Some mornings I wake up on a mission. While I do try to embrace the lazy lie about when I can, most days I wake up before night is erased by day and it’s usually with something in my mind — a to-do list, a project on the horizon or one I’m already into — this morning it went like this: stumble to coffee pot, pour a cup and pour in a splash of half and half, take one sip, then go to the shelf where you keep the books on spiritual matters (what book doesn’t tend to spiritual matters, by the way?), and find Pema Chodron. Or just Pema, as I tend to refer to her in my mind. Just Pema. As if she’s my friend.
I crave input these days. The walls of this house, though I’m deeply grateful to have them around me, feel like they’re inching toward each other. Life has narrowed. So has my gaze. I keep feeling like I need something extra to get me through the last stretch of this, or if it is not the last, then this stretch of this — this weird middle — when no one seems to know what to do. Do we go back out? Do we stay in through the summer? I’m probably not alone in feeling like I don’t want to go anywhere until I have to, just to be on the safe side. I also know that fear puts us in a bad state.
I know I’m probably not alone in feeling like I’m not quite my best self these days, either. And I don’t know exactly why. I could make a list of reasons that I suspect are the culprit, but do they matter? And besides, the truth is, pretty much everything is just off. So why shouldn’t I be as well?
I think what I’m feeling these days is a need to deepen this experience somehow. I know what this period of time has meant to my marriage, to my family relationships and friendships, to my feelings about my home, about my work, and about the goings on outside of the fence that surrounds this little parcel of ground, but what I’m not quite sure about is what it has it meant to my insides. They feel at least a little bit different than they did two months ago. I’m still me, but as life changes, so do we. Maybe that’s all it is. Regardless, I needed and still need some grounding, so I’m sure that’s why I woke up with Pema in my mind. I selected “The Places That Scare You,” to peruse first thing this morning.
Meditation teaches us to be curious about the things that come through our minds, but to not judge them as good or bad or as anything but plain thoughts. It also teaches us that with every breath, the last moment is gone and will never be seen again. With every breath life is brand new. With every breath we shed the skin of who we were in the last one. I think that’s a wonderful philosophy to which I’d like to subscribe. I do wonder sometimes when I’ll become good at remembering it and I’ll change into someone who is always 100% present. And then, because I want to be a good student, I remind myself not to judge myself, and I begin again.
Maybe that’s what’s not quite right. All of this talk about changing this or that after this is “over.” Maybe that’s putting a whole lot of pressure on us. Maybe the very best thing we can get out of this pandemic is the knowledge that we are just right here. Right here. I’m the best meditator and student that I’m ever going to be, because there is no yesterday, and who knows what tomorrow will bring? We’re floating in a space that is becoming less connected to both, aren’t we? Every day feels sort of the same as the one before, yet every day, we begin again. And we’re new.
So, I’m drawn to Pema. I’m drawn to the things that remind me that this. Is. All. There. Is. And there doesn’t need to be anything else.
I’m so glad I’m forty-seven. I wouldn’t have dealt with my uneasy feeling in the same way twenty years ago. What a time to be alive.
Peace and love and happy Wednesday,