Feats of Thoughtfulness

I cannot think of a moment when kindness is not essential. Yet, it remains a hard practice for me.

Always, I start with the small stuff–especially on difficult days—when I want to shout, not necessarily to be heard but just to shout at senselessness.

I “can build a whole world around the tiniest of touches” (Carol Rifka Brunt)–world building, moment by moment. A kind word or a gentle touch—a hug— interrupts my momentum, perhaps saving me from a slide down yet another slippery slope.

I like to think of world building as a balancing act with kindness keeping me in the middle-of-the-road, providing me perspective on both sides of the spectrum, saving me from the tipping point.

Perhaps this is how we effect change everywhere—in tiny touches with surprising feats of thoughtfulness.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Last Firefly

There are so many bright, shining moments not celebrated in legend or in memoir. Maybe they are not even recorded as journal entries. In their uniqueness, they fall short of sharing.

Often, I wonder if I let them go a little sooner than I should, like when fireflies first appear.

There is the brilliance of first firefly light, and maybe for a few nights hence, I am at the window for the show. Each firefly’s life is brief, a bright and shining moment.

Why am I not cognizant of each firefly evening so I might glimpse the last night of the last firefly? Is there not equal brilliance then?

This year, I remembered firefly season in its beginning but I did not stay for the last night of the last firefly.

I tell myself there is always next year but surely, bright and shining moments are not limited to any one season, even if firefly moments are.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Sometimes, There Is No Translation

Some time ago, I wrote that the #DailyDose—of energy–does not necessarily mean a daily post. It is the vibration of chronic illness that determines whether writing happens or not. I aim to meet the daily rhythm of the energy; that is the heart of Aim for Even.

For nearly two weeks, there has been no writing but there has been meditation and yoga. As well, a limited social media presence. The fluidity of chronic illness floats on the gift of time—always—yet this recent flare-up of autoimmune and spinal cord disease was unlike the others.

The severity of it surprised me but at the same time intrigued. Some days it was as if time seemed stilled. On other days, it was as if there was no time at all. The days passed that fast.

Alan Watts tells an anecdote about translating Zen stories into English. The Zen master sees no need for it because Zen can be found in any book be it “the Bible, Alice in Wonderland, or even the dictionary.”

In other words, “the sound of rain needs no translation” (Alan Watts).

In my recent flare-up, I found an energy I never knew existed. I discovered it when my fatigue kept me all but bedridden for a few days. All I could do was focus on the moment I had, and what else is the meditative state?

It was as if I became an observer–a witness–rather than a participant in my chronic illness. It was not some kind of out of body experience but just the opposite. I have never been more aware of being in my body because I was not participating in the drama of my mind.

I am not cured but I am changed. I have heard the sound of rain. In fact, one morning as I began meditating, it did rain.

I practice mindfulness meditation with my eyes open and focused on the breath. In that moment, I was the rain, sitting “in the seat of self” witnessing what it is to be alive. It is more than enough, so much more.

In the book, The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer showed me how to deal with the drama of my mind as my body works so hard to win the war within. Here, winning is adapting, accepting change. It is not a competition.

As an observer, rather than a participant in my ego’s drama, my body has an easier time of doing what it does best—adapting. My symptoms continue but I remain distant from the drama.

I am the witness watching. And that is making all the difference.

Be serene in the oneness of things and

erroneous views will

disappear by themselves.

(Seng-Ts’an).

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Love’s Other Name

Suffering seems like it’s everywhere because it is. Always has been. The Buddha taught nothing but suffering and the end of suffering. The teaching is still with us for we still suffer.

I find it hard not to turn away from others’ suffering. I’m not much better with my own. How can I extend compassion to anyone else when I’m so reluctant to understand my own suffering?

When I wrap myself up in my own pain, be it emotional, physical or both, the tighter wound I am, the more I suffer. My suffering releases only when I remember that experiencing pain is part of my human experience

Understanding releases my suffering and love–“understanding’s other name”–awaits. Even in my worst moments, no love is not an option. Self-compassion brings understanding to my suffering.

It’s nourishing, this love. A good friend calls it the “ginormous heart.” Each of us has so much of it to give.

Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift

you can give another person.

Understanding is love’s

other name. If you don’t understand,

you can’t love.

When we feed and support our own happiness,

we are nourishing our ability to love.

That’s why to love means to learn

the art of nourishing our happiness.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Forever But Not Forever

Monica de la Torre says, “The sky’s changeups are reminders that this will not drag on forever.” I never thought of the sky as an ongoing image of impermanence but, of course, it is. All I need to do is look up.

It’s rather like binge watching The Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale. It takes me out of me to other times similar but not the same. Each story is its own ending.

So, forever but not forever.

In this moment, I am awash in autoimmune disease. Why not look to the sky? An in-the-moment reminder that no thing and no moment ever stays keeps me focused not on what swirls inside me but on what whirls above.

It is worth the walk outside just to watch the world in the sky go by.

Forever but not forever.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Presence of Social Media

This week’s #LongerView sits in “the seat of self,” opens the laptop, and observes social media. It begs the question, Safe for Anyone? That context is provided by Byron Katie.

As always, the swinging bench awaits.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

 

Groundless in the Time of the Impossible

While it seems impossible at first,

you soon recognize that with everything

there is a point of balance

and you just have to find it.

(Amy Tan)

Experience has shown me that in each day a point of balance exists no matter how pervasive the impossible.

I find my fulcrum in the unlikeliest of places. It means going groundless as Pema Chödrön calls it.

I must trust in myself, go all in. After all, becoming comfortable with “getting tossed around with right and wrong” is a lifetime experience (Chödrön). No two times are the same but with practice comes acceptance.

Less and less am I concerned with sides. If I’m on one, I am not on the other. I am separate. It seems to me that survival in this physical dimension relies on connecting separate shores.

Maybe staying connected is our #DailyDose of the impossible. After all, each of us is unique in our expression as a human being. We are born to difference but animated by the same energy. We are all star dust.

Each moment is mine to find my fulcrum, some days a tipping point, some days not.

Every day you may have broken

down in guilt and failure.

Every day may have shown you

your helplessness a thousandfold.

Yet each new day brings

new sun, new air, and new grace.

(Eberhard Arnold)

Groundless in the time of the impossible.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.