Ed. Note:This post is a guest article via the second Buddhist blog swap. The article was written by Richard over at My Buddha Is Pink. I am very excited to have this article featured here and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Fire most often conjures images of destruction. But there are species that depend on fire for life. In the Great Lakes region, jack pine is such a species that depends on fire to continue its existence. Cones from jack pine are so densely covered with resin that the seeds within can remain viable for many years. The trees also hold on to the cones rather than dropping them cyclically as other pine species do.
If a fire doesn’t periodically sweep through a stand of jack pine, the trees are overwhelmed by other species and eventually die out. But when a wildfire spreads through the stand, the intense heat burns away the resin from the cones. Afterward, the cones open, the seeds drop out onto the scorched soil, which is now in perfect condition for germination.
Life arises from destruction.
I find Buddhism is particularly well-suited for life situations like this. And while we all face cathartic events in our lives, few actually turn into the proverbial epiphany. Sure, something changes in our life and we may actually alter our course. But something so fundamental as an entirely new world view?
For many gay people, coming out is that moment; it’s a point in our lives when we say “Enough! I am tired of trying to be a part of something that doesn’t even recognize me. I am through with conforming to a fabricated notion of who I am and who I ought to be.”
This sense of liberation we feel when we tell someone else, “I am gay” is so profound that it really doesn’t matter if who we tell responds with, “Get out of my house, you’re no son of mine,” or by saying, “You freak! Go away!”
But it doesn’t take long for us to become affiliated with new tribes. Are we fem or butch? Lipstick or diesel? Do we want to hang with the klub kids or the boys next door? Are we leather or Polo? Top or bottom? Is it Judy or Madonna? And what of that new upstart, Lady Gaga?
And so unfortunately, our brief moment of liberation and freedom is lost as we trade one set of fabricated selves for another. Of course, at least we have more fun with the news ones. It’s so much easier to laugh, to feel more carefree when you’re no longer worried about who’s watching, or who might find out.
And so I blog. I blog with hopes that doing so will strengthen my own practice, help me through the next scarifying fire that comes along and shakes my dullness of complacency. I blog to share the hope I have found in the Triple Gem with anyone who cares to take a peak. It doesn’t matter whether he is some blue-haired fem boy that wears sparkle lipstick and dreads the day when he might have to find work that pays a little more than serving tables for all the old haggard trolls like me who smile at his youthful face and ogle his pert butt, or a tired leather daddy who may be questioning his meth-hyped nights on the circuit that are filled with slings and handcuffs. And I blog for the lonely queer who is plain, not very socially adept, and who still wonders why he has been cast this lot.
Oh my, nerd queers, I adore them! And a nerd Asian! OMG, just push me, I might fall over!
There’s an old story I’m sure many of you have probably heard. It’s the story of a man walking along a beach at low tide. Up ahead he sees someone bend over occasionally to pick something up and toss it out to the sea. As he gets closer, he realizes that the man is picking up star fish off the beach and throwing them back out to the water. When the man reaches this fellow, he asks him what he is doing. “I’m putting these star fish back in the water so they don’t die.” The man looks about him at the huge expanse of beach and all the exposed starfish. “Why do you even bother? There are hundreds, maybe thousands of star fish on this beach. You can’t possibly save them all before they die. What difference can you make?”
The stranger smiled, then stooped down to pick up another star fish, which he flung out to the sea.
“I made a difference with that one.”
So stop on by at My Buddha is Pink. Don’t matter if your queer or straight. Sometimes I get a bit crazy, sometimes I am overcome with the mundane. But it’s OK, it’s all Dhamma. And I hope it’s good Dhamma. It’s been good to me.
When I asked if you were a Buddhist, I had no idea that ‘My Buddha Is Pink’ is your blog! Ha ha! Now I get it!!! I’m pretty slow, I guess….Please don’t hate me.
You write well, and I am enjoying an ongoing perusal of your articles….
Thanks for sharing-
Another wonderful post Richard. I think it would be a good idea sometime down the road maybe for all of us to do a post on “why” we all blog. Some interesting perspectives out there.
Your post Richard has brought up a number of thoughts.
First it reminded me of an incident a couple of decades ago with a family member who is a lesbian. She hadn’t come out to most of the family and had moved to a large city as opposed to the small town she grew up in. One day I mentioned that I had been to a certain club in that city with a gay man who was a mutual friend of ours. She looked uncomfortable, surprised and then it was as if some sort of burden had been removed and she just lost so much tension. Now it is no longer an issue and she lives with her life partner in that city without this same kind of tension. But I will never forget that look of relief on her face. It is difficult to try to live without being able to fully express identity.
Then it brought up reasons I blog the way I do also. There are many women who have been silenced for a lot of reasons. Fear, gender stereotype, religious stereotype, culture… It’s one of the reasons I tend to get a little loud sometimes. Stepping out, with a little humor sometimes too, is totally survivable. It’s hard to keep a healthy mental state if it’s all hidden by repression and denial. And it’s impossible to sort out that mental state Buddhist-wise without acknowledging what’s actually happening.
So I speak with the loud women and encourage the silent women to find their voices too.
@Ohio Buddhist and @Genju,
Thanks for your kind words! This swap idea has been great!
Glad to hear some of your story, the beautiful picture- and happy to add you to my blogroll as well!
Thank you, Richard. I recall decades ago a young woman trying to ask me out. In my ignorance, confusion and shock – it was the first time in my life meeting a gay person – I know I hurt her with my response. That has stuck with me as a deep teaching about creating refuge for all.
Excellent article… the life cycle of white sage is similar. Their seeds don’t sprout till there’s been a fire, and the rain seeps the ashes down through the ground. The chemical content of the ashes breaks open their shells, and lets them know that there’s no competition around.
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