Tag Archives: suffering

Tooth 29

  Take the dawning sun, warm on your face. Hold the icepack to your jaw. Wait on the ibuprofen. Consider: What makes the morning fine? Where is your current complaint, your past grief, your future worry? Where is your optional suffering now? Tooth 29 pulses in its damp cave, throbs and recedes, circles back, stabs. […]

Dragon’s jaws and plum blossoms

He said it would hurt like hell, and he was right. I knew when I recognized my own voice that those clichéd descriptions of people yelping in the dentist’s chair are based in reality.  Beyond the instruments in my mouth and the hands wielding them, I could see my legs and feet in agitated motion, […]

Rack focus

There’s a term in cinema for a technique in which the filmmaker changes the camera’s focus during a shot, drawing the viewer’s attention first to one part of the frame, then to another. Rack focus exploits the human desire for clarity and for certainty;   our eyes go unerringly to what we can most clearly […]


August commences a subtle transition.  We harvest the bounty of summer gardens — the flavorful vegetables, the succulent fruit  —  and yet at the same time, sense a certain weariness.  So much energy spent,  all the plants and wild animals having bloomed or birthed and grown and yielded. Even the bees and the butterflies — fewer […]

New shoes

I have been having difficulty on my spiritual path lately, though not the kind you might imagine.  Mostly, I am struggling with inappropriate laughter. It happened recently at my local vihara, the Buddhist word for “place where we don’t worship because we don’t believe in God.”  It was the beginning of an hour-long meditation session — 10 minutes […]


This morning, the seventh day, I opened both eyes –the right, cautiously — and felt again the miracle of binocular vision. Not what it was, and not yet comfortable, but still: two functioning eyes. A week ago, I suffered a dressing injury, the kind of humiliating and dire accident that embodies the absurdity of being human. […]

Wrestling with the angels

I have a secretly epic personality, partial to big ideas and overarching narratives. Being writerly, I am also fond of metaphor, and thus fell in love long ago with the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. Let’s overlook the part where Jacob has two wives, two female “servants” and 11 sons, and pick […]

Up against our edges

It is good, every now and then, to reach your limit. And stay there.  And see that discomfort, however challenging, is not fatal. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron is my favorite teacher of this lesson in the spiritual realm. Her books — including When Things Fall Apart and The Places That Scare You — are wise and comforting guides to […]