Saturday, March 21, 2015

KOLAY GELSIN-Taking it Easy as a Path to Helping

Easy By Nature

True goodness
is like water.
Water’s good
for everything.
It doesn’t compete.

It goes right
to the low loathsome places
and so finds a way.

For a house,
the good thing is level ground.
In thinking,
depth is good.
The good of giving is magnanimity;
of speaking, honesty;
of government, order.
The good of work is skill,
and of action, timing.

No competition,
so no blame.

-Lao Tzu, Chapter 8, Tao Te Ching, translated by Ursula K. LeGuin 1997

Helping Hand_Kane_charcoal_pastel and oil pastel on paper_1991

Dearest Readers,

I spent a year+ in Turkey in the early 1970’s. One of the things I miss about that culture is the handy expression “Kolay Gelsin” which means, “May it go easy”. If someone you encounter is working, you could say kolay gelsin. You might say it to a friend who is vacuuming or organizing a big project, or someone outside building a wall. You do not have to know them.  At that time, my sense was that women were restricted from speaking to strangers on the street by custom and social class, so I kept my kolay gelsin-s to people at home. It served as a way to connect on a small level by recognizing someone’s effort. It was a sharing of basic humanness.
Two Crabapples_Kane_9x12_charcoal and pastel on tracing paper_1996

Lately I have been contemplating easy and simple as paths to clarity, meaning and helping others. Living with my dog in a furnished apartment in rural Vermont this past year has been an experiment in getting to the nub. Winter in the North East Kingdom of Vermont visually blankets the world in white silence. Leafless trees open the landscape to a sense of vastness. The mountains endure. The sky protects. 

You might call this awareness “pure perception”, a term I first heard in February on a night wilderness walk that I took with a group from the Shambhala Meditation Center of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. You can read about that here. The leader asked, “What is pure perception, and how is it related to bravery?” He did not reveal the answer on the night walk, but it has been the force behind my recent search for clarity and simplicity.
Garlic_india ink on paper_Kane_9x12_1992

So what’s it all about…this existence? My easy answer is that
meaning (Reality? Intelligence? Wisdom? Goodness? Soul?) is always flying through the air whether we humans are around to analyze it or not. It just is, like a background of flowing essence, always changing, but open, and uncomplicated.

This essence beneath existence, I think, interconnects us with everything and everyone, and is not complicated by intentions or rules.  
So how do I bring this insight into my life beyond my quiet studio? “How can I help?”  This is a central question in many religions, and especially in Shambhala Buddhism. How can I be a part of my community? This year I’ve looked into blogging for a Buddhist Center, being an art teacher after school at Peacham Elementary, and signing up to be trained as a hospice volunteer. All of these options created complications. I did not feel confident. I was in over my head, or I got no response.
Two Pears #1_Kane_30.5in x14.75in_pastel and ink on tissue paper_1992
Yesterday I remembered my neighbor last summer asking if I would volunteer to help at the new Peacham Historical Society, something that now seems so clear and simple. It's a half hour walk from my house! She reached out to me, and I say Kolay Gelsin!
My Hand_25x38_Kane_charcoal and conte on paper_1994

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