I’m just back from a month long work trip. I very much enjoyed meeting some of the Seishindo community in Antwerp, Belgium and Austin, Texas. It’s wonderful to meet people face to face for the first time, and to know our community is truly thriving!
Today I offer another story from my Greek saga. Enjoy!
2. “Reality” is a frame of mind
I get arrested early January 1972.
Incarcerated during a Greek military dictatorship, the police have free reign. They take perverse pleasure in making the life of new prisoners as miserable as possible.
What they do with me early on, is take away all my outer clothing and put me in a concrete cell with no bed, mattress, or blankets. It’s close to freezing at night, and I’m soon feeling horrible.
A day and a half into my ordeal, I realize there’s a direct correlation between how tired I am and how cold I feel. Unable to sleep, I crouch in the corner with my back to the wall and from time to time I doze off.
At some point, feeling the cold going straight through to my kidneys, I wake up as if I’m startled, and get up and walk around some. Trying to get my circulation and my spirit, moving again.
A day later I’m in constant pain and I fear that if I fall asleep I might never wake up again.
Somehow, blessed with a moment of clarity, I realize it’s crucial to not turn my pain into suffering. It’s not the cold and tiredness I need to fight, but the suffering.
Enduring the pain, without making it any worse than it is. By wishing I was warmer.
Enduring the pain, while maintaining a deep sense of respect and appreciation for myself.
Remaining vigilant, so they can’t sneak in and steal my soul.
Like a pickpocket on a crowded street, who bumps you and is gone before you realize what happened.
There are numerous stray cats in the facility I’m in, and they roam through the prison with total freedom.
When let out of my cell for exercise I come across a young kitten, that appears to be in worse shape than I am. When put back in my cell again for the evening I take the young kitten with me. The guard doesn’t seem to mind, and I’m happy to have a companion.
As the night air begins to chill I place the kitten inside my shirt and we share our body heat. After a while the kitten begins to doze off, and I feel much warmer than I have before.
Together, we’re both better able to make it through the night.
When morning comes and I’m given a cup of tea and a piece of bread, I share my breakfast with my new found friend.
When the guard comes back to collect my cup and sees the kitten lapping up some tea, he looks at me like I’m crazy. But in that moment I know I’ll survive!
I’m no longer alone, and I’ve made it through the night and through my darkest hour.
It’s funny how we change during the course of our lives.
As a young child I would go out in the middle of winter with only a tee shirt on and never feel cold. After Greece, I discover I need a great deal of warmth and comfort.
Now, when I’m caught outside in the winter without sufficient clothing, I sometimes find myself feeling weak and fragile. When this happens I take a moment and remember the kitten and the time we shared together. I imagine my little friend is inside my shirt and I feel its warmth, I feel its life force. Feeling the body heat of the kitten travel through me, it warms my soul.
That little kitten taught me a great deal about the power of relationships.
Indeed, I’ve come to realize “I” am the sum of all my relationships….
And reality is simply a frame of mind.