31 May 2007

siamo il 4°!!!

Secondo un rapporto da Technorati, l'italiano scala al quarto posto nella statistica sui linguaggi più utilizzati tra i bloggers in tutto il mondo.

Il w00t!

lo stress

I haven't felt the energy to do the work that I wanted to do over this time alone. However, in being disappointed, or regretful that I haven't - for example - blogged as much as I'd hoped I would, I came to the realisatin of how much my work stress is really sapping my energy. A lot of times I come home drained, and in not being available even for myself, I came to realise how I haven't been available to the woman I love.

This is pretty painful, but it's also liberating in a way, because I can see what has been the obstacle - or, at least, an obstacle - to me doing the growth I've so much wanted to do. So I'm starting to look at what I can change to make the situation better and free up more energy. This will not be an easy process... and the paradox of doing work to be able to relax more is nettlesome to say the least. But I prefer having something I can put my hands around, rather than sort of an amorphous angoscia that I can't do anything about.

Denise comes home Friday! I can't wait, and I am really just releasing stuff like ballast so I can be as present as I can when she returns.

23 May 2007

Il mio primo meme italiano

Qualche settimana fa, ho accettato l'invito della Sognatrice a rispondere ad alcune domande sul mio rapporto con il vino. Purtroppo ho avevo troppo lavoro negli ultimi giorni, ma ho gia tornata della classe sugli scrittori italiani contemporani, e dunque direi che al fine sono presto...

Sei più vino rosso, bianco o rosé?
Dipende. Non mi piace tanto il vino bianco, ma quando fa caldo un bicchiere di vino freddo mi rinfresca molto. In generale, bevo il vino rosso forte - meglio il più scuro, come i vini siciliani.

Non bevo mai il rosé. *brivido*

La tua prima volta?
Be', forse la mia prima volta era di nascosto, a una festa dei genitori o una cena familiare... ma la prima volta che ho goduto la vina era durante il mio primo viaggio in Italia, quando aveva 16 anni. Ho visitato una bella cantina a Frascati e ho diventato proprio ubriaco - molto piacevole.

La migliore associazione tra un vino e una portata?
Per me, sempre una prima piatta, come una pasta, va tutto bene con un bel vino rosso. Ma mi piace da morire i cioccolattini con un vino dolce, come un porto. Che meraviglia!

La tua migliore degustazione?
Mi piace molto i Montepulciani d'Abruzzo... ma un bel pinot noir di California non va mai male.

Chi sceglie il vino in casa tua e chi amministra la cantina?
La ragazza sa più di me... ma io faccio la spesa più spesso.

Quanti vini hai in cantina?
Al momento, solo il bottiglia che sto bevando!

Come inizieresti un giovane al vino?
A tavola, primo dell'adolescenza. Magari se i giovani non bevano in secreto, imparerebbero di bere in moderazione...

E basta - brindiamo!

22 May 2007

The open door

I'm not in the habit of writing about personal, intrinsic matters... not, especially, because of shyness but rather because such things are rarely of much interest to others. Since a weblog is - notionally at least - a space where other people can come and read my stuff, it has never seemed like a place where I'd want to write about my inner life.

I have some time and space now to do some thinking, and for me writing has always been a big aid to thinking. And since there's one person who I really want to read this who happens to be on the other side of the globe right now, on the blog it goes. If it is of interest to others, well good. At the moment, though, that's not my primary concern.

I want to start with the most basic things and kind of work my way up from there. Right now I am in the process of grounding myself for what feels like a new period of explosive growth - it's a challenge I faced before and feel I handled well, and specifically because I had my values really clear. So it seems worthwhile to check in again with my whole world view.

From an early age, I was very interested in what was Really Going On, what lay behind the stories I was told as a kid. I feel like I dispensed with Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and religion fairly early on, and spent a long time trying to figure out what was truly real. I got hooked on Taoism and anarchism when I was still pretty young; I liked the minimalism and straightforwardness of the philosophies. The absence of bullshit is something that appeals to every rebellious kid, and the longer I live and the more I learn, the more valid I find the basic truths I absorbed then. "Be like water" and "from the base to the summit, from the circumference to the center" are watchwords that still inform my understanding of the world.

I practised Zen fairly assiduously over a period of five years, though much less so since I graduated college and left Hawai'i. In deep meditation after the failure of my marriage, I began to have direct experiences that the self - the thing we think of as "who we are," is just an illusion, and a cruel one at that. I had the benefit of a very wise teacher and some good friends that helped and supported my practice. Slowing the mind is incredibly hard work, but incredibly rewarding.

Along the way, I picked up a grab-bag of practises and rituals that seem, at first glance, to contradict the direct experiencing that is the hallmark of Zen. For example, I use Tarot for inspiration (and, much less often, for divination). I once went on a solitary retreat where I meditated on the beach during the day and made my own Tarot deck at night, using a poker deck and some 3x5 cards for the Major Arcana. I was a practising Pagan in my twenties, and still get a lot of inspiration from Rumi and the Sufi way.

I believe that there are levels of experience. We are all fundamentally timeless, patient and aware Consciousness. Solitary practises like meditation and yoga can awaken us to this true nature. But overlaid on that is our mortal, ever-changing self - and it's this level where we are receptive to what I think of as spiritual play. I think awe is a very important emotion to experience regularly, and so I've tried to put myself in positions where I can feel that sense of wonder. Asking the Tarot for guidance, Sufi dancing, casting a circle: these are all ways of making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I have found that the more I practised meditation, the stronger was my openness to these things.

I don't have a whole superstructure of beliefs that rigidly define where Tarot, say, or drumming at the full Moon, fit in with the uncreated Suchness of Buddhist practise. I simply let these things have space in my heart. Feeling that the Universe is a positive place, that wants me to do well, find my place, and serve my purpose, just makes sense for me, and I don't question it, try to make sense of it, or justify it. And while it certainly seems that I can manifest good things and positive paths in my life by setting my intention and holding it in my mind, I don't "believe" that I have some magical power that I exert on the physical world. I have just noticed that when I have a clear, well-defined intention, a way seems to be made clear for me. And I'm OK just accepting that.

Love has been something I have allowed into my life only recently. I mean, I was always a romantic and a great pursuer of women; my Italian blood and what I think of as an excellent taste for beauty sort of made that a necessity. However, I really feel that I had to go through a series of (ultimately) unsuccessful relationships and affairs to really feel the need for love in my life. One could say I "hit bottom," but in a real sense, I took that path as far as it could take me. I am blessed to have real, deep, strong, chaotic love in my life now, and it is something that I feel calls upon all of my care and attention - as true love should. I had too many years of what Dylan called "careless love," and it left me nothing but tired. I much prefer a mindful kind of love...

Next time I want to talk about practise, and self-improvement, and a healthy diet. As a fundamental key to health is rest, I need to get some sleep.