Monday, February 5, 2007

Butterflies and flames

Yesterday Zirpu and I went to East West Books because he wanted to look at Wild Divine, a computer video game whose purpose is to teach "the player" to reduce stress via biofeedback. East West is a pretty funky, woo-woo New Age store that's filled with interesting things, music, books, music, videos, games, tarot cards, art, yoga stuff, massage stuff, aromatherapy stuff, etc. We usually buy our incense there too (being a former hippie-of-the-80's I'm fond of patchouli; Zirpu likes sandalwood). It's the kind of place I would buy a gift for one of my many woo-woo friends.

Anyway, I was wandering (almost typed that as "wondering" which I was probably doing also; it's that kind of store) around the store and on a low shelf saw some packages of arty butterflies. They were made of paper in bright colors, and maybe also beads, and it looked like there might have been several of these paper butterflies on one string, like a one-string mobile.

Suddenly I remembered an apartment I looked at when I thought I was first going to live alone. It was a studio in Northwest Portland, and despite being mostly below ground was fairly bright. It had white white walls, I remember. I stood in the room and imagined where I would put my furniture - bed, bureau, and TV - and thought about what I would put on those white white walls.

Now, I was never really attached to butterflies. They're pretty and I like the way they flutter around, but I never saw them as anything other than wings. However, looking at that apartment I knew that I was going to pin these paper butterflies I'd seen someplace (I can't now remember where) on the walls. And I was going to do that because I was going through some changes that had me relating to the chrysalis, the idea of going from one form to another form.

I didn't move into that apartment in the end. I can't now remember the reasons. I moved into the refinished attic of a house in inner NE instead. I didn't put anything on those walls; they were hipped at about three and half feet anyway. My feeling about the chrysalis changed, as well. It was about that time that I decided that if I would get a tattoo it would be flames. I even knew the exact image I would get.

My boss at that time told me this story:

As part of his training, a monk has to spend three days and nights in the woods. The first day he tramps off from his teacher and when the sun goes down he gets cold and starts looking for something to start a fire with. He becomes paralyzed with the thought that he shouldn't burn anything, and after a cold night returns to his teacher.

"Teacher," he says, "Who am I to choose for the wood that it will turn to flame and ash?"

The teacher responds, "Who are you to deny the wood that experience?"

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