Life as an Extreme Sport

Rights and Passage

It seems like it must be a passage of adulthood, a rite that no one wants to pass but everyone eventually does, that one of authors becoming people, people flawed and awful. For some of us, that rite of passage is picking up beloved books of childhood comfort and realizing just how horribly racist they are, and that no amount of the warmth from Polgara’s kitchen can change the fundamental bedrock of racism that forms the faults and seams of the stories.

For others, the stories remain beloved comforts, heavy and warm and rich with the scent of a fresh bound book slowly worn by the repeated readings, the track of the digital scrolling past on a thin electronic tether to the most wonderful libraries. For those people, the rite of passage is different, worse and better, because what changes isn’t the story but the author, who reveals that they weren’t the person who wrote the beauty that comforted, consoled, and inspired you. But in some ways, you’re lucky. The text? It no longer belongs to the author; it’s your love that sustains it, that breathes life into it, that forms the bonds between people with that shared passion and love. You can take it and make it what you want and will; you never have to give the author another cent, never have to support them, never have to acknowledge them, and you can still have the beautiful, inspirational people living within the boundaries of that book binding, digital or otherwise.

You might have to let them go; it might be the only way you can handle the taint of the author, to turn away forever. But it’s a choice. You can keep the characters, and get rid of the author. They began living beyond the author when you began reading, when your mind gave them form. They are embodied by your imagination, your passion, your love.

It’s not just gods that are made real by your belief in them.

Broken Buddhas


For Nicholas.

I, as you most likely know, am a Buddhist. I am a very bad Buddhist: I drink, swear like a sailor, and until recently was a very happy ethical omnivore. I make my amends, though, and one way I do that is through routine meditation practice. As an offshoot of that, I have a lot of boddhisatva statues around my house. They’ve been on my mind lately – probably because, in the recent CLEAN ALL THE THINGS push, I’ve handled each of them to wash, dust, and reposition them.

From where I’m sitting on my bed, I can actually see four statues: a Green Tara, a Kuan Yin, a weeping Buddha and my yard gnome Buddha.So named because I found him as garden statuary in a garden store. There are at least another two Buddhas in other areas of my home. And what struck me about them is that they all, with the exception of the weeping Buddha, are broken.

The Green Tara on my nightstand is missing a lotus and what looks like a naga. The Kuan Yin in my bathroom is missing a hand. Another is missing lotus petals. My yard gnome Buddha is probably the best example of this, though: during a move, many moves ago, he tipped out of the chair he was being carried in and the back of his head shattered across the ground. Concrete meeting concrete is never a pretty thing.

It was my ex-husband who dropped the yard gnome Buddha, and I very distinctly remember him bracing for what must have seemed like the inevitable explosion. That I stood there thinking for a moment, and then laughed, was certainly not the expected response.

Looking back on it, it was one of those moments. Everything slowed to a crawl as I watched the Buddha tip over and shatter, and then there was a bit of a sideways shift while practice clicked and tumbled in to place. The yard gnome Buddha became, in one swan dive, a very nice, very literal embodiment of non-attachment.

I’d like to say that since then I’ve reached some serene, zen-like state, closer to enlightenment, but the reality is I have my good days and the bad. I’d also like to claim that having a set of largely broken Buddhas decorating my house was an intentional choice, but instead it is more serendipitous. A reminder about how messy life is, and how broken we each are, and that life is often about finding the beauty in the broken, and the people whose shards match your own.

these things go through your head

When I was little, my mother would buy the peanut butter that had separated in the jar. When we got home from the store, there was always the ritual of dumping the peanut butter into a bowl, stirring everything up, and then placing it back into the jar.

I never had to do this; Mom always did. It was sticky and messy and lunch for all of us, so leaving it in the hands of an impatient child probably would have been a bad idea.

Even though I never had to do this, I always hated it. It was so pointless, I though. Why spend the time and the mess and the energy when you could just spend a little more for the stuff that was already mixed? That was faster! It was cleaner! Therefore, it must be better.

Mom would just shrug and say that this was the way her mother did it, and this was the way she did it, and maybe some day I would understand. I was a child, so of course I knew that I would never understand, and fastercleaner would always be better.

It’s nearly 4am, and these are the things that go through your head when you’re standing in a bathrobe in the kitchen, mixing a new jar of peanut butter.

Into the Light – Alice Peacock

There’s something to be said about being who you know you can be, rather than who you are, and ideals and northern stars and guiding points rather than achievable goals, but I think it’s either still brewing, or I’ve found something I’m finally not worth placing online. Which, given what I’ve said here, says something in itself.