my anger circled back to me

I got a good look at it.

The snake is a common garter snake. It’s not poisonous, it’s not even going to bite unless cornered with no other choice. It wants to bask in the sun and eat bugs and live its life – and leave, when a situation gets ugly.

All my life I’ve experienced exaggerated bug-eyed rage reactions from some people when I express anger, no matter how situationally appropriate. I figured they must seeing something about me I just couldn’t see, that I was a toxic dangerous person. I wasted a lot of my life trying to root out that toxic danger. I did build some skills.

I modeled my behavior on people who I saw expressing anger in considerate, minimal, caring, articulate ways. Clear I statements, clear asks, peaceful disengagement when the conversation isn’t going anywhere. Leaving the door open.

These strategies get concerns heard and validated, for some people. For me they didn’t work.

No matter how diligently I peaced (yes it’s a verb), some people would still flip out when I raised an issue, like I’d produced a lethal weapon and pointed it at their head. I could never be permitted to say or telegraph anger or disapproval. It always had to be felt/sold/expressed as genuine concern, concern that put the other person’s needs first, and completely erased my stake in the situation.

And ok if that really works? But it’s not true so I am suspicious about how that will ripple out. It seems like a way of interacting that supports the very status quo that generated the issue in the first place. And it is just weird that I am somehow not allowed to have anything at stake, anything I need to protect.

It all made no sense, never has and never did, and there was so much gaslighting.

Relationships that are conditional on me not experiencing anger when I am affronted or violated sound like they would be abusive relationships. Some of mine were, and probably still are; I choose to love and work with some messy people. And yet so many solid, apparently mature, mostly-not-messy most-of-the-time people who I have seen respond capably and tolerantly to anger from others have had this flipout reaction to me.

One thing I am clear about: people who have this reaction to me? They really do feel the way they feel. It’s real for them. I express a careful iota of mad and they experience me as scary, dangerous, out of line, inappropriate, irresponsible and destructive. They aren’t faking it.

Sitting with this lifelong hot mess, I finally realized: where have I seen such consistent extreme irrational reactions in other people before? Phobias, like the fear of snakes. Some people can’t help it. It’s just how they are, they have this hardwired fear. And it’s just how I am, that I trigger it.

OK then. If that’s what’s up, I can deal.

But I’ll never hate that innocent snake again.

Scissor Dance: Ask Not

Dr. Omed's Tent Show Revival

scissor-dance-ask-not-for-whom

Ask not for whom the scissors dance, they dance for thee.

(The last bearded sea turtle traverses the Sea of Scissors.)

>Scissor DanceCollage cut and pasted the old fashioned way, with scissors, glue, and a stack of old magazines.

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known for a fact

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I went looking for words   28 x 22″ oil

Know for a fact that mountains are fond of wise people and sages.

Dōgen, Sansui Kyō [Mountains and Waters Sutra] (S, 163)

 

growing a Bodhi tree

impermanence.16x16.lores

I am learning trees have grown in stranger situations than mine, and to trust what I know, which is that trees want to grow. It’s just what they do. The growing tree is itself 100% on my side in my project of growing a tree.

Who knew the tree could grow so big, in that little pot.

bench

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If you find some difficulty in your practice, that is the warning that you have some wrong idea, so you have to be careful. But do not give up your practice; continue it, knowing your weakness. Here there is no gaining idea. Here there is no fixed idea of attainment. You do not say, “This is enlightenment,” or “That is not right practice.” Even in wrong practice, when you realize it and continue, there is right practice. Our practice cannot be perfect, but without being discouraged by this, we should continue it. This is the secret of practice.

–Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, page 59

http://blog.shambhala.com/2015/12/25/know-your-weakness/

sic transit

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sic transit 16 x 16″ oil, beads and netting

 

 

The Tail of my Hell: Noel sur la Terre

Dr. Omed's Tent Show Revival

Bosch Birds Earthly Delights

I have finished, I think, the tale of my hell today.
It was really hell, the old hell, the one whose doors
were opened by the son of man.

From the same desert, in the same night, always
my tired eyes awake to the silver star, always,
but the kings of life are not moved, the three magi,
mind and heart and soul. When shall we go beyond
the mountains and the shores, to greet the birth
of new toil, of new wisdom, the flight of tyrants,
of demons, the end of superstition,
to adore—the first to adore!
Christmas on the Earth.

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell

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sitting.

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Do not discriminate between the faults or virtues of the monks or whether they are senior or junior. You do not even know where you stand, so how can you put others into categories. Judging others from within the boundaries of your own opinions, how could you be anything other than wrong? Although there are differences between seniors and juniors, all are equally members of the assembly. Those who had many faults yesterday may be correct and clear today. Who can judge “sacred” from “common.” The Zen Monastic Standards states, “Whether foolish or wise, the fact that one trains as a monk provides for others a gift that penetrates everywhere.”

TENZO KYOKUN: INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE TENZO by Eihei Dogen tr. Anzan Hoshin ,Yasuda Joshu Dainen

a vanitas

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The Matter of Birth and Death is Great
Impermanence is Swift
All Be Mindful of This
Take Care Not to Waste Time