These vacation weeks always seem to slide by, and I think that is fine. I’ve moved almost easily through the days and taken advantage of the sunshine for a change. Leonard’s muscles are stiff from the long walks to the lake and back, but he is smiling. My muscles are sore from the morning rehab exercises. I move from downward dog into wild thing and every fiber of my being screams, oh, god, no!
I’m tucking in sheep cheese and slathering my shoulders with Ibux gel and hoping for the best. I’m reading pubmed articles about nutrition and wondering about the quality of a study that begins its abstract with the word “Nowadays”.
“My mind is clearer now. At last, I can see…”
There are songs popping up in my head. I haven’t heard songs in my head for a very long time. There is a lightness in everything right now. Even my frustrations seem like loosely tangled threads: not knots to numbly work around.
I forgot two days of medication and that made me feel like a bad patient. I am supposed to be weaning myself s.l.o.w.l.y. Tuesday night I lay ruminating about something I did at work that I should have handled better. Found myself shrugging it off. I am not perfect. More to the point – it is also just fine that I never will be.
It is time to let myself be moved on.
I have been talking- well, listening lately to B talk about community. She is exploring now – out loud – what kinds of compromises it demands. There is a part of me (a very large part of me) that believes that compromising is giving in to the oppressor. A form of toxic self-effacement. I am learning that there are other ways to look at it. There are so many other ways to maintain one’s integrity.
Better late than never.
B sees God in other people, without mysticism, she says. Whereas if I have seen god it has been through the disembodied word that arrives in a letter or a book, or a poster on the subway. All mysticism, really: a vague or ill-defined religious or spiritual belief, especially as associated with a belief in the occult.
Another definition of mysticism: belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender. Emphasis is mine.
How can contemplation and self-surrender co-exist? Doesn’t contemplation require critical thinking, which is an activity of the ego? Isn’t this a paradox?
The last time I went to a Quaker service, a porcelain doll propped in a Shaker chair began gesturing towards me. I cannot surrender my critical mind. There is a world too unreal that will take hold in the flung-wide, open open – with no footholds, no analytical scaffolding.
Still (and thank god) my contemplation is riddled with cracks, and here is how the light gets in or so wrote Cohen once – or at least he wrote something similar.
My human, animal nature is as integrous as is the wild, imperfect river that flows and shifts chaotically. The past marks the banks with a written record of what was and an illusion of what might have been. And even this is a distraction. Everything is as is meant to be. Nothing is broken. Even as it ends.
Leonard wades belly-deep in the water and drinks. I worry for a moment about summer’s green algae despite the thin ice that rings the reeds at the surface of the lake. I should have worn my sunglasses. The light is sharp. Cold. I turn my back to feel the warmth of it through my jacket. I frame a duck in the camera lens. On the phone’s screen. This correction is just another distraction.
The shutter opens, the light gets in, the depth of focus is set. Here is this little slice of life for your consideration. Contemplate.
How do you eat an elephant? (E. loves dad jokes.)
Bite by bite.
Eat it mindfully. What does that even mean? Here are words that link, fragile as a daisy chain, back to the blinding light that can overwhelm a person with its shimmer. Because everything inanimate becomes animate in the heat, so nothing ever really makes sense.
My childhood, being driven through the desert time and time again, was measured by mirages. Like the lives of books that open and close. Under the covers at night, with a flashlight and story, your own breath threatens to suffocate you.
I’ve wondered if an egg hatching in the nest gives off fog the way my breath does as I walk among the trees. I’ve wondered, but I’m learning that I would actually rather not know all of the facts.
I’ve added a photography club meeting to my calendar. Maybe there is some kind of compromise I can make here. I wanted to sit zazen, after all.