Monday, April 16, 2012


I am not a patient driver. I don't like to drive behind anyone going slower than me. I also do not like to be tailgated or sped past or made to stop or have others acting impatiently behind me. Yes, I want it all. 

I am especially impatient when driving to ski. This year, after many angry diatribes inside of my car on the way up to Targhee, I decided that my goal for the ski season would be NOT to get angry or drive aggressively on the way to or from the ski hill. This was particularly difficult on powder days, days I had to work in the afternoon (and so had only a limited amount of time to ski) or when behind Idaho 8B or 2F plates or any out-of-state plates (occasionally excluding Montana 6 plates or anyone with a Bridger Bowl bumper sticker). This does not leave very many opportunities for practicing patient driving!

It was hard, but what I realized after I caught myself tailgating and yelling pointers inside my car and then having to back off in honor of my intention, was that my behavior of agro-driving was, in fact, a big, fat, blinding, negative, unconscious Habit. 

The Buddhists have this great outline regarding awareness around habits. It goes like this: 

Unconscious Incompetence
Screaming at drivers who can’t hear you, tailgating drivers who may not have winter mountain driving experience, good tires, or the desire to get anywhere quite as fast as you. Allowing this negative energy to flow through you and out into the universe unchecked. Being grumpy and remembering and/or retelling the frustrating situation over and over and over again to yourself and any poor soul who is trapped on the lift or in the liftline with you.

Conscious Incompetence
Realizing that you are tailgating, yelling, frustrated. Noticing the yucky feeling of  bad energy spreading throughout your body, mind, environment, and into others and the universe; not being able to stop the tailspin, just realizing that it doesn’t feel good or result in any ripples of goodness.

Conscious Competence
Recognizing the urge to tailgate and/or yell and choosing a different action such as singing along to a great November ’73 Dead show, smiling, offering blessings, arriving, skiing, refraining from reliving what a great job you did not freaking out on the way up (which is just a different, equally ineffective way of succumbing to the force of habit - much like stuffing your face full of food when you’re trying to quit smoking), and generally enjoying the day despite your urges to choose poorly.

Unconscious Competence
Driving calmly and with plenty of room between your car and the next guy’s, arriving happily at your destination, and carrying on with an excellent day all around. There was never a question of frustration or self-control because you have trained yourself to realize that the guy in front of you is the guy in front of you no matter how late you left the house, how much snow fell, or how badly you would like to be “first” on the road.

There is, of course, a time to get upset when driving. There are always exceptions to the rules. That is why rules are ridiculous and each situation should be judged and acted upon based on its own merit and circumstances. This makes life much simpler in a way, and much more difficult to predict all at the same time. Needing to predict life and know how to act in every situation is really just another habit, ready to be acknowledged, transformed, and released!

Monday, April 9, 2012


At one point in my mid-twenties, I realized that I had never cried from joy. It then became one of my life goals - to love something so much that I cried tears of utter happiness. When it did finally happen, I was amazed at the feeling inside. It was joy for sure and it was also painful. The opposites are always in communion.

When you cry from joy, the joy part is obvious, it's the bursting feeling of your heart and soul; the tears, for me anyway, come from actual pain. For instance, Joy: "I love everything about India - it feels like my soul's home." Tears: "It is not my home; I will have to leave." And the obvious one I can only imagine and intuit from friends who have children, Joy: "I love this being with every molecule - seen and unseen - that I have." Tears: "Any pain this being feels will become my pain. And I will sometimes have no way to assuage that pain."


It boils down to taking a risk, whether calculated (like getting on a plane to a place you KNOW you will love with all of your soul) or uncalculated (like having your first child with no real knowledge of the true and palpable sense of having part of your soul living a life outside of your body). And just like Albert Camus says, your capacity for goodness equals your capacity for darkness. I'm sure I'm not the first to point out that your capacity for joy equals your capacity for sadness. The more you invest your heart, the greater the potential for pain.

And as Lloyd Dobler says, "I don't care! I want to get hurt!"

So get on out there, open your heart to its greatest joy, reach beyond the tips of your fingers, love bigger than your mind prefers, and git 'er done!! Cry some sweet and juicy tears of joy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reticular Formation

Bus Driver Jim has a Bucket List. He is bravely going forward with one of his items this summer. It is not my place to spill his beans so you will all have to check it out here (BDJ Bucket List) and make your best guess!! My friend Paul told me about his bucket list the first day I met him. I told him I didn’t have one; every time I wanted to do something, I just went out and did it. Then he said, “So, you don’t have kids?”

I met Paul skiing one day at Targhee. It was my one day a season to stand in line on a big powder day and cry behind my goggles. I Really Wanted to be at Bridger Bowl with the Love Of My Life (LOML)! I wanted to hike the ridge and ski the steep and gnarly and I wanted to do it with Dave. Alas, I was not there and so I stood in the line and I sat on the chair and I watched the first skiers float on down the pow all alone with tears inside my lenses. 

Mary’s opened and I headed up for The A only to find that yes, Mary’s was open; however, the sign leading beyond that to The A still said closed. I stood there in the saddle and felt Really Sorry For Myself. Then I skied it. The snow was light, sweet, fluffy, and just supportive enough to make it perfecto! When I got to the bottom, a guy had skied right behind me and said, “That was great, huh?” And then I started to cry. 

His name was Paul and he took his avalanche training at Bridger Bowl. He raised his 3 boys on a farm in Idaho City and now he does marketing research and bases himself out of Driggs. He volunteer ski-patrols at Targhee and the last time he skied The A, it shut him down big time with a huge rock to the hip and a forced 3 week ski hiatus. He had some business to settle with The A. He said, “You wanna go get some of that?” Oh yes, yes I did!

And that is how I roll. I don’t hide my tears from perfect strangers. Usually it's not even a choice and fortunately I am greeted by such kindness that it turns out well for both parties. Like this one soup lady in Washington state somewhere. I was wandering around a grocery store after a very sad encounter, looking for something to eat. I walked by her sample station a bunch of times but each time I thought I could say, “Can I try the roasted pumpkin?,” the tears welled up and I had to look down and keep on walking. On my fourth or fifth attempt, she stopped me with a white paper cup of the creamy vegetable (whatever) and I was so touched that she had gone out of her way for me that I sobbed and choked as I drank it. She was so upset by my sadness in a motherly, unconditional love kind of way, that she handed me a plate with three more soup samples and patted my back and said over and over again, “God Bless You! You take care of yourself! God Bless You!” She was so concerned and sweet that I will never forget her and plan to find her in every lifetime from here on out, just to feel her big, sweet, wide open love.

My Bucket List is as follows (although I really don’t like that title so I changed it to something much more palatable). My ideas are some my own and some based on the lists of aforementioned Bus Driver Jim and Paul, the man who teles with a vengeance.

Awesome Things To Do At Least Once A Lifetime (in no particular order):
1. Shave head
2. Keep bees
3. Live in Barcelona
4. Spend entire ski season at Bridger Bowl
5. Lead singer in a Grateful Dead tribute band (stage name: Karen Jerry Garcia)
6. Take an entire summer off from work
7. Purchase and drink a chateauneuf de pape (preferably whilst in France)
8. Drive around the US in my camper van with my pets and visit all my friends who are scattered about
9. Hula hoop dance like those sexy hippies at music festivals
10. Visit Tibet
11. Spend a ski season in Europe (preferably La Grave - thinking of you DC! ... and pain au chocolat and baguettes and wine and figs and steep, narrow streets and  ...)

More to come...