Art and Culture

Moksha

I have a set of cards that I keep on my altar that are designed to be used for contemplation.  There are about fifty cards, each of which has a sanskrit word and its meaning.  Just as one gets a fortune cookie randomly or picks a tarot card from a deck, but the message often seems right on point, the word that arises from the card picked from the stack often seems uncannily timely.  Early Saturday morning, after not having used the cards in a few months, I picked a card from the middle of the stack to see if it would help guide my contemplation and meditations as I was getting ready to say good-bye to Becky. The word on the card I picked blind from the middle of the stack was “moksha” or liberation.  In classical yoga, moksha does carry with it the implication of being liberated by transcending body and mind.

Later on Saturday, when I was on my way home from teaching for the appointment with the vet, I stopped at the metaphysical supply shop for a piece of rose quartz (to use in a ritual to assist with the transition and loss that a friend taught me).  At the check out were “dolphin saying cards.”  There was a sign next to the cards inviting customers to take one for free.  The sign also said that it was not necessary to take the one at the top.  The cards were face down; I did not look for a particular saying.  I dug a few cards down, and the one I selected read:  “freedom has its roots within yourself.”  In other words, “moksha” for the second time on this day, when I was facing with Becky her transition of the spirit from the body.

Was it a message?  Was it a coincidence?  I do know that I knew when it was time, as I did with Henrietta.  Becky just did not want to be embodied anymore.  When I held her in her arms after she stopped breathing, she was released and relaxed in a way she had not been in months.  That the signs were saying “moksha” resonated with Becky’s power and connectedness.  I hope that when I am ready to go, I will truly understand moksha, that I will be released.  It is so resonant of Becky’s life, for all her quirks, that she was still teaching me even as she was dying.

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An incredibly comprehensive list of energy saving tips small and large

I was reading an article in the NY Times about what one can do to  “green” a home that led me to this list.  There is always something else to learn:  unofficial list of energy saving tips.

FYI, PEPCO Energy Services does offer “green” and “wind” electricity.  Not perfect, but better than regular PEPCO.  I think there are some other alternatives in Maryland.  I have not investigated recently in the District, but switched to the “green” electricity a number of years ago.

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1934

I found the 1934:  A New Deal for Artists exhibit at SAAM quite moving.  The exhibit was put together for the 75th anniversary of the New Deal; it is merely coincidence that paintings commissioned by the United States government to depict American life in a time of dire conditions happen to be on exhibit at this time.  It is a good companion to view along with Robert Frank’s Americans at the NGA West Wing — also on view because of an anniversary, not because of its coincidental timeliness.

The art is not great art, and it is stuck in the period in which it was painted, in part because of the nature of the commission.  The depictions of America show any resilience and beauty inextricably intertwined with hardship and struggle.  In its very datedness, the art on exhibit raises questions about what are society’s priorities today, how we are responding to the crisis of war, environmental devastation, and economic crisis and how we could enhance and celebrate humanity and the planet rather than continue to decimate the earth and ourselves.

According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, approximately 43% of your 2008 taxes will pay for war.   President Obama’s proposed budget has a smaller increase than previous years, but does not lower in any way military spending.  I’d rather my tax dollars were buying art.

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“Dry Clean Only” (Don’t Believe Everything You Read)

As I was doing my laundry yesterday, most of which I line-dried, I thought about the fact that I have not been to the dry cleaner in nearly a decade. This is one of the small things I have chosen in order to be a little kinder to the environment.

Some of my clothes, especially things I bought several years ago, say “dry clean only.”  This includes knits made of wool, tencel, modal, or rayon (all of which are natural fibers) and linen and silk unconstructed clothing.  All of these do fine with hand washing (or on the gentle cycle in the washing machine) and being hung up to dry (this also applies to cotton, button-down shirts).   Of course, if it doesn’t say to dry clean then you definitely don’t need to dry clean.

Always believed the label?  How was clothing made of natural fibers cleaned before there was such a thing as a dry cleaner?  Think they look better or it is easier to get them dry cleaned?  Think about the solvents, the plastic, the energy for the cleaning method, and whether you drive to the dry cleaners.  Then make a decision.

Most things do not need to be cleaned by use of poisonous solvents (just because a solvent is “organic” or “natural” doesn’t mean it is good for the environment) and then wrapped in non-recyclable plastic to take home (many dry cleaners will take back the hangers, but will say they need to use the plastic wrap because their premises are too dusty for your clothes to stay clean outside the plastic wrapper).

So look for clothes that say “gentle wash, line dry” instead of “dry clean only.”  If it says “dry clean only” think about whether it really applies.  It will not apply for a wool sweater, most knits, or unlined clothes.  A business suit — yes, it won’t keep its shape unless you dry clean.  Do you really need to wear a business suit?  Will a choice not to wear a suit impact whether some people think you are truly “professional”?  Possibly.  If you decide you need to wear a suit regularly, how many times can you wear it before taking it to the dry cleaners?

PS.  Don’t experiment with things that are new and expensive.  Try it on older clothes and discover whether you need to believe everything you read.

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Are You Wondering

why I did not post an entry about the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq?  I obviously care deeply about the need to end the war and to address the tragic aftermath at home and abroad.  So why choose not to mark an anniversary?  Why instead of marking a dire anniversary, celebrate spring?  Sometimes, by celebrating something small in the midst of a crisis, we can give ourselves the grounding and energy to work harder to bring more light and to seek to end needless suffering.

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