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Friday, July 24, 2009

Sunflowers and the Beach

Sunflowers against the California sky

This time of year you have to go swimming. It's practically a law. Yesterday my kids and I went to the beach with a friend of mine from high school. Imagine long stretches of sand and water, with a view of Point Loma (the furthest West point in San Diego). I found an entire sand dollar, a dead crab, and a couple of unbroken kelp pods. It was sooo beautiful. My son picked up a surfboard and headed into the ocean to catch a few small waves. My daughter read, and read, and read. My friend and I discussed philosophy, families, and ghosts. So much fun to talk to someone who thinks. His teenage sons are addicted to surfing after two weeks in San Diego. They live far away from the ocean in North Carolina.

I finally took a dip in the ocean, my first of the season. As I dove into a wave, my prescription sun glasses kept on diving. Gone, gone, gone. Gate Gate, Parasamgate, Parasamgate Bodhi Soha. They became one with the sandy bottom and I got to walk around without clear vision until I got back to the car. My eyes are good with glasses, but they aren't what you'd call functional without them. I wouldn't recognize my own face without glasses on. I need glasses in the morning in order to find my glasses, which doesn't really work. So when I can't find them I call out to my ever-suffering husband, who finds them right beside the bed where I left them in a pile of books the night before.

Walking back to the car I felt like I had glasses of the wrong prescription on. It didn't feel like not wearing glasses, it felt like wearing someone else's blurry lenses. It was so funny.

This prompted my friend and I to talk about non-attachment. Why do people assume that just because one is a Buddhist one has a handle on non-attachment! I certainly have a lot of stuff. Every now and then I get rid of a pile of it and another pile magically appears where it was. More stuff comes into the house than leaves it, invariably. But what I'm not attached to are experiences, people, the good and the bad. I really don't expect things to stay the same. I really, really don't. I don't expect people or things or good circumstances to last forever. I don't even have a problem imagining that I will die, sooner or later. Sure it brings a tear to the eye, but it's so much easier than imagining things to be permanent. His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes about this beautifully, as does Sogyal Rinpoche. It makes every day more valuable to see it as one of a finite number of days in my life.

Every day is beautiful in its own way—some more frustrating than others, some inordinately gorgeous and satisfying. I'll leave you with that. Go swimming. Post some photos of sunflowers and send me a link. I promise that when I find someone with true non-attachment to material objects, I'll let them write a guest editorial! But it ain't me, babe. Sorry.

(By the way, you don't really have to go swimming if it's not your thing. I understand.)


elsiee said...

swimming? in the ocean? in california? really..? but honey it's soooooo cold!!

having grown up in the beaches of Miami I've always felt like California beaches were beautiful but NOT for swimming, but I do love swimming in the ocean though - so sorry about your sunglasses - boooo! i totally get your entire thing on attachment! can't wait to see you!

Laura said...

Hi Elsie,
If I'd grown up in Miami I'd feel the same way! But, as my kids say, once you dive in it starts to feel good.
And it really did.

My sunglasses were an old prescription. Now I have an excuse to get a new one. Non-attachment can be a good thing!

Can't wait to have tea.

Holly said...

Swimming - so cool and light, to float in the water. Yesterday we went to the community pool during hours meant for eight year olds and younger, and their families. It was a fun crowd to be with.
I made earrings to go with the wrist mala you made. Life seems complete now. Sorta.

Laura said...

Yay Holly!