This will be the first time I greet you in 2012. I hope these first few days have been auspicious and a promising start to the coming year. For myself, they have been quietly hectic, my mind having barely registered theirs been a change in the year; I have manged to write down the wrong date at least eight times since the switch, a fact I now realise is probably common, but which still embarrasses me. I saw the new-year in alongside my Sangha, after a popular banquet (featured in the picture above). There was a very funny, yet moving reading, performed by members of the Saturday study group which contained a song, and then we chanted in the new year. When I called my parents at 12:30 to wish them a pleasant New Year, my sister informed me they had retired to bed two-hours earlier. This made me feel inexplicably old. Usually my parents call me at midnight, but a long flight to Switzerland lay ahead later that morning, and both text me before leaving to pass their good-wishes for me for the coming year.
If the new year were a colour it would be lime-green, if it were a smell that of freshly washed linin, and if a word Fresh. I always like to use the first few days in January to tidy, wash, and eliminate excess clutter from my thoughts, and from my environment. I’ve shifted and sorted and extracted various components of my bedroom, being brutal with old junk that hangs around on the promise of necessity, but never fulfills it’s duty. Wind beating rain against the window, serenaded me as I worked through the morning; when finally I had set two lots of washing on the go, thrown a black-bags worth of rubbish into the bin, and scrubbed every available surface, I sat down to lunch and read. The weather has cheered considerably now, the sun breaching the blinds, so I may totter off to the library to return a few reads. The first week of January is always a motivating period; there were lists of tasks I had been putting off all December I rampaged in just a few days. I love that feeling of checking off items on a long, over-due list.
One of these items is a challenge set me by my good friend Rainbows (whose blog you should go read). She asked me to lsit some personal goals and to state two ways in which I will go about achieving them. These arn’t the same as my resolutions; instead they are long-term alterations to my mind-set. Resolutions I like to have a clear goal-post, so I can assess progress and initiate deadlines where necessary. The following items of self-progression are more long-term, a constant attempt by myself to change the way I perceive myself and my world. As you might expect, they link with my spiritual faith to attain the level of Bodhisattva, by changing my inner-mind.
My first goal is to alter the way I think about photographs. I love taking pictures and having pictures, but sometimes I miss the importance of a moment with the need to capture it on film, and sometimes I glance at myself in a snap and can only find the flaws in my appearance. If a picture terns out blurrier than I expected, I am often downcast that I didn’t snap the perfection of the moment in its real-time stillness, and in doing so have somehow spoiled it. On the whole, photography is a strange aspect of the world; there was a time where day-to-day memories couldn’t be held down in their true form, because artists would have to spend weeks unraveling them in colour and form, and in doing so adding their own misjudgments and versions of perfection. Despite having a plain-copy of what was before us, I think we still do the same things now; when I see a photograph I latch my own meanings to it, my own perception of what was happening at the time of it’s taking. With this self-formed knowledge I then decide how real it is. I never look good in photos; I’ll spend ages making friends retake bad renditions of myself because I want to be seen as good-looking, even though I’m not. What I want is for the photo to be able to lie, to show my version of events rather than the one that is real. I don’t want this to hinder my ability to enjoy taking and viewing my photographs; I use them to remember the beautiful things around me, to show me laugher is inevitable, that I’m and always have been, surrounded by people I never want to forget. They have the power to make me feel humble and extremely fortunate, and I use them during the down-times to prove to myself everything I am denying, is still a real part of the world. They help us reflect on where we’ve been in our lives. I no longer what to let how I looked ruin a viewing of a picture. In order to achieve this, I’m going to try to remember that the beauty of a picture is linked to the memory it holds, and the feelings its stirs, not what it looks like at a surface level. I’m going to take pictures only when the moment naturally arises, and not force my camera out simply for the sake of it, or the worry I’ll miss something important.
My second goal is to become a better Buddhist and start to actively watch my mind. I suffer from a severe case of pride; I don’t like to be wrong, and I don’t like others to be wrong in my presence, and thus I will constantly correct people, their grammar, their knowledge, their advice, if I believe I have a better solution or understanding of what is happening. The worst part is, I even do it to myself, such as with writing, when I feel that everything must be perfect or it’s not good enough, or I’m not good enough. Anger and frustration towards myself causes my life to slow down. Often I can forgo irrittation caused to me by others; I’ve gained an understanding that getting angry at others has no inner or external benefits to anyone, but when it comes to myself, I belittle and berate without mercy. Why? The list is long, but I’m tired to the excuses I often make to accommodate this form of mental disturbance. How can I be of help to either myself or others if I cannot curb my need to be correct all the time? I want to knock back my feelings of self-importance, that others must see me as better than I often feel I am, and allow myself to have faults. To do this, I must remember the raw potential not just in others, but in myself as well. If I were a Buddha, I would see nothing but a pure gold nugget beneath the mud of my delusions; this is how Ayra Tara sees me, all the Buddha’s in fact, and often as my Sangha also, and I must ensure I remind myself it’s there, that I am as pure as anyone around me at the root of my imperfection. I must stop to think about whether the situation calls for my input as appose to giving it and expecting to be received as the voice of truth. Hopefully this will help shun my pride.
There you are Rainbows. Challenge completed, if a little past schedule.