Sunday, November 27, 2005


Thanksgiving. American style. In the Midwest.

We did it again. Went to the Midwest to spend a couple of days surrounding Murkin Thanksgiving with family. Now, I love my parents. And I love my siblings and their children. But love doesn't mean complete comfort level, of course. For a person who grew up in the "heartland" of the Excited States but who is now extremely uncomfortable with the values and lifestyle thereof, I sometimes question why I return and subject myself to discomfort.

The easy answer, of course, is that my parents aren't getting any younger. . . not that I am, either, of course. And while it means a lot to them for us to visit from time to time (especially since long travel isn't something they do as often as they used to,) seeing them and spending some time before they move on is important to me.

So what about the discomfort? Where does it come from? First, the what.

Attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of some of my family members. Some things really cause me pain. Illiberal, judgmental attitudes ... the negative point-of-view that is either explicit or lurking, waiting in the wings. Writing people totally off because they hold views or have lifestyles that are very different.

But why should this bother me so much? In point of fact, I've been somewhat depressed as a result since returning. I even had to get out of the house today to get some solitude. It had nothing to do with my wife, I just needed some solitude.

The why, I think, has to do with attachment. In Buddhist belief and understanding, attachment is at the root of suffering. Or at least, that's my understanding. I have only the most rudimentary understanding of Buddhism, but it is an understanding I will be seeking to expand.

Basically, it seems that being attached to a thing or being, in either a positive or negative way, is what can cause suffering. It is being invested in that object or being such that its nature or actions have a power over one, thus having a type of control.

As a final note, my spiritual views are informed by what I have called "Native American spirituality". I'm not sure that's an accurate or even appropriate term. I see great synergy between that perspective and Buddhism. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

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