Well since I’ve been abandoned in Pukekhoe I’m taking the opportunity to update this journal. Blake was supposed to pick me up at the pet store here and give me a lift back. I stopped to do some bills and buy some goldfish for the pond here at Vimutti. But said he "didn’t know which store I was at, and was already late for lunch," so he left me in town. Nice. I didn’t even know there was another store in Puke and the guy from New Zealand didn’t think to ask for clarification. So I called the monastery and said I’d hitch back but I’m finishing what I came into town to do, mainly my email and a story update, so expect me back at around 2. I hardly think that’s unreasonable of me but I’m expecting to catch grief over it once I get back though I’ve done nothing wrong. The monks have caught on to the fact that I’m slightly absent-minded and now I’m under the microscope; anything I mess up on gets heaped onto the big pile of "what Earl did wrong" and the "what he did right pile" gets sent to the recycling bin. Sort of like a few days back. A major Buddhist holiday went by last Sunday whose name escapes me, and Ajahn Chandako gave me a Vimutti T-shirt to comemmorate the occasion. Now, I wasn’t aware that this was a special occasion-only tee…Just a t-shirt. And anyone who knows me knows I really don’t give too much regard to outer-wear. Especially when I’m working. Also, Ajahn was meeting Venerable in the back of the property the next day, so he told me to bring the soymilk I offer each morning with me so when i saw him in the back property I could offer it then w/o delay. I made sure to comply; even before I started work I told Nina, who was going to teach me how to cut new flax plants, "I need to get the soymilk now while I’m thinking about it so I don’t forget it." So I grabbed it at 7:30 a.m. and took it with me while we worked…Aaaaand got the box a tad dirty. And got my Vimutti Tee dirty as well from rooting out flax. WELL…Ajahn was slightly displeased when I saw him, as was Venerable…And they made brittle jokes to sort of lessen the blow while still conveying their disapointment (funny how we still play social games, be it an office building or a monastery hah) and me, well I dived right into the humorous aspect, which I usually do when I’m embarassed about something. I said that "I wear it proudly during work to show to all my dedication to Vimutti. Venerable Johti put in that apparently Vimutti is dirty and unenlightened. I put in that "I’m dirty and unenlightened, so why wear a mask?" He didn’t appreciate that. But I caught his expression and I offered to wash the soymilk box and apologized about the shirt but the displeasure was still there…Ajahn refused and Venerable informed me he raged a bit about it later.
See, in Earl’s universe the soymilk is inside the box and therefore it matters little if the box is dirty. And a shirt is just a shirt and can therefore be washed. But I see their perspective as well…It’s a matter of percieved respect and a dirty soymilk box is not something one offers a head monk in Thailand. And the Vimutti-tee is special because it has "Vimutti Buddhist Monastery" printed on it, so should not be used to work. Even though people wear them to the "Good Kamma Working Day" we have and get them dirty every time…For some reason mine must remain clean. So I’m not raging at them at all despite my sarcasm; the soymilk at least was definitely my bad. I also realized belatedly that they took it as "Earl just doesn’t care because he isn’t catching out displeasure," so now Earl’s under the radar because he got the monk’s soymilk box dirty and used his Vimutti T-shirt as a workshirt…So even though I simpy mirrored their humorous speech to mitigate the confrontation that lay between the lines, it had the opposite effect of what I wanted. And ironically, the monks failed to pick up on it but I did. Fascinating, and yet…Sigh.
Two days ago we (myself, Blake, Nina, and Jason) drove to a neighboring farm and shoveled horse manure into big canvas bags to use back at Vimutti for tree fertilizer. I forgot my gloves and the Pajero still stinks slightly but it was suprisingly fun. As soon as we walked into the mare paddock, all six horses thunder over, expecting a bale of hay, and seem quite interested in the fact that these silly humans were going around shoveling their shit about. They seemed quite appreciative, even, to the point of giving us fresh steamers to load up. Poop-jokes were as abundant as flies that afternoon, and made things truly memorable.
I’ve learned all of the planting techniques I could from Nina and Blake since both of them are leaving in about a week and I’ll have to be more or less self-sufficient. I am and I’m not looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve made a lot of ground in many ways, and I want to prove to Ajahn Chandako that I’m actually not as careless as I outwardly appear to be. Hopefully the monks notice me trying.
We went to Katikati again three days back to see Marc, a Buddhist who used to come to the monastery, but contracted a mysterious ailment that’s left him bedridden for nearly a year. He turned out to have an amazing sense of humor considering his circumstances and him, Venerable, and Blake chatted on Dhamma-related stuff that was generally over my head but fascinating to listen to…Like using quantum physics to explain various psychic phenomena prevalent in so-called meditation masters. I reserve judgement on the truths of the matters but it was almost amusing how casual they were about subjects like looking at the past and future through meditation, and body-splitting…
We had a beach-walk afterwards, which are always nice, and I’m pretty sure I saw a waterspout on the horizon for the first time. The twisting cyclone didn’t quite make it halfway to the choppy sea’s surface, but it still made me pang once more for my camera heh. It writhed ever so subtly and it was on the edge of a rainstorm so I’m pretty sure it was indeed a waterspout. Awesome./
Called Mom today; it’s her birthday and she was out with my brother at a chinese restaurant. She sounded quite happy, which pleased me since when I called during Mother’s day she sounded a tad melancholy. I suspect it’s because Greg was in NYC and I was here…I’m making her something that I think is pretty awesome though it’s taxing my patience and ability. I’m carving a macrocarpa-wood heart pendant…Once I’m done I’m going to inlay it with Paua shell fragments, get some New Zealand greenstone, and make a Maori-style necklance. I think she’ll love it. More on that once I make more progress heh.
Feeling a bit off…Change in weather’s getting to me I think. My eyes have been itchy and red all morning though i got plenty of sleep and I’ve ever so slight of a headache…And now I’m gonna miss lunch cuz Blake decided to abandon me so I’m slightly annoyed. At least I got to finish my email; won’t get to check it for about a week or so.
So what’s new with you?