Thursday, April 30, 2009

living in the moment

It seems like I am in the middle of some kind of Zen perfect storm, where all indicators point towards my need to focus on living in the moment. Without going looking for it, it’s been a major theme in a few of the books I have read recently, including In Praise of Slow , Eat Pray Love , and Cold Tangerines . PJ’s been learning about being present in his aikido practice and, generally, I’m just realizing that always striving, striving, leads to nowhere by discontent (see my post from a few months ago on over-achieving).

So, I am trying to slow down and to be present. To realize that I am here right now, and don’t need to always be moving towards some perfect future when I will be the person I want to be. My sporadic attempt at meditation are part of that. Watching my plants grow has been good too – they come up when they’re ready, no matter what the seed chart says.

It’s also about realizing that I am not off on some grand adventure right now, but here in Ottawa, and there are plenty of things going on here. I am trying to get out and do things around town a bit more, instead of always going home and spending the evening reading or watching DVDs. Even when I am home, I am trying to do more “active” pursuits. Cooking something new and making dinner an event. Working on some crafts. Anything that engages my brain or my body, and is good.

I am trying to give myself grace, too, because sometimes I am just tired and need to vegetate. I don’t want my attempts to live in the moment to be another pressure on myself to always be bettering myself, but I don’t want to let the moments slip by, while I’m waiting to start saving the world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

green stuff

I do not have a lot of experiencing gardening, but this year, Rah asked if I'd like to share in the garden that she is planting for the first time in her back yard. So, under her super-organized instruction, I've been getting ready. We spent a chunk of Saturday digging beds, sifting rocks out of the soil, and counting the prolific earth worms.

More excitingly, I started my seeds a few weeks ago, and I now have a bevvy of shoots in my little window-side garden, waiting to get tough enough to head on outside. Every day, before work and again after, I go and check out my shoots. The peppers were slow-bloomers, and I thought I'd failed completely, but they are now shooting up left right and centre. The zucchini came up just when they were supposed to, and I've already transplanted two of them to larger pots. And, honestly, it's a miracle, how these little seeds turn into little shoots with 2 leaves, and then four, and then more and more until there's food. We'll see how they do when I actually put them in the garden, but at the moment, I am tranfixed with wonder every time I look at my little plants and all of the possibility they hold.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This weekend, I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Part of the book (which chronicles the true adventures of the author while she spends a year trying to find “balance” in her life) takes place in an ashram in India. In the ashram, she spends a lot of time (no surprise) meditating, and she talks in the book about her experience of learning to still her mind. Which has got me thinking – I am not very good at stilling my mind. I don’t just sit and try to listen to God. Even when I am praying, which I don’t do enough, I am always talking. Or else I multi-task – praying while working out or while biking to work or while trying to drift off to sleep. Never just listening. I would probably benefit from sitting in silence. But the thought of trying to add that to my schedule stresses me out. How sad is that?

what's been really bugging me . . .

I have not been reading the news about the Afghani Shiite Family Law too closely. This is partly because of a challenge in the last issue of Geez that got me thinking about my consumption of the news - it made me question whether I am making the world a better place or myself a better person by being constantly bombarded with everything horrible that is happening all over the world. So, I've heard about it when I had the radio on and seen the headlines, but I haven't delved in.

Even in that limited exposure, though, there have been something about the discourse that has rubbed me the wrong way. I take it as a given that marital rape is bad, and that governments shouldn't legalize it - the fact that this is a "no brainer" for me is one of the reasons why I didn't feel the need to "follow" the story any further. However, what's been sitting poorly with me is the way that the media has covered this issue. Today's Globe and Mail says, in a line that is indicative of what I've been hearing, "The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse — a clause that critics say legalizes marital rape."

A clause that CRITICS SAY legalizes marital rape?! I don't know if the media is trying not to be judgemental, but if they do have their facts right, and the law does indeed say "a husband can demand sex every four days", then there is no other side of the story - that's not a controversial interpretation by critics: this clause legalizes rape. Are the Canadian media outlets trying so hard to be culturally relativist and sensitive that they are suggesting that rape might be okay in some contexts? If there was a law that said a man could kill his wife for adultery, would the papers report that "critics say" it legalizes murder? I find the suggestion that there are any shades of grey concerning whether forced marital sex is rape to be offensive to women both in Afghanistan and around the world . . . apparently even in the western media a woman's sexual autonomy is still open for discussion, rather than a given, and that's sad.