Knowing life is short, enjoy it - day after day, moment after moment.
- Suzuki Roshi
Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Cultivate a good heart.
- Pema Chodron
These are among my key points of study and contemplation lately. What use is irritability, fear and thoughtless reaction? Nothing but misguided protection mechanisms. Protection from...a slow or "idiot" driver? Someone with a sour disposition? People with shall we say, challenging (or plain fucked up) communication styles? A series of unavoidable bills? These are the kind of things I've found myseslf reacting to with rage and frustration.
Most of us are reacting to these types of situations the same way, and for some, extremely frustrated, or even violent reactions to situations and circumstances with even less charge and intensity seem to be more and more commonplace. Understanding how this exaggerated, dramatized, reactionary modus operandi is at the root of both personal suffering and interpersonal, even global strife, compels me to want something different.
It's a dark, blustery late November morning and I'm not sure I'm really up for writing on the subject that's present on my mind: dissolution and loss. I've recently heard that the marriage of someone close to me is in trouble. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I am aware that for many the air is thick with the idea that everyone "should" have a happy holiday of family love and good cheer. But what if your family is unravelling?
As I've grown up and begun to see differently, begun to see new aspects of family life, I've been slowly facing my own sense of loss. It's a loss of the idea that there is some certainty and ultimate safety in the world/life. It's coming to the understanding that parents (or adults in general) are not gods possessing all the answers.
When we see life falling to pieces all around us, family comes down to simply BEING THERE for others. I have this image in mind of people holding tight to each other as the world crashes down around them. There's no where else to go, nothing left that can be done, nowhere better to be. Love is all that is left.
Today my sense of unravelling goes deeper and broader than immediate family. It's also about the human family.
It all ebbs and flows - a recent subject of meditation lately. Also I see that I'm losing contact with the stillness and presence I relaxed into while camping at Craine Prairie.
It's so hard to stop the rushing forward once it gets started up. At Craine Prairie it was easy to be still and present, totally immersed in the moment. One reason for this is it was such a precious period of time. I wanted to savor every second. And yet isn't my entire life such a precious period of time?
Back to work today after a peaceful and restorative camping trip in southern Oregon. As the trip approached I noticed more and more how full of words, fragments and looping nonsense my mind is. My intention for the vacation was to simply DROP IT all and BE in the present moment. To savor every drop of the experience. It was phenomenal and I want more!
The closer to Portland we got on the drive back - as soon as we entered more familiar landscape along the Dalles-California Highway - I noticed some of that mental chatter begin to pop up. All of the WORDS I began to see everywhere from billboards and commercial enterprise after commercial enterprise, stirred it up. But I'm managing to still hold on to the centeredness, serenity, groundedness and presence I felt throughout our vacation.
As I observe my thoughts I notice much of the mental noise is imagined what-if scenarios and responses to them, imaginary conversations and narrative planning. Is this insanity or what is becoming of the mighty human mind as a result of our utterly disconnected from nature existence? I guess I'm as sane as the next person so I tend to see this type of thinking as an attempt to alleviate the anxiety of not knowing how it will all unfold. Life that is. So we hold desperately onto the little stuff, trying to make it all just right. It's impossible so we struggle, endlessly and unnecessarily.
Today I marched in the Fur Free Friday demonstration in downtown Portland. Justin had to make soap all day today but I rode the bus into the city and stood alongside 200 or so other compassionate individuals dedicated to acting up on behalf of the 50 million beings who each year are bred and slaughtered in some of the most gruesome conditions imaginable so that sickeningly selfish and obtuse people can wear their furs.