PERSONAL ESSAYS…


How to Handle Destructive Emotion

By Linda Mason Hunter

April 25, 2019

            The March 18, 2019 issue of Time magazine documents the life of the 14th Dalai Lama, the foremost spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, a wise and peaceful man considered a living Buddha of compassion. I’ve followed his teachings for some time now and find them an antidote to the hectic way of American life.

As I grow older I see the quiet, frugal life I knew as a child change at an alarming pace, and I worry for our children. Where is the time for reflection? Where is the time to be a good steward, a good neighbor, a good parent? The Dalai Lama, now 84 and slowing down, is worried, too. Here’s what he has to say about that.

            “Western civilization is very much oriented toward materialistic life. But that culture generates too much stress, anxiety, and jealousy, all these things. So, my Number One commitment is to try to promote awareness of our inner values.”

The Dalai Lama believes that from kindergarten onward, children should be taught about taking care of emotion. “Whether religious or not, as a human being we should learn more about our system of emotion so that we can tackle destructive emotion, in order to become more calm, have more inner peace.”

The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama

How do we tackle destructive emotion? First by recognizing it when we see it in ourselves. When you feel it rise up, take a deep breath—or two or three—calm down, and begin anew. It’s a challenge, but with practice it gets easier. Meditation helps, too, or some kind of mindfulness practice.

Learn not to engage in controlling, manipulative behaviors—like jealousy, guilt-tripping, threats, intimidation, gaslighting, violence--as are bound to occur in relationships. The way I deal with it isn’t perhaps the best way, but it works for me. I don't get mad; I get distant. When tension gets so hot I can't focus, I flee. I leave the room or hit the highway, going going going going until I reach a place where I can breathe again.

Deep breathing is strong medicine. Teach your children.

Source: Time magazine

http://time.com/longform/dalai-lama-60-year-exile/


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Enchanted Light

By Linda Mason Hunter

October, 2018

I’d heard, of course, of the enchanted light in New Mexico, particularly the mountainous areas around Taos and Santa Fe which for centuries has attracted artists from all over the world. But it wasn’t until I experienced it that my soul understood.

It first happened on my initial drive into Santa Fe on I-25, with Albuquerque in my rear view mirror. It was springtime and the ochre desert, with its prickly cacti, was abloom with wildflowers, random bursts of crimson, hot pink, fuchsia, shades of blue, and gold. The sharp resinous taste of a single juniper berry, the residue of a recent hike in the desert, lingered on my tongue. As I neared Santa Fe, the soft pungent smell of piñon logs burning in outdoor kivas drifted through the open windows of my car, tickling the hair in my nose.

With the sun slowly fading into the west behind me I caught a shimmer out the corner of my eye. Traffic was relatively heavy so I couldn’t fix my gaze on the shimmer. I could only glimpse it in small gulps.

What caught my eye was a pale blue pickup truck rumbling peacefully along in the lane beside me. An ordinary beatup pickup right out of the early 1950s, with its rounded corners and bed packed with tools and lumber, the working vehicle of a carpenter or tradesman. The low sun was shining on it in a way that highlighted its contours, making the outline gleam and sparkle like it was the star of the road, an unearthly glow emanating from within its rusty metal. Something extraordinary. Magical. Once I knew what it was I couldn’t keep my eyes off it.

Enchanted light. It has to do with the altitude and the arid climate. 7500 feet, where oxygen is thin and the air dry, making the air clean, pure. 

And the sky. Lapis blue surrounding you, punctuated with white fluffy clouds carrying the spirits of native ancestors who walked and built and loved and fought on this red earth. A cosmos hinting at mysteries within mysteries. A sky that pleads “Use all your stars” to those who walk below. As Willa Cather wrote in Death Comes for the Archbishop, “Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky…the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!”


Life is Good

By Linda Mason Hunter

April 12, 2018

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    What a way to end Mercury retrograde! Rode as copilot on a floatplane, with 180 degree views, from Gabriola Island to the port of Vancouver, British Columbia. "I'm a bit claustrophobic" I told the young pilot as I gingerly stepped through the door of the tiny plane. "Well then, why don't you sit up front with me," he replied.

     After strapping me in, he gave me a set of headphones to wear so I could hear him speak to me, as well as eavesdrop on the chatter of air traffic control. Then off we went, up up and away, over the Johnstone Strait with its numerous islands ringed with granite cliffs covered in pine, arbutus, cedar, and spruce; me searching the sparkling ocean for signs of orca and dolphin, following the trail of tankers from all over the world headed for English Bay. Then, slipping through the mouth of the Bay, over the water past UBC and a string of beaches (there's mine! Kits Beach, where I live just up the hill). Around the tip of Stanley Park the plane descends to just a few feet off the water. I watch the Vancouver skyline creep closer and closer and lower and lower, until....we round a corner and splash! We are on the water, floating into the dock in the heart of downtown, just like a boat.

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     The smell of fossil fuel makes me lightheaded up here in the front of the plane. I spot a boat with a sign that reads "Spill cleanup." A shame it has to exist, but that doesn't dampen my spirits. The rain is over; spring has arrived with promised warmth, cheerful birdsong, and good karma. Wow!