BECOMING AND BECOMING

I know folks who wake up in the morning and first thing they think is: Oh good, another day passed. Just 8 more days to the election. Not—Wow, look at the colors out there, or: Good, it’s raining, and we need rain, or like I like to start a day, going downstairs to the futon in my office where Aussie likes to spend her nights, stroking her and saying: “Another wonderful day with Aussie!”

I used to do that with my dogs as they aged and I could see the end coming; now I do that even though Aussie is only 3. Another wonderful day with Aussie. Another wonderful day with Henry. Some great days with my sister, though she’s gone to NYC now. Going to see an eye doctor who will take care of my left eye, that has been hurting me. Going to write a blog post. Another wonderful day.

I also say to myself: Another 8 days to the election. Another 8 days of newspapers—good ones—carrying headlines of vitriol. Not Putin, not Maduro, not China, not Iran, but us. Looking at the dominance of our election news, you’d never know there’s a world outside the US.

But there is a world out there, and a world here, too: gentler, kinder, more caring. Where the words we’re all in this together aren’t just slogans but the deepest,, truest words of great prophets and saints. And by in this I don’t just mean covid. I cover my face to prevent you from getting sick, and you cover yours for the same reason. I smile at the eye doctor behind my mask because my left eye needs his services, and he needs my check so that he could cover the costs of the nurses and receptionists that expose themselves every day.

Wherever I go, I’m aware that almost everyone I meet is more exposed than I am. Their eyes smile and they don’t complain about having to wear a mask the entire workday, at least 5 days a week. What am I complaining about?

We need to trim back and live a little smaller, but with more tenderness and a livelier imagination. Starting with myself, I’d like to  learn to forgive. I feel as though I’ve carried slights and resentments for much of my life, and I’d regret them now only I think regrets are a waste of time: Why does she talk like that on the phone? Why didn’t he love me more? Why doesn’t she need me less? What about my birthday? What about the money owed me? What about the job that was terminated, the gift not given? The small forgettings and oblivions that shouldn’t have happened but did, where I felt forgotten or overlooked?

I talked to a friend, well-known, who just discovered he has cancer. He was in the best of spirits and full of plans: I’m going to cover the walls of my office with collages; have to finish The Overstory; I’m going to write new music, make more films. He read me a poem he wrote.

But what he wanted most was to use his diagnosis to help others. “I have the spotlight on me now, and I keep on asking myself: How can I share this with something good that others are doing, you know? It’s like I’m saying: Yes, it’s me, and I have cancer, and look at what these folks are doing, and look at this great project or this great effort—isn’t it cool!

Terry Tempest Williams said: “Maybe our undoing is our becoming.”

Can I get that kind of mind? Can I see that it’s not all about me—my beginning, my ending, my doing, my undoing? It’s about something far, far bigger, and what seems to me a defeat or letdown is just another piece of the greater becoming and becoming and becoming. Seeing that, feeling that, gives you energy, courage, and enthusiasm.

“Did you feel fear?” I asked my friend.

“Not quite,” he said. “I felt a kind of excited fear, like here it is!  But it felt exciting. I thought I was going to make this movie; instead, I’m making the cancer movie.”

Some of that was true for Bernie after his stroke. He also had his plans for getting older and what that would be like. Instead he made the stroke movie. He was a star.

The Zen teacher Joan Halifax said: “I feel like I’ve practiced my entire life for these times.”

You can say that about any time, not just the time of these elections and the coronavirus: for the time of a cancer diagnosis, a major stroke. A time when you take a big fall deep in the forest and wonder if you could get up again, and if you can’t, will anyone find you? A time when someone you love dies. A time when the country seems to go apeshit crazy. A time when you lose your family, your job, when you’re going to die.

I’ve practiced my entire life for this time. For becoming and becoming and becoming.

 

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THE DOGS OF THE KISKADEE HILLS

Eve Marko - The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the LynxThe Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills: Hunt for the Lynx begins a trilogy about a society of dogs after humans have destroyed themselves and much of the world. Living with their families and clans in the Kiskadee Hills, they’ve developed over generations a rich tradition and way of life, and have prospered. But now, an unknown killer is butchering the Kisdees of the Hills.

Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges says: “You will never look at dogs the same again. Eve Marko gives us a story that explores the path that life on our planet has taken, and asks what your role in that course might be.”

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BEARING WITNESS

Eve Marko - Bearing Witness

To bear witness to anything is to be as close to it as possible.

It’s not to read books or see movies about it, it’s not to have an opinion or tell a story. It’s to let go of all ideas about it—be in the space of not-knowing—and simply be there, up close and deeply personal.

Eve has been involved with the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Bearing Witness Retreats—in places of suffering and conflict since her first visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

There have been 20 retreats at the site of those concentration camps since, along with retreats in Bosnia, Rwanda and the Black Hills of South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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ABOUT EVE MARKO

Eve Marko

Eve Marko is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and head teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Massachusetts. She received dharma transmission and inka from Bernie Glassman. She is also a writer and editor of fiction and nonfiction.

Eve has trained spiritually-based social activists and peacemakers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, and has been a Spiritholder at retreats bearing witness to genocide at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, and the Black Hills in South Dakota. Before that she worked at the Greyston Mandala, which provides housing, child care, jobs, and AIDS-related medical services in Yonkers, New York.

Eve’s articles on social activists have appeared in the magazines TricycleShambhala Sun, and Tikkun. Her collection of Zen koans for modern Zen practitioners in collaboration with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up In the Land of Attachments, came out in February 2020.

Hunt for the Lynx, the first in her fantasy trilogy, The Dogs of the Kiskadee Hills, was published in 2016.

“When I was a young girl my dream was to be a hermit, live alone, and write serious literature. That’s not how things turned out. I got involved with people. I got involved in the world. Two things matter to me right now: the creative spark and the aliveness of personal connection. In some way, they both come down to the same thing.”

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