Rollo Del Tomebamba X

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-f2c61125a3f6A Transitional Man

This morning I turned right outside my front door instead of left. The left or west part of the river has been my main walking path for the last two years. It helped me to heal and regain my strength following a heart attack and has always provided a sense of comfort when I needed it most.

I realize that like the river I am always in transition. My life is always moving along. It never seems to stay put for more than a short span of time, a few seconds to the universe. Only in meditation does my life remain almost completely still. I recently turned seventy-one and know that life’s greatest transition is approaching. I face it with the experience and knowledge of a life well lived.

39BDE73E-7101-4137-9C2B-FC51B55A1ED2

Another equally important transition also took place this month. I moved from Cuenca Suites to a one bedroom, one and a half bathroom flat. Think With Heart. I must have known I would be moving last November because I started buying small pieces of furniture. In my mind I decided I would be out of the hotel by April 30th. There was a good deal of resistance placed before me, a test from the universe, but I am here. The transition has taken place. I feel less burdened with responsibility along with a greater freedom in my life.

A smaller move physically than my last two, but equally as important to my personal growth. I have reclaimed my own time. What a gift to give to one’s self. No matter what the cost.

My welcoming…

FAB43861-C69E-4858-95BC-776C6F5A5FD5

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

————————

What’s In A Name?

vcxa8286A friend recently sent me a list of The 100 Most Beautifully Unusual First Names. I was not surprise to see my given name listed. There have always been those who complimented my name when introduced, but I have never felt comfortable with  my given name. It never felt like my name. The first indication of my utter uneasiness with this name was as a child. Because of a speech impediment, I was unable to pronounce my own name. People outside of my immediate family could not understand me when I said my name or anything else. My schoolmates laugh and teased me when I talked.

After having my tongue clipped, a barbaric treatment for what in those days was referred to as a lazy tongue, years of after school speech lessons that my mother worked a second job to afford, and many trips to hearing specialists, I was by the seventh grade comfortable with telling strangers my name. I could finally say my name. However, many asked, “Is that with a ‘d’ or a ‘t'”? Sometimes I still forget to lift my lazy tongue.

As my mother told me the story, I was given the name by an old maid, a term for an unmarried woman in those days, who lived in Prospect Village where I lived until the age of four. She asked my mother if she could name her second born if I were a boy, as my brother was already named after our father? I know. I too hear the echoes of Rumpelstiltskin, but she only wanted to name me.

The woman had one true love who was killed in World War I before he could return home to be her husband. My mother said she had forgotten all about it until the day I was born and the neighbor showed up at the hospital to reminded mom of her promise. So I was given my name after her dead fiancé. A man I never met or knew. I was named to keep alive someone’s memory. Most of us are named after someone else, and not for ourselves.

The name never clicked with me so eight years ago on December 31st, 2011, following a revealing dream, I changed my name. I wanted my name to reflected who I am today, to carry me through my remaining years, and my given name was too encased in the past to carry me forward. One can outgrow a name in the same way he/she outgrows a pair of shoes, but to change one’s name is not as carefree as buying a new pair of footwear.

In the past, I admired those individuals like Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and others who changed their given names to reflect where they were going more than where they had been. It may have appeared to the world that these name changes were simply an outward, surface change but I can assure you without a doubt the change came from their soul’s core, as mine did.

As recently as a few months ago, J.K. Rowling adopted the male pseudonym of Robert Galbraith to allow her to more easily write in a different genre. This is a common practice with writers. Her name change was a business decision and not permanent. Changing one’s name is a courageous step for whatever reason it is adopted. I know this because of the various reactions I received when I announced my own name change.

Most of my friends easily adopted to the transformation, but a few had difficulty with my decision. They could not understand the why, and continue to use my given name. I have not corrected them in the past because I myself was still in the transition period. I remember how long it took me to refer to the examples above by their chosen names, but now it feels important that I notify everyone again by what name I wish to be addressed.

We don’t have the option to name ourselves when we come into the world but we do have a say concerning the name with which we go back into the world. Most of us will carry the same name for our entire physical existence as a tie to a family or tradition, and some of us for whatever reason will chose not to keep our given names. We make new entries into the Akashic Records and the government’s extensive data base. We receive mail and tax forms with an aka (also known as) following our chosen name. We have friends who cannot see we are no longer the person they once knew, and for that reason they choose to hold on to the past.

To visualize the power of a name think of Louise Ciccone. Okay, you got that? Does that name have any given power in your mind? Now think of Madonna…such is the power of a name.

Change of the past and the familiar is difficult for many, but this I know is true. In the end,

nothing is truly mine except my name. I only borrowed this dust.

My name is Tao. I am everything and I am nothing.

Routines

Even in the best of circumstances, happiness is elusive. We seek pleasant sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, and moods. We satisfy our intellectual curiosity. We surround ourselves with friends and loved ones. We become connoisseurs of art, music, or food. But our pleasures are, by their very nature, fleeting. If we enjoy some great professional success, our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for an hour, or perhaps a day, but then they subside. And the search goes on. The effort required to keep boredom and other unpleasantness at bay must continue, moment to moment.

Ceaseless change is an unreliable basis for lasting fulfillment… Is there a form of happiness beyond the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain? — Sam Harris

We get up. Maybe we eat breakfast or gulp down a cup of coffee. Drive in congested traffic for however long it takes to reach a cubicle dividing us from the rest of the world where we spend the best part of our day doing something we do in exchange for financial gain and pray for a raise. This is how life plays out until we reach an age where they tell us our services are no longer required. Then we leave to begin our life but by this time we have forgotten how to live. This is the routine for many inhabitants of the Western world. This could have been and was for a while how my life existed.

One day while shaving, getting ready to start my routine, I saw a 65 year old version of myself staring back at me from the mirror. I was thirty-six. He was shaving his face, donning his white shirt and tie just like me. In that instant I knew I could no longer follow this routine that had been a constant in my life for over fifteen years. I had to do something to change it. I handed in my resignation. A month later, I still looked in the mirror each morning but I was no longer shaving my face or putting on a white shirt and tie. I was not longer snarled in traffic jams, and I was unemployed.

It is difficult to change a routine. Many thought I had made a big mistake when I left the corporate world and for a time so did I. When you jump from the mountain top, you always do so alone. Always. “Some make it, some don’t,” I was told in a dream. Later your friends will tell you they wish they had to courage to do what you did but they have families, obligations, mortgage payments, car payments, etc.  They have to continue their ritualistic daily sacrifice to Big Brother. I did not want to reach the age of sixty-five knowing I had never lived. I did not want my retirement to be the beginning of my living.

Today my routine is much different. In the mornings I watch others from my windows following their routines. The unique horns of the sanitation truck notifies residents to put their trash out. The ladies bring their laundry to the open laundry center where they wash their clothes by hand in concrete basins and hang them on the line to dry. The milk man brings farm fresh milk to the city and the women gather around his truck with their pitchers ready to be filled. The taxi drivers wash their cars and hope for a busy day. The gas man drops off tanks of propane where the empties are standing on the sidewalk. Life goes on, and we all carry out our routines. The key to surviving a daily routine is to have a routine you enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing it, the feeling of it being a routine is lost. I hope your daily routine is one you enjoy. You could be doing it for a long time.