Eyes open on a new day. Consciousness returns to the familiar. I am wearied with the return to this same self. Stop. Remember to remember a reason to be grateful. But honestly … the gratitude-project feels forced. Roll this same self out of bed. Drag through first steps … lift the blinds to gunmetal grey sky, drink water, turn the bed into a daytime couch.
Reluctantly clear space on the carpet for start-of-day stretching while listening to an online conversation between authors Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Such intelligent women. Such pleasure to listen to clear, precise British accents of a Jamaican-Brit and a Nigerian. Easy humor. Gems of thought that carry weight and clarity, depth and heft. At last, I’m waking into something better than my ungrateful self.
But … eye on the clock. 6:40 a.m. Should get out to walk before the build-up of the August heat. Stop to meditate first? Stop to catch a dreamy thought in writing before it dissipates? No. Get out … ahead of heat, ahead of procrastination.
Where did so many ideas about starting a day come from? Why can’t I get them into a working order? Why chase after routine? And why demand … expect to get so much done in each day? I retired, for god’s sake. Worked plenty for plenty of years. Prepared, provided, and served. Why go on forcing a work schedule?
And I’m so enjoying Zadie and Chimi (as Zadie fondly calls her, and, now, I fondly think of her). And suddenly the glimmer of a thought gains a touch of light … a counterpoint to all the Chronos-driven questions of the last paragraphs … the last weeks, months, years. The light of insight. Like the light-limned cloud that floats now outside the window, white-gold sun glinting from beneath the elongated underbelly of a pearly grey fluff that looks more like an alligator by the minute.
What if I were to throw out Time and Expectation and Should? Oh, heavenly day. What if I allowed myself to enjoy each morning move … and each transition to the next? What if the mindfulness teachings were finally to come home? To be lived. If each endeavor, each moment was savored instead of automatized: brushing teeth, washing face, hesitantly checking to see if someone new might be gazing back at me in the mirror? (For whom am I waiting? And waiting with anticipation or trepidation or disappointment? But that’s cogitation for another day.)
What if that first glass of clear, cool, filtered water quenched soul as well as body? What if each movement and moment were experienced and enjoyed … outside of time? What if I stretched with the languor of the neighborhood cats who wind themselves sinuously ‘round my legs? Can I notice, feel, enjoy muscles warming into moves? Could I slow down and pay attention instead of pushing through? Be grateful that I can still move this way.
And what if I chose to go on listening to the two ladies with their deep and rolling laughs, witty repartee, and foreigner insights into a country they’ve come to care for despite the fact that it doesn’t love them back? What if that means going out a bit later? Or what if instead of pushing along with should’s and time pressure and dutifully ticking items off the list, I decide to walk in the evening instead. Turn the day on its head. And if it rains, and I don’t walk at all… that would be ok. I would still be ok.
What if I picked up the book I started last night that is calling to me? What if I make a cup of tea and settle into my chair – with the alligator already gone, an amorphous winged snaky beast having replaced it – winding, floating lazily across an increasingly azure sky – and I sit lazily and read (when this is not my allotted time to read? How did I come up with so many rules?)
My rational self, my educated-into-new age-thinking-and-meditative-practice-self cheers me on. Says yes! Let go. No should’s. Let life unfold. Give up control. Note with fondness that the alligator has come and gone, the winged creature also morphed. Hundreds of undefined billowing puffs now blanket a silvery blue sky. Nothing defined, nothing permanent. Everything changing.
But I write those word and the fleeting ah-ha threatens to fall flat. It too has morphed … but out of true and into trite? Has this become one of the thousands of essays being published every day – in every mindfulness magazine and meditation instruction manual? All the overused words remaining unembodied. Are there other words for longing? Can words ever carry us home? Asks a writer!
How to make Real? How lift longings and deepen them into authentic, sensed inner and lived being? How take yearning into heart, mind, and soul, into daily action and attitude? Color the day with release. Paint freedom indigo. Nonjudgment green. Heartfelt action the color and scent of roses. Can the body digest, absorb, assimilate truth before the words threaten to flatten into clichés? Every day, I hear well-meaning people attempt to move closer to the truths, the inspirations, the aspirations of the few who claim to embody Wisdom. And with gentle but frustrated humor, I wonder how to get from here to there. What does it take to sink down and deep from head into heart and body? From word into lived being?
To arrive in the here and now. Is it always just a glimpse? A moment’s sighting of the truth of presence before the alligator and the snake dematerialize, shift into something unrecognizable? Well, then, can I find gratitude for this glimpse … this glimmer, this which is just a tiny bit more than not this?
Awareness, forgiveness, presence, surrender, humor, tenderness. One forgiving step at a time. Two steps forward and one back? But keep stepping. Keep longing. Keep letting go. Watch the clouds morphing and passing with wonder. Keep loving and keep living … yes, even with gratitude … into yet another slightly less structured, slightly more gentle day.