Day 35 - Activity Mania

Trip Start May 18, 2008
Trip End Jul 17, 2008

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San Jose Park and Ride

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 35

As promised, the meeting in the morning did happen. I got up before 7:30 when Albert came downstairs and it was as if I just rolled over, opened my eyes and started chanting. Other men came in around 7:45 to join us. Soon it was a room of 10 men chanting early in the morning. The men in the Berkeley area get together every Saturday to do this. Talk about consistant practice.

We did chant for an hour and a half and it felt great to. There are times when I chant that it feels like it drags on but when you are "in rhythm" or better put, adopt the attitude of focusing on transforming your life, nothing stops you. It makes you so much more apt to this attitude when everything that surrounds you is unfamiliar, or rather you're in a different setting. I was definitely in a different setting, but it didn't feel all too unfamiliar. It's a great feeling. We followed up the chanting with some announcements about a big Men's activity going on the next weekend. Men from all over the west coast would be gathering and getting guidance from national leaders and encouraging each other in their efforts in the SGI.

After the meeting, I had a chance to talk to Albert about culture. He had lived in Norway for a few years for school and experienced it's people and culture while practicing with SGI members there. We shared how people can be very different in different places but at heart, people are people. If your heart is determined to make a life connection with another individual, you can make that happen no matter the surface differences. The heart is what matters. Thank you, Albert.

I heard from Akira the night before that there would be an SGI young men's bowling activity in the afternoon today. Let's do it. I left Albert's place for the SGI East Bay Community Center to meet up with these guys.

I got to the community center and there were several guys chanting as we waited for others to join us. Once we got everyone together, we did our evening recitation of the sutra (gongyo) together and then some announcements were made for opportunities to go to the Florida Nature and Culture Center for upcoming conferences. One of the guys making the announcements was Brandon. I had heard about this guy from my friend Shariffa back in DC. She gave me his number so a few nights ago, I gave him a call to see if we could meet up and find time to chant and talk. I didn't get a call back.

The bowling alley was in walking distance from the community center and we had a big group of almost 20 guys ranging from around 14 to 30. We claimed 3 lanes and went at it. This is where the crunch happened with the money. I had four dollars of cash on me. Finally got to the point where I had to start borrowing money because I didn't realize but I had 2 dollars in my account. It doesn't really work out well at the ATM machine when you ask for 20s when you have only 2 dollars. I had asked my mother for a loan and she hadn't gotten around to it. So I'm bowling with guys on someone else's money and I would feel like a jerk to not be able to pay someone back especially when I'm just a passerby. I trade texts with my mom and she happened to be able to make a transfer happen from her phone (which she tried for the first time) and minutes later, when I tried at the ATM, it spat out the money that I needed. Phew, I needed that 4 dollars to get over the Bay Bridge tonight.

I got a chance to approach Brandon and talk to him. He's this tall, funny and always joyful seeming guy that spins positive to anything that's going on. He was so sorry that he hadn't gotten a chance to call me back because he was in a meeting when I called and planned on calling right back but got distracted after the meeting and forgot. He said it was good that our paths crossed because he was thinking me of inviting me to the bowling activity but Akira beat him to it. He shared with me what the guys were like in the Bay Area, and what SGI activities were like. While the younger kids were teasing those with gutterballs and distracting them while they bowled, Brandon reassured me deep down, they're good guys with a bright smile. I also made a good connection to other guys like Andrew and Atsuyoshi. Andrew was going to attend the Student Division Conference at FNCC (the one I went to last year) and Atsuyoshi wants to attend SUA (where my brother just graduated from). I guess I had both something to offer in discussion. So we all talked between turns bowling.
After the storm, I was left in the dust, not even eclipsing the 100 mark in bowling. I should chant more.

After the bowling, I had a chance to attend one last meeting in Berkeley. After a run to Chipotle and catching up on some of my writing, I went to the meeting. I was surprised to see that many of the young men that I saw at bowling came out to the discussion meeting for the Berkeley Marina District. The meeting that followed was fantastic with lively discussion about the meaning and value of developing leadership for our communities and for our practice. Two members shared their heartfelt experiences about overcoming somer serious obstacles in their lives. One woman shared about her struggle to have children after suffering from a hormone imbalance which led to other health problems. When she'd practically given up on her dream of having her own children, after putting faith in her practice of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, she came out victorious and had children of her own to speak of. To her, her son wasn't a miracle but the result of her intense struggle of life.

The meeting left me encourage but I had to remind myself of the reality. Again with no plan of action after the meeting, I was forced to think on the spot of plans. My plan B of where I could stay that night was to find a hostel in San Francisco to stay at for a night. Fortunately, I got in contact with my friend Lisa Noon who just finished school in Santa Cruz, CA and was going to be there for a bit before she left for the Student Division Conference at FNCC this upcoming weekend. She said I could stay over Sunday night. That still left tonight free. I went to the hostel in Fort Mason in San Fran. Bad news, I guess good fortune can't follow me everywhere because the hostel was full when I got there at 11pm-ish.

Hmm, what do I do?? Well, I guess I could drive towards Santa Cruz and sleep in my car and meet up with Lisa sometime the next afternoon/evening. Only option right? I drove some, found a park and ride and reclined the driver side seat. Good night.

Miles driven today: 69.9mi

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