If it wasn’t for death and disparity and distress. If 10,000 people world-wide every day were not dying of this virus. If it wasn’t that 20,000,000 human beings are currently infected with Covid. Grief and tragedy and heartbreak. If only somehow in a wand-waving sorcery moment I could delete every ounce of personal, family and communal suffering this scourge has created. That would be amazing. But you know what? Utter truth: in that magic wand moment I would not change one thing about this year for myself.
For that to make sense, gotta travel back to 2010, a time when I was acknowledging the mysterious acceleration of my good and privileged life. Sixty years seemed such a natural time to slow down. But my call to creative work combined with adventure’s lure and my overflowing joie de’vivre kept steadily conspiring to crank up the volume on my bustling life. So my spiritually logical self opted for a week-long silent vipasana retreat for that 60th birthday. As if yanking myself out of the loop for seven days would open the elusive door to deceleration. Nice try.
Ten years have passed since that retreat. The slowing down never really happened. At all. During the ensuing ten years I bounced back from two fierce health crises more zestful than ever. I’m not complaining. My soul, infused with enthusiasm and aspiration, kept guiding me down an ever-productive pathway. I have accomplished heaps. I’m content with that. Really would not change one thing about the last seventy years.
Nevertheless, an unrelenting force has been working me over for the last eight months. A down-shift is dawning organically. Steady pandemic wear and tear keeps systematically chipping away habits that used to conspire to quicken me. Right here, right now, in a year’s end perspective moment, I’m officially designating this The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Oh if it were not for death and disparity and distress…I would not change one thing about this year for myself. This is just part of what has come to pass:
The Divorce of Earning and Work
If you’re Enneagram familiar and you know about threes, you appreciate my deeply entrenched connection between work-worth, financial-worth and self-worth, a long time personality definer. To wrestle out of this life long grip…very tricky for a three, super hard-wired. Little wonder it took seven decades, formidable privilege and a prolonged pandemic. But there you have it. The release is uber-sweet. I’m resting in a fortunate zone of teaching and treating with little care or attention to time and energy and value. I simply get to love my work and do it. Maybe you’ve noticed that payment for classes offers choice: full value and half value. My intent is that no one be turned away due to financial challenge. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if pay to participate is not working. Right now proceeds from one class a month circle back into our community where needed. New Year’s Eve Essentials goes to Sacramento Food Bank. So open and curious to follow this divorce thread.
The Demise of the Energizer Bunny
If you’ve read this far and/or you’ve known me awhile…need I say more? I get so much done in one day. Not only can I manifest ad nauseum, I can multi-task while I’m at it. Such a combo gift/curse. Seventy years of it. Is there a connection between time awareness and productive busy-ness? Because my usual time passage markers—an hour, a week, a month—feel stripped away. I watch myself jot down to do’s or not. Do them or not. Sitting on my garden bench feels more important. No, I have not self-relegated to my rocker. I thrive when physically active, teaching, writing, connecting, cooking, outdoors-ing, treating…and lately, restaurant dreaming. There is just much more stillness. It feels juicy.
Unconditional Love Arising
Super defenseless moment. But I’m not unique in this particular human vulnerability. We all have our personal ego cast of characters. I’ve got a bully whose sole function is to remind me I’m incapable of receiving love. Oh yeah. Also unable to offer love. Basically a worthless unlovable being. I’ve got a handle on ego development and function and given my growing up circumstances, this thug is logical. Mostly he’s content to sit back and shut up…more with every ensuing year. But in the last eight months, something has shifted. My heart feels so awakened by love flowing freely in. Alive with love spilling out. So much spontaneity. So much unself-consciousness. So much powerful ease. The word is unconditional. It may be the greatest gift of The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. I’ll take it.
There’s more. It just hasn’t taken articulate form yet. And it doesn’t have to in order to be real. Fundamental shifts are happening in each of us. Transformative depths that can’t happen in a weekend workshop or week-long retreat. Because real change takes time. And time alone is not enough. Real change happens when we pay attention. Real change happens when we remain open to whatever is arising. Real change happens when we cultivate a willingness to do something different. I’m going to just keep holding space for real change to transpire. Because we’re all enrolled in The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Practice provides perspective. Without the panorama that dedicated reflection provides, we might miss this incredible opportunity.
I hope you can join me for one of these offerings in reflection. Come journey up the body this week, bringing our attention to the floor of the pelvis. Such amazing territory—see video below. Or Sunday, wear white to dance in the Solstice—on line or in the garden. Take a look at all the opportunities that remain in December, dedicated space to pay attention, open to whatever and do something different. Real change is there for the taking.
Sunday Sweat Your Prayers
Saturday December 26/January 30 10:00am-noon
Sac Food Bank Fundraiser: New Year Essentials