What Would That Be Like?: Everyday Magic, Day 363

I woke up this morning thinking about my friend Judy, who is in the Rockies on a 90-day meditation retreat. She’s living in a very small cabin and spending her time meditating, eating, walking, doing little household chores, sleeping and then doing more meditation. She’s done this before for 30 days and so she had a pretty good sense of the routine, which just kind of fascinates me. What would it be like to go 90 days without interacting with other humans (well, outside of talking with them and even arguing with them in your own mind)? What would it be like to have life stripped down to the essentials? What would it be like to sit and walk with your thoughts and thinking with so little interruption?

Judy, a long-time Zen Buddhist and teacher at our local Zen Center, has been at this for almost a month now, and I think of her often……while I’m driving the kids here and yonder while the news blares more sadness and stuckness…..while I’m laughing so hard at a funny movie that I’m crying at the same time…..while I’m washing the dishes or putting a pile of just-washed shorts on the shelf. “What is it like for her at this moment?” I wonder. At the same time, I know that Judy is just about the least romantic person in the world on what it

Judy leading one of our Passover seders

means to go into the mountains and meditate for 90 days. She doesn’t expect any transformation, revelation or enlightenment, which is exactly why I wonder if she’s occasionally landing into moments of ecstasy and wonder in those high altitudes.

I increasingly love being alone — mainly because I realize how much I’m never alone, just void of other humans so I can hear the wind through the hackberry tree and the waves of cicadas. Yet I don’t imagine ever going off on my own to meditation for 90 days, even 9 days actually although maybe 90 minutes is in my future. Instead I sit on my porch at this moment and think of Judy, wishing her well and excited to hear, in about 60 more days, what she experienced.

We Have Less Control Than The Little Control We Think We Have: Everyday Magic, Day 153

The older I get, the more apparent it is to me that whatever control I thought I had was largely illusionary. Beyond having real choices here and there (what to wear, eat, do in various moments), most of life is beyond my plans. This brings to mind two important quotes that guide me — one from my friend Shelley. When she and her then-partner received, a year after they adopted their daughter, received the phone message, “Would you like the brother?”, she quickly realized that “Life has more imagination that we do.”

The other quote comes from Pema Chodron, and I know it’s about how we humans are wired for solid ground while life is the opposite, but when I looked through When Things Fall Apart for it, I found this quote: “Impermanence is a principal of harmony. When we don’t struggle cialis online get prescription against it, we are in harmony with reality.”

Life is more imaginative. The only way to find the groove is to stop fighting change. All true, but why does thinking about this shake me sometimes, even bring me down to sad stillness? “This shaking keeps me steady. I should know,” Theodore Roethke writes in his great poem, “The Waking” (the one with the line, “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow”).

I watch the window, the sun almost burning through the clouds but not quite. The tree stands bare with just one remaining leaf shaking. A remnant of a spider web blows against the glass. It’s all always changing and even the lack of birds in the tree, something I just noticed, has been remedied. How little control we have, and yet this is the gift of being alive.