Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Calming Down"

I had coffee this morning with my old friend J. and a friend of hers, D., who during our conversation named "calming down" as one aspect for him--one good aspect--of middle age.

It's an absolutely normal phrase, of course, but it struck me as so fresh and wonderful that I wrote it down with a ballpoint pen on my palm. (The palm of my hand, that is, not a palm pilot.)

Turns out D. sits zen at a zen center just a couple miles from me, and he told me about the Sunday morning dharma talks. I think I'll go this Sunday. I knew everyone was welcome, but it helps me to have a personal invitation to cut through my inertia or fear. It makes me happy to note the way invitations to life keep on appearing...

Ever since I had that fun awareness of non-being when I woke up in the recovery room this spring I've been wondering if I might like to move beyond practicing thinking about Buddhism to practicing it physically, which basically means sitting down and not thinking, a physical manifestation of calming down.

I think it's funny that "calming down" is such a delightful idea to me at this stage of life. When I was younger, I'd certainly have seen it as a loss, a downshifting of life. Now it looks to me like shifting into a more powerful state--like switching from a flashy, vrooming car that uses a ton of fuel simply to announce its presence to a BMW that quietly gets about its business of working extremely well.

[car ad from Production Cars]


Rudyinparis said...

You're going to wear your sweatshirt, right?

I read some interview with Diane Von Furstenburg where she talks about the wild affairs she had when she was younger, and how love and sex and lovers (mostly the latter two, I gathered) were so central to her life and energy and how now, in her 60s she's really more meh on the whole topic, and just how nice that is, she has found.

So that's a version of calming down, too, I guess!

Fresca said...

Hm. Trying to balance that with my lustful thoughts about Captain Kirk's neck (photo at right)... : )

Shall I wear my Star Trek T-shirt or my Minnie Mouse to the zen center?

Nancy said...

Uh-Oh, a fashion question? In the interests of less is more I'd go with a solid of any color that makes you feel centered.

Looking forward to a post on the experience! Seems like a healthful, Eros-feeding life invitation.

Fresca said...

A solid color? THat would be the Star Trek T-shirt then. : )

"Eros"--that's a nice word, Nancy--calming down is Eros-feeding, yes!

Nancy said...

Eros as in my new statement under my profile photo on FB. I say,

"Eros (creativity, love) and Thantos (death, destruction) constantly struggle within us and in the world. Choose carefully which to feed."

Kind of like yin and yang, but the concept of yin and yang that is far more shaded and subtle -- it's Zen meaning, not the simplistic one most Westerners know of "male" and "female".

These days I am consciously choosing an attitude, perception, actions that "feed" Eros, or creativity and love. There's more to the concept but that little FB statement summarizes it.

Fresca said...

Interesting, Nancy.
I'm not sure I'd subscribe to quite such a dualistic split (Eros/Thanatos) but I do take your point:
we are what we eat.
(And, right, maybe the FB statement isn't the place for subtle shadings.)