We don't need to know how to keep up. We don't even, really, have to learn. All we need, when we feel overwhelmed, is to step outside and look up. Just look up and watch the tops of the trees against the sky and know that they've made their very quiet way there for many more years than this day's, this week's, this year's particular struggle. Just stand and watch and wait. It can happen in an instant or it can creep in over a matter of moments, but peace will arrive.
And if that peace is temporary? Well. We have our feet and we have the view. The trees, bless them, aren't going anywhere.
Sometimes you, quite literally, have to get up on a ladder to force a new perspective. Down here on the ground, it's all too easy to become overwhelmed. We're surrounded by giants, whether they're living and breathing or hide in the nooks and crannies of bank balances, dreams, mechanical problems, or longed-for prospects and promises.
Perhaps it's true that in a hundred years none of it will matter, if it's even remembered. But that solution doesn't interest me. I'd rather try something proactive, climbing hand over hand until I gain enough altitude that I can take it all in, or shut it all out, even if nothing is gained at the end of the climb but the welcome chill of fresher air.
One of my ongoing mantras this year has been 'find ease.' I've written it everywhere, left myself notes, and have tried to spend as much unstructured time outdoors as possible.
But still, I think I need to face the fact that I will never be an easy person. I will, apparently, always be what I am in the Chinese Zodiac--the element metal. Unbending and rigid. (Sigh). So it makes me wonder--despite making all the adjustments to our self-nurturing as possible, will some aspect of our nature always win out?
The obvious answer is yes--after all, we are forced to work within the boundaries of bone structure, height, ancestry, genetics. Some aspects of our birth are out of our control. So the question becomes, do we exhaust ourselves to an early grave trying to be something we simply cannot be, or do we learn to work with what we have? Do we learn to say, yes, this is how I was wired. It used to shame me, but here I am: quiet and rebellious, bookish and solitary, only truly at ease in my own co...
I say all of this about not wishing for otherwise because I aspire for it to be true. My current truth is that I wish for otherwise all the time. I have this mad belief that if I don't, if I accept the less-than-ideal now, that it will always be this way. But of course, that's not only nutty, but untrue, impossible, and exhausting.
There *is* no alternative to this moment and the only way that will ever change is to rub the grit from our eyes, say yes and thank you, and build a future based on the next decision and the next. This is where we are, and this is how we will learn--finally, truly--what it feels like to be content.
Sometimes, yes, if I want tomatoes I need to pluck the hornworms off the stems. If I want a decent cabbage crop, I've got to time the row covers, the season, and watch for moths. But for the most part, this is what the garden has taught me: to keep a watchful eye in my head but that my interference, for the most part, is unnecessary. I can let the tomato and lettuce volunteers grow where they plant themselves, watch them make the most of some intuitive alchemy of space and soil, arriving yards and yards away from where I planted them the year before.
The garden has taught me that I can love order and organization as much as I want, but that it only goes so far outside my back door. The garden has taught me to cultivate a certain amount of grudging fondness for the unknown and a little bit of love for blowsy disorder.
As much as it is in my nature to want to control my universe, at times I take great relief in those things I cannot control. It won't surprise us (intellectually, anyway) that the world can carry on without our involvement, without our constant hand on the globe, as it were, but I'm not sure many of us have digested that reality emotionally.
Still we lie awake at night, puzzling over and categorizing everything that is to come, as if we could control it. As if, even if we could, we could do anything at the god-forsaken hour of 3 a.m.
I don't know. But once in a while it's rather a relief to let my shoulders relax and to ease into the momentary glee of such wild abandon.
I'm not sure why I bother to try to understand why people do what they do. Perhaps if it were merely an idle curiosity in humanity, it might be a harmless hobby. But I think, for most of us, we try to ferret out motivations because we feel we can *do* something--stop them or help them, I suppose.
But the truth is, we can't, not even when they ask for help, at least not always. And then trying to solve every problem, avoid every conflict becomes exhausting and anxiety-provoking.
Instead, for the most part, I'm willing to live and let live (barring, of course, standing up against blatant hatred, bigotry, racism, bullying, etc. But that's a different post. We're talking garden-variety, non-hate bearing individuals here), and continue pottering around in my garden, understanding, at least in part, the very uncomplicated language of flowers.
Maybe we try to understand too much. Heck, maybe we *try* too much, full stop. This is, after all, the idea behind meditation, is it not? Simply to sit and let the universe do what it's going to do, not with our engagement, but with our observation, our paying witness?
I've never been one for organized activities, which is perhaps why I cannot for the life of me maintain a meditation practice. But I do love taking a spontaneous moment to sit and stare at nothing, to watch the world come about and move around me--and you know, when you allow that space of nothingness, you awaken to the fact that, moment by moment, there is infinite variety and nothing ever repeats itself.
How can we not believe in possibility when it's proved to us again and again, if we could find the generosity of spirit to do nothing but observe for minutes at a time?
We tend to be rather self-absorbed which, really, is just human nature. We live in these bodies day in and day out, so naturally, they tend to rank high on our list of concerns. But that self-absorption so often manifests, not as self-reflection, but as self-obsession, constant comparison, anxiety, depression, vanity.
But I think if we were to allow ourselves those momentary lapses, laugh them off, then push them aside to see what really resides in our heart, then we can forgive ourselves anything and move on.
Maybe we just might discover we have as much interest in another's heart as we do our own.
Patience is certainly not my strong suit, but it's entirely my own fault. I focus, more often than not, on the endpoint, the final result. But, of course, the irony is that when I'm not focused on that endpoint, I'm perfectly happy in the moment-to-moment detail work that will, eventually, get me where I want to go.
You know how when you're so tired, you feel as though you have to, quite literally, pick up your limbs to keep you going? But once you're on your feet, it's not as bad as you'd feared? I think we have to do the same thing with our thoughts--as soon as they start kindling that impatience, we have to pick up our brains, settle them back in our heads, and focus with true absorption on the immediate--task at hand, the sounds in the moment, the sensations on our skin.
Because, really, this is only way we'll be sane enough to enjoy ourselves when we finally get there.