Thursday, January 26, 2012

Are You Able to Sit With Your Suffering?

No, but I sure as hell can tango with it.

Damn it, we're not programmed to sit with our suffering. That's why we have Words with Friends. I'm being flip because it's a bitch of a question to tackle.

Fact is, I can and I can't. Depends on what day of the week you talk to me. Depends on what time of the day you ask the question. Am I avoiding the answer? Yes. Because I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Do You Suffer?

That's the next question in my Committed Practice Group homework.

I'm tempted to very flippantly say: "I'm suffering answering this question", but I'll bite. I suffer by living almost completely in my head, worrying and obsessing, succumbing to anxiety, clinging. I suffer by forgetting and I suffer by remembering. I suffer when I hurt myself, and I suffer when I try to heal the wounds.

Does this mean life is suffering?

In a way, yes. As I was saying yesterday, the two are inextricable. (Which means I guess I do realize it!) But is suffering inevitable? Probably to some degree, but not necessarily to the degree that I or so many others experience it.

To me action is the anti-suffering. My mother once told me that action is the antidote to anxiety (how's that for alliteration?) and in my experience that's totally true. When I'm in motion, moving forward, working to make my life better, I'm too busy to suffer.

But is that what I'm looking for? Does that mean I suffer in stillness?

Not necessarily. Take right now, as I'm sitting in my living room, one dog beside me and the other close by, listening to Gen X Radio St. Louis (give it a try) and waiting for Adam to come home and contemplating, just contemplating stillness and suffering, and how lucky I am to have the time and leisure to do all this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The First Noble Truth

So I've joined a Committed Practice Group at Show Me Dharma, the meditation center here in Columbia. We have homework, which I think is a good idea, and I also think it's a good idea to do it, which can be a little tricky given that I am lazy. So I'm trying to keep myself honest by putting it on the blog.

Let's start with the first question ...

Do you truly realize that your life is inseparable from suffering?

No. I don't realize it at the emotional level, the gut. Or perhaps I realize it but don't accept it. I'm not sure if realization and acceptance happen simultaneously. I could spin into some rant about what realization is and when it happens, but is that relevant to this question? I'm not sure.

The question is do I realize that my life is inseparable from suffering. I don't accept it. I do know it. Does that mean I realize it? I'm not sure. I keep pushing against it. I claim to be open to the possibilities of life, both pleasant and difficult, but in reality, am I?

Then again, the question wasn't whether I accept it. It's do I realize it? And actually, I have to say, yes, I do. I realize it and I understand it. I don't like it ... but that's another question entirely.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today's writing

You want to know how I got her in my car. That’s always the question, isn’t it, the hook on which so many things turn. How did the bad girl get the good girl to come along? How did evil trump innocence?

I’m here to tell you it’s not that simple.

“Fact is,” I said, “I know you. You’re not the good girl you want everyone to believe you are. In fact, I think you’re smart enough that you don’t even believe it yourself. And God or Jehovah or Buddha or Justin Bieber or whichever deity you want to believe in has brought me here to show you that light.”

And in that moment I knew her fear. I could smell it across the room. I could taste it in my own nervous breath. And that brought me close to her. So close I could sense her past, feel her future. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


I'm headed to Memphis with my three loves: my boy love and my doggy loves. We're going to Graceland for Elvis Day. Tell me that's not dorky!

A snippet of writing from the last few days:

Leigh takes a breath, releases it, feels the air flow out of her lungs. She tries to focus in the stillness. It is so quiet right now. She can’t even hear the television, can’t hear anything Evan’s doing. For all she knows he’s already headed to work by now, except she knows he hasn’t. He wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye, without kissing her on the forehead and telling her to drive safe.
It’s that vortex, she thinks, that black pit, the glory hole of nothingness. She counters the flouncy thoughts by cracking her knuckles, one at a time, calculating the pop. Arthur-Pickle stretches, trembles slightly, returns to his curled position. On three she will get up. She counts – one, two, two and a half – and then wills herself into going vertical.

Two and a half. She counts like a mother, giving one final chance before – what? It is, of course, possible to threaten oneself, to talk to oneself as a child. Three, and then three and a half, and on the count of four she is still lying prone. Through her half-closed lids she can see the details of their bedroom: clothes hanging in the half-open closet, his on the left and hers at right; a red tennis shoe discarded in the corner; his laptop, screen still frozen on the Netflix movie they were watching last night, balanced on his nightstand; the Eugenides book she’s been trying and failing to read the last few days; a snapshot they took of themselves in Barcelona the year before they married. They were young then, young and foolish in that entirely happy way. The picture features the spill of her hair, the tilt of his chin, their lips joined but obscured. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

"What God called me to do"

I'm sitting at Kaldi's listening to these guys talk about God. Specifically, the Christian house that they're setting up. One of the guys is talking about his divine call.

So what's my divine call?

I've never felt "called by God" in terms of anything. I have aptitudes and talents and I don't pretend to be able to know where those come from, but I've never felt it to be holy.

If I were a religious person, would I know more peace?

I know I feel peace when I meditate. Maybe religion is an element of focus, of structure. Maybe that's all it is. Maybe that's the call.

He just said: "I've been taught not to look at the circumstances. Just to focus on the storm." Interesting