Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday, May22: Chapter 22: Paths to Waking

There are many paths to waking up to the present. Some folks have heart attacks and their physicians suggest they take up meditation. They try it, and discover that to be present is to be peaceful and so for a couple of times a day they are present, off and on, and the rest of the day, sort of, they have a background idea: if I were more present, I could be more peaceful.

Some play sports and they realize that what they like about tennis or skiing is the intensity of being right in the moment with the ball or the swing or the ski or the snow. Their solution is sometimes to up the rate of skiing or tennis, and occasionally they realize that this focus on the moment can come in walking across a room and picking up a telephone.

Others are stimulated by death. They are approaching death and all the usual escapes, even shopping the mall, even mega-thriller movies, don’t really seem to be what it is all about. They figure, what the hell, I’ll go putter in the garden. They realize, why rush, I’ll never get to all the weeds, and why try so hard to make the garden perfect, it’ll never be perfect enough, so they just hang out and putter and garden and enjoy the smells and the butterflies and the glories of being alive. Sometimes these people, since they are no longer in a rush, and no longer trying to do the ridiculous (live up to others’ expectations, get everything done now, perfectly), spontaneously cure themselves. Sometimes they are so busy being peaceful in the present, they don’t even notice.

Sometimes the death of someone we love can snap us into waking up. We grieve. We wish them back. The more we wish, the more unhappy we get. We fall asleep in a miserable funk and have a dream of hugging and having a pleasant conversation with our missing friend. We wake up sobbing, and then realize, I can still love this person. I can still tell this person anything I want to say. We talk to this person, and seem to get a strange and wonderful answer: one of us is dead, the other isn’t. Your job, as the non-dead, is to live. To live is to appreciate, as I forgot to do, the preciousness of every single moment.

Boredom could be a stimulus. Having the intelligence enough to realize even without heart attacks or impending death that trips to the shoe store and vacations to whatever are all nice, and what about the times in between? Doesn’t that time count? A feeling of pleasure and peace and excitement begins to build by paying attention to our everyday state of being, how we feel sitting in a chair, how we feel going to a gathering, how we feel going to work, being at work, coming home from work. How we feel, listening to the same old people complain about the same old thing. How we feel hearing ourselves complain about the same old thing.

A sense of the weariness of life lived at the level of the high or low functioning robot comes to us. The solution could be to hype it up: go to Mexico, jump off a cliff, have an affair, rob a bank, take up kayaking. The solution could also be to take up surfing, but the more amazing kind of surfing, surfing the moment to see if we can ride right along with life as it (and we) are unfolding, breath by breath, sound by sound, sensation by sensation, sight by sight.

This is an adventure. Crazy and always available, almost too easy, almost too hard, completely amazing. Always available. Always available. Always available.


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