02/08/08 Recently, returning to work immediately after a holiday or retreat, has become a much more bumpy affair than I've previously experienced. Not a gentle ease into the daily demands of Customer Services, more of being sucked unwillingly into a vortex. The first few days being particularly taxing, as the skin of my retreat experience is flailed off me, right before my eyes. The more positive perspective I return with, takes on the appearance of a mask, a delusive charade -lacking any durability and substance. I move from a context where I felt relaxed and spiritually in tune with myself ,to one which collided with me, that I was out of tune with, not just by a light tinkle but with a resounding dissonant clash. The reverberations of this return experience continue on for quite a while.
08/08/08 Eventually things did settle, or maybe I just became re-accustomed to staring my day to day experience in the face? Anyhow, I've started following up on some of the things Padmavajra pointed my attention towards. First, booking a day in late September for a day of study and devotion near to the anniversary of Dogen's death. David helped me put a poster together on his computer. The day has the general title of 'The Real Dragon', the study will be based on a chapter from the Shobogenzo. I have a few chapters to decide between, but I need to read through them thoroughly to get a sense of how fruitful the material might be in study. I'm quite excited about this. Almost as if it were a portent, I recently received a postcard from a friend of mine whose was in Japan at Dogen's monastery Eihei-ji, he asked me how my Shobogenzo studies were going. Second, this week I booked on the next GFR retreat - The Heart of Ordination - in late October. This seems inordinately significant for some reason.
One evening this week I woke in the middle of the night in a very excited state, as if something great was about to happen, and I needed to be awake in order not to miss it. Alas no midnight surprises! I can often be impatient, with things rarely moving as fast as I'd like. I've learnt from the past, that I should strike whilst the iron is hot or the motivation may not be there to initiate things later on. My resolve seems to have a very attenuated span. At present I appear to be being instructed in the virtues of steady gentle application, rather than my usual incendiary enthusiasm, that is so often a short lived spurt, rarely maintainable.
The nautical theme sails on. I've finished the Patrick O'Brian book, which was very good. The model of the Cutty Sark, had begun construction, but foundered because a major deck part is missing. I'm still awaiting its arrival, over a week later. It seems like reality is again conspiring to ensure I take my time, slow down my expectations and be patient for a change. So instead I've been messing about with pictures of semaphore signals, I've composed a picture which spells out the Buddha's last recorded words - with mindfulness strive on - which was fun to do. So I can't quite sail out onto new seas just yet, I haven't got all the required parts - but I can start getting prepared. This seems almost prophetic.
09/08/08 Today was the Open Day at Abbey House. Abbey House is a Buddhist Community where I used to live before I moved in with David. It's one of the oldest houses in Cambridge, Windhorse Trust bought it from the City Council on the basis that we would open it to the general public at least once a year. Even though I don't live there any more, I know more about the history of the house than most of its current inhabitants. I'm particularly interested in the monastery - Barnwell Priory - very little of which survives. The fact that little remains sort of makes it imaginatively all the more interesting for me. Well, because of my enthusiasm, and because I am admittedly rather good at it, I've sort of become the main tour guide. So I regularly get invited back to do this day. This year there seemed to be more visitors than on previous years, about 300 people passed through the house in the space of the opening hours, between 12 and 4pm. There were only three of us doing the tour guiding, which was a bit of a stretch, so I ended up doing five tours over the four hours. It might not seem an energetic thing to do, but tour guiding is very mentally tiring, remembering what to say, and when, and making sure you can be heard. You end up giving out, and giving out constantly. I rarely look forward to this day, and often don't want to do it when asked, but I do enjoy the day once I get into the stream of things. So, although I can resent it taking a day out of my weekend off, I suspect I'll still be doing it again next year regardless. Although this year it's left me with a thumping headache.
Next week at in Customer Services we are short staffed, only two of us for the next seven working days. I am already anticipating being over stretched and stressed, and using all my treasured time off to recover. Well, I'll keep you informed about this prognosis.