Saturday, my favourite day of the week. The sky and air are heavy, pressing their weight on me. It is difficult to feel at ease with the day. I am proceeding as best as I can. The time is appropriate to be reading Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You, A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. There are many places and things that scare me but I am learning to sit and stay with them. I am learning to be a warrior-bodhisattva though I am at times quivering in my seat.
I should really come here regularly, more often than I have of late. I should but haven’t. I am really doing the best I can most days. I should give up the shoulds and just accept myself as I am. The complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is called maitri. The 4 qualities of maitri that are cultivated when we meditate are: steadfastness, clear seeing, experiencing our emotional distress and attention to the present moment.
It’s Sunday morning. It has drizzled overnight. The sky is overcast but the sun is trying to show up. I am, too. I am glad to have an art challenge to do. When the going gets tough, it is helpful to have a ‘chore’ to do. I’m doing Daisy Yellow’s annual ICAD (index card a day). It gives me a start to the day when I’m in stuck mode. I’ve been feeling stuck for too long now. At the end of the day I’ve created one thing even if it is the only thing.
Today is such a day. I haven’t even gotten out of my pjs. I should have used the momentum from the paint session to propel myself forward onto another activity. I didn’t. But I did learned that once I put a splash of paint on the card, it painted itself. The paint and brush had a life of their own. They were guiding and soothing me. I was infused with this exquisite feeling inside. My judgement and criticisms of my work and style evaporated. I was happy just pushing the paint around the card. I felt delicious just being me, painting the way I do. Perhaps I’m not stuck but just staying with being myself.
I should listen to my own advice about starting. It’s not that I don’t want to. Sometimes I have to go through the period of being stalled, being hung in limbo, midair, not wanting to commit. Call it what you will. Maybe it’s my ritual of some sort. It’s good to have rest periods. I do feel an obligation not to waste time, to fill every moment of useful doings.
I’ve been caught in the limbo of not doing for days now. Every evening I catch myself saying, I will start in the morning. In the morning I find it is so much easier to sink into tomorrow is another day. It’s not that I’ve been a couch potato. On the contrary I’ve been on the ‘busy routine’ of living every day, doing the famous ‘busy stuff’ that everyone does.
It’s not that I have so many important things to do or to contribute. It’s that I’ve been stuck in the cul-de-sac of lassitude, of not caring, of not having meaning, of not being important, of not being present. Perhaps it is called feeling sorry for myself or being in a depressive mood. My favourite excuse is that summer is not my favourite season. It brings out not so good memories of growing up in small town Saskatchewan. Everyone in town goes away to the lake or wherever on holidays, except the Chinese people who has the cafe. Oh, I remember those hot summer days of watching flies drone against the window screen and looking out at the empty dusty streets.
It’s strange how memories live in the very marrow of me. They are hidden deep inside and seep out on hot summer days. No need to worry about me. It’s just the way I talk/write. It’s healthy to be curious and investigate my feelings. It’s good to lay them down on the page in black and white. These ebb and flow of feelings are part of being alive. Feelings come and go like the tide. It’s like breathing in and out. Some are good and some not so. I’m still learning to accept them all, to sit with them as I must.
I’ve been reading Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You. I’m learning about Bodhichitta, being a warrior and staying in those scary places. It’s helping me to finally relax into life and not take things so seriously. Life is serious but things are not. I’m seeing the light now. Times when I don’t will come again. I have the words now. They could go away tomorrow. It’s all a cyle, the yin and the yan. That’s what I know for sure.
Beginnings are hard. How many times have I said that already? A zillion and yet I have found no easy solution. I just have to make a mark somewhere; say something, anything; make a decision one way or another; etc. etc. So often, too often, I’m frozen with indecision, speechless with no words, immobilized with inaction. Sometimes this is worse than doing and saying the wrong things. This is what I’m trying to push through today.
It is very disconcerting. I’m squirming with the discomfort but I’m learning to sit with it, however long it will take. I’m too addicted to the idea of speed, that it shouldn’t take time and effort to do anything. I’ve bought into the idea I can tap, search, enter, and presto! The thing is done. I’ve been short circuiting my brain and short changing myself the experience of doing, following through and completing. No wonder I’m absent minded and forgetful. I have no grooves to store anything. I flit from thing to thing, one idea to another in nana seconds. I do not allow feelings to sink in.
It’s been a few days since I wrote the above. I’m having a writer’s block. It could be I’m just lazy. I’m having a tough go finding meaningful ideas and words. In this moment I am hot and overcome with malaise. But I can still tap with my fingers. How strange that I could feel cold upon waking at 6 this morning. I don’t know what the temperature was then. By 10 am it was already 21 degrees Celsius. Now it is 28 Celsius. I’m feeling all the distress of daily fluctuating temperatures.
So what can I do to alleviate my distress? Coming back to this space helps. The rhythm of tapping on the keyboard is soothing. I’m flexing my small muscles. Asking the question starts me thinking about solutions. It lessens the feeling of being trapped and helpless. I’m quieting my mind and body, taking some deep slow breaths. Recently I came upon Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique where you breathe in to the count of 4, hold for count of 7 and breathe out to the count of 8 for 4 breath cycles. I’ve been doing this twice a day for a few days. I hope to keep it up for a month at least. It takes very little time and the benefits are huge.