Rollo Del Tomebamba VII

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Street Art Along The Rio Tomebamba

Cuenca has many wonderful street artists. Their art is bold, colorful, usually bright, and always full of Life. Many business on the Rio Tomebamba hire street artists to paint murals on their buildings. Most of the artists use brushes and some create their wonders using cans of spray paint. I love to see new works adorning the walls and buildings along the river, and I feel a degree of sadness when I see their artwork defaced by those who simply believe their purpose is to deface the creativity of others. 

I think there should be an unwritten agreement among all creative individuals to respect and not deface or demean the creativity of another. We can all be each other’s supporters and not critics and destroyers.

 

Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba.

The Routine Of No Routine

The search is the meaning, the search for beauty, love, kindness and restoration in this difficult, wired and often alien modern world. The miracle is that we are here, that no matter how undone we’ve been the night before, we wake up every morning and are still here. It is phenomenal just to be. This idea overwhelms some people.

— Anne Lamott

vcxa8286When I retired nine years ago, the one thing I most looked forward to was not having to awaken each morning to the blaring of an alarm clock. I could wake to the natural rhythms of my body, to the light of the sun, the songs of the birds or the cranking of the garbage truck slowly making its way down the hill. I looked forward to shaping my days rather than having them shaped by the routines of my typical work day. I could live each day without the routine (a sequence of actions regularly followed, a fixed program*) of going to work, going to lunch, coming back to work, and finally coming home which was the only part of my routine I enjoyed. Unlike many people who fall apart without a routine, I thrived. I did not need a schedule full of meaningless activities to stimulate my life. I had books to read, poems to write, Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata to learn on my keyboard, walks to take, and oceans to visit. The last thing I wanted was a routine of any kind. I wanted my days to be free for me to follow my heart and my dreams.

The Buddha asked his disciples to empty their minds of all desires for desire was the root cause of all suffering and disappointment. Many find this somewhat paradoxical as the desire to empty one’s mind of desire is itself a desire which adds to the suffering in one’s life.

I experienced a similar paradox in my attempt to not follow a routine. Doing what I choose to do each day itself became a routine. Yes, it was a chosen routine of my own activities as oppose to a required one, but still a routine. The difference was that my new routine had more flexibility in its implementation. So, I embraced my new routine because each day I was doing the things I loved.

I only awaken to an alarm clock if I have an early flight to catch as I make all of my appointments late in the morning so I can awaken naturally. I may do some yoga stretches or go for a walk when the weather is agreeable. I have never been a breakfast person so a cup of tea or coffee usually comes next. Then I read the news and set about my work. I call my writing work because I take it seriously and because it fills a good part of each day. However, it is work I enjoy doing. This is usually followed by a nap, a meal, and another walk before the daylight comes to an end. In the evenings I will write some more, read, or maybe watch a rented movie on iTunes. On occassion, I interact with others or take a Spanish class. These activities are the core of my routine which changes daily and is yet grounded in that I no longer have to commit any of my time to activities I no longer want to do.

My new daily routine has become a ritual as it is repeated each day with the same  degree of love, devotion, and desire to live this life I love doing the things I love to do. This is my true secret of life or in the words of Jim Harrison, “You have to follow the affections of your heart, and the truth of your imagination. Otherwise, you will feel badly.”

  • Source Reference: New Oxford American Dictionary

Rollo Del Tomebamba VI

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Think With Heart ♥️ 

I am a blend of my experiences, the choices I make, and the chance which happens upon me. A friend’s father recently brought an investment property here in Cuenca so on my river walk the other day I decided to stop by an take a look. During the visit I felt a surge of energy from my heart.

“Come here,” she said.

I know that voice. She has led me on many journeys around this world and accompanies me through this existence. I looked at the building. Nothing impressive I thought until as if magic were afloat the traffic stopped and I heard the sound of the river behind me. I have no need to move. I know this property is beyond my housing budget. I pondered for a few moments …

“Think with heart,” she said.

It is doable. This was all decided before I even saw the inside a few days later. Like the building itself nothing impressive with the layout or fixtures, but the view of the park and the Rio Tomebamba across the street… the heart wants what the heart wants.

9C889212-7805-4425-B5E1-5D8E5B1DA239

Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba. 

 

 

Rollo Del Tomebamba V

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Silence

The rushing waters of the Rio Tomebamba
in orchestration with the songs of unseen birds
overrides the bustling noises of the city.
I watch my body from above rambling down the
cobbled stone path oblivious to my absence.
I am a part of this beautiful web of silence.
The space where even thought does not enter.
Brought back into existence only by the
youthful screams of children playing on bicycles.
No silence on earth could mask such joy.

08932530-8E09-4EC5-87C7-70E56D0C2E36

7CF0481A-A89B-4FF7-BA1E-8495FF144BE1

Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba. 

 

 

A Soul Reader – Oliver Sacks

vcxa8286I had never heard of Marcelo Gleiser until a few weeks ago when a friend recommended his book The Island of Knowledge-The Limits of Science and Meaning. “It’s right up your alley,” she said, and she was correct.

As circumstance would have it, I came across his name again a few days later when I read his response and tribute on NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture to one of my most favorite people Oliver Sacks. (July 09, 1933 – August 30, 2015) The Man Who Turned Life Into Magic. I was stunned earlier when I read Oliver’s op-ed piece in the New York Times. He is dying from cancer of the liver. This is a man who gave life to so many people upon whom the world had turned its back. He was a man I learned of from a movie before ever reading his books. In his essay he talked about how he planned to live his remaining time on this earth. He wrote:

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming…This is not indifference but detachment. […]

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

I never met Oliver Sacks. I know him only through the stories he wrote in Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Altered States, and his essays on hallucinatory drugs. I am one of the readers with whom he shared that “special intercourse.” He not only touched my soul, he opened it. I learned about compassion for my fellow human beings regardless of their physical and/or mental differences from Oliver Sacks. I learned we are all different and to accept what is uniquely different in each of us.

It is from his stories I learned about him, a gifted, intelligent, caring, and heart centered individual. He is one of those rare individuals I would like to sit down and talk with over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. His friend Marcelo summed up his many attributes best when he referred to Oliver Sacks as “A Soul-Reader.”

Thank you Marcelo for your beautiful tribute to I man I know you love. Thank you Oliver Sacks for the life you gave to so many and for teaching me a out compassion. A soul reader is the best human being of us all.

Rollo Del Tomebamba IV

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6The Raging Waters

The river is high today from the many recent rains. Not a good day for river rafting or kayaking. The real dangers are hidden beneath the white surf of the waves. The rocks are invisible from the surface covered by the river but are still there, lurking.

This was the way the river was in Mexico when Kathleen died. It had rained the night before and the river was rough. The owner of the service did not want to refund the tickets for a cancelled trip so he convinced his river guides and the guests to do the trip despite its dangers and to go overland for a particularly difficult section of the river. The river gods were not kind that day. Before they reached the section to begin the overland, raft #1, the one Kathleen was in flipped. Raft #2 was down river of raft #1 so the guide tied his raft to shore to catch guests coming toward him. As he assisted getting the guests back into raft #1, Kathleen included, raft #2 which was still tied to land flipped. The guide from raft #2 untied his boat and went after the guests going down the river. By this time both boats were in the dangerous part of the water. The part the owner of the company told them to do over land, but they still had guests in the river and could not dock the rafts. By the time they reached the middle of the dangerous section, all guests had been recovered. Then in the raging waters raft #1 flipped again. 

They were able to save all but Kathleen. They recognized her by her helmet going with the current. The rafts were finally able to dock a mile or so down river and one of the guides went for help. The guests including Kathleen’s daughter and grand daughter were standing safely on shore as Kathleen’s body floated passed them in the river. Three miles down river, they recovered her battered remains.

The assumption is she was pulled under by the current and was stuck in the rocks as the rafts passed her overhead. A helmet and life vest did not protect her. She died because someone’s greed superseded the importance of someone’s life. Those rafts should never had been in the water that day just as no raft should be in the Tomebamba today.

A207D2F9-7645-4B49-BD8E-74C8AAF433B8.jpeg

Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba. Death is an integral part of life. This piece, however, is about love and remembrance. The Tomebamba is a healing river. As good as any grief counselor I know.

————————

Happiness

vcxa8286I have wanted to write about happiness for a few day now, but I didn’t know what to say. I know happiness exists. I know it to be a major source of joy in my life. I know it exists as a part of my being. It is my general nature. I am happy when I wake up in the morning. What about you? Is happiness a universal state of being?

I found the answer to that question in a rather unusual manner. I was searching the internet for a dentist when I came across an Ecuadorian expat site. People from various states and nations were posting questions about living in Ecuador. One expat posted a copy of the video embedded below filmed in the city of Loja. Because I have been living in Fiji for the last four years, I have not had much exposure to American music so although I had heard of Pharrell Williams, I had not listened to his music until today. The song was named “Happy,” and apparently it was or perhaps still is a popular song. I played the video, and almost immediately received the answer to my question. Is happiness a universal state of being? Yes, it is.

In his song Pharrell singed the line, “Clap you hands if you know what ‘happiness’ is for you.” It was in the moment that I realized that although happiness is a universal condition, we each have different keys to unlocking it from inside of us. To some the key might be dancing. To someone else the key might be found in helping others, and to others it might be finding their soulmate. These keys are the common threads to unlocking happiness. Of course there are many more, but these are a few examples.

I believe happiness is a state of being, not a state of mind. One cannot will themselves to be happy. There are no “ten keys to happiness” or “five things you can do everyday to be happy.” We have all been hooked by these quick fixes to find whatever we are searching for. The internet is full of them. They all promise to help you reach your goal, no matter what that goal is. It could be to lose weight, gain an abdominal six-pack, or find the perfect mate. What most of us fail to understand is that happiness is not out there to be found no matter how much we search or pray. It is not in the purchase of a new “something,” or in that two week vacation you’ve been saving for all year. These are just fleeting moments of happiness in your life. They have no permanence. Happiness, however, is not fleeting because it is a state of being. It is an integral part of who you are, of who I am.

Although one may not necessarily be happy 24/7 and generally happiness is pleasurable, I don’t believe happiness is “elusive” or “the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain.” Happiness shares a duality with sadness. Only their triggers are different. It is the Buddha Nature. We all have it inside of us. It is part of our entelechy. It is as embedded in our being as life itself. The key is to allow it to unfold freely from within. Happiness is not exteriorly dependent. Happiness is the smile that appears on your face for no particular reason. Happiness if the energy of being alive bursting inside of you. Happiness is the joy of your soul awakening.

I challenge you to watch this video, We Are Happy From Loja, and not feel happiness bubbling up inside you.