Tag Archives: Inspiration

Somewhere Between Two Shores

Every morning, my meditation starts in storm. New winds beckon my sails; mine is the course to set. In the stillness, my sextant sights.

Sometimes. my ship wrecks but imbalance is impermanent. Like the boomerang, balance will have its return.

The self must settle somewhere two shores.

Make not a bond of love;

let it rather be a moving sea

between the shores of your soul.

(Khalil Gibran)

Sustaining the meditative state is a constant shifting of course, ever mindful of each day’s tides. They are never the same.

Every day, I choose whether to rush inland or to remain offshore, anchor dropped in observation.

Wearying but worth it, this life.

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.

When the Journey Seems a Jungle

On so many days, the journey daunts. It’s the obstacle. It’s the path. It’s both. You choose the order, if that’s a must for you. Some days I stagger but I also admit to a bit of swagger. Those days cost me more, ultimately.

This day, the journey is loud with “voices I leave behind.” I have miles to go, new voices to know but not all do I let go. A constant companion is Mary Oliver who always seems to know.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

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.

Is There Really a Choice?

Be impeccable in your word

Don’t take anything personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best.

Don Miguel Ruiz

In yesterday’s post, I made a passing reference to Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements. Is there ever a time when they are not needed? Has there ever been a time when it was easy to practice them?

In these dark days, we know we are not hearing one another. In any conversation, who will put assumptions aside in favor of thoughtful discourse?

Anyone? It’s hard. Often, it does not work. Why make it a practice?

I focus on word choice, aiming for impeccable. I don’t always reach that level. Still, I remind myself that in equanimity there are no enemies. My heart remains open rather than shut tight. I only need a sliver of light.

What I’m saying sounds far-fetched, perhaps impractical. Yet, the few times that I have stood in mindfulness—trusted it–drama was left without a stage on which to play. I fueled no fires.

It has happened enough to reinforce my practice of the Four Agreements, especially on those days when my skin is too thin, and I react rather than respond.

One mistake need not necessitate another, so I am more thoughtful in my word choice. At the very least, it changes up the pace of the conversation or social media commentary.

My recent blog post on childhood and its innocence sparked a comment full of hate, truly vitriolic. The words were so raw I could not take them personally. Neither, could I decipher the reader’s meaning.

It is the kind of spew I see far too often on social media. It does not deserve a response, ever. That said, such hate has always been part of the human experience. The Internet only makes it more immediate.

Our language returns to us, sometimes unrecognizable. We effect change with our word. Do we have a choice other than to be impeccable?

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.

A Wendell Berry Kind of Day

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work

and that when we no longer know

which way to go we

have begun our real journey.

Wendell Berry, Standing by Words

When despair for the world grows in me

 and I wake in the night at the least sound

 in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

 I go and lie down where the wood drake

 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

 I come into the peace of wild things

 who do not tax their lives with forethought

 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

 And I feel above me the day-blind stars

 waiting with their light. For a time

 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

“The Peace of Wild Things,” Wendell Berry

On days when words fail, awash in my heart’s overflow, I go to “rest in the grace of the world.” What better compass than the “presence of still water?”

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.

Owning Both Halves of Me

One word can either open a wound or a world. Words stretch into sentences, then stories. We love stories. They show us who we are, no matter what they reveal.

Today, I return to the Cherokee story of the two wolves who live within us. A grandfather tells his grandson about the ongoing battle between good and evil, light and dark.

Always, the wolves hunger and gnaw. The grandson asks what to do. In most versions of this story, the grandfather says you starve one and feed the other.

That never made sense to me.

And then I found a version where the grandfather advises to feed them both. Starving one makes the other uncontrollable. They are two halves of a whole and not two beings stuck in eternal struggle.

I try to feed both; therein, my battle lies.

Putting on the armor of the bodhisattva is to wear the most powerful weapon ever known to existence–compassion–owning both halves of me.

And when I do, I stand with my wolves not in fear but in awe.

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.

When Courtesy Is Left Behind

Life is not so short but

that there is always time

enough for courtesy.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I found this quotation in my morning email. After yesterday’s post regarding my experience at the neurosurgeon’s office, I appreciate the coincidence or is it synchronicity?

And here’s a bit more, I think.

The working title of one of the essays I’m writing is “Love in a Time of Hate.” Admittedly, it’s challenging and not because I believe much of life is a Zen koan, although it just may be.

The issue is Emerson’s point, courtesy—a reverence for life that is increasingly rare. I would be hard put to find a more apt quotation for my online experience so far today.

As a wise friend observed, the face of all this snark is frustration. We are turning on one another rather than looking for a sliver of light in what is a great darkness. And it’s exhausting, especially when hate seems so strong.

That stops me in the writing of my essay but I’m determined to finish it because I know hate does not exist without love, truly. Hate is merely love buried but love is resilient. Its heart does not stop beating until ours does.

And it’s complex this love-hate that is so integral to being human. One does not exist without the other because like light and dark, they are halves of a whole. And when we understand that, we will not fear hate or hide our love.

It’s reverence for life that will get us there, I think, for courtesy clears any air, albeit momentarily. It changes the pace and sometimes, that’s all that’s necessary, even if the solution is to walk away. Courtesy allows us the integrity to do so.

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.

Trying to Be a Woman with No Future

Yesterday, I saw a Byron Katie meme that said, “I am a woman with no future.” There was a time I knew myself as such but of late, I am caught up in the way of the world rather than the way I work.

I know they are not mutually exclusive but I have lost sight of myself, looking only to the future. My body is taut, my perspective narrow. Two writing submission deadlines loom, and neither essay is coming together.

I am focused on the deadline rather than the content, looking to the end stage rather than the words it takes to get there. I need to be a woman unaware of her future.

It means bringing the meditative state into my day. For me, writing does that but the world does not stop because I write. Even without deadlines, writing occupies most of my day. Words are always forming phrases.

I pass over one thought for another and then maybe go back to the original. Regardless, I find out what I’m thinking. I have great respect for mind and all that it produces, which is a lot.

I’m not sure that I ever allow my body enough respect, especially when I am writing. It, too, requires movement but unlike moving words around on stationary screens, the body in motion takes me away from screens. Words float, sometimes out of mind.

If I sit just a little longer I tell myself. I’ll set a timer but I sit too long or maybe, not long enough. Without an evenness of mind and body, my entire being stiffens.

Mind often dominates but at its own expense for if the body is ignored in terms of exercise and nutrition, the mind muddles. In frustration, its only focus is deadlines.

It is time for a cup of tea, and a bit of a stretch. I will find more words. There are so many–more than enough–but I have only this one moment.

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.