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Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

It is a beautiful Spring day, the kind with magic in the drizzle and almost warm air, and listening to the planes and bird songs on the walk to the co-op with the tired OWL-babes in the pack, I felt like superMama. It’s a strength I wish I could crawl inside of right now, as babes naps through the sun break and I sit here instead of cleaning. I suspect though, that it is indeed that strength that allows me to write through this tangle instead of shutting down among the brooms and mops.

Last Friday, I looked different. Like a small worry that had grown too big for itself lifted and dissolved. But the other night I noticed that it is back, and I hardly recognize myself again. The lines in my face, the shape of my cheeks, the definition of my torso and soft curve of my belly. I tried to trace all my lines, follow the turns, the rise and fall of breath inside my chest. I tried to examine the expressions, the places that no one ever sees, so that someone bears witness to all these changes, the shifts in the gravity of love and birth and loss. But I don’t know if I can, if I have the courage to study and stay, to inhabit the compassion I need. Stand like mountain, give like water, shine like the sun.

I find myself dwelling in that place of small mind, the one where I can draw a straight line through all my mistakes and fuck ups to this exact moment and say – “Aha! Of course I am here. It all makes sense and there is no way through or out of this mess!” Every little thing is attached to the storyline of never good enough, never enough. And I mean really, that well appears quite limitless.

The problem is that I cannot start where I am, at this moment in time, from this place. Because all those years of waiting – waiting for things to be okay so that they could get great – are heavy and big and I can’t figure out how or where to set them down. Because all those years of self-restricted forward motion – half steps and big slides back – are like a dam that will not hold, even though small mind is scrambling like mad to plug the holes with guilt and inadequacy and fear. But my heart also knows that the price of waiting, for me, has been non-action, never doing, and not necessarily better or wiser decisions. I’ve learned to let go of (some) outcomes, and trust that the path will provide the opportunities. But can I also let go of the path I see, the path for which I plunged myself into the murky depths of mental illness and worked my ass off to reach?

And didn’t I already start where I was when I stepped out of my skin and onto a cushion in a room full of strangers and committed to wake up, to feel and be present? The thing that’s a bitch, I see now, is that the whole point is that we start we are over and over again. OVER AND OVER. AGAIN. Small mind feels duped. And vast mind is…. on vacation? Hallucinating topographic maps and listening to birds?

I’ll write and clean and sit and wait for its return.

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Saturday. 26-degrees, feels like 16. Snowflakes fell like feathers for 15 minutes and called it quits, preferring the embrace of their clouds to the dance of descent. A second pot of tea steeps on the counter, delicatas roast in the oven, buttery-garlic rice simmers on the on the stove, the sink drips into the breakfast dishes, and the radio plays a soundtrack made, I’m almost convinced, just for me.

After 13 months of unemployment, I got a job. Up early, OWL at school for 8-1/2 hours, straight home to where I’m the cook, dishwasher, laundress, healer, bather, story-teller. Looking back, I see the magical quality that shined through all the chaos and hurts of the past 18-months. And I am forever grateful.

Last month, among the madness of deadlines, I came face to face with myself, again. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote through decades, started close to the beginning, and penned pages of missed opportunities, hurt and injustice, doubt and fear, but also of triumph and learning and love. I  went over the past year, a year defined by the journey through so much loss, how I worked like hell to stay in the moment, to dissolve, to be okay, to experience groundlessness and reality maybe for the first time ever, to grieve my past-present-future.

As the pages turned, my mind kept trying to settle on the metaphor eye of the storm, but I quickly realized that this was wishful thinking. That suddenly, I am on some other side. I know more storms will blow in and wreak havoc on everything I know, but this particular one, this one that I know so very well, has silently come to an end. And within the madness of paper and pen and hours, part of me craves its return because at least, in it, I know who am.

But it is not where I am, nor who I am at this moment. And certainly not what I want for the future. As I survey the landscape of this new shore I see that a good deal of the wreckage has already been cleared, that I’ve done quite a bit of picking up along that way. That through all of this, the little pieces of compassion that broke through took root and are starting to push through the earth, towards the sun as it rises.

Life only grows after falling down, kissing the earth through that dance of descent.

—–

Dedicated to M.D.A.

June 1970 – February 2011

Thank you for your courage and thoughts and words.

I wish you safe passage and travels, and a happier return.

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in 21 hours

4:04 am Saturday. All I can do is gaze at your face, the rise and fall of your chest in sleep, your hair spread out across my blue pillowcase. I search for words and meaning, a trace of knowing or wisdom or recognition, something to make it all okay, only to feel the touch then absence of your breath as you roll over and away. Lost in the curves of your cheeks and the slope of your nose, the lines of your chin. The topography of you and me and him.

4:30 pm. With you cradled in sleep behind me, I drive home shifting through doubts, thinking I’m not ready for any of this. Too out of practice and rusty. Too untouched and unheard and unspoken. I wondered how we’ve made it so far and so well. I wonder if I’ve travelled as far as I can go.

1:13 am Sunday. I falter at the core and hope sleep brings compassion.

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The present was the first to go, an abrupt drop off the face of the earth as I thrashed in the chaos of new motherhood and a husband who stopped sleeping in the house and drove deep into every historic insecurity I held with words so sharp they can still sting.

I look out over my past, and I can barely see myself in it. All my thoughts and experiences and successes and growth and failures and risks were just erased, as if they don’t get to come with me and be a part of who I am right now, in this very moment.

And now, I see the future that I always thought was just around the corner slip away too. I loose myself again as I see it played out with other players. I watch my son in someone else’s life, recognize his mannerisms and moves, and wonder what I can give him. Because when I try to visualize my future, I can’t see anything. I held on and out for this future that will never happen, no matter how many corners I turn. It never was and now it’s gone for good. Another thing to let go.

The present.
The past.
And the future too.

Tears fall all through yoga as I twist and flow, release from my hips and my low belly. A feeling of sadness and mourning without a story. Images come and go, like clouds through my mind, dissipating as quickly as they appear. Release without blame, without guilt, without the storyline. Tears all through dharma class as I wonder if I have the strength to make it, to be fearless and wise, to relate deeply, to find compassion and joy.

Today I stand on the verge of tremendous change, but I don’t know which direction to turn and explore. A new curiosity arises as I wonder where the path, the continuation that builds the future moment by moment, is leading. It’s a passive curiosity, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m in my life.

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