Image courtesy of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order website
There's something in the season, maybe, as I've pondered before on the Daily: something about New Year that sparks a revisiting of our life plans, our dreams, the goals we've met, and the goals we've lost (along the way - thanks Bob). A lot of people in my immediate world are changing, and here at the Heights I've been trying to create some changes of my own. My brother and I were hypothesising over the phone last night whether this is a mid-life crisis thing.
"It's harder for you women when you're pushing thirty, isn't it?" my brother commented in his usual helpful way, "Your womb will have dried up soon."
There was a long silence.
"I've said the wrong thing again, haven'tI," Matthias asked, in a quiet voice.
However, I think that the periodic desire for profound change is just a life thing.
Whether I'm working towards changing something about myself or my life, or even when I'm at the point of achieving one of my dreams, change is never easy: not for me, and not for the people around me either. At the moment, for instance, I have no social life. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, it's been a deliberate move. For one thing, I'm using my time differently, and for another I feel seven kinds of crazy volatile a lot of the time and I don't trust myself to be around safe, normal people without causing some kind of psychological damage to them, or myself.
I've been trying to make my creative writing a part of my everyday world. I get up at seven and write for an hour (three pages of stream of consciousness; often half-asleep nonsense) before work, and now I come home and write for at least an hour (an hour is my rule of thumb, but I often find I keep going after that).This may not be big news to other people who write, but making a steady, solid and real commitment to my own writing is actually a huge step that has brought me face to face with many of my deeply held fears: about writing, about success and failure, and about myself.
The thing about change processes is that I can often get carried away with what I am trying to achieve. 'The Goal' becomes the central focus of my life and I can easily forget that it may not be the same for other people. When that happens, I can become quite resentful - if I'm not careful - with those closest to me. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking 'Dude, you know I'm trying to change things right now, why aren't you supporting me on it?"
But to come full circle, a lot of people in my world are doing exactly the same thing. Everybody's changing! And it feels exactly as terrifying, exactly as confusing, and exactly as vulnerability-inciting as it does for me. I realised yesterday that this goes some way to explaining why some of my relationships have been quite disjointed over the last few weeks: I've been in conflict with a close friend and members of my family since New Year, and this sense of "Why don't you understand/Why are you being so unreasonable?" has been at the root of a lot it.
Over at the Happiness Project, which is well on the way to becoming one of my all time favourite things, Gretchen has been talking about the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, and about taking responsibility for her own happiness when moments of conflict like this arrive. I have a lot to learn from this, as fundamentally, it's disempowering to place so much responsibility for my happiness in the hands of other people.
Today's Quotes of Love, Peace and Understanding
On life's journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.
Generosity is another quality which, like patience, letting go, non-judging, and trust, provides a solid foundation for mindfulness practice. You might experiment with using the cultivation of generosity as a vehicle for deep self-observation and inquiry as well as an exercise in giving. A good place to start is with yourself. See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self-acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation-to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.
Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.
Image courtesy of the Pebbles Sangha website