Sunday, May 19, 2013


Despite Iran's hanging execution today of two men, one charged with spying for Israel's Mossad and the other with spying for the American Central Intelligence Agency...
And despite Syria's pedal-to-the-metal assault on Qusair, a rebel-held town near the border with Lebanon ...
And despite the single Florida winner of last night's $590-million-plus lottery jackpot ...
And despite suspicions about the picture-perfect AP report summing up a police officer's fatal shooting of a 21-year-old intruder in Mineola, N.Y....
And despite Nigeria's crackdown on militants and all that that implies ...

Despite all these things and a lot of others like them, my mind is focused on the upstairs hall.

It's selfishness in one sense -- selfishness aggravated by old age. I want to get the upstairs hall painted and my older son has agreed to do it, but I am the one who knows about painting -- what it takes, the supplies necessary, the skills required. In another time, a time with more energy, I would have knocked it out without blinking: Painting a hall is hardly rocket science.

But not only do I lack the physical strength to do the job, I also balk at the expenditure of energy that both projection and recollection require... seeing what's needed, seeing the possible problems, opening dusty memory banks and consulting relevant files. It even pisses me off that I expend the energy to balk. The aches, pains and fragilities ... isn't that enough for any man?! Get the fuck away from me with do-good and household chores!

Selfishness compounded by the selfishness of old age.

I don't suppose any of this is especially unusual. Selfishness is one of the reasons that altruism has such a good name. Caring about the world and its woes, bringing effort to bear on the world's behalf or on behalf of a neighbor ... this is serious, to hear the activist, caring mind tell it. But then, whether by old age or other circumstance, the activist mind gets overwhelmed: There's too much sorrow, too much woe, too much to care about and all the virtue-spouting in the world cannot lay it to rest. Giving up seems selfish and selfish seems bad, but ... give it a rest, will you?! I am running out of energy for "enemies" and "good deeds."

Later this morning, I will go out and do zazen as I have for hundreds of times in the past. It's a habit that once was a struggle and sometimes a mortal combat. Now it's a habit. If I didn't do zazen or seated meditation well in the past, now I do it even worse. The demons of "attachment" or "ego" or "concepts" or "enlightenment" have lost their spectacular zip. Selfishness is too selfish to worry about. Ditto nitwits like Ayn Rand.

All things boil down to this and this has an agenda that only a fool would claim to understand or improve or explain or believe: Do it; don't do it; attach to it; let it go; battle or surrender; selfish or selfless; mistake requiring correction; correctness that warrants a repeat ... others may do all this extremely well. I will applaud, if you like. But a little caution wouldn't hurt: Acknowledging enemies is OK. Watching them and acting as circumstance requires is OK. But battling them just makes them stronger.

Strength is not my strong suit these days.

Just now, I'm worried about the upstairs hall.

It takes everything I've got ... which, when I think about it, sounds about right.

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