Buddha Board

Lately I’ve been spending time with a dear friend who is suffering from what she describes as the Holiday Blues. She doesn’t want to shop, decorating the house is a chore, and she’s pretty much getting by on her practiced smile and antidepressants.  She’s sad.   Her lover is gone.  Being sad this time of year sucks.  The Christmas music, the crowds, the energy of the season is especially heartbreaking for those not really feeling it. I get that. She’s not the only one in pain. Last week a friend of mine told me her dear friend and tennis partner surrendered to bone cancer. In the news, a drunk driver in Redondo Beach plowed through a crowd at a church and killed 4 people. All these are reminders that the holidays aren’t happy for everyone. In fact, I would argue they are more difficult.

getting lit this year

Yesterday I saw Ivy-league educated former monk and leading American Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield on Super Soul Sunday. He spoke about the importance of staying present. He said our thoughts about the future are only thoughts and our thoughts about the past do not matter because they are past. Life is being lived right now, with every breath. He reminded us that if we live too much in the past or the future, we miss life. At the end of the show Oprah featured the Tibetan practice of creating intricate sand mandalas that often take hundreds of hours to create and then get wiped away upon completion as a reminder of the Buddhist principle of non- attachment.

This reminded me- I recently bought myself a Buddha board. I was playing with the one on display at Pulp, my favorite stationary/gift shop on La Brea and Beverly. A Buddha Board is like a chalkboard, but instead of chalk, a Japanese paintbrush is dipped in water.   You can doodle any word or symbol on the board and then watch it fade until it disappears as the water dries. Its purpose, like the sand mandala, is to keep you present and to remind you to stay unattached because the reality is, nothing in this life is permanent. Not jobs, not lovers, not wealth. Not art or wishes. Not moms or dads or sisters or brothers. Not even countries! Who remembers Prussia? Anyway, everything is in constant motion, constant evolution going somewhere or returning, expanding or shrinking, growing or dying. Every day granted is a blessing in this life. It’s a privilege to live another day. It’s one day closer to death.

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Maybe Shakespeare had a Buddha Board….

I’m getting good at drawing designs on the board. Each stroke of my wet little brush looks like effortless art. I create beautiful doodles and immediately feel a longing for it as I know I can’t get attached. It will be gone soon. This analogy fits life too.

When you spend time marinating in memories of days long past with a lover who is long gone you waste the time you are in now. Memories are like a beautiful Buddha Board masterpiece that one is clinging too even as it fades, going, going, gone. Instead of standing in the grace of love, or settling into gratitude for having loved and been loved that way, we resist, cry, compromise, and bargain. Then one day, inevitably, he or she is completely absent. No text or call or email. No Facebook message, or subliminal Pinterest post. No tweet, yelp message or Instagram like. You are left with a blank slate. Sometimes it is years before you can appreciate the freedom and beauty of a blank slate and accept the gift of starting again. It’s easier to cling to memories, missed opportunities, and wallow in regret. I get that too. These feelings are real and tangible. You can physically feel the edges and cracks of disappointment and longing in your heart. Even as I write this, I can feel the scars on my own heart start to swell and tear again because the wounds from a lost soul mate are deep and easily refreshed. But then, mid tear, I remember gratitude. As should you.  Most people never experience a love like that, but you did, or you wouldn’t be in the pain of grief, bitterness and nostalgia. Remember that even though you know how the story ends, you would still jump in and do it all over again,  just to feel his eyes on you one more time. For there are other loves, but never the same love twice.

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Chin up darling.  Storms don’t last forever.  xo Dre

2012 in Review

For me 2009 to 2011 was sort of what my friend Terri would call a shitshow. Keeping that in mind, 2012 wasn’t so bad.  Further I heard a sermon in church yesterday that spoke directly to me.  The minister made the point that in the darkest times in life whatever you are going through and whatever pain you are experiencing, is actually a growing pain or birthing pain if you will.  These times are always a rebirth of sorts.  You come out of the experience altered, different, and hopefully, better.  He reminded us that what feels like the end usually turns out to also be the beginning of something else.  Like the acorn which has to die to become the great oak or the butterfly which has to live in the gooey dark cocoon before transforming, so can we see difficult times in our lives.  I’d say in 2012 my wings have sprouted. Again.  I hope you found this year as palatable as I did or better.  If it sucked, no worries, there’s always next year.

Some highlights from the past year:

YOLO.  I was a Drake fan before the whole “you only live once” trend took over and he had the idea to try to capitalize on the popularity of the term.  I was totally amused by Jack Black when he said, “Isn’t yolo carpe diem for dumb people”, giggle.  The tragic drunk tweet from an aspiring rapper of the famous acronym right before his fatal car accident didn’t help matters.  Still, by the end of 2012 even Katie Couric had a segment on her show called YOLO.  In 2012, YOLO became one of the most popular terms on twitter.  I’d say that’s pretty iconic.  As a quasi-buddist, it doesn’t really apply to me, but it definitely makes my 2012 list.

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The Summer Olympics. I loved the London Summer Games and was once again dazzled by team USA!

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The Election.

obama-victory-2Pinterest.  I heart Pinterest and have expanded my social media use and virtual friend list exponentially through this site.  When I go to a book store, I easily lose time there.  One hour feels like five minutes, and that is how I lose time on pinterest as well.  I have a writing board, a fashion board, a fantasy board, and a love board.   Actually I have 44 boards and counting.  The site is like porn for an artist because it is a constant running fashion show of high def inspiration right at your fingertips.  I like zoning out on Pinterest much more than Facebook because the site is just a series of pictures that link to blogs and other information, minus all the ads and drama of other social media outlets.

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Instagram.  Aside from Pinterest, I love staying in touch with friends via Instagram.  On Instagram you get to share snapshots of your life minus the drama.  Plus, thanks to the cool settings, now we can all channel our inner Annie Leibovitz.

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Kony 2012.  This Invisible Children campaign worked and made warlord Joseph Kony famous.

Kony 2012

Gangnam Style.  True story, picture it: G. and I, spring 2012 at this Korean BBQ restaurant in K-town. The now iconic PSY video comes on, but G’s back is to the TV.  I say to G., who is first generation Japanese, “You have to turn around and see this guy.  Your brother is working overtime.”  He turns around and sees the awesomeness for himself, shaking his head with defeated disbelief.  “Asians are weird sometimes” he shrugged with apology in his voice.  Several weeks later the PSY video went viral and by October I was begging him to dress as PSY for Halloween!  The following video shall live in on in youtube history! Heeeyyy  Sexy lady…

Super Soul Sunday.  I love the programing on OWN on Sunday.  It inspires me to learn something new, expanding my heart and my mind every week.  I even watch the re-runs.  I thought I was going to miss O so much when she retired her show last year, but her next chapter rocks.

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thich nhat hanh and oprah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lana Del Rey.  I have a new queen, her name is Lana. For me, if 2011 belonged to Adele, then this year belonged to Lana Del Rey.  Her albums Born to Die and Paradise were my favorite new music of 2012.

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Space Sky Diver.   A few months ago, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner set the record for high-altitude free-fall, leaping from a capsule 24 miles above the Earth.  It was amazing.

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Draw Something Art.  I played this game too much this year, however I’m not as good as some amazing competitors out there.

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USC.  I’m a graduate student again.

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In Remembrance…

Rest in peace Etta James (singer), Whitney Houston (singer, actress), Gore Vidal (writer, critic), Michael Clark Duncan (actor), Phyllis Diller  (actress, comedienne), Jenni Rivera (singer), Don Cornelius (host of Soul Train), Donna Summer (singer, songwriter), Vidal Sassoon (British hairdresser- “if you don’t look good, we don’t look good”), Dick Clark (radio and television personality), and everyone in the world who transitioned this year.

In an interview with Oprah, Zen monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh said of death, “Its like a cloud in the sky.  When the cloud is no longer in the sky it doesn’t mean that the cloud has died.  The cloud is continued in other forms, like rain or snow or ice.  So you can recognize your cloud in her new forms.  If you are very fond of a beautiful cloud, and if your cloud is no longer there, you should not be sad.  Your beloved cloud might have become the rain, calling on you, “Darling. Darling. Don’t you see me in my new form?”  And then you will not be struck with grief and despair.  Your beloved one continues always.”

Wherever you are tonight, remember the words of T.S. Elliot, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

Happy New Year friends.  Cheers, and I love you!  xo Dre

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