It's like the reward system, but more sweetly mundane. Around my desk, I have all these little things I've gathered for comfort--shells, stones, bits of pottery picked up here and there, and if I remember to let myself be surprised by these objects--that I found them (or they found me) in the first place, or the intricacy of their small design--then some kind of heavy veil lifts.
That small lifting is enough. It's free and quiet and absolutely renewable--if (and only if) we permit ourselves the gift of remembering how to be surprised, the gift of remembering we are allowed to step outside the stuffy confines of our own weariness.
We think it's all slow-going. I mean, I certainly do--all this wading and hauling, stopping, catching my breath, then trudging on. That's how it seems some days, many days. I think, though, what we don't realize on those tired, slogging days is that we're moving. We're moving forward and though we may not have the whole map in front of us, we know that this path, at least, is in the right general direction.
When we fight that, when we sit in the muck and stubbornly refuse to move, refuse help, refuse to ask directions, then we slow down all the more. I think we feel good about ourselves, for a few minutes, in that energized burst of protest, of rebellion, of (yes, sometimes) whining.
But all the while we're stopped, our body temperature is dropping, the sun is setting, and our boots are getting filled with muck. There's dry land out there--we know because we've seen it, if only briefly. We also know this path goes there. And, really, isn't it getting just a bit warmer, just a bit clear...
I think we spend a great deal of time wondering when we'll arrive, be done, have done enough.
I think when it's occurred to us that we've stopped wondering, we'll have our answer. I also think that moment is closer than we realize; all it takes is a moment of empty grace to let the self-created dust storm around us settle so that we can see, finally, what it is we've been running toward. Or from.
I like old things. Not antiques, per se, but things built by hand, before plastic, with parts that can be un- and re-assembled, replaced, repaired. I like being reminded that it was not always 'convenient,' that all of this was, once, not so disposable. I like being reminded that work and planning went into something as simple as a season, a wardrobe, a kitchen, a meal.
I don't want to be entertained. I don't want to surround myself with so-called conveniences. I want life and memory and quality of thought and of conversation. I don't want mail-order. I want my hands to learn the work of my days, to let their skill make each decision for me.
I hope your heart hungers every day--not the unrequited, wasting away kind of hunger, but the deep thrumming assurance that this need is valid and will under no circumstances go unfilled. This is the beat of your life; your cadence; your music; your chant; your rain-sun-and-moon dance; your call to the cardinal directions; your call to the wild; your sweet, clear voice that cannot go unheard.
Sometimes hunger is uncomfortable. I get that. Sometimes we must be empty--but that emptiness is fuel, too. That emptiness is cleansing, focusing, directing. Healing.
So we wait. We have the beat to remind us where we're going, to keep us in very good company.
Because there is great wisdom in sleeping on a decision/project/letter/conversation, it's an oft-forgotten tactic in the pursuit of a life filled with as few regrettable moments as possible. But by developing a habit of being quiet, a habit of easy precision, then a generous use of time eventually becomes the default.
Becoming overstimulated, and reacting to it, is often avoidable. When it isn't, this practice of quiet neutrality, of studying the game board before the piece is moved, wisdom, only groped for in the past, becomes easily and effortlessly channeled.
It's one of those mind-bending mysteries of life--sometimes these days (and nights) are so very, very long. How is this the same currency as the years that pass so quickly that an off-handed 'ma'am' in a shop has me wanting to protest that, surely, my 21st birthday (or my 31st, for that matter) was only last year.
I don't mind getting older, not at all, not anymore. But I'd really like an audit to account for how all of those years could possibly pass so quickly.
Impotent. I know that's how we all feel right now--helpless and raging, disturbed and bewildered. All I can say is that we've been here before. Not us, necessarily, not my generation or even the one before, maybe, but our people. Each one of us can trace our lines back to someone who was targeted, victimized, harassed, hurt, sacrificed, tortured, run out of their land, their homes, burned out, rallied against, destroyed. It's heartbreaking. More than that, it's ugly, malicious, unconscionable, revolting, vile, depraved, and so utterly unfair.
It's impossible to believe that this kind of hatred still exists, despite the lessons that history has set up for us, that we've refused, apparently, to learn. It's impossible to resolve oneself to this shift in power, to feel so bloody helpless in the face of such wanton violence.
Because it's almost impossible to fight random acts of terror. Because it's almost impossible to find a foothold in the mob mentality of lawlessness. Because...