Random Possible Bag (*)
some possibly useful random little items collected during my foraging over the weekend and tossed in here:
“As you get into your 50s, you start realizing
you have to think about what you’re doing.
And if it still feels good, you keep doing it.
“I’m not trying to be the best at anything.
I just want to be amongst, and to enjoy it all.”
—Richie Van der Wyk
Richie Van der Wyk of Ventura made me think of Eddie van Halen (for the first time in my life), who I learn today was born (in Netherlands!) on January 26, 1955, which makes him 60 years old, 61 next month.
“Let me respectfully remind you
who engage in deep practice:
time passes swiftly;
do not squander your life.” (**)
—Shítóu Xīqiān [Japanese: Sekito Kisen] (700-790),
from his poem Cāntóngqì [Sandōkai] (Identity of Relative and Absolute)
Shítóu: Chinese Chán Buddhist teacher and author.
All existing branches of Zen throughout the world
are said to descend either from Shítóu Xīqiān
or from his contemporary Mazu Daoyi (709–788).
(**) tr. Kazuaki Tanahachi.
Zen Chants: Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary. Copyright 2015
Ventura: “Keep LA 65 miles away!”
Santa Ynez Mountains
Santa Barbara: 100 miles north of LA with 41 sq mi of coastline and 90,000 residents.
I lived in “Santa Babylon” for a year, once. Goleta really. Such a lovely place.
Years later we used to stay-over in SB fairly regularly. Visited Goleta & SB on our way up and down the coast last time together in 2012.
So many wonderful SB & SB area memories:
One from long ago: We were hiking up on the summit ridgeline trail. Lovely day. No one anywhere for miles in all directions. To the west, far down below, the town and the Pacific with the islands shimmering in the sun. Inland, ripples of hills roll away down off into the distant east.
Suddenly along the trail, kicking up a trailing dust-stream comes a slightly beat up little Datsun sedan. Stops.
Inside, a lovely 25-ish hippie chick with her trusty huge alsatian shepherd—both warmly friendly, both wearing bandannas. She’s in bluejeans, hiking boots, a loose funky sweater. Long, loose hair. She’s been on a back-country car-camping trip. “You two are the first folks I’ve seen in days.” She’s been bushwhacking on dirt fire-roads and horse-riding trails in her car for almost a week, running low on water, grub and gas now, though.
The ridge summit is only about 15 feet wide at this point, the trail only 2-3 feet wide. “How’d you get your car up here?” “Well, just haven’t wanted to turn around yet, I guess…Seems I’ll have to now, though.” She doesn’t seem the least bit sketch. Bright and alert yet relaxed. Affable. No tent, a few good books, some literary, some scholarly, well-thumbed, in the back seat with her sleeping bag. Long hair, lithe, fit, smiling clear eyes, good smile, she’s very pretty.
As she rolls on out of sight, we both say, “Wow, now she’s someone we’d like to have along sometime as a hiking/camping companion…” “Yeah, but all the food for that dog would be a lot for everyone to help carry.”
Ojai: population 7,500.
We came very close to living there once. Another lovely, very special place. Learned a few days ago that the open-air bookstore is still there. It seems the family Indian restaurant in an old Victorian-era ranch house with wrap-around veranda porch is gone, though. A shame. It was excellent.
Beato Wood’s house, once so magically decorated with every inch draped in her eclectic collection of textiles, mostly Asian, now a museum of her work. Not of her lifestyle: all surfaces stripped clean like any sterile museum…not so bad, but sad. She and L loved each other at first sight—L was reminded of her own late grandmother, born a few years off from B.
I always say: if there’s anyone you admire and would like to meet, go for it. Just go for it. They may really like you! Magic things may happen!
Here (from a long lost essay) is Reginald Pole, who broke B’s heart:
“ ‘Art and Religion mutually condition each other,’ wrote Wagner; ‘these two form but one single organism.’ Every true artist knows this in his soul. The mission of Art, as that of Life itself, is to regenerate, or to fulfill, the Life of Man. Only with such aim is the greatest in art achieved. Only with such aim shall the Theatre fulfill itself, that man may be one with Nature, likest God.”
(Somewhat as RH Blyth wrote also… “Poetry is Religion and Zen is Poetry. And these three are one thing.”)
Pole’s son, Rupert, became sweethearts with, and bigamously married to, B’s friend Anaïs Nin. Married in Quartzite Arizona! —though she secretly remained married to Hugo Guiler. She eventually annulled her marriage to Pole, though they remained romantic/domestic partners until her death. Pole described his experience for the Daily Telegraph in 1998, saying:
“I was jealous, yes. But I played the same games as Hugo, pretending to believe her. In a way, I did not care. My idea of marriage is different. We had a wonderful, deep relationship, and that is what counted. I was not interested in conventional women or in conventional marriage.”
Well, right on, y’all.
sweet, petite, great to eat:
Ojai avos pretty great to eat, too.
Cold Spring Tavern, up behind Santa B, was built in 1865 as a stage coach station. Now a beloved cafe and mountain inn. Still going strong in 2015!
(road in and out has long been paved-over for cars, not horses.
(Let me respectfully remind you who engage in deep practice🙂
create new ambiances, psychic possibilities
“We , the mighty primates of Planet Earth, are shaped by the regions we call home.”
“A little ways down the coast lies the sprawling, concrete-covered heart of darkness best known as Los Angeles, and to the east is a series of mild-to-medium mountain ranges, meandering rivers, national forests, oak-and-sycamore-dappled pastures, seas of avocado trees, and century-old ranches. It is a land of confluences and transition, timelessness and warm golden light. Here, there is still room to roam in these parts, space to be alone, opportunities to be with nature, and abundant examples of life unmolested by the hand of modernity.”
—Ethan Stewart, 3 Topa Topa
Chipper ‘Bro’ Bell, front door man of Patagonia: photo op: behind his desk chair, above his head, hangs giant framed print of El Cap, woodblock print (1925), by Hiroshi Yoshida (1876 – April 5, 1950).
When my Lady L first saw the woodblock prints of Yosemite by Yoshida and Chiura Obata, she cried.
Jeff Johnson (?) : “…years spent living in my truck on $5,000 a year, Yosemite in summer, Joshua Tree in winter…”
We got the car stuck in the sand out there once, miles from anyone, anywhere. We started walking back to where we last saw some campers, miles ago. 90 degrees. Noonday sun. No shade anywhere, of course. Big desert. Along the dirt track came a VW bug full of nice young high school kids. No room inside, we stood on the little side rails. And bounced along. They couldn’t pull the car out so went into town and came back with a truck and strap. Success. We gave them our food. We were on our way to visit Ruth D. for an extended weekend private retreat. So lovely. Ruth Denison. She passed away ten months ago, February 26, 2015, age 92. This visit was over 28 or so years ago, when she was mid-60s then.
Bhutan: (some real mountains)
“…up inclines that never seem to end, through forests of white pine and fir, of holly, oak, and mountain laurel, and along alpine-flowered roadsides that do end, sometimes unexpectedly in sheer-drop precipices.
…Unspoilt by mass tourism, Bhutan has taken a sideways glance at Nepal, to learn what not to do. The rest of the world seems very far away.
…Plastic bags, billboards, smoking, and traffic lights are banned, as is killing a crow—as great an atrocity as slaughtering a thousand monks—and climbing a mountain over 6,000 meters.
—Robin Muir, World of Interiors
Had lunch the other day with a writer I admire (and yes, I admire you, K!—but this was someone else, not sayin who), and she showed up without a book. Not only without a book, but without a notebook and pen. Maybe it’s a compliment to the rich conversation she looked forward to having with yours truly 😉 , and she’s very schtwaab, so of course I had a great time as she seemed to as well. So that’s fine. But you know what Lemony Snicket says:
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
(She won’t read this the wrong way, so don’t worry, dear ones.)
She did have her trusty smartphone handy, of course. And I know everyone these days makes notes as phone texts. So you, and she, may say, “So what, then? We don’t need no dead paper, Old Dude Man!—Save a tree, for pity’s sake.”
Maybe. Still, when I realized she was without pen and notebook, I flashed, as I always do in such situations, on Kerouac’s rule #1: always carry a little pocket-size flip notebook and pen or pencil. Carry them in your shirt’s “cigarette-pack” pocket (“breast pocket”). Good grief, does anyone remember when T-shirt pockets most often carried cigarette packs? How gross. Well, gotta have your pen & notepad handy at all times. At ALL times, friend. Never know when you’ll need to note down that fleeting flitting thought/little string of invisible words. Sure, birds leave no tracks in the sky,
“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection,
and the water has no mind to retain their image”
But if you’re a writer, especially a poet, then…
Still, I understand the need, also, to be free of all capture-contraptions, at least across certain vast swaths of time-&-intense-experience-of-the-NOW: to live directly, with no interface, no intermediators, utilize no devices. Such as cameras. My late sweetie and I never carried cameras, except on very rare occasions. But a photographer who shows up without her camera? A poet/novelist who shows up without her…ah, yes that phone is also a camera as well as a notebook and perhaps even an audio recorder. Wonderful. Ready at all times to record spoken words, text-save textual words, take and file photograph images, make videographic recordings of moving images. Wonderful.
Gotta get me one of those gizmos one a’ these days. Toss it in my possible bag, carry it around always. Like every other person on the planet today. Even the Swami now living in Tat Wale Baba’s cave. Yep, Dude’s got his smartphone. Calls Jerry J in LA. Guess I’ll have to finally break down and get one. But the shirt pocket, the old smoke-pack pocket won’t work. And I’d still want to carry a handy paper notebook.
I never drink or smoke. Never have. Don’t smoke dope either, just no interest whatsoever; vastly prefer my own well-meditated mind. Pre-meditative and post-meditated mind. I’ve never been drunk, or even close. I’m basic ecstatically chill already. And drink or dope or smoke would just be such a downer, anyway. They obscure clarity of mind. Make consciousness cloudy. As in mirky.
Cigarette secondhand smoke makes me acutely ill these days. But I used to be able to tolerate it, though I always found it deeply distasteful at best. But in my early years I could handle side-stream smoke pretty well, some of the time. If necessary.
So, even though I’d been in bars only maybe twice before my mid-twenties, at that point, newly living in Chicago where I’d gone for more grad school after being out and about in various parts of the world for some years—Europe and Beyond, mostly on long retreats, I found that everyone went to bars in Chicago.
There was almost literally nowhere else to go. Many of the bars served a little food, and most of the restaurants had bars along one wall or were just bars, also. So, it being too hot and muggy during the summerish half of the year and too freezing cold during the wintery half of the year to be outside for long, everyone just lived in bars, at night, anyway. I never hung out in such places more than once a week at most. Yucky, silly places, mostly, but it’s where people were.
Still, how to solve (partly) the problem of the stench of stale secondhand cigarette smoke (and alcohol fumes) inside any night-time venue for social interaction? Burn incense! Yep, carry some sawed-off incense sticks and a little brass incense burner—a brazier, or thurible, as it were. Get your side seat in the house, along an outer wall, not at the bar itself of course. Light up.
Worked wonders. (Did nothing to cut the deadly ill-health effects, but upgraded the overall smell considerably.) And this was in the early days of the clove cigarette fad. So most everyone was happy with an even more exotic smell pervading the smoke. Those who couldn’t stand it, or were made nervous, were cleansed from my little public temple corner. When some uptight management types were a little freaked, I got a small new old-fashioned burlwood smoking pipe with a little prop-stand so it could sit upright on the tabletop. Started using little pieces of incense-burning charcoal-brickettes for incense powder or granules. Sometimes used tiny cone incense or sticks crumbled into the pipe-bowl. Good to go. Managers got it—Okay, you’re smoking weird stuff, but it’s not pot, so alright, then. And of course I didn’t puff on the pipe stem!
The luscious good natural incense smells wrapped around my head, filling my aura-space with something tolerable. Attracted the ladies, too. The only ones I’d care to chat with: those who also didn’t really like cigarette smoke & who were drawn to the subtle smoke signals hinting of something “better, spiritual-istic.” Ambiance-purifying temple and church incense. In neighbourhood pick-up bars. In Chicago. Quality Indian, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese natural traditional rare incense goodness. Used as dispelling-agent against secondhand smoke demons. And as unsuspected chick magnet.
But after awhile I learned of the very, very few well-hidden places in the city where smoking was not allowed or simply not bothered with. I could sit there in such quiet places all day and read, write, sketch, or chat, drinking my own brew of rare tea blends. Bring my girl there for dinner dates any nights in the week. Maybe some very select good friends, too. Sworn to secrecy. Owners got to know me, took good care of me. That took care of my brief sojourn hanging out at icky deathly smoky dive bars.
URGING OF COMPASSION FOR BEINGS WHO HAVE NOT REALIZED IT THUS:
Silly beings, uninterested in this meaning,
Are always carried away by the river
of endless birth-death-and-rebirth and are finished.
“There are some who do not have much trust in the deep Reality that is always present as the source of thought, Transcendental Pure Consciousness, the essential nature of life. Here, Mahasiddha Tilopa does not mean all sentient beings in general, but rather some who cling to tenet systems—those with attachment to their own system. There are quite a few such intellectual logicians. Such intransigent stubborn “silly ones” who lack the eye of wisdom….
—comment by Nyenpa Rinpoche (b1965) [adapted]
adapted from Tilopa’s Mahamudra Upadesha: The Gangama Instructions with Commentary, by Sangyes Nyenpa Rinpoche. Copyright Shambhala.
(*) “Possible Bag”: The Flag in American Indian Art p 70:
” ‘Possible bag’ was the name given by early nineteenth-century traders to rectangular soft-skin bags. The term is a direct translation from the Indian word meaning ‘a bag for every possible thing’ (Conn 1979, p.152 ^). A more accurate term might be storage or tipi bag, as these containers held personal items and were placed around the inside of the tipi where they doubled as pillows. When moving camp, possible bags were hung in pairs on either side of a saddle where their sumptuous decoration could be admired.”
^ Richard Conn. Native Art in the Denver Art Museum. Denver Art Museum in association with University of Washington Press, 1979.
Possible bags vary in size but are typically about 15-22″ wide and 10-15″ high. They were almost always made in matching pairs. They seem to be most prevalent among the Northern Plains tribes.