Sunday, January 17, 2021

My Second Mid-Life

 Over the holidays, some friends died. Not of Covid, cancer. They were around my age. As we older, the body becomes more frail, more diseased. This is a fact. Old age, sickness, and death are three of the "sufferings." Birth is the fourth.

When I was younger, and peers were dying of AIDS. I felt as I do now. I had a mid-life crisis. In my twenties. When so many were dying in their forties, 25 was mid-life.

In my fifties, I'm in my second mid-life. I'm trying not to have a crisis. I had one already. I'll aim to have a mid-life catharsis--let go, just let that sh*t go.



  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Countless Disappointments

I'm prepping for a new course I'm teaching called Buddhist American Literature. I'm reading African American Buddhist Charles Johnson. His work is incredible salve during these hard times. I'm also watching a lot of movies during this Covid time. I saw Ma Rainey's Black Bottom based on the play by August Wilson.  

After reading Johnson's story Night Hawks, I see they were friends. There was something magical about discovering this happenstance. Here is what Johnson wrote of Wilson in Night Hawks:

"How many times had his heart been broken? He could not remember the countless disappointments. Like so many writers and artists I've known, his art was anchored in lacerations and a latticework of scar tissue."

Let our sadness be a spark in the night time.

A Lit Path, 2017




Sunday, January 10, 2021

Thriving While Sad

Artist at Rest, 2020

It is a new year, and I'm terribly sad. Over 350,000 people have died of Covid and the Capitol had been attacked. I am angry, sad and frustrated. A New Year is always a good way to start new things, so I'm going to sit with these feelings of malcontent. As a Buddhist, I know I can feel all of this Moment but not allow it to control me, force me to do something I may regret later. 

It's been months since I'd posted. I, like so many others, got caught up in the business of surviving. This year, I want to do more than merely survive. I want to thrive, which means, I think, leading my best life while all appears to be dismal. 

Let's try this experiment.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Self-Reflection

I picked up my camera, something I hadn't done in weeks, and turned the lens on myself. I'm sure many of us are doing some major self-reflection during this time of Covid. Lots of questions about the future are coming around, including: will I be alive by the end of the year?

I'm falling on my Buddhism to work through themes of impermanence, death, livelihood.  My biggest solution to all of this is...I don't know.  Live in the "Not-Knowing" was a big theme in American Buddhist Bernie Glassman's philosophy.

I simply don't know what's coming next.  Then again, I didn't know what was coming next without Covid. Things are always uncertain, unknown. Covid is just magnifying how fleeting we really are.



I don't know. I just don't.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Crowd Source, No Masks Required

During this Covid19 quarantine, I really miss crowds of people. No masks required. Some photos down memory lane.

Resist March, 2017

Ruby Ibarra Concert, Getty Museum, 2019

Bhikku Bodhi Buddhist Retreat, 2020
Lotus Festival, 2017

Circus Vargas, 2017
Fil-Am Veterans March, 2018

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

WRITE EFFORT Realized!


Last weekend, I completed my first full course of WRITE EFFORT: Creative Writing Through a Buddhist Lens. Yes, it was exciting to work with a wonderful group of writers. I see you Kate, Beth, Lizzy, Fred, Doug and Jonathan! Yes, I loved working with the fine literary organization Beyond Baroque, especially Emmitt Conklin. Yes, I loved integrating Buddhist thought with the craft of storytelling.

But what I really loved were the stories that came about. We are filled with an incredible amount of ideas and themes and characters. Inside each and everyone of us is at least one book. However, I think we need effort, mindfulness and concentration--elements of the Buddhist Eightfold Path.

It will be hard, there will be suffering (The First Noble Truth), but one can persevere.

Greater in battle
than the man who would conquer
a thousand-thousand men, 
is he who would conquer just one--
                                     himself.

                                 Buddha
                                           Dhammapada 
                                  VIII; 103

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

WRITE EFFORT at Beyond Baroque

I am absolutely thrilled to be working with the fine literary institution Beyond Baroque. I became familiar with them in the 1990s as I began my literary career. I am over the moon that I can teach WRITE EFFORT: Creative Writing Through a Buddhist Lens. Classes begin via Zoom on May 23.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Kababayan and Me

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for the Kababayan podcast. Check it out.

Monday, April 06, 2020

I See You

The Therapist, Oil on Wood, 16 X 20, 2016
I see you.

You, the doctors and nurses watching patients and colleagues die.

I see you.

You, those who lost loved ones.

I see you.

You, the social workers and therapists and chaplains who'll absorb the pain. You're shell shocked, bewildered, confused.

I see you, the ones who've lost someone.

I see you, the ones witnessing the loss.

I see you, the one who've lost the words.

How many times can we say, "Condolensces; so sorry for your loss; if you need anything, call."

I see you.  I see you. I see you.

You are valuable. You are needed. You are amazing.

Monday, March 30, 2020

What I Think of When I Hear "Virus"

Nothing is more triggering to me than the words:  Flu-like symptoms. It was what I had to look for if I thought I may have been infected with HIV.

Maricon, 2017
"Flu-like symptoms" is being bandied about when it comes to Covid-19.  With Covid-19, I remember feeling abandoned, scared and alone during the time of AIDS.  I was a boy who grew into a man during the AIDS epidemic. It has carved me into a particular kind of person.

I saw AIDS destroy people, families and communities.  I could have been dragged into that.  I'm grateful for the gutsy, fearless queers and freaks and rebels and outsiders who said, Fuck This!

We will fight the assholes and take care of our own.

Yes, I was damaged, but I was put back together again.

I don't know how I'll weather through this pandemic. However, there's a part of me that feels strong, skilled because of what AIDS had done to me.

I learned to be here...for me, for you. For us.