ain’t nothing like the real thing.
What is the “real thing”?
More questionable Mistress Marvin Gaye koans at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
ain’t nothing like the real thing.
What is the “real thing”?
More questionable Mistress Marvin Gaye koans at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
Explain your self.
Introductions to Koans by Master Tarantino Toshiba. Class 101.
More selfless wisdom at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
Astride the bull of ignorance and deceit, many are oblivious to the heart and soul and tend to focus on matter. This is both a learned and biological trait, which has no end and no beginning.
Patience is not always patient and women and men are not always women and men. It is better to accept the things we can change and change the things we cannot accept. Gender, marriage, partner, spouse, and friends are not always one and the same. If this is true than what is not?
Pamphlet 69. Verse 11. The Abbess Talks.
More satirical koans, stories, & tales, at Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.
Excerpt from Feral by Deena Metzger
As the Girl Slept
The woman elected to sit by her in the car for several hours with the girl’s head in her lap. The door to the woman’s cottage was only a few steps away. She didn’t go in. Instead she sat down on the back seat, lifted the girl’s head gently, placing it on her lap, feeling the girl’s dark hair cascading like skeins of heavy silk across her hands, then covering the girl with a mohair blanket she kept in the car.
Intermittently, she thought of undoing the belt around the girl’s waist or slipping the knife out of the sheaf, but she put those thoughts out of her mind. Better to remove the knife from her mind. Whatever reasonable explanation she gave herself, the truth was that she didn’t want the girl to disappear. She didn’t want her to awaken in anger or fear and so shapeshift into a bird and fly away. The girl might become anything, go anywhere, do anything. The woman… the woman… the woman wanted to go with her.
Only once did the woman allow professional thoughts to disturb the exquisite peace that existed between them. If someone came by… if she were discovered sitting with a naked girl in her lap… if she as a therapist were discovered with her naked client… if, on awakening the girl had thought she might have abused her… if…
If can be a dangerous word, she contended to herself, trying to banish it from her mind. She focused on the stars, on the coyotes howling in the hills, on the entire animal valley suddenly alerted. Somewhere in the brush, Timber Wolf added his glorious arpeggio to the chorus. A conversation in progress that the woman had never thought to understand. As the girl was asleep, she took the opportunity to apply herself but the stars remained silent, the wolves, dogs and coyote’s language was incomprehensible to her, and the night birds only sang their odd melodies intermittently. Failing to comprehend, the woman was unable to avoid the camber of her own thoughts.
She didn’t know what her responsibilities were nor could she distinguish them from her inclinations whatever they were. Everything was unfamiliar and unpredictable. She wanted to go with the girl and converted this, immediately, into ways she could entice the girl to stay with her. An about-face in her mind pretending not to be an about-face. A reassertion of a very different mind. A mind not unlike Carmela’s mind, certain, self-righteous, determined. A different kind of shapeshifting altogether. More like possession, a thought, the kind of though the girl might have had, flickered briefly through her consciousness, an ember quickly extinguished as the woman sank into the mindset of a strategist, not Carmela’s mind, but her own old mind, very familiar and, yes, treacherous. She was unnerved and alternately was blaming the girl, Carmela, her peers, her profession. Such habits of mind often afflicted her clients. She was skilled at helping them because she knew the pattern and so could confront herself; it was not right to blame others for her face in her mirror.
Read more of Feral at Amazon.
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What’s Up Elizabeth?
THE HOUSE WAS SILENT, an abandoned stage set. The occupants and all traces of the lives they lived seemed to have completely vanished. There were no pushed back chairs, no scattered partially-read newspapers, no misplaced drinking glasses, sticky with finger prints. There was only pristine emptiness draped with long flat squares of moonlight. As I passed Annie’s door, I paused and wondered if I should knock. I stood quietly, listening for a sound, but there was none — no breathing, no creaking floorboards, no whispering voice inviting me in. So I tiptoed down the hallway to my room.
As I opened the door, a sleepy voice whispered, “Elizabeth, is that you?”
I fumbled for the bedside lamp as Betsy wrestled with the sheets and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “What time is it?” she yawned.
I glanced at the clock. “It’s after midnight, sweetie,” I sank down on the bed beside her. “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you.” Her eyes blinked in the sudden brightness.
“I can see that,” I reached over and rubbed her shoulders as she sat shivering in a thin cotton nightgown. “But why are you waiting for me?”
“Because I was worried about you, I didn’t know where you’d gone.”
“I’m sorry, Bets. I did phone your mom and let her know I was okay.”
“I know,” the large brown eyes were smudged with sadness. “But mom seemed really mad, and she wouldn’t tell me what was going on, except that you were with Jackson, and that she guessed you’d come home sometime.”
I kicked off my shoes and stretched out beside her. “Yeah, she was pretty irritated with me.” I turned to look at her. “Do you have any idea why she doesn’t like him?”
Betsy wriggled backward and leaned against the headboard. “It’s just another one of those secrets we live with around here. I know something major happened a long time ago, but no one ever talked about it, not to me at least. I knew dad had a really close friend and they had some kind of fight, but I never even heard his name. When we had Jackson over the other night, I kind of put two and two together and figured he was the guy.” She stared wistfully at me. “What do you think it was?”
“Lordie, I have no idea. You’re right, something big happened, but we’ll just make ourselves crazy if we try to imagine what it was.”
She looked chagrined, and I was afraid that my choice of words had upset her. “Sorry about the word ‘crazy’. I just meant that it’s never a very good idea to try to figure out what other people are thinking. I’m always wrong, and then I just start making a bunch of bad decisions based on a faulty premise.”
“You don’t have to baby me like that and cut the word ‘crazy’ out of your vocabulary. Who knows,” she shrugged, “maybe that is what made everybody nuts around here — the secrets, the doing everybody’s thinking for them.”
I ruffled her hair and tugged her close to me. “You’re a pretty smart cookie, Bets. Lets us promise to never do either of those things to each other — have secrets or try mind reading, okay?”
She sat quietly for a moment and then laid her head on my shoulder. “So if we’re not going to have secrets, tell me what you and Jackson were doing tonight. I thought you were going out for a walk by yourself.”
“Well, I did. That was the problem. Apparently, I didn’t know where I was going, and I didn’t even notice it was getting dark until I suddenly found myself down by the creek in a thicket of trees and I couldn’t see lights anywhere. I got kind of panicky, but I made myself calm down enough to think clearly, and I remembered that I couldn’t be too far away from where we were the other night. So I turned around and groped my way back to the restaurant.”
“You were scared?” she interrupted, tilting her face to look up at me.
“Yeah, pretty scared. The dark does that to me.”
“So how did you calm yourself down?”
“I said a prayer.”
“You just said a prayer and you felt better?” She sounded incredulous.
“Yes. Actually the prayer kind of said itself. It floated into my mind out of nowhere, and I grabbed hold of it and held on. I just kept saying it over and over, and it made me feel better.”
“What was it?” She stared at me suspiciously.
“‘I am safe, I am sound, all good things come to me as God’s beloved child.’”
“That’s it? That’s the prayer? You didn’t ask God to show you the way home or come rescue you or anything?”
“No, I think all that’s in the prayer already.” I saw the skepticism in her eyes. “Don’t you ever pray about things? What kinds of prayers do you say?”
“I never pray. Nobody in my family does. My dad said God was for fools — something they thought they needed, so they just made Him up.”
“Yeah, well I think I felt that way for a long time myself.”
“What changed?” She asked.
“What changed is that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand being the only power I relied on, being my own God. I got to a place where I wasn’t enough.”
“And so you just made a God up because you needed one? Just like that?” she snapped her fingers.
I smiled and kissed the top of her head. “I like you so much, Bets. You’re my kind of gal. You ask all sorts of questions, and you don’t settle for half answers. When I was your age, I used to drive everybody crazy,” I flinched instinctively. It was as though the word ‘crazy’ had become radioactive. “They used to say I was way too intense because I kept asking and asking until I got an answer I could understand. It didn’t always work and not everybody liked it, but I do. So keep it up. I think it’s healthy.”
She grinned. “Okay, explain it then. How did you go from wanting a God to getting one? Why isn’t that the ‘wish fulfillment’ my dad always talked about?” She grinned impishly. “Aren’t you impressed that I know that term? I think I even know that it was something Freud said.”
“I am impressed, although I must confess to you, in the spirit of our new found honesty, that I don’t think all that much of Freud. How’s that for heresy, saying that to the daughter of a psychiatrist?” I grinned back at her. “But getting back to your question, just because you want something, need something, and then you get it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I mean on a very basic level, you want food, you need to eat, but that doesn’t make the food you get somehow unhealthy or unreal. In fact, some philosophers say that God placed the desire to know Him in us, so our wanting Him is a sign that He exists.”
“That’s interesting. But maybe I don’t like philosophers anymore than you like psychiatrists,” she jousted playfully. “What I want to know is what happened to you. I believe you, I don’t necessarily believe some old philosopher guys I’ve never met.”
“Fair enough. What happened to me, is happening to me, hasn’t been a sudden kind of thing. I spent almost an entire lifetime trying to fix myself — trying to learn enough, do enough, understand enough. Trying to be enough. I always felt I was missing some vital part of me, but I guess I thought I could make up for it if I worked really hard. So I got good grades in school, and I went on to a good university and I got a good job and built an important career. I kept thinking that the next thing I did would make me feel safe and make me happy, give my life meaning.”
“Meaning?” She looked confused.
“You know … a reason for being here on the planet, my special purpose, that kind of thing.”
“Well, a few years ago, I had everything I ever thought would fix me. I had an exciting job, lots of money, important friends. Everything I’d been aiming for was in place, and I still felt lost and frightened. The worst part was that I couldn’t think of one more thing to do about it.”
“What about getting married and having a family?” Betsy asked eagerly.
“That’s a whole different story. Maybe we’ll get to that another time. The point is I just ran out of things to try. It’s easier when you have some big dream and you can pretend that if you get it, then you’ll be happy, but all my dreams had come true. And when that still wasn’t the answer, I was …”
“Sad?” She suggested.
“Sad’s a good word. Yes, I was very sad. One day about a year ago, I took a walk on the Lower East Side. I was restless and I needed to get away from the office. I don’t know why I ended up where I did, but I found myself outside this old stone church. It was almost like I’d stumbled into a time warp. I found out later it was built in the 1600’s, so it really was like something from another world. Anyway, I wandered around it until I came to these massive wooden doors. When I saw that they were open, I went in and,” I paused. “Well, it was amazing. It just kind of took my breath away. There was this huge white wall up at the front, and in the middle of it, way up high, a window — a little portal actually — flooded gold light across the wall. It looked like a painting, like a gorgeous abstract portrait of light. I don’t know what it was, something about that wall just reached out to me and invited me in. So I sat down in one of the old wooden pews. I stayed there for a very long time, all by myself, and while I was sitting there that prayer, the one I just told you, floated through my head. I don’t know where I’d heard it before, or even if I had heard it before. But it penetrated me. It pierced through my despair. And I felt the presence of something other than myself that was loving me and taking care of me right in that very moment.”
I looked over at Betsy. Her intensity had given way to a kind of focused stillness. She sat motionless, as though she were transfixed. “So, did you know it was God?” she whispered softly.
“I think I did. I think I really did.”
She leaned forward, her young face both serious and sweet. “I believe you, Elizabeth. Thank you for telling me.”
I hugged her in a tight, fierce grip. “Thank you, Betsy, for letting me tell you. I’ve never told anyone else about it, ever.”
She looked so sleepy. I felt a pang of guilt at keeping her up so late. “Bets, it’s nearly two-thirty in the morning. Your mom’s going to kill both of us if she finds out what we’ve been up to.”
She slid under the covers and curled into me like a kitten. “Can I stay here with you?” She was nearly asleep before she finished her sentence.
“And, Elizabeth, what was the name of that church you went into?”
“The Church of the Good Shepherd, why?”
Her voice was thick with sleep, “I just wanted to know.”
I stood up and smoothed the sheet over her shoulders.
MORE ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY’S KINGDOM
Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call by Gabriel Constans.
Child of the Holocaust – Gitta Ryle – Part 2 (Conclusion)
Auschwitz. The word is synonymous with death, loss, murder and extermination, the worst barbarism that can be inflicted by one human upon another. For many it symbolizes evil incarnate. Most of us know it only as that: a symbol, a word, a dreadful image from the past. Yet for others, such as Gitta Ryle, Auschwitz is a living, cold reality that consumed her beloved father and grandparents who were starved, beaten, gassed and incinerated in its Nazi machinery of hatred and racism.
Mrs. Ryle survived the holocaust by being hidden in French schools with her sister and was reunited with her mother at the war’s end. While pregnant with her third child her mother died of a heart attack. Gitta’s years of family separation and loss were compounded and reawakened with the death of her husband from cancer.
Over the years, Mrs. Ryle has spoken of her life during the war with increasing frequency to elementary, high school and college students. Her living, breathing, realistic account of her experiences has brought history and its relevancy to the present, before the hearts and minds of many generations. On a more personal and less publicly noticed form of engagement, she has provided support and comfort for young people who, like herself, have had to cope with the death of a family member or friend.
GITTA: My mother told me that when Dad got his paycheck he would go to the market and get groceries for his brothers and take care of everybody that he knew who didn’t have much. Then he would give the rest of the money to my Mom for the household. He was very generous to other people, a very caring man. When he came to France he worked in a nearby nursing home run by nuns. He’d do any labor he could in order to be close to us. We were his joy. My mother was also very generous helping neighbors.
We had nice neighbors. They were not Jewish. There was one family whose daughter was my sister’s best friend. Her and her sister are still alive and we continue corresponding to this day. That’s another thing I’ve discovered has helped. There were Jewish people that helped me and there were not Jewish people who helped.
I still feel connected to those who’ve died. Sometimes at night I hear my name very clearly. Sometimes it’s my Mother’s voice and at others it’s my Dads. And I’ve definitely heard Bob’s voice.
When I’m doing things, like driving, I have a different calmness about me then I did before Bob’s death. I don’t know if it’s because of the time I took in grieving or not.
For a while I kind of separated myself, emotionally I was cut off from everybody. I let my adult kids know that if they needed help they’d have to get it from somewhere else because I had no energy or anything left to give them. I’d always been a nourishing mother and this didn’t fit that image. It was a complete change for me. I had no thoughts for me or anybody. It was like a blank. Everything was gray and passive. There was no color, no life, just existence. My body was in need of replenishment. In some way you need to shut off for a while, otherwise you go nuts or kill yourself. I mean, you know, go into a deep depression. Anyway, that was my analysis of it. I allowed the process to happen. It wasn’t easy. It was very hard and I don’t remember all of it. I know people came to visit me but I couldn’t tell you who.
I am very, very fortunate. I have a lot of people that love and care for me. I had one girlfriend call me every single day from the day Bob was diagnosed. At times I definitely felt more connected with the dead then the living. I felt Bob’s presence off and on.
Lately I don’t like where I am. It was better where I was. I will get there again. I want to work on getting cleaned out of attachments to my ego. I would not have wanted my life to continue like it was in that first year, but I know a lot of people who live like that.
Somehow things finally changed. I can’t tell you exactly what happened but I remember talking with my counselor one Monday morning and saying, “Wow, I see color! I see color clearer now then I have ever seen in my life. I’m taking everything in.” I didn’t know that it would ever come back, especially feelings of joy. I feel it in my body and a lot here in my stomach (rubs stomach). I remember feeling little butterflies when Bob would hold me and we would hug and be loving. I never thought I’d feel that type of feeling again, but it happened. I felt life all over. Now I can feel both, the heartaches and the joy.
It’s funny; I never looked into the rhyme or reason of the whole thing. I just allowed the process. A lot of Europeans take a year for grieving; they wear the armband and all that stuff. I just shut down because I didn’t have anything left. It’s like you know this is it, there is too much trauma, I can’t go through another one. I think I shut down for safety, to not get hurt again. If anything had happened to anybody else during that time I wouldn’t have felt it.
I’ve had other deaths since Bobs. My cousin died of cancer and an associate of Bob’s died suddenly. I have quite a list of deaths of people that I’ve loved. When it happens now I say a little prayer for them. I love and bless them. I show my love each time, because they are part of my life. I think of the blessing that they don’t suffer anymore.
I think my life has been more of a struggle then pleasure. I had a good childhood that was suddenly cut off. My marriage wasn’t ecstasy because I always worried that something would happen to him. I was always afraid that I’d lose him. In fact, I remember telling Bob it was difficult for me to say, “I love you.” because if I did something might happen to him. I don’t have that fear anymore. It has dissipated. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, you know?
This stuff was all being worked on without me really knowing it. I came out of it with more peace. At other times there is still a hole, a loneliness and sadness that I can’t share this or that with Bob. That is reality. He will not be here and I need to work on healing that. Nobody can feel that hole. Sometimes I use food to numb that feeling but it just makes it worse.
Most of the time I am OK because I have the comfort of tapping into those I love whenever I wish. I live in reality. I don’t know if they hear me or not, but you know that is not important. It’s important that I can use it for what I need. It’s a comfort that I need for now.
When you go out and watch couples, the age that we are, I realize it is something I will never experience. I will never experience being retired with my husband and having weekends away. My old age will be alone. When I think of being ill without a partner it gets a little scary. There’s nothing I can do about it. If it happens, it happens.
Helping others has been easy. It makes me feel good. It’s like second nature. I enjoy going places and doing things. What life is about is getting joy from watching other people have joy. I think the ultimate thing that I can do is give some peace, joy or understanding to someone else.
My daughter is married to a young man whose father left home when he was five years old. He had another brother and a long history but no contact with his father. Ever since he married my daughter she’s said, “I wish he would find his dad. He says he wants to sometimes but then doesn’t do anything about it. When it comes down to it he says he can’t afford to search.” I told them that if that were the only obstacle I would not mind funding it. They agreed and just last Sunday, after conducting a search, my son-in-law calls me up excitedly and says, “I just talked to my dad. He called me!” I started crying with joy. My whole body became alive with emotions. I thought about all the connections, for someone to have the possibility to make such a connection. He also discovered a half sister whose mother died a month ago. He’s going to meet her too.
That is what life is about for me. I do not understand why I am here most of the time. I get up in the morning and am glad I can get up.
When things are good and I am feeling physically and mentally good, I’m with people and realize I need people more. When I’m not feeling well I tend to isolate myself, thinking I can be strong and take care of everything. It doesn’t work well and I don’t feel good when I do it. I pushed some people away when I was working very hard on that and I need to open up again and allow people in.
About a year after Bob died I became involved with the Griefbuster’s program. I have a lot of compassion and can relate with children, while also being detached and seeing where they are at. I love children.
My niece lives here and she has two daughters Heather and Chloe, age three and five. They are here every Thursday. It is my day to play. I do not think about responsibilities and problems. I’m in the moment of simply playing. I’m teaching them. We learn together. I crawl up on the stairs with them and they laugh. It is wonderful.
Families are important. I had that and it was taken away. So many families now don’t have that connection, they are to busy working. I don’t identify with adults anymore, not those looking for the next goal, the next profession where they can make money, where they can do this and that. I’m trying to simplify my life.
I have wonderful children. They are loving kids. If I had a heart attack or got sick, whatever, they would be here. They’d drop everything else and come help me. But that is not what I want. I want them when I am well. Maybe I’m selfish in that way but I think a nurse or doctor can take care of me when I’m sick.
Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. I notice that I am in a very strange place. Grieving is a deep thing, but it’s also your life. When you grieve all your past comes up, your childhood experiences and how it affected you.
A woman who takes care of a newborn down the street comes over once a week and we play with the baby and I am fine again for a while. I wish I could bottle that feeling and put it someplace else. That would be good. And when these girls walk in the door on Thursday and come running to me with open arms, giving me hugs and kisses, so full of joy and liberation. No pretensions just clear, loving and happy. What more could you want? It’s so empowering. I am whoever they want me to be for the day.
I hope when I’m dead and gone that I will have given some pleasure to others. That it was a joy for people to know me. That the children who have been in my life know that I love them unconditionally and gave everything I could unconditionally. I feel the same way with my children. I’ve let go of attachments to my children. As far as I know they are healthy, intelligent beings. hey have their own habits and behaviors. I do not own them. There was a time when I wanted them to be different. I did a lot of work with my daughter and myself on that.
I am responsible for my actions and that is what I want to relay when I talk to kids. I try to show them that they have choices and whatever choice they take, that they take responsibility for it. I think that is the hardest lesson to learn but also the best. Whatever it is, even if you felt somebody did you wrong; you have to take responsibility. That is how I have to deal with life, even when I am angry and spout off, “This isn’t fair! I’m a victim!” As soon as I let it out I then take responsibility for it. I don’t blame others for my state of being.
The other thing I try to share with kids is to love them selves and to feel that specialness we each have, which has often been taken away by our experiences. If we can let go of all that stuff, we can see the preciousness. That is what I’m really trying to learn. I can see the beauty of every human being around me – adults and children. I don’t see it as much in me and that is what I’m learning to do. Self-judging, self-hate, self-abuse, whatever you want to call it, we don’t have to do it. That is what I am here to do. This is my work. This is what I need to do to move on.
MORE STORIES: DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING!