arif

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

I don’t have the words

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I don’t have the right words for this, so forgive me if it comes out poorly.

I spent 6 hours today driving a u-haul up from Quincy, IL, carrying a dining table and chairs that were in the house I grew up in. When my parents decided to sell that house and asked if I wanted the table, I jumped at the chance. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of times sitting around that table, and I love that it will become a part of my family. So, I was already thinking of legacy, generations, and the passing of time when I got in the truck this morning.

Then I spent 6 hours driving, listening to NPR pretty much the whole way. On Memorial Day.

The stories of people who’ve inherited a legacy of service were moving. I’m opposed to war, but I’m slowly starting to understanding loving a place, a country, enough to want to make a commitment that may mean giving your life in the service of it’s imperfect actions.

What broke my heart, over and over and over again were the stories of people who’ve recently lost a loved one, usually a son, sometimes a daughter, in our last decade plus of war. Followed not far behind by the stories of the families that have been torn apart or nearly torn apart by the demands of a military that seems to care little for the families of the soldiers that serve this country, however imperfect this country’s orders and care for them may be.

The time added up to what was probably the first time ever that I’ve really spent a good chunk of Memorial Day observing the purpose of the day. There’s still a lot that’s processing in my mind. I have lots of emotions, most of them conflicting about our military. I’m not closely connected to military, but I can tell you that my friend Ryan Friedrichs, who recently joined the Army, was on my mind a lot today.

I still don’t know what this all adds up to. Like I said, I don’t really have the words.

What I do know is that on this Memorial Day, I’m dreaming of a world without war, and while that world may be a long way off, I’m dreaming of it’s near future achievable goal: a United States that treats the men and women in the service, and their families, with the highest degree of care, dignity, respect.

PS. This story, these feelings have extra resonance because my mom spent her career as a doctor in a VA hospital. I didn’t really understand her stories of Vietnam vets with PTSD and the like. Her compassion for them was evident, but I didn’t *get* it.

Mom, I’m starting to….

try

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

try not to take yourself too seriously. chances are good that you’re not nearly as important as you think.

in fact, chances are good that you’re not as important as you don’t think you are either.

yesterday

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

Sitting yesterday, something rather incredible happened – incredible for me that is, your mileage will vary.

I felt my heart. And by that I don’t mean my “heart” that symmetrical thing we trot out in February to symbolize commercialized romantic love. No, I mean this heart – that wonderful engine of ours that makes this life possible.

For 15 or so minutes, I was deeply aware of and present with this amazing muscle, fluttering like a swimmer in the water, beating again and again for ever until it doesn’t any longer. Attuned even to how my whole body resonated to the beat of this little drummer.

As I ended my sitting, a wave of metta flooded my body while I dedicated my practice to the liberation of all beings everywhere. And then, sitting on the cushion, coming up from a bow, a line from a Mary Oliver poem came to me, strongly:

what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

a “good” sit

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2012 at 10:22 am

i had my first “good” sit yesterday. the first in a good long while.

for several years, several years ago, i was far more diligent in my sitting practice, sitting nearly everyday and joining the sitting group at my meditation center regularly.

then life got busy. we had another kid, i took on more responsibility at work, my wife’s work picked up as well. the time for sitting became more and more squeezed, the opportunities to find a quiet place anywhere became fewer and far between, and slowly but surely my sitting practice became an aspirational memory rather than a lived reality.

so it was with some trepidation that I recommitted myself to practice a few months back. i strongly suspected that sitting is emphatically not like riding bike – that one doesn’t just instantly remember. i mean the physical memory is there – half lotus is no more or less easy than it was several years back – if anything a bit easier because of the yoga i’ve been doing but the mindfulness itself? the calmness of mind? the not feeding the mental movie and therefore perpetuating it? i was scared.

my re-commitment to sitting took the form of a sit at lunch time. i’ve got an office to myself, and my cushion is against the wall behind my desk. it is less than five steps away, and there is really no valid excuse for not finding 20 minutes, every day, to sit.

so it should surprise no one that my greatest creativity and procrastination has come up as i’ve confronted my commitment to sitting. because really, sitting during the middle of my work day?

it’s excruciating. i honestly can’t believe that this is what my mind is like during my working hours. if you were in here, you’d be… well, never mind what you’d be. just believe when i say that spending time in here, watching what’s happening, knowing that this is how my mind is while i’m at work – it ain’t pretty.

and so, yesterday, while sitting, when i had several moments of presence, of being with rather than chasing around, when my mind calmed down and accepted that i wasn’t going to play along and go along for the thinking/listening/planning ride that it had in mind (pun intended) – and when i had several of those moments in succession…. that was good.

it felt good to see that. to feel that. to remember that taste of greater freedom and spaciousness, and to know that that is still there for me. perhaps a bit further away because of the years between my past practice and my present one, but nevertheless, still there.

see you on the cushion.