dream.

~ Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, November 25, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, November 25

Go deeper...
Past thoughts into silence.
Past silence into stillness.
Past stillness into the heart.
Let love consume all that is left of you.

~ Kabir

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, November 24 (Thanksgiving)

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling 
like you should be elsewhere,
doing something else,
being someone else.

~ Isaac Asimov

(Happy Thanksgiving)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Daily Zen - Wednesday, November 23

As your faith is strengthened you will find that 
there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, 
that things will flow as they will, and 
that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.

~ Emmanuel Teney

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, November 22

Courage is the discovery that you may not win,
and trying when you know you can lose.

~ Tom Krause

Monday, November 21, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, November 21

Every man, when he gets quiet, 
when he becomes desperately honest with himself, 
is capable of uttering profound truths. 

~ Henry Miller

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, November 17

When you've hit bottom in your life and are suffering deeply,
that's the time to be strong. Don't give up; instead, look at yourself and say, "Enough is enough. I won't get caught 
in this pattern again. Today is the day it ends."

~ Dzogchen Ponloe Rinpoche

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, November 14

Perhaps the most "spiritual" thing any of us can do
is simply to look through our own eyes, see with 
the eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.

~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Weekend Zen, November 12-13

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows
into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness
into you and the storms their energy, while cares
will drop off like autumn leaves.

~ John Muir

Friday, November 11, 2016

Daily Zen - Friday, November 11

Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.

~ Bette Smith

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Daily Zen - Thursday, November 10

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Daily Zen - Tuesday, November 8

In the sweetness of friendship
let there be laughter and 
the sharing of pleasures.

~ Kahlil Gibran

Monday, November 7, 2016

Daily Zen - Monday, November 7

As great scientists have said, and as all children know,
it is above all by the imagination that we
achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.

~ Ursula Le Guin

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Weekend Zen, November 5-6

Life is no brief candle to me.
It is a sort of splendid torch which I am
permitted to hold for the moment,
and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible
before handing it on to future generations.

~ George Bernard Shaw