"I've been absolutely terrified every minute of my life--and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." Georgia O'Keefe, at 99 yrs old
My thoughts about the recent terrorist attacks in the world vary in motive. They are also largely unresolved and so I am choosing to sit with them a bit longer before writing about them. The questions that have come to me are, where do I experience or perpetuate "otherness"? Where is there hatred in me? Where are the dark corners that desperately need compassion in my life? To me, for now, this is enough.
Once a year, I travel to a tiny town and join my teacher to immerse myself in a self-inquiry retreat. Last year was the first time I had left my kids for more than a night. This time was the first solo road trip I'd made in years. Each morning I woke up for a silent walking meditation, on the grounds of a monastery in the middle of horse country. On each walk, in tiny bursts apropos of nothing, I experienced thoughts of panic. Once, walking around a pond the thought appeared that I was separated from the group and lost. Ponds are round. If I walk all the way around I'll end up where I started, not lost. The little bit of space between myself and these panic flares created an awakening. I was reminded that I am more resilient and resourceful than I have imagined, and that I will never be prepared. There is nothing official about openings or closings in life, it's organic. Even though I am part of a society that has created meaningful order that gives me much comfort (Democracy, GPS, public schools, painted traffic lines, grocery stores), control is not something I have. So accept, then act. Panic, keep walking.
"I have read between the lines
I have been wrong every time
it's burned upon the alter and I am fine
I am not waiting anymore" Sam Amidon, I Am Not Waiting Anymore
I came home feeling like a soft-shelled crab. Imagine how vulnerable and uncomfortable those guys are for a time, the full-body sensation of having clipped a nail back too far. With new understanding of how tiny thoughts of panic determine the course of my days I hardly knew how to behave. Thoughts were waiting for me upon return, expectations of what being a Mom and wife ought to be, how to be the perfect teacher, how to grow a business. When I give myself enough time to pause, I remember the pond- thoughts are cyclical, I've been here before. I may not know where I'm going, but I do know I'll have what I need when I arrive.