Clarity, or the lack thereof

The mayhem of the last few weeks has really thrown me for a loop. It’s so easy to forget who I am, really who I am, deep inside when the winds of change start kicking up a storm. Old habits reassert themselves and I tend to do things to try and relieve my stress that aren’t really helpful at all.

What helps? Sitting still. No, really. Just plunking down and breathing allows me to see where I have bought into the tale of woe that is spinning out of control in my brain. It’s not a quick or instant fix and much of the time I start spinning again as soon as I stand up, but even brief glimpses of another way of being serves as a beacon or a guidepost.

I may have been angry, upset, out of control but I don’t have to stay that way. And beating myself up for the stumbles doesn’t help either.

I keep getting a mental picture of something my Zen teacher once spoke about: feeling like one of those people at the carnival whose act consists of spinning a bunch of plates on top of a bunch of poles. When it’s only a couple, it’s easy to keep them going. But what happens when there are a lot of them and they start falling and breaking? This isn’t a carnival act, it’s my life, and I can’t stop right now to berate myself for breaking one or two of them. I have to concentrate on the really important ones: my family, my spirit. It’s like realizing that all of the plates I’m spinning are not equal—there are a couple that are irreplaceable. Those are the ones I need to focus on. Getting distracted by the ones that fall (I lost my temper or work is a major source of stress) isn’t productive.

I guess it’s the same thing as saying “Don’t get caught up in the story you tell yourself.” So simple really. And so not easy.

How does one practice “never falter” when one’s existence feels like nothing more than a series of stumbles? Spin, spin, juggle, juggle, sit. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That, and plug in my iPod at work and listen to some wonderful tunes that make me feel good inside. :^)

The latest rumour going round is that the next round of layoffs at $work will occur next week. Next week, I am travelling, with Bryan and Brianna, to New York to do sesshin. No calls, no email, no outside distractions. I don’t know if I’ll have a job when I get back. But I can’t wait to go. I want to sit, to let go, to just be and I so want to do it in the context of my family. Never before have I been able to bring together the two most important elements of my life. Words cannot express how fundamentally important this is to me, this coming together of my two worlds. I am so profoundly grateful for the opportunity to practice my life in this way.

Perspective yields clarity. Zazen yields perspective, clarity, and so much more. Nine bows to the universe and this glorious spring day.