At almost exactly the same time my mother bought a case of Pard dog food when I was a kid, our dog of that time, Nudnik, ran into the road, was run over, and died. What ever happened to all those cans of dog food, I don't know, but I do know that sometimes that is the way of things: Look ahead, shape a plan, put the plan into action and ... something comes along that requires a whole new outlook.
When hearing "the best-laid plans of mice and men to oft times go awry," people may nod at the empirical aptness of the saying, but there is something that goes unsaid. What is upended is never quite gone or totally and perfectly erased. There is still the case of dog food to cope with, the leftovers, the 'connective' between past and present. The dog food which once saved money and had a verifiable purpose now requires a new perspective ... not least getting over the rueful reminder of former "best-laid plans." Things don't just "stop." They linger and connect and infuse the next best-laid plan or point of view. And it is important to find some ease in what lingers and connects and infuses.
Yesterday, I gathered most of my spiritual-life books into a number of Walmart plastic bags in preparation for a fellow who will drop by later today to pick them up. As I took them off the shelves together with the dust that had accumulated on them, I found several I was unwilling to part with -- "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius," "The Dhammapada," "Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui" among them. The Blue Cliff Record, books containing the words of Hui Neng, Hui Hai, Rinzai and Huang Po ... all of those and more like them were good to go. I trotted over to Donna and Kathy's house to give them a chance to sift through and take as they desired. Kathy and I had had a conversation once about Buddhism and I knew she might like the books by the Dalai Lama or Trungpa Rinpoche. Kathy came over and walked off with eight or ten books and I felt good about it. Now the remaining books will have to be dealt with ... the rest of the cans of dog food.
But there was a nagging sense as I collected and planned ... as soon as these books have walked away, there will be some compelling reason to have and use them. A small voice whispered, "You'll be sorreee!" The absence of those books will become a present reality of need or regret or pleasure. The past will infuse some present I am busy laying plans for.
In Croatia today, the pope underlined the Roman Catholic support for marriage."Do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person," he said. With increasing numbers of people skirting marriage in favor of living together or simply ignoring relationships that require sweat (hello Facebook!) and with the Catholic behemoth losing committed members in droves, there was something rather sad and anachronistic about the pope's encouragement. The dog may not yet have been run over and killed, but the case of dog food seems to be losing its foothold and sense. And yet, and yet ... and yet people yearn for love, even if, when pressed, the definition of that love is vague at best. The pope's antiquated encouragement may be dismissed by many, but there are lingering tendrils that reach into an up-to-date present.
In Malaysia, meanwhile, some 800 women gathered to announce the inception of The Obedient Wives Club.
The new club, launched Saturday, says it can cure social ills such as prostitution and divorce by teaching women to be submissive and keep their men happy in the bedroom.The approach is a throw-back of sorts in a largely Muslim country that does not hold its women back. For the club, it seems, the up-to-date facts warrant a remembrance of things past... and so they find a best-laid plan and act on it.
And back in the USA, groups are banding together for what they call SlutWalks -- a new twist on latter-day feminism. The object of the exercises is "to fight the idea that what women wear, what they drink or how they behave can make them a target for rape." What I have often thought of as "ho couture" is no excuse for assault and battery, these groups seem to say. I do feel sorry for women who think that revealing clothes will make them appealing -- and women and men both would like to be thought of as appealing -- but I can understand the conclusions and sympathize with the simplistic and conformist deductions.
I guess all of the vulture-like circling above is in aid of suggesting that anyone might be wise to straighten it out in their lives: The dog never died and there is no end to the case of dog food in the cupboard. Separation is not fact-based any more than something called "oneness" is. Better just to walk the dog and keep the cupboard neat ... or anyway neat-ish.