Tag Archives: Zen

Competition: the Rhubarb Connection

13 Jan


In a book I read awhile ago by Gary Zukav (“The Seat of the Soul”), he suggested competition was the root of violence.   I didn’t understand this when I read it, so it stuck with me.  We compete in horse shows and fairs, and I wasn’t sure how that related to violence.   Our competition involves prancing horses or growing vegetables that compete against other people’s vegetables.  Last year I grew leeks that outdid all other members of the onion family to win the Big Rainbow Ribbon of onions at our community fair.  But I suffered humiliation at the hands of my rhubarb, which received a red danish.

I woke up today finally getting the competition/onion family/prancing horse/violence/rhubarb connection.  It is strange to perform and rank other humans against each other and give some a big prize and put them in descending order.  Or put their work or vegetables in descending order.  No human being is more important or less important than any other.

Do animals compete in nature?  Sure they fight and battle and have dominance and territory.  But they don’t  wreak the violence that humans have done on a large scale across the planet.  They don’t accumulate power beyond what is necessary for survival.

I am not going to stop taking part in shows or putting my rhubarb on the spot at the fair, but I will stop competing.  I am going to work on participating with a different frame of mind.  Maybe I’ll stop competing entirely in the future.  I’m pondering and still not sure where this will lead.  There’s something bigger at work in the world and a change of consciousness is pretty much the only thing capable of saving our world.


A Blog for Each Personality

21 Sep


When writing a blog, conventional wisdom says to be consistent, keep on topic and start a new blog for every one of your multiple personalities.

If you have very prolific personalities, that works great.  But if you have some personalities that only crank one post a year, then you’ll just have blog drift.  That’s where your blogs drift off into nowhere and you have to go find the blog next you want to post because you have no idea where it went.

Originally blogs were not so specialized.  The goal wasn’t to conquer the universe.  Now, whoever has the most readers wins.   It was once about writing.

Everyone is busy and the information age has become information overload.  I admire the bloggers that keep on writing for the sake of writing.  Like a zen monk sitting on a rock, they just are.  Whatever they are is fine.  And it shines through.

In blogs you will find original, unedited voices. I enjoy the blogs where all the personalities get to play in one blog.  Who needs a separate blog for every topic?  I like diversity.  If you’re looking for the most readers, maybe.  What is your goal?  To write or accumulate?


11 Sep



If you look around our culture, the message seems to be that magic is for young people.  As you approach or surpass 50 (or 20 if you’re a horse), the message is that the magic is gone, get used to it.  Our culture is youth-obsessed.  Not that youth is bad, but it is one season of life.  And magic permeates all seasons of life, and all things.

In other cultures, elders hold wisdom, peace, and yes…magic.  Joy, love, light.  Getting old can mean letting go of things that obscure your light and letting more of the magic that is you shine through.  This isn’t the magic that is worshipped with youth.  That is part of what needs to go.  If you think that is the magic, and it fades, you might become a crusty old curmudgeon.

Magic can never be captured.  It is just is.  It comes from seeing things as they are and realizing they’re magical.  Look around, sit under a tree and watch the sunlight glint on the leaves.  Whatever thoughts dance in your mind, realize they’re not the magic and never were.   Getting older means more magic, and the more of us that see that, the better place our world will be.

Horse Drama

23 May


The vast majority of the horse world is occupied by drama.  Often you don’t just buy  a horse, you buy a horse drama.  And it’s hard to not buy one.  It comes free with the horse whether you want it or not.  Sort of like an extended warranty.

When you go to buy a horse, the trouble begins.  If the horse is so great, why are they selling him/her?   Common answers include:  “no time” (to get bucked off),  “need to downsize” (got bucked off), “horse too small”  (bucked kids off), “injury prevents riding” (got bucked off and broke shoulder), “too many horses” (this one bucks so I’m selling it and keeping the others) “daughter lost interest” (because horse bucked her off).

If you do like the horse, suddenly the price goes up.  Or a million other strange things happen that make being abducted by aliens seem ordinary in comparison.  If you enjoy shopping too much, try to buy a horse.  Soon you will never want to shop again.  Even for groceries.  So you should stock your pantry well before attempting this exercise, so you don’t starve.

After I bought the raffle ticket for $1 to win a draft horse at the fair, I broke out in a cold sweat.  What if I won?  What would I DO with the draft horse?  Where would I put a draft horse?  Thankfully I did not win a draft horse.

Unlike Katie herself,  Katie’s purchase was without drama.  And she is small, so unlike a draft horse, I have a place to keep her.  She was one of the simplest horse purchases I ever made.  She is a zen horse- she keeps me honest.  And humble, by humiliating me at shows.  So I never get too full of myself.  She keeps me in “beginner mind”– the place where magic happens, and I am grateful for that.  It is much better than drama land.

The Zen Of Talking to Yourself

22 Mar


Katie doesn’t have this problem.  Or so she says.  This is her person writing.

I’ve always been one of those people who organizes thoughts by talking to myself.  I used to think it was a mad scientist, artist or cooking show host trait.  But no, it is a Zen trait.

The kid with his locker next to mine in High School, Quinton, had it worse.  He would talk to himself as he rolled the combination lock, as he found his books and even when he walked.  I never knew if he was talking to himself, me or his locker.  He was a genius beyond genius academically, and one of my favorite people.  He was oblivious to social pressure, whereas I pretended to be a person who didn’t talk to myself.

I still talk to myself when I’m painting.   Zen helped me accept it.  Now that I comprehend that we are all the yellow ochre, chalky green and canvas itself, a conversation with art supplies (or combination locks) seems perfectly normal.

After all, painting a picture, opening a locker or even walking is the Universe having a conversation with itself.  So is playing an instrument, picking up trash, peeling an apple.  We’re just one face of the universe, and so is everything else.  We converse in various ways.  Sometimes we don’t respect the other faces we see- from plants, to the land to other creatures, human or otherwise.  Ultimately, that means we disrespect ourselves.  But when I see people making positive changes, caring, respecting our fellow earthlings (and ourselves), it gives me hope.  We are all one.  How we treat each other matters– readers, oceans and yellow ochre.  The little things matter.

Zen and the Art of Pony Maintenance

22 Jan


Ponies get a bad rap.  The underlying problem is that ponies are not small horses but are a unique species.  Almost.  Though technically members of Equus caballus (horses and ponies),  they are in the process of evolving into a new species called Equus rocketscientist.  If people studied ponies close enough, they would find ponies are nearly there.

Since ponies look like short, wide horses with incredibly cute faces, it is hard to believe they are not horse-like.  No indeed.  We happen to have a nice pony– the kind you can take to shows and win blue ribbons with.  She has never dumped her kids, though she has dragged them wherever she wants to go.

At shows, people come over to pet Gypsy, the nice pony, and relay a story of some evil Shetland that ruined their life as a child.  Usually the stories involve broken bones or getting strategically scraped off under a low-hanging branch.  There are so many evil Shetland stories in the world that we have yet to take Gypsy anywhere and not hear one.

If you make a horse mad or scared, they will usually run.  If you make a pony mad, they will look at you and start thinking.  The result will not be good.

For example, Gypsy came with a trailer loading problem.  She refused to go in horse trailers.  We eventually got her in.  One day we were at a 4-H clinic.  Gypsy refused to go in the trailer to go home.  The clinician picked up a broom and headed for Gypsy.

“That’s not a good idea,” I said, my voice too quiet to have an effect on the determined trainer.  Just as Gypsy was thinking that her trailer loading game was going well and was about to step in, the trainer wacked her on the butt with the broom.

Gypsy’s head went up.  Her pony lip jutted out and her big pony jaw set.  She turned and sized up the trainer with an I-can’t-believe-you-just-did-that glare.  Gypsy planted her feet and refused to move.

The wacking, dragging and yelling went nowhere.  Eventually, near dark, we led Gypsy into the trailer.  Truth is, you’ll never outwit a pony with those kind of tricks.  A pony will up the ante and outthink you.

This may be why when people sell miniature horses, they advertise that minis are not ponies but small horses.  Who, after all would want a pony?  If you could get an actual horse personality in a small, cute package that would be much better.

Or would it?  Since having had ponies for years now, I like them.   Ponies own the world.  They are puffed-up little Napoleons.  A pony will teach you many things.  Patience is one of them. A pony mare will teach you to stand up for yourself, be honest in your dealings and not take any guff from anyone.  They will also dismantle your ego and humble you.   So if you want to be a Zen master, you should get a pony.