Learn The Single Lesson [on Two Artists Tuesday]

dogga babycat end of day copy

At the end of each day, with great enthusiasm and mission, Dog-Dog herds us into the living room. Because it is hysterical to see how many different strategies Dogga can pull from his Aussie bag of tricks, it has become a game for us to give him several false starts. We step toward the living room and then return to the kitchen. We say, “Let’s go!” and he races away with fervor while we remain firmly planted. He returns moments later with a wildly wagging tail. He never gets frustrated. He only gets more clever, more lively in his intention. He is eternally hopeful and more excited by the chase than the finish.

It is the single lesson I hope to learn from him. He is an excellent teacher and I am a very slow student.

It is the last day of 2019 and it has been, to put it mildly, an exhausting year. We are making special preparations to launch the good ship 2019 into the annals of time-gone-by. We might wave a polite so-long as it departs but most likely we’ll turn our backs on the passage, and, like Dogga, we’ll run into the next year with hopeful-tails a-wagging.

We know it is an imaginary line, a made-up calendar distinction. We don’t really expect a clean break, a new, fresh start. Or, perhaps we do expect it. Or perhaps, we desire it in the same way Dogga desires us to go to the living room. It’s the game of chase!

Perhaps the coming year will be less exhausting and more fulfilling if I learn the single Dog-Dog lesson: drop all expectation of outcome, all fear of circumstance, all investment in things that exist only in my too-active-imagination, and love my people whether or not they meet me in the living room. Love my people when they send me on a wild goose chase, not once, but many times. Love them because they love me and it’s fun to be alive and, after all, the circles I run will bring me back to them. Or to myself. Why not laugh?

Perhaps in this new year I will at last learn to fully live what I preach and enjoy the chase simply because it is ALL a game of chase, even the parts that look momentarily like completions. Even the parts that look overwhelming. They pass, too.

The mantra many years ago was to cultivate surprise. Expect surprise. The truth is, I don’t know what will happen in ten minutes or two seconds or in ten days. Do you? Why do we pretend that we know? I think it is the key to Dog-Dog’s delight, he doesn’t pretend to know. He lives in the truth of surprise as opposed to the preconception of boredom or fear or fulfillment. He leads with his heart and his heart is bursting with hope (another name for the expectation of surprise). It is why, after his people-sheep have ambled to the couch [what?! A surprise!], he can sleep so soundly, so completely unburdened by resistance to the day gone by or trepidation-stories of tomorrow.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE END OF THE YEAR

 

 

shadow des plaines river trailwebsite box copy

Love The Game

Dog-Dog-Dog in the joy of the pursuit

Dog-Dog-Dog in the joy of the pursuit

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog likes to chase bumblebees. He snaps at them in an attempt to catch them. He never catches them but that does not deter his endless attempts or the glee of his pursuit. He loves the chase. He loves it.

Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog also loves to be chased. He only requires something to carry, something to claim that makes the chase necessary. Any stick will do. I walk to the center of the yard, pick up the most available stick, he takes it from my hand and races away. My job is to give chase (as I pursue the Dog-Dog, I say again and again, “Give me my stick!” as if the stick was mine. Such is the power and grace of the human imagination!) Wild-eyed and joyful, he races around the yard at Mach speed, a bumblebee to my snapping dog. I never catch him but that does not deter the glee of my pursuit.

Dog-Dog is teaching me the secret to a joyful life. It is simple: love the chase. It is the glee of the pursuit. As James Carse wrote in Finite and Infinite Games, the point of the game is not to win but to continue the play. The point is to become a better and better player. In an infinite game, winning is not an outcome, it is a way of being. The point is to love playing.

I am grateful that Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog leaps for bees that are nearly impossible to catch. I am grateful that Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog runs from me even though he knows I will never catch him. When I am too tired to continue the chase, he drops the stick and circles back to where I stand huffing and puffing, ready to give him a few pets. His entire body wags with delight. His eyes shine with the thrill of the game and I laugh at his unbridled enthusiasm. He teaches me without using a single word. When I’ve caught my breath, I’ve learned to say, “Hey! Where’s my stick!” Picking any twig from the ground, he snatches it from my hand and we are off and running.

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Begin And Begin Again

766. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Today, one and a half years since I started my tai chi practice, we learned the 37th move of the Cheng Man Ch’ing’s 37 posture T’ai Chi Ch’uan form. It is incorrect to suggest that we finished anything. In truth, we have only just begun. This type of practice is never finished. It is like a fine art form. There is no end to the study. It is an infinite game. The actual sequence of movements is merely the armature upon which the real learning of the practice is constructed. I’ve learned the sequence and now am ready to learn.

After the session we went across the street to celebrate completing the cycle at the teahouse. Saul-The-Chi-Lantern told us his daughter scolded his choice for celebration. She thought cupcakes or chocolate cake was more appropriate for celebrating. She told Saul that tea was no way to celebrate anything! The notion of a tai chi celebration makes me laugh. It seems like a paradox or perhaps fodder for a cartoon that might be found in the New Yorker.

During our tea celebration I talked with the other David who has been a student of Saul’s for over thirteen years. David is a life long meditator and sought Saul when his meditation practice plateaued. He told me that meditation is not something that happens in your head. Meditation is embodiment, dropping into the body. It made sense to me as meditation often begins with a focus on the breath. Years ago he felt stuck in his sitting meditation and happened upon Saul. He told me that this tai chi practice has changed his life. It restored and invigorated his meditation practice (another paradox). To David, there is no separation of spiritual and the every day. “It is all a spiritual practice,” he said.

I can’t explain it and would have a hard time providing details but this practice has changed me, too. I am more grounded. I am less stressed. I am easier in the world and feel more clear about what is really important and what is not. I’m less apt to rush. I don’t keep lists anymore. I’ve stopped watching the news or any television for that matter. I don’t want to be distracted from living. Rather than fill it up with stuff I want to open it, taste it, touch it, and feel it.

Earlier in class Saul talked of emptying ourselves. “When you empty yourself it will be as if you catch a current of energy or air and it will carry you along,” he said. “Ride the air.” He told us that it often happens after practicing for a few hours that he thinks the world has gone mad. “I go into the world or go home and there is so much stress to get things done. There is always a list, a bulb to be changed or a hole to be dug. I feel as if I just returned from the monastery to a frantic world lost in preoccupation.”

Be The Game

756. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Bodhi the dog and I have a special game. It’s ours and we can only play when no one else is around. It’s a hybrid chase-wrestle-pet game and is unique in its pivot capacity. One moment we are chasing and with less than a heartbeat he is on his back and I am scratching his belly. Then, with no notice, we are in full wrestle mania, and on and on we play until the wrestle and the chase disappear into final awesome belly scratch.

This game with Bodhi is teaching me many things. First, it is very improvisational. Advanced thinking has no place in our game. Planning is impossible. The less we plan the more we play. 2) It is hyper relational. We must play with the impulse, play in the moment, and take pleasure in each other. We must tune into the impulse of the other. That’s the game. In other words, we are the game. We are the play. 3) Our game never ends. It is infinite. Our game has no winner or loser. It has play. It has us. Our goal is to become better players together. 4) Our game, just like any relationship, is unique to us. Yet, our game is also universal. All living things have the capacity to to play together and can create games unique to the players; all that is required is a suspension of the control impulse, a release of the need to predict the next second or the coming year.

When our game is suspended Bodhi gets a cookie and I get a coffee and we sit. I do the petting and he does the receiving. Of course, one that takes so much pleasure (no resistance to receiving) in receiving love, gifts it back a hundred fold so Bodhi actually does the giving and I enjoy the receiving. This back and forth of giving and receiving becomes exponential and this resonance defines the special game we play. The wrestling, chasing, and petting are just the visible parts of the game.