Heart Massage

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I want to wish everyone a hearty

Happy New Year!

Thanks for all your wonderful company throughout last year and your heartwarming support during this rather difficult end/ beginning of the year. I’m still quite surprised by the number of responses to my last post, but it is very good to know that we have all formed a close-knit community and that most likely if we all lived near one another we’d be getting together and clashing glasses of champagne or beer. I look forward to a time when that can actually take place.

It wasn’t exactly the best of holidays. It wasn’t awful, like last year… I guess I’ve learned how to take things as they come and adjust my mind to them… but I wouldn’t exactly say the time was a barrel of laughs. I spent most of the time holed up alone in my apartment with the flu, followed by a bad, lingering cough that just won’t let up. Since without exercise my diabetes tends to get worse, my immune system hasn’t been exactly up to the challenge. I’m wondering if I’m missing important nutrients in my diet (I know that I don’t get enough vitamin B’s), so I started looking for good sources of information on maintaining a balanced diet. After watching a program on the Discovery Channel about ayurvedic medicine (interesting that the spell checker doesn’t recognize this word…) I wandered about the web and Amazon seeking information about ayurvedic cooking. Would anyone have any suggestions on good nutritional and eating information?

I was hoping to get out to the winter mountains this vacation, but it looks like that will have to be postponed for now. Maybe it’s a good idea to start the year off small. But this year I want to make a difference in my life and, hopefully, in the lives of others and to the planet itself. Beth said in her latest post about 2003 that for her it was the Year of the Blog. Yes, indeed it was, and it will be fascinating to see where it goes from here. But it was also the Year of Lies and War. I am not an American and so have no recourse to voting Bush out of office, but I will join the ranks of millions who will do all we can this year to remove Bush from office. What happened last year was intolerable. I’m sure a lot of others must also feel that our inner resources have been renewed and that clearly it is important that something be done about the current political climate. Perhaps I can’t do much, but I can speak and, at the very least, I will open my mouth and try to add weight to tip the rolling boulder.

Then there are two landscapes that I want to try to nurture back to health. My body/mind and something somewhere of the Earth. Buddhism has figured a lot in my thoughts over the last two years and, seeing as I live in a Buddhist land, I might as well take advantage of the institutions that exist here. I’m starting to look around for some temple or organization that I might get involved with that appeals to my cosmopolitan outlook and that doesn’t base its philosophy on evangelical, money-grubbing hocus-pocus. I know very little about what is available at the moment, so it will take a little while to winnow through information.

For my body I hope to get out to the mountains as much as possible this year. That means getting into a vigorous routine of daily exercise and as many weekends as possible out among foothills, because walking with a loaded pack is really the only way to train for this. Of course, just getting out there, being among the trees and under the sky is reason enough to get out.

But I am also thinking of taking up a martial art, such as shorinji-kempo (the Japanese version of the Shaolin Kung-fu… similar to aikido, but with less emphasis on ground work) or possibly, if I can find a good instructor, (difficult here in the land of the the katana, the Japanese broadsword) taking up fencing again, which I used to do in college. I’m thinking I need a sport which not only strengthens my body, but also requires an immersion in mind exercise, an evaluation of self and surroundings.

This year ought to evoke a lot of self-exploration and harder questioning and looking about at the world around. It is no longer enough just to talk about things; it is time to actually make things happen.

And thereby I also want to contribute something real to the planet. Another face of last year was clear evidence of global warming. If I really love the Earth and its creatures as much as I’ve said I do I must practice with my fingers in the soil. Maybe plant trees. Maybe clean a river. Maybe develop my little garden into a haven for birds. Maybe start an educational gathering or getting out into the villages and helping to revive the traditional husbandry of the commons. There is so much to do. And it seems I’ve been sleeping for so long!

Perhaps it was good that Bush and company stomped all over the world. It’s woken me and others out of our stupor, determined to protect what we love. A tranquil heart is required, and compassion. A great wing of water to douse the fire.

May this year bring peace and hope for everyone. Come warm your hands at the hearth, and let’s talk.

12 Responses

  1. Happy New Year to you. May this year be a healthy and prosperous one!

    I have diabetes too, and I was sick the last few days but I haven’t rid this nasty cough yet. I admire your insight and constant awareness of your diabetes and maintaining your diet.

    This year I really need to be more disciplined and restrictive about what I eat. I have been wreckless and that’s not good.

    Keep up the wonderful blogging and know you are not alone.

    Happy New year.

  2. It’s easy to get reckless with diabetes, isn’t it? Around you all these people are munching away like there is no tomorrow and there you have to sit being an aesthetic! It gets especially woeful when you have this overweight doctor (I am only 3 kilos…5 pounds… overweight) who never does exercise (I usually run and do calisthenics and light weight training every day), never gets enough sleep, and eats trash for lunch, scolding me for my eating habits and lack of exercise…

    Think of diabetes this way: it’s the best damn coach you will ever find. Heartless as hell, but always honest with you and pretty fair when you do what is expected of you. Certainly the optimum lifestyle for a diabetic is about as close to the ideal lifestyle for everyone as you can think of. Diabetes just gives you no excuses. It works better than Nike commercials, though the harshness can bring you down quite a lot sometimes. But maybe that’s what life is suposed to be: an existence with no excuses.

  3. That’s a good way of looking at it.

  4. Butuki: Thanks for your always thoughtful posts and calls to action, which make me feel so much more as though I’m not alone (or crazy). Annie Lamott just wrote her last article for Salon.com recently, saying she was heading out on sabbatical to try and find George W. Bush a new job, better suited to his unique talents and abilities. I think that ought to be the goal of every thinking person on the planet, even if we can’t quite take a sabbatical to do it.

    I’ll send you some ink if you send me an address…

  5. The land you live in is doing quite exceptional things – I refer to the Paralympic Swim team which is one of the best in the world – worth taking a closer look at the achievements of people who face real adversity and triumph.

  6. Happy belated New Year, Miguel!
    A haven for birds sounds wonderful. Yesterday and today, somehow, I seem to have noticed birds more than usual as I was walking around the neighborhood. Living at the hilltop in outskirts of Yokohama, when spring comes, Japanese nightingales graces this place. But before that, seeking seeds from the trees, Siberian Meadow Bunting, white-eye, thrush are busy feeding themselves. I’ve thought of thier lives….

  7. You will find some book recommendations for ayurvedic cooking at this blog – http://luminousheart.blogs.com/lh/
    Also information on buddism.
    I’ve only recently discovered your blog and have really been enjoying your viewpoint …. hope you continue.

  8. Miguel, I like your plans for the new year. As for ayurveda, I have a book here called “Essential Ayurveda” by Shubhra Krishan that’s very clearly written and gives a good overview. It has a lot of diet and lifestyle suggestions and an extensive resources list at the end. I don’t have diabetes but I have one of those sensitive systems that reacts to everything immediately – a little too much sugar or dairy, not enough sleep or exercise… I pay for it. As you say, it makes the body a good coach.

    Happy New Year! Best of luck pursuing your dreams.

  9. Miguel, Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to reading laughing knees this year.
    With every good wish.

  10. Your weblog is now an important place for me to visit, to see ‘the’ world and ‘your’ world through your eyes and heart. I like listening and come across lots of opportunities to reflect on things which concern me also. Thanks especially for your stunning images, breathtaking sights. I hope the coming year on the ground, in the spirit and on Planet Blog is a good one for you.

  11. Butuki,

    Happy new year, and best wishes with everything you hope to do this year.

    As for fencing/martial arts, best wishes with that, too. I’m also planning to really get back into fencing, which I did while I was in America but have since stopped ever since I moved to Australia, and I’m debating returning to Taekwondo, which I used to do while in Malaysia, but stopped when I went to America. Somehow, I miss the physical satisfaction and the emotional satisfaction that comes after a bout of sparring or fencing.

    Again, best wishes.

  12. I have the disease of alcoholism, which I did not choose. I did somehow manage to get into recovery thirty years ago. I have to maintain my recovery on a daily basis, and cannot for a minute romanticize drinking, for myself. AA says that alcoholics have a “daily reprieve,” contingent upon maintaining their spiritual condition.
    We are often told by other alcoholics to think about our disease as analogous to diabetes. That it will kill me if I don’t pay attention. Hope that doesn’t offend you, I am only trying to empathize.

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