Monday, October 11, 2010

Susan's Shuso Blog: Birdseed

This morning I learn why it is important for me to follow my daily ritual of honoring the altars and sitting zazen before daybreak. Darkness gives cover to things that call for my attention. Today I rise at 6:30, light incense at the garden altar and then, before sitting, my eye travels to the bird feeder.

I have been away, the feeder is empty, the birdbath needs water, the plants are dry. I don't have the discipline to sit with these demands. Instead of sitting, I walk to the back of the house where I keep the birdseed. I am startled by a raccoon. He looks up at me with a look of total unconcern. The look says, “Who are you to interrupt my breakfast?” I yell: “Get out of here!” I throw a shoe at him and miss. He saunters off behind the woodshed and I am left with the task of picking up scattered birdseed and minding the seed bag.

For the past month I have been drawing in a small sketchbook for a project sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. The theme for my sketchbook is “HELP.” I draw a woman screeching "HELP! HELP!" I draw a raccoon with paws tearing open a seed bag. I brush on glue and scatter birdseed over the page.

Last Saturday I attended a workshop on brush painting given by Michael Wenger at San Francisco Zen Center. I heard him say: “Painters don't have to sit as much as people who don't paint.”

Did I draw in the sketchbook as a way of avoiding zazen or was it zazen itself?

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