Emptiness

Cold and Dry.  The autumn air deepens into winter’s bite at night ~ below freezing temps in the high desert of Central Oregon.  Time moves on:  autumn, just arrived, already merging into winter. In the moving, stillness.  The dryness of this day, in this place, is crisp, cold, unyielding.  Waiting.

I find myself depleted, emptied of purpose, watching, listening. Waiting.  Dry.  My skin is dry, my body craving water, moisture. Even my spiritual center feels dry, crisp, like an autumn leaf that crumples when you fold it in your hands, bits drifting down into the earth.  Compost.

I imagine walking barefoot on the thick, wet carpet of a rain forest  (avoiding slugs) under drips of rain from bright green mossy branches, or diving in to the wild waves of a cold, salty ocean (not that I would really…being the cold wimp that I am, it is more a romantic notion than a practical one, no matter how thick my bathrobe may be).  I crave the idea of moisture, of wet, of wild water, of a fertile flow that might feed some new step, some new force of creativity.

Dry spells are normal, I suppose. This emptiness, this nothing…. creative types know it well.  Writers block that comes after a period of prolific writing, blank canvas that stares back at a painter as if nothing could ever fill it, architects or web designers who lose, momentarily, that creative flow that builds something out of nothing.

And if it happens in creative endeavors, why wouldn’t it also be a natural part of spirituality?  Spirituality is nothing, if not creative (in fact, when creativity is separated from spirituality, there can be no true inspiration, but that is a thread for another day).

Contraction precedes expansion.  Expansion requires contraction.  Perhaps contraction is necessary to integrate creative and spiritual expansion, and maybe emptiness is part of a letting go that allows space to open for a different kind of creative expression.   Yin and Yang, and All that Jazz.

oceanEven the ocean contracts and expands in response to some greater force that we can only marginally grasp.

This dry, brittle spiritual center is, I know, a momentary contraction.  I’ve known it before, know that this too will pass. Creative contraction is always temporary, no matter how absolute and devastating it is in a moment.  The emptiness is not really empty. My friend William used to say: “even numbness is a feeling,”  and Pema Chodron reminds me that feelings are simply energy, they come and they go, none of them are permanent.  Change happens.  Contractions give way to expansions, emptiness invites form, and is filled.

For now, all I can do is allow the emptiness, allow the dry spell.  Here God, this too is yours.  It is all I have to offer in this moment.

doorway

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 09:13  Comments (2)  
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A Hello in every Goodbye

Impermanence is the nature of this reality, goes the Buddhist teachings.

Indeed, Have you ever know anything to *not* change?  We live, we die, kids grow up, friends move away, jobs change, people get sick, get well, loved ones die, the seasons change, moment to moment everything is different.  There is no moment that is exactly the same as any other moment.

Pain, suffering, discomfort… they come from our attachment to wanting things to be a certain way.  Maybe we want things not to change (I like this, this is how it should be dammit!) , or we want things to hurry up and change (get me out of here! I don’t want to feel what i feel in this situation; this is not how it is suppose to be, dammit!)

But what if we can be truly in/with exactly what IS in any given moment?  If we can acknowledge our resistance, our attachments, our desires…. and still Let Go, and Be Here Now …  how does that change how we live?

Yesterday, I walked in to “my studio” (the business I just sold) and it was in flux. The colors had drastically changed, and I balked.  Unexpectedly, I wanted to cry.  Why couldn’t you have waited until I was gone?  I asked… but really it was simply that I was facing the physical evidence that this too had changed.  My time there is finished, and in that glaring evidence, all of my attachments rose to the surface.  (Wait, this is my studio! Those colors are too bright… tone it down a bit so it is relaxing! Don’t throw out that poster! if you ever get rid of those blankets, I want them!  make sure you keep the place welcoming! blah blah blah.)

I laugh at myself, grateful that I can see these attachments, and the silliness of them.  It is simply change, evolution.  The studio was never mine; it belongs to the community.  Anything other than appreciating that is just ego.  Humorous really.

Change happens every day.  Every moment.  There is a crystal glass, a thing of beauty.  At any moment it can fall to the floor and shatter. If you know the glass is already broken, you can appreciate it’s beauty all the more as you drink from it, admire it in the sunlight, love it.

I savor these moments here at home, knowing they are about to change.   Early morning meditation and prayer, coffee, the sunrise, baying hounds, noisy birds, my dog waiting patiently (yet ready in an instant) for his morning run. My husband sleeping peacefully in the next room, a cat curled up next to me.

Really, I am a homebody. I like my home, my critters, my peace. In spite of my love for travel and adventure, and the continual upheaval that moves me from place to place, I am at peace in the “unchanging” comfort of home.

And…. travel calls.  The universe shifts and points: This Way.

(What’s next? I asked, and a metaphorical finger pointed to France.)

Every moment, really, is a goodbye.  Life is transient.  We never know from moment to moment where we will be, who we will see again, where we might meet again, or not.

If we live with death on our shoulder, (ala Carlos Castaneda), maybe we can live more fully, more completely. Every moment becomes a good bye, every moment a moment to be savored, experienced, loved. In embracing the goodbye, we find also a hello…. a hello to this experience, what really is, even as we grapple with our very human  attachments and desires.

This is what I know:

When I am willing to fully embrace the depth of goodbye and simultaneously allow it to be a hello, I then can recognize the inter-relatedness of life, the ebb and flow, the thread that flows through all of us, the place where we are all connected.  To know impermanence is to also know joy, even when there is pain.

It’s a crazy thing.  But here is truth:  We are not, cannot ever be, separate. Not in Life, not in Death, not at home, not in travel. This single thread called life runs through all of us.  All of the time.  No matter if we see it, or not.

Separation is just an illusion.  and This moment Simply Is.

Published in: on July 27, 2010 at 08:24  Comments (3)  
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