Monday, January 4, 2010

Grandpa Baker's Failure

Grandpa Baker's Failure", number 170 of 188 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

About the saddest thing I've ever read. Short and in one paragraph, six sentences, Aitken paints a masterpiece of sadness expressed as Grandfather's marital failure.
"He couldn't attain the measure of human happiness that we all hope for ourselves."
I marvel at Aitken's skill at weaving story.

Like many, I've spent some time recently considering my goals. There are the usual suspects of, reading wider, losing weight by starting an exercise regime, writing regularly, etc. What is different this year is that I've seen a shift away from a list of stated goals. In its place there is a mind map. As it was being developed, it became clear that there are two different modes, traits and projects. Traits to develop or solidify; "focus on health", "focus on relationships", "focus on hyperlocal", and "focus on kindness".  Projects to start, re-start, or grow; spoon making, photography, Python programming, blogging.

There is a bit of disconnect between the traits and the projects.

Attempting to boil all this down to a short phrase has been hard but valuable. Being concise and keeping a short phrase in front may be more successful than the large detailed mind map I've created.

Here is my attempt at creating a short phrase that encompasses the meme or feeling-tone of my new year's goals.

Create growth

Less consumption More production

Use talents to connect

Visualize kindness

Of these "Use talents to connect" seems the closest to what I have in mind for the coming year. Now the work of aligning the projects to this. 

If I was to boil this down even farther, just three words, they'd be 

  1. create
  2. connect
  3. kindness

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.