Contemplating Endings (written 2018)
There are days I'm sure I'm done with this, this blog. Mostly because lately I'm often exhausted. Remembering the days when the boys were young and I would find myself standing in the aisles of the supermarket engaging in a fantasy of lying down where I stood and napping awhile. I was two decades younger then. I've been exploring this current exhaustion. How much of it is physical. How much of it is like the urge, once so familiar, to run away from conflict or anything unpleasant. Sleep, I know, might be desirable as an escape from consciousness and the mindful work of facing what is true here and now, moment to moment. Weariness can arise from gripping the steering wheel too hard. I'm looking at that.
As I drop various jobs and volunteer roles, my husband worries that I am giving up what I want to do in order to be more available for his needs, which are gradually growing. But this worry misses the point that I also want to be available for him, not in a rushed and scheduled way, but with patience and generous space for what takes time. Giving up what I want is not the problem. The problem is another kind of wanting. The one that looks backwards in time and wishes fruitlessly for what is no longer so. A time when the outside conditions of this life supported a pretty stable happiness. Now, I am thrown on inner resources more. Here I learn anew about the value of practice. I cannot say right now that “I love my life”. But I love living, I love writing, and I love Dhamma. Yet, even what you love can become wearying. Too much brightness in the blue sky and your eyes need a break. Too much good food and you feel too full and heavy. An excellent book that goes on too long, means you begin skimming perhaps too quickly over passages that should be savored.
My original intent for this blog stands. To share the journey. But for a year now, what I've shared has often been about the struggles. Others on this journey should know about the joys too. About the magical joy of sitting in silence when the house is quiet and the breath moves on its own, the mind riding in tandem, and everything else drops away. The lively joy of sitting in a circle of friends sharing our practice with laughter and goodwill and knowing we accept each other as imperfect and well-intentioned. The deep joy of being present to the warmth and pressure of my husband's hand in mine as we walk carefully across winter parking lots, this treacherous travel paralleling the life we're sharing right now, so aware of each step and of each other. The bodily joy of lying legs-up-the wall, with doggy breath in my ear and a silken muzzle pressed into my shoulder, knowing the gift of unconditional animal love, so that this mind spontaneously whispers gratitude to and love for all beings. The joy that bubbles up when I answer the phone and hear beloved voices from far away or when I pick up the mail and see familiar return addresses on cards from distant friends, reminders of being held in a net of metta. The simple, daily joy of chanting in the kitchen as I prepare food, and the calming joy of chanting in solitude as I drive icy or snowy roads and feel fear recede to a background thrum that is only a wholesome awareness of uncertainty.
Consistent practice means that each day contains moments that give rise to insight and acceptance. I have endless opportunities to forgive myself for moods or mistakes. And recently I have seen the fruition of an intention set a few weeks back to let the right choices unfold, rather than forcing changes, and contriving choices that feel stressful and urgent. When the thought arises to let something go, I bring it to the light of contemplation and hold it. I notice the impact on my body and I know when this is not yet the time, when I'd only be exchanging the self-inflicted pain of doing for the self-inflicted pain of not doing. A bad bargain. I do not doubt that when the right time arises my body will let me know. Am I done with this blog? Not yet. Though that day, no doubt, will come. All things are impermanent.