Thanks for all your great comments about Ripley's Believe It or Not. I sent them a reply asking a couple of questions but haven't heard back, so who knows if it will come to anything. I have enjoyed the very idea of it immensely.
Lucy did very well at the tournament. She achieved her stated goal and is happy. She had a great time, something that is a mystery to those of us who have sat on the sidelines of chess tournaments (eight hours of playing chess is fun? To some, it is!). Dan and Finn have many stories about the amazing qualities of the Opryland Resort in Nashville. Let's just call it a clash of cultures and leave it at that.
For myself, the weekend had other plans in store. I attended the Intro to Zen Training weekend at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt.Tremper, NY, which is the monastery to which the Zen centre where I sit is attached. It was an intensive weekend of zazen and workshops related to the eight gates of training that are part of the Mountains and Rivers Order. It was the first time that I have sat zazen with a group in nearly a year and, quite frankly, it was the first time ever that I can say that I really loved it. Previously, sitting with a group always was fraught with a kind of panic about not knowing what the hell I was doing and distress about a myriad of other petty things such as stomach rumblings that always seemed to loom larger than life, given the context.
This time, as we stumbled to our zafus at 5 am, I made a deal with myself to just relax and laugh at my mistakes and assorted interior gurgles. Instead of always feeling inadequate and stupid, I enjoyed being among people who were having a similar experience to me, or perhaps having a totally different experience. It didn't matter. I just enjoyed being around them. The shyness, the needing to be perfect and appear smart...what's that all about anyway?
One wonderful surprise of the weekend was to have the abbot of the monastery, John Daido Loori Roshi, come and speak to us for an hour. I had heard so much about him, all of it said with such awe and respect, to the point that I was a little suspicious. How does anyone live up to their press? But he is the real deal: he didn't take any bull sh*t and he was as clear as the cold mountain air around the monastery. He also is elderly and not in great health so it was quite an honour that he took the time and energy to come and answer our questions. I am very grateful to have been there.
This Thursday evening marks the beginning of a sesshin in Brooklyn that will last until Sunday afternoon. I have received permission to attend (I have seriously pushed the limits of Dan's patience with all my demands - please be extra nice to him if you see him). I am excited and nervous. Sesshin changes you, which is exciting. But because it changes you, it is scary as well. After hours and hours with nothing but one's own mindful of chatter and blather (it almost makes me sick to my stomach sometimes!), there is no where to go but...