Wanted coffee. Walked into Chocolate Fish. My window seat was taken. Took the middle seat I didn’t want. Didn’t even notice the gorgeous ocean photo on the wall. Decided what I really craved was a latte. The music is too loud in here. Hate that. So wrapped up in myself, I didn’t spot the full-in-bloom white oleander out the window. Didn’t even notice when the guy in the window seat got up and left. And so it goes. Want, don’t want, doesn’t even register.
Picked up Pema Chodron again a few weeks ago. Start Where You Are was the first of her books I ever read and this is time number three circling back. Captivated by so much of her straight up, easy access writing. The Poison as Medicine chapter lays out the humorous and tragic messy (klesha) stuff we spend our time mucking around in. I loved reading this once more. When we lose sight of how spacious life truly is, we fall into being tight little humans, looking out at everything from our it’s-all-about-me lens. We assess everything that comes our way as I like or I don’t like or we just miss it completely.
I laughed out loud when I re-read about Mortimer. The guy who works in your office. The one who walks by person #1 and, unbeknownst to him, triggers juicy fantasies about connection, relationship, desire. Strolls by person #2 who can’t stand Mortimer, eyes averted, praying he doesn’t come near. You guessed, saunters by person #3 and they don’t even see him, like he doesn’t even exist on the planet. Passion, aggression, ignorance…our three habitual tendencies. In a nut shell.
And what, pray tell, if we actually observe ourselves engaged in these messy habits, are we supposed to do about it? Well, witnessing is a great way to start where you are: painfully, eye-opening-ly funny. Relax, we are indeed human. If we actually notice, we might continue to watch ourselves and see what we do next, see if it’s true we tend to do one of two things when Mortimer triggers us. We act out on our craving or aversion…we actively get his attention or we run and hide under the desk. We act out. Or we repress: we want to connect with him so badly but we tamp down all our rampant desire or he bugs us so much we focus all our attention on him and seethe with disgust. Or of course, in total ignorance, we don’t even notice there is a human being incarnate worthy of honor passing by our cubicle.
Curious lately about my own go-to, my own preferences in this department. Well, there’s no good answer on this one. The embarrassing truth is all there is. I, like you, do all three, all day. But my lifetime programmed response is head-in-the-sand. Thank you very much while I just hide in this cave and nurture my ignorance. If I don’t know about it, surely it won’t bother me, does not apply. And if I actually do notice it and it bothers me, well I’ll stay true to form and repress all that messy stuff as quickly as humanly possible. Which can be amazingly quickly. I’m good at it.
So if by now you’re thinking…forget it, I’m O.K. with skating along surface-happy. You just might have the same conditioning pattern as me, preferring ignorance and repression as life tactic. And that can work, perhaps even for a long time, until some bomb drops in your lap making that game plan non-functional. The unforeseen wake up call that delivers many of us to practice. I haven’t found the other easy, magic way around this and it’s not like we get somewhere and then we’re done. Inconveniently, practice seems to need to occur regularly, without fail, especially when we don’t want to go. So this is just a kick in the butt to find what that practice is and stick with it. Especially when it gets hard. Oh, did I already say that?
You don’t have to practice with me. And if you are inclined, multiple opportunities to exercise that regularity this week: Tuesday morning for Rock & Roll at Seed, Thursday and Friday morning and Friday night at It’s All Yoga, Thursday night and Sunday morning 5Rhythms at Coloma Center. All info in sidebar. Extended practice? Even better. Three days at Harbin Hot Springs, one more scholarship available, June 19-21.
So, yes, relax. We are indeed human. And then get up and do something about that. Love, bella