April 19, 2021
I had one of those thoughts the other day, the kind where if you’re walking, you raise a foot to take a step, and the thought hits, and you stand stock still on one leg like a dozing flamingo because you’ve been gobsmacked.
It probably wouldn’t be so earth shattering to everybody, but I am still bemused by it:
I move fast constantly because I never want to be where I am.
Not exactly a candidate for the Book of Revelation, I know. But to me, it’s like a meteor that streaked through my awareness and left brilliant light trailing in its wake, glittering with tantalizing streamers of wonder and joy…if I can just translate some truths from the meteor‘s trail.
I don’t think the first part of this realization requires much deciphering. I move fast constantly. Physically, I mean. Always trying to get from here to there as quickly as possible (because I have “important” things to do? Because I’m impatient?).
That doesn’t seem too unusual. Look at any crowded city street or even the suburban walkers on their gridded asphalt and cement trails.
The fitness walkers seem grimly determined to beat yesterday‘s time. The city denizens might be shoppers or business people or tourists, workers on a break, attorneys and bankers striding briskly to their next meeting. Time is money, chop-chop.
Viewed from my middle-class Western background, this seems par for the course, so I’m going to give myself a pass on analyzing it for now.
But the second statement, the explanation I have given myself for perpetually moving fast, is another kettle of fish. This, I think, is the heart of a dilemma and a conundrum that knots tightly in the center of my personal universe.
I never want to be where I am.
I suspect that the way to unravel the second clause of the sentence is to heed the message of the first. Slow down enough to look at why I don’t want to be where I am.
Most likely, each of us has preferred ways to move through uncomfortable revelations. My particular way is writing. Yours may be some form of psychological or spiritual processing, formal or informal, scripted or spontaneously intuitive. There’s no dearth of guidance if you want to figure out the how.
Observation through writing is my most valued processing tool. After decades of wielding it, I recognize that “things” will shift for me if they are meant to, and usually without my hand on the wheel.
I spent quite a bit of yesterday doing nothing. Not reading, not checking emails, not looking online. Just being. Without feeling compelled to get up and DO.
This, I think, is the beginning of dissolving this conundrum, teasing the strands of illumination from the dark knot of habitual, fast-moving behavior. Of learning how to be where I am, peacefully.
I catch the light from the meteor out of the corner of one closed eye. There it is. Glitter, glitter. Sit a little longer. Think no thoughts a little longer. You may not be able to “meditate,” or so you think, but you are able to just SIT. And be. And not assign any value or lack of value to the sitting and being.
That was yesterday. I don’t know what today will bring. More sitting? Perhaps. It’s certainly tempting, given the surprising amount of peace and even enjoyment I received from the non-act of doing absolutely nothing. And more importantly, not wishing to be doing something.
It’s easy to imagine I might need to join a meditation workshop. Find a tai chi class. Lasso something or someone to tell me how to be silent and still.
Or I could just observe the flamingos at the zoo for awhile. Perhaps they are the Zen masters I can emulate, simply existing in their glorious non-activity, their peaceful one-legged balancing act of grace.