Saturday, September 21, 2013

In Search Of That Inner Buddha

There is a calm that settles over me whenever I sit and just watch the birds flit back and forth to the feeders in front of our largest sun room windows.  It centers me, somehow, to sit quietly and watch them hop and chirp and battle with each other over a choice tidbit from the feeder.

I get nothing from the birds other than the visual enjoyment of watching them fly and hop about, displaying their colors and sounding out their beautiful trilling songs for all the world to hear.

Filling our feeders feels an awful lot like making offerings to the little winged gods, enticing their favor with the tidbits we put out to lure them into our yard and, thus, our world.  If only for a little while, to enjoy their beauty and song as a way to lift us out of our own day to day worries for a brief, meditative moment in time.

The same is true for the butterflies that visit our assortment of flowers in the yard, as well as for the hummingbirds that do the same.  They glitter like jewels, just tantalizingly out of reach on the other side of the glass, beckoning toward the outside with the best that nature has to offer as an enticement.

As we edge ever more swiftly toward fall, the leaves have begun to take on that tinge of color that makes me want to hasten toward something, to somehow outrun the snowfall even though I love that time of year when we are cozy inside our little house where the cold and ice cannot touch us.

This year, it feels especially urgent, as though my time spent inside during the whole of my cancer treatments is pressing, pressing, pressing, and urging me to get outside while I still can. 

It is human nature to want what we cannot have, I suppose, or to always think that something better is around the next bend instead of realizing that the best things are already right where we are.  I often have a tough time with this as a concept, because I'm always questioning how well I have done something or pushing myself to go further, to do more, to be more.  It is the way I always have been, and that has taken a severe beating the last few months as I could only be...less than usual pretty much every day, for weeks on end.

Having to make peace with the way things are has been a struggle for me.

Because "the way things are" has never, really, been good enough.  I am happier dwelling in "the way things could be" or "the way I can make things be if I work hard enough."   Finding my inner buddha -- a sort of "forced zen," as Mr. ReddHedd calls it -- has been a knock down, drag out internal war for me for that reason. 

Spending a summer and a chunk of the fall wrestling with my own Type A perfectionist demons has been enlightening, if not always productive.  And what I have learned is this:  if something causes you this much distress, you need to let it go, but to do so, you have to dig it out by its roots. 

But that can be easier said than done, can't it?

What I know now, though?  It is a process, and ongoing journey of continuous discovery, if you will, and not simply a destination in which to plant a flag of conquest.  There is no static point of satisfaction because stasis is impossible to achieve in a world that is ever shifting and morphing as we change over time.  I have had to make some form of peace with the fact that I will have to adjust and re-adjust to whatever current reality presents itself under whatever current circumstances have managed to rise up and make things difficult today.

Because chemo and radiation do not care if I haven't felt like doing dishes or laundry or whatever else might be on my lengthening "to do" list, and a "use it or lose it" philosophy only gets you as far as your legs will carry you before you collapse.  That is just the hard truth, and I have had to learn that sometimes letting things go and resting is the better choice, even when that involves making peace with your inner and outer mess and taking a nap instead of tidying up the whole of the world around you.

Learning to slow down and even pause is tough for someone who has to go, go, go.  But it is a lesson worth learning when you realize how much you have been missing as you were hurtling pell mell down the road of your life. 

This continuing search for my inner buddha at least has me asking some of the tough questions instead of just putting my head down and bulling forward no matter what.  Despite the difficulty that has forced these issues to the fore, the resulting internal back and forth has been a catalyst for me digging deeper and trying to find the heart of a lot of things I rarely questioned at all before.  That has been good. 

The big question now is what this means for the future, what lessons have been learned and how will they be applied going forward as I begin to heal and can do more and be more.  Do I go back to the way things were, or do I make different choices that lead me down a more placid yet somehow more satisfying path?

No idea.  But it is going to be awfully fun to find out.

(Photo via Alexis Gravel.)

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