There's that great exchange written by Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring that I come back to again and again: “I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I find it so comforting because I can't tell you how many times a week (some weeks, a day) I wish I had been born in another time, that I wish our time could be otherwise. Of course, such wishes are a waste of time, though that never stops my wishing them.
Indeed, I think I have lost much to wishing.
The problem with wishing, aside from the whole time thing, is that it leaves room for very little else--especially solutions that would, perhaps, negate the need for such a pastime. But pulling oneself out of the wish-mind is no easy feat. I think there will be many days when the path is unclear, the direction clouded. Maybe that's a necessary waiting...
When I get lost in despair or fear or anxiety, I take great comfort in evolution. I take great comfort in the knowledge that I am the product of untold years of experimentation, of trial and error, of determination, of savvy, of instinct, and of plain old dumb luck. No matter what particular demons I happen to be wrestling at any given time, the inhabitants of those untold years have seen them, fought them, and survived.
I've no doubt that wisdom lives still in the rivers of our blood, is built into the structure of our bones and woven into the elasticity of our skin. We have everything we need. We have the history to prove it. Now, we just need to remember it, and then to believe it.
I don't think I'd rather live in a different time. Well. To be honest, I don't think I have the stamina or the energy to wish for another time, to add that kind of dissatisfaction to my days. I'll admit I do miss the days of landlines and answering machines, old-school cable television, the fashion of the mid '90s, and the landscape before social media.
But maybe that's just my age talking.
We forget, in this be-dissatisfied-now, culture how many came before us. I sit at a desk once owned by my mother in college. Next to me is a rocking chair far older than either of us. How rarely I take comfort in the parallel presence of once-owner and object. How rarely I realize my space is inhabited with the warmth, the wisdom, and the blessing of those who have been through far more than I.
You don't need me to tell you that we take so much for granted; it's the human condition--if everything were new all the time, I doubt we'd ever leave the house. But surely we can bring some of that wonder back into the everyday, especially when we're stressed, especially when we're tired, and most especially when we're cold and stalking toward cynicism.
Perhaps it's too easy to say that everything is art. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that everything *could* be art--all the more reason to surround ourselves, when we can, with things that are lovely, functional, and (the holy grail of material objects) handmade.
I don't know, but I like that company--the company of the artisan, the handmade, the beautiful-and-functional. I like things with life, with years on them, weathered and lasting. I can only hope I'll age so well.
I don't know, you guys. Sometimes it's just too much--too much work, too much debt, too much work to pay off too much debt. It's exhausting. And grinding. And it wears you down until you end up with the latest, trendiest flu, and have to stay in bed, fretting about this new, tiring development.
And, you know, I hate "at least"--probably the worst phrase in the English language. But (that that's the other one--"but"), at least there are herbs and the earth and some kind of raw, ancient power into which we can tap--a power that knows no debt and, at least energetically, knows no exhaustion, no illness.
Preaching to the choir, sure, but we're all one tribe. There's that, too, to be grateful for.
Man, aren't you sick of being careful all the time? Hell, I am. Careful in my words (but if filtered through the heart, why all that energy-sapping care, examination, reexamination?), careful in my job, careful with an ego or two... But my wishes? That's the worst. I'm sick of dreaming up what I want to bring into my world and then having that little voice (whose voice is it, anyway??)pipe up: **be careful what you wish for.**
Why? Because I just might get it? Oh, the horror. Yes, yes, I get it. The idea is to choose wording carefully, to look at your life because what you're wishing for may actually already exist or is not, in reality, your wish, but someone else's, etc. etc. But (!!), all that care, that examining and examining and reexamining just takes the spontaneity out of the *true* wish, the heart-felt wish, the one, were we to edit it, would show up so mangled and unrecognizable (if at all), that we wouldn't even let it in the door.
We always talk about what we want to become (I do it, too--all the time) and you know? I've come to realize how much pressure that puts on our poor, over-burdened bodies and minds. I mean, my god, we're here and sometimes that is so easy to forget.
A Buddhist parable compares human incarnation to the liklihood of a blind turtle, rising to the surface of the ocean every hundred years, putting his head through a wooden cattle-yoke floating on the waves of the sea, tossed and lost by the winds and currents.
Just the word itself is enough to force me back under my bedsheets for the day. There's just no escape from the brain when it winds up and gets its gears going.
Or is there?
One of the most practical bits of pranayama (breathing practices) I've ever encountered is what I refer to as "Yin Breathing." Imagine your inhale moving from your heart to your pelvic floor, then bouncing from there back to your heart on the exhale. This is your orbit. This is where you live. This is where you are led.
Your head is just up there, holding your eyes, offering you navigation through cardinal directions. Don't consult it otherwise.