The plan was that on Thanksgiving I would fly to Phoenix, a couple of days after returning from touring in Texas, and get on a plane to L.A. At LAX I would catch a flight to Seoul and a second flight from there to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Sometime today I would have landed there.
I found this cheap flight in February and booked it right away. I also booked two different hotels, a cheap one for most of the stay, and a more pricey one for the the last couple of nights, just because it looked beautiful. I was feeling the urge to explore, after looking through a diary I had kept during my travels in Asia in 1978. That spirit of being nineteen in a foreign location was something I wanted to rekindle. Use it or lose it. Aging is quicksand and one can easily, and very quickly, get stuck. My co-pilot encouraged me and for a few weeks – this was during the California tour in February – I was very excited about this trip. I planned what I was going to take with me. It was going to be very little, just a backpack and a small carryon.
But this year unfolded very differently. I was able to get a refund for the flight, which the airline eventually cancelled altogether, and one of the hotels. The other hotel was bought at a non-refundable price.
There is always next year. Or the year after next year.
2020 became the year to stay home, to record music, and to think.
Yesterday I thought that life itself is the practice. Life is one cross-training opportunity after another. The practice is how we engage with another person, how we treat an animal, how we go about our daily business. Meditation, or prayer, are simply there to help us improve what is the real practice… daily life. The Dalai Lama said (I quote from memory) that we don’t need more Buddhists but we need more people who are kind.
Continuous practice, day after day, is the most appropriate way of expressing gratitude. This means that you practice continuously, without wasting a single day of your life, without using it for your own sake. Why is it so? Your life is a fortunate outcome of the continuous practice of the past. You should express your gratitude immediately.
— Dogen (translated by Kaz Tanahashi)