day 3 of teaching my travel literature summer intensive course. Naps after class and all time collapses. North Carolina, Bellingham, Turkey, Utah. I can see I am not the same person and all things change but larger events seem to bring about bigger changes and shifts.
2009 was the last large event that changed everything. A reconciling. Of family. Of identity. Of various origins. I realise it is always in progress but I felt more a sense of a base. More stability to work from. A home.
Now this year it is the loss of Aaron. I can look at how I thought and acted before this event. My petty worries and anxieties. I don’t want to go back to that. I know things will normalise. I know things will happen and the loss of Aaron will hit me again. I know I will have to work to see things in perspective and those petty worries and anxieties will return. I will have to work at it. I want to put things into perspective.
It is not a one time thing. But I don’t want a tragedy or living in a state of emotional emergency to be the only things that wake me up.
If everything is constantly changing (including language) and there was nothing else . . what could we talk about? How could we communicate anything? Or is constantly changing different from chaos? We live our lives with the idea of some predictability and non-change. How could we do anything without some of this?
But I guess the trouble comes with clinging to those ideas of stability and predictability.
My suffering has come as a result of trying to anticipate the change. I have had a lot of change and radical adjustments. To various countries. To isolation. To loss in various forms. To radically changing my identity and world views. Etc. etc. So now when I find any kind of life resembling some stability I have a fear of getting too comfortable. I fear I am not prepared enough for the worst.
I have been trying to work through this for the last seven years. For one year with counselling and cognitive therapy (among dealing with other issues).
How to allow for happiness without anticipating the suffering?
A lot of contemporary American Zen Buddhism makes sense to me in a practical way. Suffering will come whether or not I anticipate it. Clinging to either suffering or happiness can lead to problems.
I have to bend. Rigid things snap in the wind.
A sense of the spiritual in a larger sense also seems necessary to my well-being. A sense of purpose as well. Guess we all need that sense of purpose right? Even in the face of the absurdity of death. It’s the fella that rolls the rock up the hill only to have slide it down the other side. He rolls it back up again and again and again. Forever. Good old sisyphus.
But unlike a lot of the existentialists the Buddhist idea is not cling to the suffering and anxiety. Contemporary American Zen Buddhism seems to be existentialism without the angst.
Also learning to be and to take delight in the everyday. Those things have helped a lot. And not being detached (clinging or attachment seems to be the opposite). But rather being fully engaged in everything happening right now in mind, body, environment.
Delighting in the mysteries can lead to awe. Awe can lead to being more fully present and awake.
Taking it all with a light touch. A playful seriousness. That helps a lot.
Again not being detached but fully engaged with how the mind works. The mind is the source of suffering and happiness and all else.
Not knowing can be terrifying. Or it can be liberating.
Maybe all things are changing, including the chatter of our minds. But that something that doesn’t change is the mystery. The thing we work with to notice the chatter of our mind. The awareness/consciousness. Consciousness in both a larger collective sense and an individual sense. The thing that can be fully present.