Eating an Orange

Via a fantastic post on impermanence at the blog Somewhere in Dhamma, is a really juicy clip from Zen Noir. I hope you savour it as much as I did.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(I’m totally going to go ahead and get the movie now…..)


Indeed, What IS in a name?

Kunzang had some interesting thoughts on names the other day.  Well, she always posts interesting blog entries, but this one in particular I had already been thinking about.

Like Kunzang, I have a more unusual name, though you’d think my (married) last name wouldn’t cause so many difficulties.  My name is Dwan Tape.  Just eight letters, but they can cause a lot of consternation amongst others, especially over the phone.  There is also a sizable contingency of folks who want to either confirm that I am misspelling my name (“It’s ‘Dawn,’ right?”) or that I’m unsure of my gender (I once had someone argue that my name was actually pronounced Duane, and that I was, therefore, male.).  I was teased alot when I was young about my name.  Believe me, I’ve heard them all – “Da-Doo-wan-wan,” “Dwan, Dwo, Dwee, Dwour” and so on.

Once, when I was about seven or eight, my class stopped by the ruins of an abbey on the way back from a field trip (My Dad was stationed in England at the time.).  I remember walking around the grounds of this abbey’s skeleton – it was dark and misty and fabulously mysterious.   Anyway, I was looking down at the grey ruins of a wall rising up out of the wet grass when one of the parent chaperones asked me – for the zillionth time – what my first name was.  I was a bit exasperated, but once again related my name and it’s four letter spelling.  She then asked my middle name, and when I complied she said – “Your name is TOO hard.  I can’t remember it.  I am going to call you [XD keeping my middle name a secret here – but it’s a more common name….].  That’s so much EASIER.”  [Emphasis hers.]

Suffice it to say, I’ve had a lot of food for thought when it comes to names and how they affect our place in the world.  There are difficulties when it comes to having a more unusual name, but on the other hand – I have never in my life had someone call my name across a crowded room and had more than just me turn my head.

My husband also has an unusual name, though less so, and we gave all three of our kids unusual names.  We got a lot of flack about that – about how having an unusual name would just be horrible for them – until we pointed out that we thought we knew better than most how that works out for a kid.  And as they have all three grown older, they really have grown into their names – I’m very glad we named them as we did.  (Forgive me for not mentioning their names – internet safety and all that….)

However I feel about it, though, my name can cause some awkwardness.  When I correspond with people who are not being perfectly mindful in their email reading, etc., I will often run into folks assuming my name is Dawn.  It is a bit of a struggle for me to decide what to do about this.  I tend to want to just let it work out on its own, but either way there’s going to be a small amount of embarrassment surrounding it.  Still – I like my name and feel that it is exactly who I am.  So I tend to want to correct the situation.

The question is – how much our names is essential to who we are?  Am I grasping, or being egotistical?  I know that the ordained of Buddhism take up new names with their new lives.  I understand that, I think – both the idea of being someone new and renouncing something old.  I understand Dharma names too, I think.

Still – I wonder – what might be a best practice be when it comes to names.  What does your name mean to you?  How important is it to you?  How important SHOULD a name be?

Oh wow …

…I really missed the boat on this one. Talk about not being present….

Here’s a lesson in impermanence, and in the need to stay connected.

There once was a man who had a major impact on my life. I don’t know that he ever knew what a huge effect he had on me. He was a coffeehouse owner, a hobo, a poet, and a wonderful percolator of creativity and unity. It’s hard to find words that haven’t already been used to describe him, and better….

Suffice it to say that his slow, genuine life is something that both my husband and I honor in our lives. We mention him fairly frequently, and will continue to do so.

When I left New Orleans after college, I knew I was leaving an important and formative part of my life behind. I was also leaving a city and people I love behind, and I didn’t know when I would be back. When we filled up at the gas station that day, I broke down and cried. I had to face impermanence head on, and just accept change.

Things change, time passes, people live and die. Bob Borsodi died, just as we all must. However, to learn that he was so racked with the pain of metastasized, fatal cancer that he leapt to his death from the Hale Boggs Bridge, into the Mississippi River…and not only that, that I missed his passing by more than four years….well, it’s just given me food for thought. What a mindfulness bell…. I’ve got much to think about…..

A Cage Without a Bird — Bob Borsodi

I have a dove that dwells

Within a cage without a door.

(I took the door off years ago.)

And pretty girls have asked,

Their minds full of externals,

“Is it safe?”

And how perhaps he needs a door

To protect him

Lest he sneak away somehow to the city outside

And be lost.

And compounding their request,

If he needs a mate

That he might want for friendship

In his prison without a gate.

Well, here it is.

The dove and I have achieved this rare liberty

Only after many years,

A tedious story of near disaster experiences,

Murky and dreary, too unkind to recall.

The surest safety

Comes from a source deep inside,

Deep inside the boney cage,

From a peaceful feeling there

Which I would do harm to explain.

And the sweetest friendship likewise

Comes from a free feeling there, deep inside,

That I would do harm to tame.

Yet peaceful and free

We do no harm to be.


I had the fantastic fortune of going back to yoga this week. I’ve really missed it since we moved. I tried to establish a practice here, but it’s a bit crowded, and never very quiet. When yoga is properly practiced, at least for me, it’s such a wonderful moving meditation. At least, that’s how I think it ought to be.

I was lucky enough to have a classically trained teacher – a true yogini. I learned SO much from her. In fact, right before we left, I was contemplating certifying, at her suggestion. At this point, though, I’ve got a long journey back to where I was….

At the end of my first week back of regular practice, I had an instructor who’s practice was less than balanced. We did entirely too many sustained inversions, to my mind, at least for the mixed level of participants there. I was thinking that through most of the practice. After the class, I was trying to show my MIL (she was in the class that day) the traditional sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) I “grew up” with when my right shoulder just gave way and collapsed, right in the middle of bhujangasana. Talk about a total shock. I use my arms all the time – they are not weak, to my mind (think farmer’s wife). The only thing I can think of is that it was the same shoulder that I dislocated 3 times when I was a toddler. I dunno. Anyway, I’ve been forced to rest it this week, and practice has been impossible. Actually, for the first few days, a lot of things were impossible, or at least very painful.

It occurred to me that this was a great teaching for me – a lesson in humility and impermanence. Life changes, we all age, the range of possibilities shifts. I have no doubt I can return to my yoga practice. I just need to be more mindful and gentle with myself.