It's hard to believe that I'm down to two posts a month on this blog. Google Analytics no longer shows me my numbers when I sign on. It just says, "Obviously, your pathetic blog has received no visitors. Not even your mother-in-law is reading it anymore. What do you expect? You're not even posting pictures of JANE!!!" So before I blather on...
It's been much harder than I would have expected to continue writing here. Initially I thought lack of time would be the major obstacle. But it turns out to be the changes in my life that pose the challenge. I used to write about my work, my home. I don't really feel I can write about my work, and I don't really spend many waking hours at home. When I am home, I still feel a little bewildered. What is it that I do when I'm here again? I'm not exactly in transition anymore. I'm just not sure where I am yet.
I go to the bakery across the street from my office a lot. Everyone there is nice. The food and coffee are tasty. The music is good. I go way more than I should. But it's a release from the stress I feel at work. I love my job. But it is very hard to immerse oneself in the icky details of people's difficult lives. Sometimes people are indignant. They expect a handout, or they expect the hard work to be done for them. Sometimes people are humiliated, and can hardly bear to talk about the business at hand. Some of them are greatful, and cheerful, and friendly. Some are desperate, panicked, weeping, pouring out their hearts. Some of them are anonymous--no calls, no visits in the office--I'll never see them or hear their voices. In the hands of each of these is at least one child. My everyday is a smorgasbord of emotion--anger, excitement, anxiety, relief, and joy. I laugh, and I cry, every day at work. As you might have guessed, I burned myself out in three months. Now I'm recovering, and in addition to walking across the street to get coffee and such, sometimes I take my whole lunch break. Wow!
Anyhow, today I was in the bakery chatting and when I asked someone who works there how she was, she said she had been in the doldrums for a while. I said something about spring being hard, which I'd been thinking about. She shrugged and said it was okay, because growth only happens when you're uncomfortable. It really comforted me, because I am feeling sort of uncomfortable right now. And I'm okay with that. I had a feeling this would be my year, that I would hit my stride. I still feel that way. But it's spring, and as far as seasons go, spring is hardest for me.
For one thing, there's the weather. The world seems to be making the transition from winter into summer, but is actually making the transition from winter into spring. But I don't mind that so much. There's nothing like the smell of a warmish spring rain (not that we've had much of that, I must say).
Also, there's Easter. I forget about it's coming, and then suddenly I'll see a daffodil, or Peeps, and remember Easter is coming. I remember my loss of faith. I remember all the strange happenings of springs past, reminding me each year that I have unanswered questions. I remember that all I know about my faith is that there is some kind of nameless faith still hanging around. And then I remember I'm okay with that.
And everywhere, there is fragile new life. Everywhere, the reminder that our world, that we, are as ephemeral as we are enduring. Maybe it's just me, but philosophically speaking I find spring a more loaded season than autumn. In every way, my mind wakes up the world and I find myself hesitant, yearning, and full of anticipation. For what, I don't know.
In a month or two, maybe I can be a semi-reckless hedonist, putting aside my sunhat and indulging in a slight sunburn (shame shame!). But in the meantime I'm trying to own spring.
The other night I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness. It was recommended to me by a former supervisor, a very wise thought on his part indeed. I pick it up every once in a while, and I always seem to find some peace and perspective there. On the way to work the next day I was pondering impermanance, pondering acceptance and the concept of an end to suffering. And then a group of deer stepped into the road. All four lanes stopped and let the deer cross. One deer hesitated. The drivers hesitated. Suddenly the car on my right, closest to the deer, revved forward and sped down the road. The deer turned and jumped into the trees while the deer who had already crossed stood and watched. And then we all drove on. What more could I do? I thought as I drove, and then felt irritated with myself for making stupid excuses in a situation where there were no excuses to make. For several minutes, my heart was in my throat and my mind was racing. Would the deer try to cross again? Would it be hit? If a domestic animal senses seperation from its caregiver, certainly a deer must sense, must feel its seperation from its herd.
And then I stepped back from myself and thought, If this is suffering, I'll take it. I don't ever want to stop feeling this feeling, that fear, or worry, or grief that is the flipside of passion, exhiliration, delight and joy. Perhaps for me equilibrium is the balance of agony and ecstasy. It's not a new thought. But it felt new. Not for the first time in my life, I felt a kinship to Anne, and gratitude to Montgomery for the creation of a touchstone in my life. Not for the first time, I felt glad to be as I am.