All In A Day’s Work

I didn’t really have anything on my calendar for Friday, but that doesn’t mean it was an empty day. 

I started early. With the clocks about to go forward, I was watching the light start to show a little before 6:00am, sitting by my kitchen window with my first dose of coffee and my main dose of news. I find I am reading less at the moment, as I don’t need to read every story about the war, and the waves of analysis seem also to have got bogged down (though this was a treat). At a certain point when I got hungry, I ate a bowl of cereal, then made my bed and put on some regular clothes – my signal that I am ready to do something. 

FIrst up was editing a couple of tracks for Core that I recorded on Wednesday between teaching sessions, as I felt I was in a nice spacious mood that morning. I ended up having to move sections around on one of the tracks, where I was attempting to suggest some ways to take care of yourself in challenging times. I did this kind of piecemeal over the morning among other activities, before uploading them at noon. I usually submit four tracks a month, but I was waiting to hear if some existing material needs to be re-recorded, which I would do in lieu of a couple more fresh tracks. 

I scheduled another extra roam, which also involved looking at old maps, and reading articles about history associated with various places en route. This is a route I have thought about for a while, but it was looking recently at a map from 1861 that really made me give it a try – even before the roads were built, the public squares were designated, and they all exist, more or less, today. I thought about writing the email for the other roam I have coming up, the one that was postponed so that we could see the magnolias, but I will leave that for later in the weekend.

It was a warm day, and I took a break around luncthime to walk around the neighbourhood and sit in Alamo Square, watching the pack dynamics of dogs being walked – a half-dozen of them under the control of one walker seemed to be picking on the female golden retriever among them, with some neck biting that looked like it could turn nasty at any moment. I managed to grab a small child who ran out of one of my local restaurants and was about to continue off the curb into the road. As I was walking I rather wished I was on my bike, for all my misgivings about drivers on Fridays, but I still had things to finish off.

My next article in the series on Awakening the Archive was due. I did a lot of work on the last one, as that, and the next few, are all about the very first sesshin that took place at Tassajara, in August 1967. Finding the tapes for these was almost as exciting for me as finding the Los Altos talks, as here Suzuki Roshi was really getting to express his vision for practice in America; there were transcripts, but when I first listened to the talks, I realised that these were not complete. In spare moments I have been trying to complete the transcript for one of the later talks which has a long question and answer session, only a part of which was deemed suitable for the Wind Bell at the time. Because I had set the scene in the last article, this one should have been relatively straightforward; I updated the transcipt about a year ago, but I was stuck on one of the themes. A lot of the talk revolves around the four stages of practice, “belief, intellectual understanding, practice, and enlightenment” – “shi, ge, gyo, sho.” I had a memory of writing notes about this at Tassajara; I assumed it was something to be found in Dogen, but I had already skimmed through the Bendowa and the commentary by Uchiyama Roshi to no avail. Over the morning I checked Shushogi and Gakudo Yojinshu in case something showed up. While I was looking around in other talks by Suzuki Roshi for any clues, I found a nice exchange that felt worth putting up on Instagram. In the afternoon, as I was putting the finishing touches to the article, and emailing about the article with Wendy, the ZC web editor, she pinned it down to the Lotus Sutra, which made sense.

There were also details to check and emails to write for the wedding I will be officiating next weekend (and for which I hope finally to get to spend a couple of nights away, down the peninsula); for a ride down to Tassajara in April, after Lauren the Tassajara director emailed me to let me know someone was offering; and for fine-tuning the schedule of the retreat I will be co-leading in May.

Finally (apart from writing all this down), a Patreon post, showcasing a series of photos of morning sun in my kitchen, plus some hi-faluting commentary about that. All in all, twelve hours well spent.

Flowers blooming on a warm afternoon in the neighbourhood

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