This post is the second in a series of posts related to Zen and Dogs, part of a project I’m doing for my PhD study. Like the last post, I’ve been gathering courage to post this one because the post includes a correspondence with my dear friend and collaborator Simon. It’s all good…: )
- Lesson from Sugi: my organic time must take into account the organic time of others
- Sugi says, “I know what I want and when I want it!”
Yesterday, set out to spend the time today ‘organically’. Previously, I’ve called this practice an ‘unstructured day’, having no plans, just moving about activities as needed or as inclined. I’ve found that this kind of day can be productive, allowing for a relaxed attitude toward tasks therefore usually stressless.
06:30 I forgot that the (mechanical) time is projected on my bedroom ceiling. Normally, this allows me to track it without moving from a resting position. Today, it let me know that Sugi was awake and up, as usual at this time.
Sugi, “I believe that when I get up someone else should get up too, and more precisely, someone should let me out into the back yard [which happens to be a Zen garden] to pee and then give me a rice cake.”
I did the former and went back to bed.
07:37 I made the tea. Gave Sugi a snack. Normally, on days like today, after we have our tea, we go for a pack-walk (Greg+Julie+Tom+Sugi) to get coffee. For some reason I looked at my phone. Messenger text from Simon, my (human) collaborator who is finishing his MFA in Helsinki:
He’s proposed a 9am skype call for this morning. Earlier in the week we’d tentatively planned it for tomorrow….
Head out for the walk, start making a mental list of the things I need to do this semester. I recall talking to a colleague yesterday at Emily Carr University (where I work) who told me she’s taking the rest of the semester off because she hurt her back. I should have asked her…ACK! I double over with a sharp pain in the mid-back. CRAP! what?! This never happens to me! Struggle through the rest of the walk stretching to try and relieve the spasm.
Get home, do a bit of yoga. It helps. 10:30 log onto skype. No Simon. Send messages to him. No replies.
11:00, lay down on the couch with the PhD course reading for the week, Pierre Hadot “Philosophy as a Way of Life“, part II. Notes: People are prevented from truly living, it was taught, because they are dominated by worries. …Still no reply. Hadot outlines the list of spiritual exercises, that can assist with the path towards wisdom, passed down from Philo of Alexandria: research (zetesis), thorough investigation (skepsis), reading (anagnosis), listening (akroasis), attention (prosoche), self-mastery (enkrateia), and indifference to indifferent things.
I reflect on how I may be integrating, into my own life, these things on this list. I recall how I, just yesterday, told my supervisor how the reading practice was calming. This couch…I can’t get completely comfortable… Hadot later outlines in the text the spiritual exercise of dialogue —Socratic dialogue— and a bit on dialectic (the interlocutor can discover the contradictions of his own position, or to admit an unforeseen conclusion.) I identify with this and reflect on it.
Impatience with the “Christian Philosophy” part of the reading. During my early years, spent in a Catholic girls’ school, I found many of the Christians to be hypocritical. There was a gap between what the nuns preached and their practice. For instance shunning and firing the gay teachers who declared themselves. I recalled Mr. Ralston who taught “Religion”, but mostly introduced us to Greek philosophy. One of my favorite courses! He was fired, and years later I read about his death.
Sugi, now scratching and staring, “lunchtime please”. 14:30.
I make his and Tom’s lunch. Sugi refusing the last half…
Back pain a bit worse. I lay down on the floor and do some stretches. It helps. I have a play with Tom, he’s a good sport. I recall Heesoon talking about Tarchin Hearn at a meditation retreat demonstrating his ‘in the moment’ attitude through play. I’m in a better mood.
Sugi, “I’m ready to go out now.” 15:00
Down the street for a walk, the breeze is the perfect temperature.
Back home: cook some more pancakes for the dogs, hang the laundry, water the plants on the deck. 17:30.
Did I get anything done today on my organic-time-unstructured-day? Oh yes, zetesis, skepsis, anagnosis, akroasis, prosoche, enkrateia, and dialectics. Happy day!