Nuala Coming to Concordia


Nature and I are cultivating Concordia, a special place in the woods.

Nearly fifteen years ago, I dedicated a special maple tree to my friend Nuala (noo-lah).  Nuala's tree is now the centerpiece of a retreat with unique natural features that I did not notice until I started working on Concordia.  Concordia had been waiting to emerge.

Concordia celebrates Nuala's role in my life.  She will visit soon, in her first time on these trails.  If her back is hurting again, Concordia is the only interior special place in my forest with car access.

Someday children will play at Concordia and not understand its mysterious attraction, the lingering scent of love in the soul of the union of a man, a forest, a dog, and a true friend.  That friendship has always been part of my union with this forest, right from the first time I set foot here in January 2005, also the month of my meeting Nuala.  Though never here in the flesh, she has always been a presence crucial to this forested union, this refuge that saved me, and saves me every day.

Harmony.  Unity.  Union of feeling.  Accordance.

These are words translated from the Latin Concordia.

Normal People Support Group

I'm thinking about starting a normal people anonymous support group.

Members have the right to define normal for themselves but not for anyone else in the group.  You're anonymous to each other, at least at the start of your membership.  If you surrender your anonymity with another member, that's okay.  You can still attend, together or separately, but it is recommended that you come out of the closet about it, for your own good.

You do peer-led programs, activities or projects together, such as 12 steps, meditation, yoga, hiking, book study, nature study, joke-telling, skinny-dipping (peer-led), litter cleanup, gardening, sailing, canoeing, singing, teaching disenfranchised children how to fish, putting Kahlil Gibran in every hotel room, making art together, including music, putting on a play about climate change, or what-have-you things that normal people do.  The normality of the activity is as beheld by the peer leader, and you quietly accept it and have fun, perhaps expanding your notions of normal.

The peer-led things, the anonymity, and the group dynamic are good for you.  You affirm this aloud in unison at every meeting and outing, holding hands in a circle.

The anonymity is to help avoid the stigma of being normal, even more normal than most others.  In the group you can enjoy -- if possible -- a place where you can be non-judgmentally welcomed by similarly frustrated normal people.

You take it all lightly with good humor because you all know that normal exists only from your perspective, especially in the mirror.  That is the guiding principle.  Take your normality lightly.  You affirm it together in unison, religiously, sorta.

Over time, with consistent participation, you may be able to give up excessive notions of your normality, as one might give up excessive drinking, smoking, or gambling, and be freed of the frustration you bring upon yourself.  Amen.

Take your normality lightly.

Too Many Cows

Excerpt from transcription of a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Many of you may not have heard about cow releasing. The story is like this: One day the Buddha was sitting with his monks in the woods. They had just finished their mindful lunch and were about to start a question and answer session. A peasant passed by and asked the Buddha, “Dear monk, have you seen my cows passing by here?”

The Buddha said, “What cows?”

“My cows, six of them, I don’t know why but this morning they all ran away. I had also cultivated three acres of sesame seeds, but this year the insects ate them all. I think I am going to kill myself. I have lost everything!”

The Buddha said, “Dear friend, we have not seen your cows passing by here. You better look for them in the other direction.” After the farmer had gone, the Buddha looked at his monks and smiled and said, “My dear friends, do you know that you are lucky, you do not have any cows to lose.”

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Cultivating Compassion and Understanding

     I have too many cows not worth having.  I'll be compassionate and not offer you any.     

The Brevity Law

First post in the Concordia Spartan 300 blog.   Word count today: 130.  Reading time: 1 minute.  Please sign the guestbook, especially if you have negative feedback.

Concordia Law says that a post exceeding 300 words is punishable by drowning itself in the bit bucket; no exceptions, no parole.

I love StandardNotes for providing the stats in the Action Bar.  Especially word count and reading time.  As a slow reader, it's good to be told how time-wasting a normal reader might find my scribblement.  Not that I assume there will be any normal readers.

Enforcing this law does not mean my words will be efficient or effective.  It just shortens the verbiage assault.  Maybe I'll learn to just shut up.  Nah.  Welcome to Concordia.

I write because I'm nicer to be with when I'm alone.