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we do not achieve things …

by way of proclamations and slogans

but through

persistence,

effort,

and

enthusiasm.

“May 15” in Path to Peace by Shi Wuling.

***

The venerable Shi Wuling once came to South Bend, IN, and it is from her that I first learned about Buddhism. Lately I’ve delved into Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Surya Das’s audiobooks, Buddha Standard Time and Buddha Is as Buddha Does. Perhaps it’s working, because I finally feel more at home at home. It’s almost three years since we moved. Since I left my identity at the curb and took on a new everything. (Well not quite everything. The husband and dog are the same.)

And I swear we’ve both lost 10 years in attitude-drag. To see him on his e-bike & going to the gym, and me with my regular T’ai chi and Aikido sessions, we are both way more disciplined and physically fit than we were in our 50s. We’re also cheerful now. I think we are actually happy, most of the time. Pretty amazing in comparison with the stressed-out wrecks we used to be!

Funny, what you realize when you have the time to realize stuff.

Creating intricate quilts with symbolic meanings and diverse textures continues to be my passion and way of communicating with the world. Above and below you’ll see some pics of my latest work, the “Respect” and “RARE” quilt projects, which have drawn me to connect with people of color from all around the USA and increasingly, here in my hometown. That development–and the chats, smiles, and thank you letters I’ve received–give me great pleasure and life satisfaction.

Thinking it over as I work in silence, I realize that these projects are a continuation of friend-making I learned to do in France. After years of feeling estranged in my beloved adoptive country, and never really connecting in a long-term way with a French person, I moved to France again in 2001. We would be there for two years, so I needed a friend. One day, I put up a card in the library, asking basically if anybody felt like being friends. Or at least talk once a week. Then 9/11 happened the very next day. And on 9/12, two French women called. It worked. Life-long friendships were born there in the Bibliothèque anglophone on rue Boisnet in Angers, France.

Now I’m trying to reach out, or deepen friendships, with people from a different population–namely my fellow citizens. Through the “Respect” quilts, I seek to support and celebrate people of color in the USA. And make friends, if possible. As a very white person living in a very white city, it is not that easy. But little by little, what do you know? The same technique seems to work. People like people who like them. A smile begets another. Hope begets hope. One person’s search meets another’s.

These latest quilts are for inspiring Black women who live in the Seattle area, a top-echelon hospital administrator (and a friend, whose name starts with “J”) and an award-winning high school student.

Drop by West Seattle Grounds coffee shop during the month of June and you will be surrounded by my handiwork. I’ll be there in person smiling at everybody, and hosting the “Make a quilt” game, during the West Seattle ArtWalk on June 10 from 5-8pm.

On another note, it would be amiss of me to neglect mention of Taiyaki, a Japanese delicacy that I discovered today after T’ai chi class. (Which was fantastic as always.) The taiyaki truck Bean Fish parked right behind me. When I smelled that good smell and saw the truck sitting there, I thought: “If this is not synchronicity then I don’t know what is!”

Wow! Good call. I highly recommend the Food Truck, Bean Fish, for these deliciously comforting treats. I had an “original” with red bean paste and loved the warm, crunchy, gushy sweet combo of flaky crust, soft inner layer and perfectly textured bean paste (very important). Plus the adorable fish’s face and cute scales! It made me quite content, all the way home.

(Or for the rant version: all the way through the convoluted Pioneer Square detours, past the rude/terrifying speeders who zoom by and/or cut in on the highways, and behind the long lines of patient neighbors working our way back to “Vashon East”, otherwise known as West Seattle, cut off from the mainland since 2020 when our bridge broke.)

Either way, it was an excellent Saturday morning.

FYI: The Bean Fish truck is parked across the street from the busy and amazing Asian grocery store, Uwajimaya, for your shopping convenience.

Long live Seattle’s International District and Chinatown, for bringing the tastes, sounds, smells, and arts of Asia to the West!!

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Categories
wisdom Zen philosophy

day 80, just help

Just help image

June 5 page from Shi Wuling, Path to Peace

fyi, the Honey Girl quilt offer expires today! see details on day 73.

Categories
creativity work

day 58, accepting our limitations, admitting our imperfections, and getting on with it

More grey weather outside, another onslaught of scary, outrageous, sickening news in the paper, another day of mounting worries and anxiety: what else is new? LOL. 🙂

So I took out a little book that sometimes helps and turned to the message for May 16:

there are four things conducive

to the uncovering of wisdom:

association with those who are virtuous

hearing wise and true teachings

listening well and deeply

practicing sincerely *

to which I would add: “looking carefully at the photos of your work before posting them!”

Face masks made on May 15 2020

That grey mask with the purple stitching was an experiment I conducted on inspiration from DJ Kevin Cole’s afternoon show yesterday on KEXP, when he issued a creative challenge to listeners to “use an inappropriate color.” For me, that meant using purple thread instead of grey thread on a grey mask. I was so happy with the results that I took a quick pic, submitted it, and patted myself on the back… until I looked closely at the pic, then the mask, and saw my error!  (one of the ties is not stitched correctly.) Yikes! I know it’s extremely small potatoes, in the big scheme of things, but I care that my work is as beautiful as I can make it. Luckily, this is one thing I can fix.  Yay for that!

Hang in there, any way you can, until tomorrow…

 

* Shi Wuling, Path to Peace

Categories
art creativity death happiness quilts Zen philosophy

Day two: have a heart!

 

 

Today I added a heart to this quilt–in the pink and yellow batik triangles–and the effect feels totally different, lighter and more hopeful, I think. The little dandy has become a sweetie, who brings love into the world. He will take that love wherever he goes on his life journey, with Paddington Bear by his side.

Note the other symbolism which makes this quilt make sense, from top left (the arrival of the child in a tumultuous topsy-turvy moment) to the bottom right (his departure for things unknown). The retro French fabric squares add to the evolution:  note how the square in the bottom strip features the boy alone with seagulls.  So does the grey/yellow square of the bottom: it has a compass, instead of plain khaki…  the story says that this child has places to go, and he will know how to do it when the time comes…

As I was cutting and sewing all the tiny triangles to put this quilt together, I thought about the child who will one day sleep with it, and I felt so happy and peaceful.  A related thought for you, from Path to Peace:

“In losing ourselves

in thoughts of ourselves

we lose.

In losing ourselves in

thoughts of others

we truly benefit.”

 

 

Categories
Zen philosophy

ten days left: a Zen rebuff of Bachelard?

Shi Wuling Path to Peace

Today’s thought from Path to Peace seems at first glance to present a sound rebuff of the sentimentalism of Gaston Bachelard that I quoted yesterday. In her reflections, Venerable Wuling stresses facts we must admit, such as: to be alive is already to be dying a little every day, every action is ephemeral, and all love will end.

Grim realities.

Or are they really that grim? And do they truly rebuff Bachelard’s perspective? I think rather that they are complementary. They describe human realities at different levels of magnification–from the laser-like focus on the subtle perceptions of individual thinkers living with the material world in Bachelard to the Olympian scope of a Zen sage, who from a distant and dispassionate perspective looks over eons of growth, blossoming, and death in endless cycles. Both may be right, depending on how you look at things.

Although the Zen writings seem depressing, perhaps they are rather to be read as incitements to resist the inevitable! to enjoy every minute or at least accept it, out of mischief if for no other reason. Just to spite the fates, like a trickster in your own life.

June 17

four things are constant:

no world lasts forever

but will be swept away;

it is no shelter

and protects not;

one will leave everything behind

in passing to the next life;

life is incomplete

and unsatisfying.

 Shuling Wu, Path to Peace, “June 17.”

I prefer the entry for June 16 instead:

one who is free

from desire and sorrow

leaves all fetters behind

to pass beyond birth and death.

like a swan rising from a lake,

he moves on in peace

never looking back.

57671043-during-takeoff-mute-swan