The Joy Fuck Club

Warning: In case you missed the title, the following post contains adult content and coarse language not appropriate for children or prudish wankers.

A surfer buddy of mine who shall remain nameless sent me a joke yesterday about a materialistic woman and a fairly typical guy.

So this evening, after spending ALL day in front of the computer, I’m out running on the beach at low tide with my blind dog Zee zigzagging along behind me and I see a guy coming out of the water who’s a real jackass. I start thinking, “Oh great, Jackass is back…” when I catch myself and say, “Now Dawn, turn that shit around…” and I start telling myself he doesn’t mean to be a jackass and he’s just like the rest of us and, no, I’m no better than Mr. Jackass. Then because I’m not believing myself, I know I’m better than that jackass, I abandon reason and go with my loving kindness mantra (yeah, I really do that shit). It goes like this, “May all beings be filled with loving kindness, may they have compassion, may they be filled with joy, may they feel at peace and at ease…may all beings be filled with loving kindness…” You get the idea.

I’m running along, my breathing in sync with my internal mantra chanting and I decide to make myself smile to increase the positive vibe I’m starting to feel. That’s when my mind wanders off in a totally different direction, as it tends to do, and I start thinking about the joke my friend sent me. Suddenly, it dawns on me that following the reasoning of the joke my name would be Surffuck, as in a knighted Japanese guy, Sir Fuk. An even bigger smile breaks out on my face, and my chest inflates as I’m filled with pride at my great show of wit (delayed though it may have been). I soaked in that glow for a few seconds before returning to my mantra.

At times, when I really get into my mantra, I leave all the extra words out and just chant, “Loving kindness, compassion, joy, peace…loving kindness, compassion, joy, peace,…” So tonight I was running along and on autopilot. I wasn’t even thinking consciously about the mantra, the words just continued flowing through my mind in a stream. At one point though, when I turned my full attention back to my inner voice and this is what I was chanting:

Loving-kindness, compassion, joy, fuck, loving-kindness, compassion, joy, fuck.

Well, I started laughing right there on the beach in the dark. That last mile was over before I knew it and Mr. Jackass was completely exorcized from my mind. Then I realized I’d abandoned more than the mantra, I’d left my poor blind dog in the dust about half a mile back.

A Love Poem

Aimless Love
by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Thinking About Shrinking

A lot of time has passed since writing on this blog. And while there are many reasons and excuses, the main one is that life has turned and changes are a foot.

The past month was spent on the lovely Hawaiian island of Maui. Where a new home was purchased. Then the manfriend’s house in California was put up for sale and in great earnest preparations for the sale made. Painters hired, extraneous possessions organized to be tossed, sold or taken to Goodwill. All of this on top of the sale of the home in Mexico, where again possessions are being organized to be tossed, sold or taken to Hawaii.

The process of reducing ones possessions is a difficult and exhilarating one. Difficult because of the attachments we form to the objects and exhilarating because there is a sense of freedom gained as each unnecessary object is let go.

The attachment to some objects is understandable. They are a part of our history, the story of our lives. We remember receiving the Australian Audubon Society plant press, a thoughtful gift from the mother-in-law, at a time when we worked as a botanist. Used only once or twice, it sits collecting dust on a shelf in California, but nevertheless retains the memory of the gift received from an important character in early adulthood.

In processing the object’s history as it relates to our own, we recognize its inherent value and hope someone else might benefit from possessing it. It is in this process of evaluation that it is decided whether to toss it, sell it or give it away – to share possibly that feeling of delight in receiving a gift.

Some items are valuable only because of the history they represent. The large ashtray with a voluptuous woman reclining down its center may look like a piece of junk to most people, but to the manfriend it is a connection to his mother who gave him this strange gift many years ago. And then she died of lung cancer from smoking too many cigarettes. He had the good sense to quit smoking after her death, but holds on to the ashtray.

On the other hand, the freedom we feel from releasing our attachment to physical objects is understandable in that with fewer possessions we have less to concern ourselves with. The brass tacks of having less things to dust and maintain. But it is also a visual freedom – freedom from the noise of cluttered surroundings. In an environment filled with “stuff” we feel stressed and irritable. Remove the clutter and peace is at hand. It is this belief that motivates the Zen Buddhists to maintain their surroundings in serene simplicity.

As previously mentioned, clutter makes us stressed, less peaceful. Stress makes our bodies release cortisol, increasing blood sugar levels, which releases insulin, giving us hunger pangs and food cravings.

40 pounds of clutter = 40 pounds of body fat

Lose the clutter, lose the fat? The first time I downsized from a four bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment I lost 200 pounds (a 170 pound husband plus 30 pounds of fat).

So how much do we really need? How many pairs of shorts, jeans, or shoes? Like me, do you maintain a large pile of old t-shirts because you need one to do work around the house? How many cars do you need? ATVs? books? And the consummate question for the surfer: How many surf boards are enough? Can you get by with one? And if so, which one?

Zen and the Art of Surfing

For a deed to be totally pure, it must be done without any thought of reward, whether worldly or divine. It is this kind of deed which is called a “deed of merit.” And because no merit is sought, it is a deed of immeasurable merit, of infinite merit.


Thich Thien-An

It is not without irony that this quote was read immediately after penning the previous day’s blog.

The blog entitled “The Reward.”

This was read in the book by Jaimal Yogis called Saltwater Buddha: A surfer’s quest to find Zen on the sea. Read while sitting on the toilet, truth be told.

Juxtaposed next to yesterday’s blog, this Zen saying suggests that the manner in which I have been undertaking surfing lacks purity. Because clearly from the blogs title, it has as its end the reward of the wave ridden. Possibly also the men or women impressed, the stories of great adventure and big waves conquered. The stroking of the ego.

So how do we approach surfing in a more Zen way? With a purity of intent?

The answer, presumably is contained in Jaimal’s book. But I have not finished it yet.

So in the meantime, let us ponder the notion here on this blog. It has been discussed in a previous blog that surfing has an aspect of meditation in it. That in moments of pure concentration the mind stops its normally incessant chatter and we simply “are.” We are “in the moment,” “one with the wave,” “in the zone.” It is like meditation on a candle or flower, combined with walking meditation where the goal is to be completely concentrated on the act of walking, thereby losing the “self” in the act.

What is most bizarre and a bit disconcerting about these moments as they occur while surfing is how fleeting they are. The feeling that comes with moments of no-mind seems to be forgotten before it can be savored. And the lasting feeling of peace that comes from surfing, I believe, has more to do with the exhaustion it induces than with anything to do with Zen.

But maybe that’s because there is often another wave to be paddled over, the impact zone to be hurriedly exited and more waves on their way. The activity itself does not ordinarily promote savoring the moment after the fact. But that again contains aspects of Zen…no dwelling on the past. You must remain focused on the present or risk having a big wave dump on your head, or a fellow surfer run you over as you linger on the inside.

One of my favorite books Peace is Every Step was written by a Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh. In a less than surprising bit of synchronicity, in his book about Zen and surfing, Jaimal goes to the French village begun by Thay (as he is known). Thay’s book is very much about how we can practice Zen in every day moments. How a stop light can act as a bell of mindfulness. To remind us to be present in this very moment. To discard the incessant and often negative thoughts bombarding our psyche day in and day out.

The Zen in surfing can similarly be attained in the way by which it is approached. Are we entering the water with an open heart, wishing blessings on everyone we encounter – the wave, the fish, the turtles and even the sharks (human and cartilagenous alike).

I mentioned my mantra “surf your surf” in my previous post – this too becomes an act of Zen – to remain focused and concentrated on the activity at hand instead of distracted by the crowd, especially the chest-thumping, testosterone-exuding surfistas. The mood remains elevated and genuine smiles and greetings are exchanged creating a vibe that is open, friendly.

The result is pure magic, pure Zen. The act of surfing becomes a dance with no feet trod upon. The rides full of grace.

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Check out Jaimal Jogis’ Video about his new book HERE.

For more about Zen, click HERE.

Click here to order Peace is Every Step.

The Art of Surfing

I did not post anything yesterday, as some of you may have noticed. Instead I went surfing. It was suggested by a friend, who noticed the omission, that surfing was a waste of my time. That I would be better off writing.

“But you run!” I countered. He replied “Yes, but that does not take much time.”

And so the question was posed by myself to myself:

Is surfing worthy of the large chunks of time spent in its pursuit? Would I be better off doing something else with my time? If the downside to surfing is the amount of time it takes to do it, what are the positive aspects of surfing that non-surfers might not appreciate? And in the pursuit of one passion (writing), must you give up others (surfing)?

My friend is right. Surfing is a very time-consuming activity. Particularly if you, like me, want to make the most of it every time you go out. Typically I surf for three hours straight. Then I might come in, go home to eat something and watch to see what happens over the course of the day. If conditions are good in the afternoon, there is a good chance a second session will be undertaken. The second session is often shorter, but can be as long as two or two and a half hours. On REALLY good days, I’ve been known to surf three times.

The end result is that entire days can be spent in the pursuit of waves. That is a lot of time to spend doing a sport. Some would go so far as to call it decadent. But is surfing just a sport? or is there more to it than meets the uninitated eye?

The label “surf bum” is often applied to surfers who spend a lot of time surfing and less time working or taking care of the things that other people feel they must do in the course of their daily lives. And certainly, the perception is that the surfers are “wasting” their time.

An older surfer I know has been quoted as saying:

In my life, I’ve had a wonderful time wasting my time surfing. And the most important word in that statement is “wonderful.”

Hedonistic? Maybe, but I submit that this notion of surfing as a waste of time is completely subjective. Who are we to say that anything one does is a waste of time?

You are right now exactly where you should be.

The spiritual nature of surfing must not be dismissed. Between sets, sitting atop his board, surfer becomes meditator. The only sounds he hears is the roar of the waves and sea birds’ calls. She bears witness as whales breach and cavort outside the break. Sunrise and sunset are greeted partially submerged in the pulsing, breathing, life-giving Ocean. Immersed in nature, surrounded by beauty, the surfer is transformed.

The metaphorical becomes reality when the surfer literally walks on water. Unlike a mountainside or other solid surface, the wave is ever changing and dynamic, requiring of the surfer so much focus and concentration that the mind is released from the craze-inducing endless stream of thoughts. The surfer realizes a Zen-like state. Surfing offers release and the surfer returns from the adventure calmer, more centered, content.

The end result is EXACTLY the same as meditation!

So you tell me, is meditation a waste of time?

Yesterday’s surf at Nine Palms, Baja, Mexico.