My intention is to calm and view this “shelter in place” as a retreat. One minute I’m calm, spacious, mindful, present, radiant, and the next, well, I won’t say.
I have a beautiful place to be, a husband, two cats, trees, plants, air, so why am I struggling?
I feel like a two-year old. “You can’t tell me what to do! I’ll do as I please.” And yet this is serious, and I understand that. There is a place to sit.
Perhaps the problem is I view a retreat as peaceful and forget that it allows a place for rumblings to emerge. Who am I after all? Do I exist? Is there an I?
My mind swirls all about, looking for Mind, which of course is here, and I can settle into the hammock of it, and then, a thought pours in to drop me off a cliff where I trust I will be caught. I have skills, years of study, years of skills. I’ve been preparing for this all my life.
When I was a child in Des Moines, Iowa, I was obsessed with skills to survive a nuclear attack. Reading the newspaper, I followed a group of people who’d been placed in the desert to study how they’d do. I knew to preserve one’s urine, to recycle what pours through. Well, this isn’t a nuclear attack and we have skills as a civilization. We have knowledge and wisdom, love and connection, and we’ll make it through.
I meditate, and ground. My breath is here, and it’s a thrill to focus on my nostrils and feel, honor, and appreciate how creatively breath moves in and out. That should be enough excitement for any day. There’s no repetition at all. I’m amazing, and I want to keep this place of amazement, but then the words of Heraclitus flow in:
“No man (or woman) ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man (or woman).
Yesterday, a man came to spray our oak trees. With the rain last year, the Sudden Oak Death Syndrome returned, and like that, we lost one of our anchoring oaks. This man boosts the immune system of the remaining trees with a special vitamin mix fertilizer, so no poison is used to kill the disease, but instead a strengthening system is sprayed and spread to build up the immunity of the trees.
Immunotherapy for trees. He sprayed in the fall, and when he came yesterday, he said it’s working. The remaining trees are doing great, and spreading out branches and leaves to welcome spring.
He kept reassuring me as he stood eight feet away that he was “safe”. He fishes in the morning, the kind of fishing where you stand alone on the bank with no one near, and he’s with trees in the afternoon. He didn’t hand me the bill, but leaned down to tuck it under the rug. He did take the check from my hand, and putting it in his pocket said he would leave it there for a few days.
Meanwhile I sit with why I’m struggling. I love isolation, time to sit, but I hadn’t realized how much I intersperse isolation with activity, with a balance of in and out, and how I love to go to the grocery store and choose my produce, and wander through aisles with other people, children, and carts.
I keep coming back to myself though since that’s who’s here. I’m here, a playground of radiance and entertainment with blood and breath flowing through. I’m connected, touched, and I’m always new!
In this exploration, I’m especially aware of sound and the lack of it. My ears have expanded to touch vibration as it comes, to reach for it. Oh, yes, what delight is this meeting of vibration from outside as it enters and caresses my eardrum. Touch!
And the three tiny bones in the middle ear, the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. I’m back in fifth grade where I made a clay model of the ear. My ears are entertainment centers. Sound travels through my feet and gut. I’m one, one with my universe, our universe. Relationship abounds.
And here’s some humor for the day.
Prediction – There will be a minor baby boom in 9 months, and in 2033, we’ll witness the rise of the Quaranteens.
May this be so!