Monday, October 16, 2006

Bavaria is at her most beautiful in fall. Like Sophia Loren, she is somehow at her most beautiful, easy and self-possessed, in the golden warmth of the autumn sun.

We spent the weekend in Munich. Travelling down on Friday the 13th, the countryside going by in cascades of green and gold, red tile roofs, green fields and white inviting villages and dorfs.

It's so beautiful here, I love fall so much. We don't get fall, in Texas. The poor leaves scorch right off the trees and spiral down screaming, leaving tiny smoke trails.
Here, the apples redden, the leaves yellow, the evenings cool and sweeten.

Munich was its usual carnival of construction and people. We stayed at Pension Excelsior, the beds were soft and yummy, the room large with a sink for face washing and tooth brushing. It's on Kaulbachstrasse near the Englischer Garten, but the usual German desire to Fix Something was afoot and a Giant Noisy Machine was across the street with someone going for extra credit with a chainsaw at 8am.

It's useful to ask, if you like to sleep late, about "baustelle" in the area. If there's one right outside your window, as there has been %85 of the time I've been staying in Munich over the last 3 years, they probably won't tell you.

Pension Geiger is a great cheap place to stay, but don't bet on anything but the coffee for breakfast. I love Pension Steinberg for their soft beds, nearness to the English Garden, and incredibly fresh and fabuluous Fruesstuch (brekkie) and general gemutlicheit (hospitality), but the guest windows are across the street from a pub (this is normal) and people can be incredibly drunk and inconsiderate (gosh, I've never been one of *those* *ahem*) at 3 and 4 am.

Generally, if you can be forgiving of various personal errors, the Schwabing pensions can be delightful, especially if you are interested in having fun in Munich.

Other than that,look for cheap deals, check out the Bayern-Ticket, learn your Bittes and Dankes and enjoy the educated German's easy English skills. Germans love to speak English. It's required in school (from grammar school) and most understand at least spoken English. Perhaps it is a trait of Anglican obstinacy that everyone has to understand US.. honestly it makes me feel a little silly. Certainly any given German's skills in English are better than mine in German, but I like to give them a
"run for their money".. wait.. the $ is getting its pants beat off by the Euro... an even better reason to learn Deutsch.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I read a New Scientist recently about the origins of genius. The research points to two things: a supportive environment and hard work.

Even Tiger Woods, despite his early start, just out-worked the others.
I'm trying to be there right now, trying to purvey this little scrap of talent I have into something which will sustain me. Like a tiny flame on a cold winter night, I'm blowing on the part which is burning hottest.. which is not this blog. I'm sorry, but I'm just not able to commit like a good blogger.

Right now I'm building my practice, learning German, taking care of my mate, and eating as many apples right off the tree as I can get my hands on.
I got one today which had that old-fashioned almost clove-y taste mixed with the buttery warm, tart vanilla taste of a shade-cooled, delicately sun-warmed apple.

We had a friend stay with us for a while, and as he has an interest in things wild, I handed him a bit of everything I was devouring as we wandered through the woods.
Always, I took a bite first, to be sure.
And always, he gave it a try. Rose hips were a big hit, and the leftover apples at a 12th century ruin close to Regensburg.

In my memory lies a fateful day, when a senior monk at the Omori Shrine picked up a fallen mountain apple at the grave of Omori Sogen on the Big Island in Hawai'i.
He offered it to those of us following on the tour. After a shy second, I held out my hand. After nibbling to the core this hard, sour sphere, I carried the sticky remains with me until I found a suitable place to tuck it back into the earth.
The legend of the snake in Eden remains with me... but perhaps it's different for those of us who choose the cadeucus as their own.
In a metaphysical sense, I believe this mountain apple from the grave of Omori Sogen led me to also devour koryu as better for me than aikido. Not that I was poisoned, but cleared, to find my own path.

No one can ever be sure of their genius, only of their own efforts to find it. I shared what I could with this friend, I tried to show every inch of my own hard-won genius. When people receiving my work tell me I'm a genius, I reply with "I am very well trained" because it is the job of the trainee to reflect their training in their own unique way. I reflect the destruction of budo as the "life-giving sword" in a very concrete and meaningful way in my work. I am the tiny bird picking the teeth of the crocodile, the clown fish hiding in the arms of the anemone.
I'm not even noticed, pulling out thorns and pushing the system where I can. I'm a tiny tick-bird feeding off a rhino. I do it good, and it does me good. We don't think of it much, we don't think much of each other, and we don't exactly communicate in a detailed fashion. It can't, and I, I suppose, won't. Would it make a difference?

When I meet someone I suspect of genius, I cannot keep myself from trying to push them find their "groove". Our recent guest has such a talent with words/ideas/expression and a deeply expressive nature, as fine or finer than many things I've read, heard or seen. In my readings in psychology, conflict in the family is said to produce creative children. This one grew up in the depths of the Anglo Irish conflict (my mother she was Orange and my father he was Green) as did I to a very removed extent.

To see this conflict in person, to talk and reveal and listen, gave me more than is really understandable now. One thing I have come to understand, is that compound essence of time is the most important ingredient.

It took one mountain apple for me, and perhaps my feeling is that a handful of wild apples and rose hips can play the temptation of the wild adventure of wisdom and experience for another.

When wisdom is evil, so will I be.
Greece needed both Artemis and Athena.