Take anything — my passport, my coin collection, and my money (if you can find any) — just don’t mess with my character development…On second thought, sometimes a good ransacking is good for a writer, especially when stuck, perhaps when slugging through the middle of a project. And maybe that’s why we have readers and editors, to shake things up, to shake up our mentality, to use a bit of dynamite to open a new tunnel that leads to a new view.
The North Fork Vipassana Meditation Center is located in the foothills of the Sierras, just south of Yosemite. Not a bad place to do a retreat. I wasn’t, in fact, sitting for this one, though, just serving. 10 straight days in the dish pit, though, was enough to leave me feeling just a bit not my self, which of course is somewhat of the point of the path of the Buddha, the no-self thing, etc. So a service retreat is sort of its own form of growing process. We had some wacky weather: snow, sleet, heavy rains, and even a bit of thunder storm. All that plus a good soaking of sunshine. The place was starting to green up and will soon be popping with spring colors, what with the mix of rain and sunshine.
Off I go, for another retreat – this time though, I’m serving not sitting. There’s a few hours of meditation each day in group sits, where everyone sits together in the meditation hall, so I’ll get in at least 3 hours a day, maybe more, but most of my time will be spent making meals and cleaning up. KP duty.
In my prior meme post, I purposefully littered my post (so to speak) with cat meme references, including a cat meme image and a cat meme video. I wanted to test a theory. I recently read a blog post by a blogger/writer who said that posting cat memes and videos was essential for pulling in blog traffic, regardless of the nature of your blog. She monitored her blog traffic closely and found a significant spike in hits for each blog post that included a cat-themed meme. Her advice: stick cat memes in your blog posts, regardless of whether it ties in with anything. The results for my blog post? No significant spike in traffic. Maybe the algorithms are already aware of the gimmick.
I tried a long hike today but an hour and a half in I found myself completely drenched. My rain jacket has seen better days, days that are, at this point, a distant memory, and the goretex lining on the inside felt as futile in staving off the elements as our democratic process has been these days in keeping cronies and corporate lobbyists out of Washington. It was windy as well, and cold enough that hiking for another four or five hours might be hazardous to my health. So I decided to turn back and call it quits. The rain is good, though. It’s been a relatively dry winter, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, or so it’s seemed to me. This is, after all, a freaking rain forest, by technical classification: very dry summers but pouring buckets in the winter months. And of course California needs all the precipitation it can get. My hike notwithstanding, I welcome the downpour. No pictures today, from this hike. Smartphones don’t like monsoon-like rains, fickle bastards that they …
Feeling a bit of AK nostalgia, posting this photo from one of the winters I was in McCarthy. Like many places in Alaska, when the snowpack forms and rivers freeze, it creates an entirely different place. A snow machine or a pair of skis open up new trails and roads that are inaccessible during the warm months. Just one of many of the things that make Alaska such a dynamic place, a place where I can always feel in my bones my mortal impermanence and tenuous existence.