Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shoes For My Heart

It’s just one of those days. We all have them. Today I felt like....

I’m nearly 51.
I’m divorced.
How many pounds...still?
My last child is about to leave the nest.
My dear friend is seriously ill.
I’m nearly broke.
I have no job.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. (Psalm 121:1) I don’t even have any hills ‘round here in Middle-Of-Nowhere ™.

So I let myself wallow in that pity party for a little while, then attempted to drag myself out of it.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition I follow, we are taught not to shy away from all the negative “stuff” that surrounds us, but rather to go toward that pain, to understand it, therefore to expose the tender heart of compassion that lies underneath. We can use everything in our lives to make our lives filled with happiness.

Obviously, all this piled-up pity stuff is a way of gently pointing out to me that I have not been practicing my meditation, my reading, my training.

Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun I consider my teacher, has a wonderful analogy. She said that often we see our world and we are so pissed off by it...This lousy word, this lousy government, this lousy person ahead of us is too tall, lousy mosquitoes are everywhere, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, the toilet is leaking, we weight too much, we’re lonely, our stomachs are grumbling, the traffic is parked and we are late. The world is against us.

It’s like walking barefoot over hot sand or glass shards. We hurt. It cuts us, it causes us pain. We have the idea to cover it up...Put down leather everywhere!!! Get RID of the lousy government, that lousy person who’s too tall...get RID of everything that bothers us. Make everything perfect for us. And THEN we will be content and happy.

Our feet don’t hurt when we cover the boiling sand with leather. Our souls don’t hurt when we cover up our feelings. But these approaches aren’t practical. Isn’t it impractical to demand that leather be everywhere we walk??? Isn’t it impractical to demand that the world be perfect for us alone?

Why don’t we put the leather on the soles of our feet? Call them SHOES! Now we don’t have to cover up everything with leather...just a little bit of protection for us to manage. So we will be able to experience all the glories of this world. In the same way, why not expand our mind, learn to work with it, to train our minds to be open, acknowledge the aches, pains, suffering, sadness that is there, learn to accept it...and use it. To fully live in all the wonders of being human. Including pain, sadness and "pissed-off-ness".

It sounds good, but it is so hard sometimes to stay in that second of agony. To stay present, to stop yourself from diving under the covers to hide. To not give up for just a second longer. Then it’s two seconds. Then 30. Then a minute. Then an hour.

Maybe situations listed up above haven’t changed. It’s all still there. It’s just the way I perceive those situations that change.

Somehow, it’s not so bad anymore.

Little tiny sandals for my heart. To help me walk through the rough bits.

I wonder if I can find strappy, high-heeled, sexy ones?

See....I'm back.


No comments: