Saturday, June 27, 2015

If Life is Accidental...

I wrote this pertaining to the comment in Opening the Hand of Thought... that life is accidental.

If life is accidental (as are the ping pong balls falling into a bell curve at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago), it would seem that it should be that way all the time. When we think of an untimely death we are implying that "such and such will happen (long healthily life) unless... an accident occurs." But I think the guy who said that life is accidental is saying that even the expected result is an accident. If you say heads and the coin lands on heads then heads is an accident rather than an event caused by one flipping a coin and predicting a result. Perhaps we should feel gratitude that we can flip a coin over and over again, and not begrudge too much when it is tails despite our calling "heads."

Does that make sense?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Velveteen Rabbit


I saw a photo of me 60 years ago. “What a cute kid,” I thought. Then I remembered how I thought of myself then and was surprised at how different that was to how I think of myself now.

There is a Buddhist meditation where we scan our innards (see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel271.html). The idea is to not get attached to our youthful stupendous looks and to just see ourselves as nothing too appetizing.

This is more in line with the Velveteen Rabbit, who has developed her charm and grace over many years. She is no longer our prom queen. The beauty she now maintains is far deeper and more substantial.

In Europe we see buildings that are a couple of thousands of years old. Some have been maintained and others are mere skeletons of what they once were. But they all have a patina and a presence that is not seen in our modern buildings.

We are a society of the new. Models have a short life span. Unfortunately or fortunately, they don't look like the rest of us. Wouldn't it be nice to see people in the fashion ads that had bald heads and beer bellies and used a cane or wheelchair to get around? People might not look like Miss America, but on the inside, they have the patina of a building that has been around for a while and have acquired a big heart and much wisdom that has lit up the lives of many.

Sadly, some mourn their aging. They look at how they aren't as they were, not at what they are. Some attempt to change their exterior rather than paying attention to the beauty of their interior. They are looking in the wrong mirror. Hopefully they will figure it out before it is too late.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tackle Hunger in Texas


Making choices. I don't eat cookies. But yesterday I was hungry and and had one. Mmm. Then another. If one didn't kill me, another should be ok. Right?

And next to the cookie was a piece of chocolate cake. It was a small piece. Why not, I asked myself?

Then I went home, feeling like I had to confess to my wife how I had strayed from my path. She’s heard me before. Being from a Republican family, she gave me that pull yourself up by your bootstraps look. 

Recently I've become more aware of the multiple voices within me and how each decision seems to come from a jury. The hungry part of me presents his case, “I'm hungry and these cookies in front of me are there for the taking.” Then my rules part says, ‘But cookies aren't on the list.” My lenient part chirps in that just today my rules part shouldn't listen to that Scrooge. 

And one thing leads to another. Over and over again. Two cookies and half a piece of chocolate cake! Glad there is nothing stronger around!

A researcher in St Louis works with pigeons who will delay gratification for a bigger award. Some recent experiments with kids found that those who could delay gratification would go further in their careers. I wonder how delaying can be learned? Is it too late for me? I wonder, too, if there are emotional and physical ills that come from the denial of gratification? 

Freud described the ego as that which negotiates between our parents, the super ego, and our instinctual desires, our id. How we manage to walk steadily between these two voices separates the men from the boys, or is it the cookiers from the non-cookiers? 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Go Straight Ahead

The Old Woman of Taishan

Master Dogen's 300 Koan Shobogenzo,* Case 29

Featured in Mountain Record 17.2, Winter 1998


 The Main Case

There was an old woman on Mount Tai path. A monk asked her, “Where is the path to Mount Tai?”
The old woman said, “Go straight ahead.” The monk went on.
The woman said, “My dear reverend, you too go off like that.”
Monks came, one after another, asked the same question, and received the same answer.
Later, one of the monks told Zhaozhou about it and Zhaozhou said, “Wait here for awhile. Let me check her out.”
He went to the woman and said, “Where is the path to Mount Tai?”
The woman said, “Go straight ahead.” 7 Zhaozhou went on.
The woman said, “My dear reverend, you too go off like that.”
Zhaozhou came back and said to the assembly, “I have checked out that old woman for you.”

Peter said 50 years ago why don't you just become Kim the photographer?  He was telling me to go straight ahead. He was an architecture student and then became a landscape architect. 

I didn't focus. I wanted to try everything. I had to ten majors in college. I moved from perfectly good jobs to other jobs. I taught new stuff all the time and always wanted to do new things. I never sensed that I was going straight ahead. Or was I?

I had a great uncle who had been a rabbi but gave it up partly because he realized that all religions had so much the same wisdom. He is my spiritual leader. The lamp I photographed was his. I am surround by his objects in my home. He taught me, as did my parents and teachers, to listen to everyone America believe no one. 

Maybe it is my ADD. Maybe it is how I see all things as so related to each other. When the wise woman told the monks to go straight ahead she was saying that you decide and do not waiver. But what do I do, where my straight ahead is rerouting continually? I guess that is my straight ahead. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

1959

I remembered first looking in the mirror and wondering if anyone would notice the two zits on my face, or the braces on my teeth. Did my breathe smell? I wish I could chew gum but the orthodontist told me that it would make my braces come off and then I'd have to start all over.

I put the butch wax on my hair so that it would rise up to the sky, making me just a little taller. They called me “Mouse” at school because I was so short. Still am, but I don't think about that so much any “I could have been a basketball star,” I thought, “if only I was a few inches taller.”

I would go to a few parties, but I had no idea of what to say so I would just dance every dance. I liked the slow dances mostly because I could feel a warm body pressed against mine.

Finally I found a girlfriend I could talk to. We'd talk on the phone every night. I can't remember a thing we might have talked about. But one day see invited me to be on Chicago bandstand with her and I broke up with her. But that was after I had bought her an engraved bracket with my name on it. It must have cost a couple of dollars. There was a little Chinese store around the corner from my house where I ordered it. It was run by a little old Chinese woman. I remember the smell of the store and how everything seemed to twinkle. 

I had two older sisters. Boy did I envy them because I wanted to be older. Being the little one in the family and being a Freshman in high school were about the worst positions in life that one could have. Or, at least, that's what I thought at the time.

Recently a zen teacher said that the greatest source of our suffering is wanting to be someone we aren't. I wanted to be tall like Mark, a better athlete like Billy, a better student like Jon, and 16 like my sister's boyfriend. I wanted to be so many different people. I probably just looked out the window in classes and played "what if" with myself, wondering what it would all be like if I wasn't me.

I think that was the year when my horse fell on my foot, slipping as we went down a muddy hill. I started the year with a cast on my leg and managed to be on the basketball team for a few weeks, even with the cast. But homework was too tough, ending my hopes of becoming a professional athlete. 

It was also the time when I stared taking pictures. Finally I could express myself. Finally I could do something that others couldn't do. Finally it was ok to be me.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Perfection: One Leg Shorter than the Other

Kim Mosley
I once had a teacher in college who asked me, “isn’t it terrible being as stupid as you are?” To which I replied, “Oh, not at all, I have so much to learn.” It is much easier when you don't know anything. If everyone had one leg shorter than the other they wouldn't look down at their own legs with disdain. But they do know. When they buy a pair of shoes they discover they have to buy two pairs of shoes… or lop off some toes, or go to a speciality shop.  

I've returned to taking pictures with a real camera rather than an iPhone. I had to have the perfect camera. Well, not exactly. But at least a really good one. But now the question arises: what pictures should I be making?

I forgot that with real cameras, when you shoot in low light, only part of the picture is sharp. I did a picture of a bouquet of bananas and my wife complained that the stem was out of focus. I had missed out of focus. There is a term bokeh that refers to how a lens renders something out of focus. My lens is suppose to do that well. I love the soft look of things. It reminds me of how tentative we are. We don't really stop here or there. We are mostly hot air. And when we have a fever, we are even a little warmer.

But back to the challenge of photography. Such a simple idea of walking around with this box and telling it to "shoot" at just the right time. But when is that?

So I’ve had it with focusing. My camera only has manual focus and it is a little hard to see whether I'm in focus or not, so I ordered some focusing screen from Taiwan that is suppose to improve that. But in the mean time, I remembered that a student used to call infinity “eternity,” so I wondered why don't I just focus on eternity and let everthing else fall where they are. So what is close to me will be bokehed, and what is far will be sharp. I gave it a try and my wife said “scary.”

P.S. I got the focusing screen from Taiwan, but alas, I’m told it won’t fit in my camera. As to not focusing, I was showing my pics to a friend today and when she saw the out of focus pictures she said, “Ugh, out of focus.”

Monday, February 16, 2015

His Imperative

In response to “imperative” by Steven Schroeder.


So his practice,
shouting blessed day,
was not so
anyone would hear.

It was bitter cold.

his mouth
was frozen shut—
he could only mean
the words.

His hat, begging
for coins,
remained cold
and empty.

What was blessed
about this day?

Was it
his practice?
His intention?
His trying to share?

Did it matter
he was frozen,
yet blessed?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In the Dark

"They are not rearranging the room. They are turning on a light to see what's there.” From The Hidden Lamp

I often think of change as altering my environment. Yesterday I quit eating meat. This morning I found a new place for my old printer so I could have a place for a new one.

The confusion I have about turning on a light is what to do if you don't like what is illuminated by the light. I saw the meat as dead stuff entering my body, and saw that my printer needed to be moved to make a place for a new (bigger) printer.

Am I missing the Zen idea of accepting the world as it is? Or maybe after illuminating the meat, I notice that its life force expired some time ago. And illuminating my room I see that there is no space for my new printer.

But what if I illuminate myself? What would I see? What would I accept? And what, now illuminated, would I want to change?

P.S. After writing this, our Zen teacher walked in and asked us why we were in the dark. I said that we were reading about illumination. She flicked on the lights—way too bright for my eyes.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Anxiety Disorder

1. If I had an
anxiety disorder
I'd be worried

if things were
peachy like
once I had a

car accident
and I called my
father.

"Dad," I said,
"good news,
I'm not going

to have a 2nd
car accident
today," and

"don't count
on it," he
replied, cautiously.


2. The fox found
the most delicious
grapes in the world,

only to discover
that he couldn't
reach them

and didn't want
them anyway
or so the story goes.


3. The potter sees
an opportunity when
the pot breaks and smiles.

Dragged by her hubby's car,
my sister made it through
the dinner that followed.


4. God was in a vessel,
as big as everything.
Then he smashed the

vessel to make room
for you and me ...
and now we must

put the pieces
together, which might
be why nothing

runs that smoothly,
esp. when we expect it
to be unbroken.


5. The power
in our house went out
the other day

and I laughed,
remembering how earlier
attempts to give

my daughter and her hubby
an evening out
ended in a mini-disaster.

Monday, January 26, 2015

No way, José!

Prompt: “Coffee Break,” by Kwame Dawes

No way, José!
Is life
this short?

Yesterday I had
my yearly checkup
with the eye doc.

And then
today
had the next one.

I don't think
we had aged, either
he nor I.

The balloon man
waited for coffee,
and it was too late.

First time I read it as
he'd skipped out, which
I guess he did,

in his own way,
leaving his balloons
on his still chair.

Was his lap his lap?
Does condensed or cow's milk
even matter.

In retrospect,
we'd do
things so differently.

Much differently!

I did something
bad
almost 50 years ago.

If only I could go
back in a
time machine,

slightly wiser,
and make some
better choices.

What was I
thinking?
Or was I?

It would have
been so easy just to
choose cow's milk.

Who would complain?

I could have just thought
a little of the consequences
of my actions.

Or, to save a dime,
I wrote instead of called...
and it was too late.

When you are on
a speeding train,
it doesn't take long to be late.

The eye doc said,
which is better,
a or b, and I'd blink,

and ask him
to show me a and b
over and over again.

Life is that
short.
Isn't it?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gifts


Gratitude hasn’t been a good word for me. It, like giving, had some bad implications. But lately I’ve been aware of some phenomenal gifts I’ve been receiving when taking a picture.

Something will catch my eye and I’ll go to take a picture. Most of my pictures are done with an iPhone. When I look on the “ground glass” I usually see something that hadn’t caught my eye but becomes part of the picture. In fact, here it was my shadow, which wasn’t even there until I stepped towards the table. “Oh, a gift!” I’d say to myself. But like most gifts, I'd have to “put it away.” So the composition has to change a little to accompany the shadow.

Then there are gifts when I view my picture in an editing program. First I see the blue cloth, then the styrofoam cup and container. Lastly, I see the little blue doorway under the table.

I suppose a good photographer might have seen all these in that moment where she saw something to photograph. But I did not.

There are gifts in all areas of my life. As much as we appreciate those whom we love, they do things time and again that we don't expect. My daughter wrote a beautiful poem the other day about her childhood. It was a gift to see what she remembered and what shaped her into the beautiful person she has become. Over and over again, gifts are falling from trees and sprouting up from the ground. Just now, I’m looking at the shutters in my window and seeing how this soft gentle light is coming into my room, and into my life so peacefully and perfectly.

Yes, I feel gratitude for these gifts.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God

Why is it that we talk about belief in God as a yes or no? I used to think it was some gauge of whether a person had a brain or not. Most of us believe in love and beauty, yet they may not "exist" in a physical sense. So to with "God." As we acknowledge that God is a belief, we put her in the box with love and beauty. She is real in that sense, because she is in our minds as a belief. When she did this or that, it might just be an ancient way of saying that this or that occurred. And no more than that.

The Disease of Evil

There was a movie called the making of Schindler's List. In it (or maybe it was in Schindler's List itself) we see a released one from a concentration camp giving his boots to one of the guards who had no boots.

Yesterday I heard the term "the disease of evil" as a better way of talking about people who do bad things. The rabbi said that in the same way we don't use the word "drunk" anymore, but rather alcoholic, we should recognize evil as a disease.

I think that this is helpful for two reasons. For one, it might create an opening for a relationship with those that do evil things. And maybe more importantly, it opens our heart. I don't believe we can have hatred in our heart and love at the same time. Evil eats at love. We can have compassion for those purveyors of evil.

I realize that this is not only difficult but disgusting to some. I'm sorry. Separating the doer from the action might be one means of coming to terms with the enemy. In the enemies' eyes, we are the purveyor of evil as well. But we are right, we say. Maybe so in the grand scheme of things. But in the meantime, the disease of evil is eating away at our love.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

5 Stories

1. Gas leak.
Daughter moves
Home,
With little ones.

Daughter goes for
Happy hour. Kids cry.
Right pacifier? No dice,
Called daughter.

2. Lover of cranes.
Metal ones, not bird ones.
Critical to modern buildings,
Temptation arises.

She sneaks into construction site
Photographs one. It preens
Against a sky,
Displays a long thin cloud.

3. Massage today.
Who is your trainer?
You're a walking
Testimony.

Reflections on her glass table.
I liked better the
Reflections under her table
...Last month.

4. New battery, old laptop.
Less ump than the ancient
Battery.
Needs returning.

New glass for sunroom,
Fogged just after
Warranty ended.
Bad luck/planned obsolescence.

5. See art tomorrow.
Eat Indian food.
Stupid to plan.
Maybe gas leak again,

Maybe crane will eat the Indian food up,
Maybe reflections will become the object,
Maybe the sun will end the fogged glass,
Maybe tomorrow will go as planned...not!

Inappropriate Thinking

Chomsky once wrote the introduction for a book on denying the Holocaust. He defended the writers on their right to free speech. Later he regretted what he had done, not that he reversed his position, but rather that he learned that we can not be rational about certain points of view.

Yesterday I met a Frenchman from a Torah group who lived near the area in Paris where the terrorism had occurred last week. Inappropriately (for the same reason that Chomsky “wised up,” I said something to the effect that our God in the Torah seemed to perform such terrorism over and over again, like in the story of the Golden Calf.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” —Exodus 32:27-29

In Torah group, one of the more vocal members spoke about the recent terrorism in the last week in France and Nigeria. He spoke of the how the fundamentalists had a world vision, and we (Reform Jews) did not. He was proposing that we develop one. World visions to me, no matter how altruistic, are scary. They are based on knowing what is best for someone else.

Then I started flinching over statements about fundamentalism and rationality. Can we really say that fundamentalism is not rational. As I remember from early math classes, we make axioms and prove theories. That is using logic to understand behavior. If we assume that there are two worlds, this one and the next one, and that our success in the next one depends on certain actions in this world, then aren’t we being rational? We may disagree with their axioms. But axioms, by definition, aren’t provable. The are assumed so we make conclusions.

The lovely lady sitting next to me in the Torah group said that she wanted a world where diversity can occur. Though I share that thought, I’m not sure it is more rational than the opposite viewpoint: that the best world is one where my way is everyone’s way.

My point is that we don’t make much progress in embracing our enemy with name calling (i.e. fundamentalist or irrational). Calling your wife irrational because she has a different view of where the dish towel should be hung doesn’t help a marriage. Figuring out how your axioms vary can inform us to understand the other side of the coin, and maybe even to shift our thinking a little.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Moments Are Treasures That Need to Fly Away

The photographer, Wynn Bullock, said that photographs aren’t frozen moments, but rather they are events. I heard that about 50 years ago when he came to visit at the University of Illinois.

The idea in Zen of things being “as it is” (in Suzuki Roshi’s words to indicate that there is only one, not many, thing) led me down the wrong path, in a sense. This was entirely my own doing. The moment is not fixed but changes now and now and now.

The challenge is to not realize that only this moment exists (whatever that might mean), but that if we attach ourselves to this moment, we’ll lament that the next moment is not as the last moment was.

What we touch is very very sticky!

William Blake wrote:
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.
Once I was drilling a hole in the sheet metal of my van and my pant leg got caught in the drill bit. Time stopped. I realized I had to hold onto the drill, but release the trigger. Metaphorically, the drill is the moment, which needs to be a point of focus, and the trigger is an object of release, both being done at once. This is not a matter of doing one, and then the other. Both have to be done simultaneously. Kisses aren’t perpetual, but temporal.

I woke up a little with this stupid accident.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Entertainment...Not!

Today I was shopping again. It was New Year’s Eve and Central Market was crowded. So much so, it was a war zone and I couldn't think much about right action. It was just a matter of moving forward and not hitting anyone. But I realized that what I could choose was not how I acted, but how I felt. Was I going to be fraught with “sizzling electrodes” or was I going to a “quiet creek.” Somehow I felt mostly peaceful, though my wife wanted me to get her a Divine Chocolate bar and Central Market appeared to not be carrying it anymore. I felt a little stupid that I could not find it. They have so many kinds of chocolate it often is hard to find the divine.

I had two ideas for writing today. One is “to what extend are our actions governed by law,” and the second was “what is entertainment?” Both of these topics are weighing on my mind. I wanted to write them both, but while navigating the crowds at the grocery, I could not figure out how these two topics were connected.

Then as I loaded the groceries into my car, it came to me. I have the same emotional response to both topics. I'm the least fun person I know, other than my wife (and maybe my son). We aren't much into entertainment. We are staying home New Years eve and will enjoy our highlight of the year at 11pm—the ball in Times Square hitting falling down (which they didn't show on TV after all). That seems something that we've shared for 45 years. Entertainment? Not really. I like to figure things out. I've never wanted my art to entertain, and I've never enjoyed “being entertained.” I think I'm a genuine “bump on the log” as my sisters called me. Fun for me would be if something broke, and I could fix it. No champaign, but I did buy a jar of crunchy peanut butter. Will that count?

As a kid, I would watch the neighbor kids play cowboy and Indians and I couldn't get that at all. How do you pretend to be something you aren't? Seems like a giant leap. (So my daughter, when I told her this, said I must have Aspergers. I took an online test and scored pretty well. When I told my wife, she said I needed to get out of my head.)


I haven't dealt with the question of “govern.” It is a big one and I’ll look at that tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rat and Sudden Enlightenment


Have you heard the saying, “Make a plan and watch god laugh?"

Every day I was going to do accomplish five things.

Today I had the whole day, which means I'll waste more time. Someone in the neighborhood said he'd loan me a cable for a network experiment that I was doing. I hadn't been to his house, so I drove to his street and got out of my car and walked across the street to see the house numbers.

The next thing I know I kicked something laying on the street. I was surprised because I thought there was nothing on the street. I looked down and there was a dead rat.

I've been trying to be mindful of my actions. Here was such a simple task. Walk across the street. Find the house and get the cable from the porch.

And then the rat. It is always a rat that goofs up plans. The rat just wasn't supposed to be there. He wasn't part of the world I had constructed.

Last night I was reading about the debate between sudden and gradual enlightnment. This was certainly sudden enlightenment. But what did I learn?

This is not my world. It belongs to all of us, and what happens is the result of many paths crossing. There is not one story, but rather, all these stories intersect. The rat had a story, perhaps that it had been poisoned. I had a story—my computer network wasn't behaving well. And you had a story, doing what you do. But these aren't independent stories. They intersect, sometimes with a thump. Kicking a rat is a unique experience. For a moment, my foot felt this rather plump fellow.

My day continued, with time flying out the window and I still hadn't done my five things. Then a friend called and I knew he'd be out of touch for the next three months so we talked for over an hour.

I still had time. Lots of time. Then Sarah called about the prompt. Oh, I needed to do that. An easy job... just print it out. Then Bill emailed about the prompt... now I needed to do a little research. And then my printer wouldn't work so I had to mail the document to another computer to get it to print.

Still a couple of hours left to do my five things. And then my son called. He was very excited to talk about his new project, so we talked a long time. And the clock ticked and the rat lay in the street, and the intersections were all there teaching me how interconnected we all are.

Have you heard the statement, “Make a plan and watch God laugh.”

I did and he did.

Monday, December 29, 2014

On the Wagon

I’ve been on the wagon for two days (counting today(. I posted pictures on Please No Words, I did a Torah post on Kenshin’s Bar Mitzvah, I wrote something for everyday I think (this for today), and I logged my food. In addition, I’m supposed to do some medical stuff which I did too (mostly(. I was good, so to speak. Better, at least.

It has been since Nov. 11 since I did this. Amazing how seven weeks can fly by.

I did accomplish some stuff in the meantime, but not stuff that prevented me from doing the stuff that is important. I wanted to set up a computer with linux and ended up putting it on two computers. I have an old G4 laptop that will become the next recipient, though it works so well now after I did a clean install of an old operating system.

I’ve become interested in resuscitating old technology. I’m starting to like my iPhone 5S better because it isn’t the most recent model. “New” can become a disease. I once hear a great lecture on “new” by a photography critic. “New” can be an insidious virus.

I’ve been dealing with waking up (Zen talk). That for me is to realize the consequence of my actions. It is my Zen “practice period” focus for the next three months. Of course, if I beat myself up for being asleep it will not be fun. I want to improve my practice of archery, so to speak. I want to hit the target more often. Yet archery may not be about hitting the target as suggested in Zen in the Way of Archery.

We think of tests, like the SAT or the GRE. But what about the simple task/test of washing one’s hands. How well can that be done? Do we get our hands clean? Do we love our hands? Or even typing one character on a keyboard. Is there time in our life to touch everything as if it was very very special? I think so.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Choices

TS Elliot wrote in the Wasteland,   
“What shall I do now? What shall I do?   
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street   
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?   
What shall we ever do?”
This is the dilemma we have every moment—What shall I do (and how?). Supposedly a teacher makes 1500 educational decisions every day.

A driver can make 250 conscious decisions every mile.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

I tried to make conscious decisions as I went shopping yesterday. At the grocery store there was a white woman with a little black boy. Her love for the boy was obvious as she kissed and hugged him. He seemed about three and she held him in one arm, with a satchel of groceries in the other hand. She was behind me in line. I told her she could go in front of me. At first she politely hesitated, but then she accepted. I was aware that my decision made her life a little easier. I was also aware how my action made me feel so good.

Then the cashier asked if I was having a good day and I said, “yes. How has your day been.” I looked him in the eye and cared for that moment who he was and how he was feeling. Again I felt good.

It was not my intention in doing either of these “mitzvahs” to feel good. I was still recovering from someone butting in front of me a week ago. I didn’t say anything to them.  I just felt pushed aside for a week.

At Costco, they check your membership card as you enter. For those, like myself, who frequent the warehouse store, most of the checkers just let you by. A new checker was there, and asked for my card. I decided to just walk by, with the defiance that Michael Brown may have felt when the cop asked him to get off the street.

The checker yelled after me, “may I see your card, please.” But I just kept walking. And then I felt bad the rest of the day.

That was yesterday. Today I made another trip to another grocery. I played a little game where I’d focus my awareness and then grade myself for how well I did the job. For example, after “checking out” I decided that I didn’t have enough groceries to use a cart to to carry them to my car. I first thought I would just leave it in front of the store as people often do. Then I decided to return it to the other carts. I had a minute pang of guilt wondering if I was costing anyone a job, but I proceeded anyway. When I pushed the cart into the other carts I surprised myself that I had not done it very gently. I started feeling bad for how I had treated the cart. Why was I angry at it? I gave myself a “B-.”

You might think I’m being very rough on myself. Actually I'm just trying to see the effect of my actions.

My father always complained that I did the wrong things. So I’m thinking...could I do the right thing if I really tried. I don’t mean almost the right thing...but really really the right thing. Could I return a grocery cart to its resting place as if it was a super thin egg shell? Could I set a tea bowl on a table so softly that I wouldn't wake it up?

Let’s see how I do tomorrow.