Thursday, April 3, 2008

Flavour of the Day

Some random events from the day:

1. Got up late (0930), half an hour sitting on side of bed (naked) by way of meditation, didn't shower, just a 'body wash', shave, cleaned teeth, dressed, cup of tea, five spirulina tablets and 75 mg soluble aspirin taken straight from the foil (I'm supposed to dissolve them but never do).

2. Said "Good morning" to my eldest son who told me about his 'phone conversation yesterday about a Tax Credit claim for his period of low-wage employment last year. He's out of time to claim so he gets zilch. I congratulated him on his effort in going for a morning run.

3. Went to local shops to buy bananas for my wife's breakfast. She always eats a banana, two apples, two pears and an orange chopped up in a large bowl when she has a morning off, late shift or day off. It takes her almost 45 minutes to eat it; if I'm in the kitchen when she's munching her way through it I find it part endearing and part irritating.

4. Worried and moaned about having no money to pay overdue bills, council tax etc. Money is my Achilles' heel, I am totally neurotic about it and never think I have enough.

5. Postman brought a parcel containing two ink cartridges for obsolescent printer linked to even more obsolescent lap-top, currently the only printer of 3 we have that isn't holed below the water-line. I'm very dubious the printer will even work with these inkjets, but it's last throw of the dice. Try to print a test page, printer creaks, clatters, page comes out blank. Try to clean the print-head after rummaging round old programmes without a mouse. That doesn't work either. Tell my wife, "I knew this was throwing good money after bad, it won't print". Try again, it works. My wife say, "I knew they would". I knew she was right.

6. Drove to post office in my old Land Rover Series III to buy a cardboard box to return useless cartridges bought for useless printer. Land Rover smells wonderful, old upholstery, petrol, oil, tin doors, an undefinable English Land Rover smell (she's 30 years old and behaves like a cart horse, knows it's own mind, needs to be gentled along). Love the engine roar, the transmission whine, the huge metal steering wheel, the big silver gear knob and clunky gear change.

7. Drove to prison in Chelmsford, park in nearby suburban street. Mobile rang "Sister Philomena, the prison's locked down, there's been an incident, they probably won't let you in". Leave a message for Sister P on the chaplaincy 'phone, drive home. I'd been thinking of how the Buddhist meeting might go, no agenda. My sense is that the prisoners expect me to do something religious, apparently the last Buddhist chaplain used to chant the refuges in Pali. I told them last visit I don't do chanting, bowing, or light incense sticks. One of the prisoners asked me if I was a "real Buddhist priest".

8. Drove my youngest son back to his supported lodgings, we had a rather heated exchange in the car en route. He was telling me about another of his deluded 'phone calls to the Passport Office about renewing his passport in one of the many bizarre names he calls himself. I told him stuffily that although I respected his beliefs about his identity I didn't share them. As far as I am concerned I'm his Dad, his Mum is his Mum, and if he needs to believe differently that's OK but don't get me involved in discussions on the matter as it pisses me off and gets us no-where. He looked very stung and upset and I acknowledged that to him, I don't want to hurt him but I sometimes have to tell him what I think so we both know where we stand. I told him when he comes through the door at home I just know it's him coming home and whatever he calls himself makes no difference to that. At home I told my wife and other son about this and they both agreed, sometimes we need to be up front and honest. I think I shall probably be dead twenty years before he's well enough to acknowledge I'm his Dad, if he ever does, but that doesn't matter as long as he's content. Trouble is, he's not. May he know peace, may he know contentment.

9. Ate a piece of "Value" Stilton and a green apple for tea. Read the Guardian, nothing of any real interest.

10. Talked to my elderly neighbour in his front garden. Offered to look at the painful rash on his back and arranged to visit him at 7.00 pm to do so. Visited him, looked at his back, talked about his rash, life, death and loneliness. Left his house at 7.40 pm. I offered to put cream on his back but he said the carers were coming to do it tomorrow, though they didn't care to do it. I said I would do it myself but I work irregular hours and couldn't promise a reliable service three times a week. I felt rotten about this, but he understood.

11. Got a bowl of hot water, bath salts and a towel. Berlina bathed her feet and I applied corn-blade to remove hard skin from soles, this builds up and needs treatment, it's being a nurse and there's something to do with her having been born feet first (a breech delivery, quite rare and supposed to be lucky in Zambia). Massaged her feet for about forty minutes with cream. She said, "My foot has been calling out to be massaged". It's quite a long time since I did them.

12. Read somewhere that we get 80% of value from 20% of our activities (the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle). That makes sense and is food for thought.

13. Wrote this blog and decided to get to bed soon after 30 minutes meditation, during which I know my back will ache. My posture at this PC is poor, my spectacles unsuitable. I've left a lot of stuff out, some of it not very edifying, and lots I can't remember but no doubt will.


Mark Savage said...

Peter, read you blog posting with interest. I'm convinced that its our challenge to locate meaning in everyday tasks and duties and that the Buddhist way to do that is by mindfulness. I'm thinking of trying to establish a Mindfulness Practice Group in my area (Shropshire) simply to bring together a small group of 'friends' to share and develop mindfulness practice. Mark

Peter Goble said...

Thank you Mark. Your conviction heartens me a lot and I share it. I agree it is a challenge, though. Spiritual materialism exerts an pull that many of us find it hard to resist: the quest for "inner peace" etc. Inner peace is nice while it lasts but it seldom lasts long. One might reasonably add, "Thank goodness"! And mindfulness is a helpful way of establishing oneself in that truth of impermanence, and being glad of it. I tried with an avowedly secular and delightfully clever, amusing friend to establish a non-Buddhist mindfulness practice group in North London for Every Man (and Every Woman), but it was overtaken by events after a few months. Most of those who came were professionals wanting to set themselves up in private practice as mindfulness teachers. Lovely people of course, but not what we had intended. Is nothing sacred, he groaned in deepest irony? But I suppose it serves us right for picking and choosing. Keep up the good work, Mark, and stay in contact.

Mark Savage said...

Peter, yes indeed. I appreciate your comments. As you suggest the simpliest of intentions can get over run by the intentions of others. Perhaps the mindfulness practice group which I hope to establish may well go the same way, who knows! cheques in the post! no really.