Date: April 7, 2003
As I sit tonight in my tent, I am still working on my homework.
I finished the Puggala-Pannati, now I'm working on my creative writing,
while studying Japanese... My semester in Grad school is coming
to a close, and I'm cramming for finals...Playing grad school is fun.
Squatting grad school is even better. Surreality has sorta become
the norm, though. "Konoekidokudeska"--what the
hell is that supposed to mean? Studying Pali and Japanese
at the same time will really break one's head. Aphex Twin is the
only thing I've found that really smooths the translation.
One interview, one job. oh, I forgot to mention...
!!! I'm moving to Japan
... to Teach English !?!
Japan. Now I'm an "English teacher" living in Japan.
Some would argue that I don't yet live in Japan. Some would argue
that I don't yet teach English. To those I say, time is relative
to perception. The logistics are bizarre enough as it is without
worrying about trifles such as my "not yet having moved."
I only sorta kinda live in Berkeley now anyway; I still have one
foot in Seattle, one in Charlotte. In an even more conceptual
way of thinking, I never returned from India... Simplicity is
key when you live a rootless existence; so for the sake of simplicity,
I am assuming that I now live in Japan, and am only visiting the States
on holiday. Reality in fact, is relative to perception.
I'll spare you the Hegelian Dialectic that's on the tip of my fingers...
So grad school... Finals... The sudden imposition of a deadline on
my life has applied a pressure I haven't felt since being in school.
Oh wait. I am in school. Whatever. My days
in Berkeley are numbered. Yet for now I have two circles of friends;
I spend most of my social time with the Cafe' Elodie crowd. Baristas
make good company. Partly because they have to be nice to you...
and they have to show up at a certain time each day... Nevertheless,
Carman, Justin, and Sam have all been good friends. There are
others across the bay whom I haven't seen since I lived in San Francisco
earlier this year...
Time being relative, this last fiscal year has been quite long.
A year ago today I was showing up to work as a computer geek, monitoring
the hacker comunity from a dark room beneith the Space Needle in Seattle.
It seems so many lifetimes ago. I think Cara was breaking up with
her husband in Illinois about today and was heading back to Seattle
to meet me on the first of May. My Windows password at work was
"Thai4m3" [thai for me] a secret kabal between myselves that
should the quite foreseeable happen, my first day out the door would
be my first day in Thailand... In the end it took six days from getting
laid off to arrive in Thailand.
[Did you know "week day" is a Japanese word? That means
they didn't have a word for the work week till we came along... "No
Smoking" section, incidentally, is an English term/concept as well...]
So wow. School's almost over. On the 22nd, a tuesday, I
board a train for Seattle. I'm trying to figure out if I
"move" back to seattle at that time or if I return to Berkeley
after my sister's wedding... only to move to Japan via Seattle a couple
weeks later... I've arranged a month-long train trip (my second) around
the event of my shaming, my sister's hat-trick of one-ups, Her three-upsmanship?
Not only is she graduating from Law School before I even am enrolled
in grad school, but she's getting married before I can even concieve
of 'relationship,' and to cap it all off, will be starting a career-track
job in the late summer, buying a house, probably a dog... oh wait she
already has the dog and SUV. Its amazing to consider we're from
the same womb, and from the same upbringing. To hell with "nurture
vs. nature"! "nurture, nature, roll the f*cking dice"
seems more like it...
So, Sanjihandess--its half past three. My friend, the Owl, is
calling for me. I think I'll take 'Shakti', my nepalese wooden
flute, out to sing with them. Tired. My brain is full... Yet
now its time for Music class...
Date: April 7, 2003
So back at the library. Contemplating existence.
Japan. The reality is starting to think in. The big challenge
is simply realizing that the experience is empty.
Purely empty. Today I am here, tomorrow I will be there.
I'm not entirely sure where to go with that.
Except the library. That much is clear. And Elodie.
Elodie followed by "Curry in a Hurry." And the YMCA.
The only downside to the Y is that its fucking impossible to get "that
song" out of one's head... And Tripple Rock Brewery,
my local bar. This evening I hung out with Justin and Carman at
the Tripple Rock. Does Triple have one p? I don't think
it matters personally....
See... Saussure teaches that linguistics is fundimentally a study
of the spoken word. Not the written. When one studies the
evolution of language over the course of time, one cannot but be amazed
at the variety. Saussure says that the most natural thing for
language to do is evolve. What is artificial is when it
remains static, when it fronts like its staying the same.
Even now, fifty years later we see dramatic shifts in the way we express
ourselves. And what seems natural and fluid today will seem
stodgy soon and old-fashioned soon. The concept is termed anicca
in Pali. Especially in Buddhist terminology Anicca, impermanence
is the root one should not forget in viewing phenomenon. That
beautiful woman, the vision of whom, arises lust within me, will someday
be someone's grandmother. If one believes in past lives, then
one can harbor the notion that she was once one's mother. Impermanence,
total, complete and perfect change believes that a hundred monkeys with
typewriters, in an infinite span of time, will eventually produce the
works of Shakespere. The beauty of Shakespere lies in impermanence,
lies in the finite span of time, lies in the notion that what is now
soon will not be.
One of my favorite meditations is to consider the lifespan of all sentient
beings to be equal. Then to accept that any structured entity
will be to some degree sentient. Trees, mountains, in a purely
animistic sense are all Sentient. Now, the lifespan of all entities
being equal, the experience of each will be filled with the same quantum
of drama. Each will be born, will think, will die.
And in their death they will express the same ultimate truth of reality
as you will. The fly that you swat, cut down in its prime, will
have experienced the same emotions and depth, will have questioned its
meaning and place on the earth. The butterfly, in the field, apperently
randomly fluttering about is in fact fulfilling its higher purpose of
living, seeing its path as a casual stroll from '...oh, I think I'll
go over here now...' to '...guess now I'll go over there...' From
the perspective of an ancient redwood, we appear as flighty as that
butterfly. To a sacred peak like Kailash our movement is as inscrutible
as the volition of an electron. In the infinite span of time,
the lives of we, the living, sentient self-ness [atta] is as impermanent
as the sensation of heat, as the motions of air, as the wind;
our entire civilization appears as a breeze, a draft, perhaps, from
an open window somewhere...
But never mind all that. The day after tomorrow I will be in
Japan, living, peeing, brushing my teeth, sipping on coffee [ko-hee]
at a cafe at three in the afternoon reading some esoteric philosophy
about the meaning of it all... Tomorrow
morning I will be visiting Seattle to see Beth and WiL and the rest
of my Seattle family. Then in afternoon I will see Jessica in
Chicago and Josh and Amelia in Ann Arbor; by the evening I will be witnessing
my sister Suzanne's marriage of holy matrimony to Wess. My sister's
last name will change tomorrow evening. Then that night I will
be in New York to See one of my oldest friends, Erik Johnson, the executive,
and my dear friend Sheila, the starving artist. Sometime in the
early morning I will board the train back "home" to Berkeley.
Then I will wake up the next morning, hop on the train to Seattle, to
catch my flight to Japan.
Somehow it seems so...
Impetuous/Impulsive/plausible battle for supremacy. I truly do
NOT know what is going on any more. Long ago I sat back
in the Perfection of Wisdom and said, all is empty, completely empty.
All is indeed vanity and vexation of the spirit and there is no prophet
under the sun. And from that moment forward have been trying to
hold my attention to the diverse phenomena of existence, with more and
less success. Where others see anchors, I see impermanence.
Where others see necessity I see caprice. This has led to no end
of drama with my family, you can imagine. I, as most "men"
my age... though I scoff at/choke on that notion.... I obssess over
my relationship with my father. It is part of the life drama
So what happens tomorrow night? All this planning gives me a
headache. What do I do tomorrow night when I get off work.
I can only imagine I'll go to a different bar then the night before,
order a beer, sit, enjoy the local culture, drink the local Pabst Blue
Ribbon, probably while digesting a noodle dish. I imagine I'll
need my strength for the next day's journey.
Its all too much. Tonight I sleep in Berkeley. Alone, completely
and utterly alone in the midst of all my friends. Right now, after
this paragraph I think I'll go read the Abhidhamma on level B of the
library at one of the study carrells at the South-East corner of the
library; nestled amongst the Asian students. A budding expatriate,
whose mind left for Asia many years before.
Date: Apr. 9 2003
Back at Elodie. Head swimmy. Yesterday went drinking
for a coupla drinks before starting on the Dhatu-Katha. A real
annoying book. But fairly concise. It has been thoroughly
contracted, and its tables made explicit with fold-out diagrams of the
concepts which are marginally useful...
Trying to get my head together about this trip. Trying to figure
out what it will be like in Japan, the redistribution of my possessions
across the planet. Trying to figure out where I live now, now
that I live in Japan? So the redistribution of my wealth
is based on one basic principle; keep as little as possible in storage,
while maintaining access and control over the majority of my current
belongings. So. To be abhidhammist, we would form a table:
||things going to Japan
||Things remaining in Seattle
||Things going to/remaining
||Things going to other people
- tent, stove, extended gear
- standard gear
- alter equipment
- prayer rug
- big dell
- big laptop
- little laptop
- wireless keyboard
- maybe printer?
- midi keyboard
- big drum?
- yoga mat
- most basic woodworking set:
- Bike accessories; boxed, to be mailed... inc. tools, lights,
lock helmet, etc.
- sewing machine
- monitor if he wants it?
- 3/4" chisel
- 1/4" chisel
- 3/4 gouge
- 1/4 gouge
- camera equipent, misc
- cordless drill, jigsaw circular
so the systems starts breaking down. In the end it all depends
on what I want to DO when I go to all of these places. Am I more
likely to construct in Charlotte, or in Seattle? At WiL's or at
Beth's? In Japan?
So with the re-distribution of wealth there is a deeper reality unfolding.
If I can seemlessly empower my environment...
No, it just doesn't work when I look at it self-centeredly. I
am merely trying to house my things. I feel responsible for them.
I want to play with most of my stuff later at some point. But
having 24 hour access to the bulk of it is not required. Therefore
Beth has my two futons, my bike will live somewhere, things here stuff
there, and if it all comes together, then... Whereever I may be,
the things I would like to play with will be there.
Now the deeper truth of them all is that I have all I need now, in
a smallish backpack, containing esoteric wisdom in print, a digital
processor capable of any number of party tricks, a travel mug for my
coffee buzz, and, well, several other things. In all of this,
what is the truth of my things?
They are sufficient.
...In their manifold combinations?
In their non-existence?
but what if its cold and raining and you find yourself naked on the
side of some god-forsaken stretch of road, bereft of all material possessions,
freezing, starving, coughing on deisel fumes and needing to pee?
Insufficient. Look for plastic sheeting, cardboard, and a sympathetic
The truth I guess is that possessions flow in a continuum. My
parents taught me that when they moved into a new house and got rid
of everything with which I was familiar. All my mementos are tightly
packed into about four 33 liter trunks in the attic and a bedroom closet.
My books are in the closet, as well as my Grandfather's laz-i-boy, the
chair he was in the night before he died. In his sleep.
There one moment, gone the next. Like a good Swede. Nobody's
charity case. Yet, I have held on to that chair, that chair which
lived for a spell as a piece of front porch furniture in the worst neighborhood
of Asheville, in one of the best epoche's of the regions history.
From Retirement to Chaos Collective living and now the purgatory of
a closet in Charlotte. And the chisels, and planes and tools,
and detritus of hundreds of years, the ganga water which will traverse
the united states yet again to wait in a holding pattern with Celene's
magic random pixie dust, in a draw, sealed, waiting for their next call
to magickal duty...
My oh my. So it all flows, and somehow, its all okay. The
truth of impermanence is best felt in the tension of material possessions'
trajectories across the field of one's life; but its only really interesting
to an outside observer, when the paths cross over to other fields.
Stories are told what what has been passed down for generations, or
passed from hand to hand around a circle of friends. Material
possessions are the glue that binds a culture, a society to itself....
Don't know where that was going. Nor where it started.
Seattle to Japan via Berkeley. With stops in between.
Tomorrow I will be an English teacher, Sensai, "Hussen-san,"
Tomorrow I will be building bookshelves in the closet in Charlotte,
tomorrow I will be Bowling with Buster in Seattle. Tomorrow I
will be smoking in a field of wildflowers with hawks flying overhead.
Tomorrow I will be taking my application to the Nova regional office
in San Francisco. Tomorrow's gonna be great.