Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Comfortable with What Is

A streak of blissful days and nights was interrupted a couple days ago when I didn't Start Whole. I practically kicked a couple friends out of my house to go visit someone. I was expecting something. I wasn't quite sure what that was; I'm still not; I didn't define it ahead of time. Whatever it was, it didn't happen. I want to say that I learned a lesson instead, but that's just tying it up in a neat little bow to make it feel safely understood (as I discuss in Lean Into Discomfort). Since our Stories Define Reality, we could focus on the dark cloud or the silver lining, though lately I have been seeing that both sides add interpretations that don't necessarily exist. Authoring our own silver lining into the story is a slight aggression against what already is.

I did learn a few things, though, but that's not the outcome of the experience or the purpose of it. I see that, now. It's just separate. I let something out of me. At the time, I thought that I had needed to for a while, that letting that out was the purpose. Then I thought about some recent waves of nausea that I've been feeling (during my reiki III attunement, during rolfing, and the morning after that same rolfing treatment). I thought about a writing from Susan Shumsky of the 13 different inbound and outbound activities of the body and how we're supposed to honor them, let them happen. I had a feeling that this was a purpose for the nausea... Right there, I caught myself. I was trying to find a reason for it. Then I realized that there doesn't need to be a purpose, and realizing this was a moment of turiya and a feeling like I just left the greatest spa trip.

There's this need in me--likely it is true of human nature--to search for explanations for things. I'm often not comfortable until I can explain it. For instance, when I feel something, I may make up a reason like I'm supposed to puke to feel better or that I need to let out those tears, that I've been holding onto them and really there's a purpose to them. What I realized: there is no grand purpose. It is always possible to tell ourselves a story based on things in the past and make sense of them in the present. In the end, though, we don't know a fraction of the details of everything going on, and we certainly are not armed with the information to figure out our realities. Instead, we learn what we learn, we know what we know, we think what we think, just as we go. Things just happen. Our minds confabulate the reasons or want to draw a conclusion to things to make it tidy (at least mine does). But that's the exact trap. It's the desire to control things through understanding them. The real power comes from being comfortable with things exactly as they are, without ascribing meaning to them. That's slightly different than being comfortable with uncertainty. It is just being comfortable with what is. Yes, that is uncertain. What is is uncertain. We can never know ahead of time what is. It just is. There's nothing to fight or to control. There's nothing to understand or derive meaning from. We only react, or not. And what is keeps on being what it is, without regard for us.

In parting, I will leave you with this lovely poem by an anonymous (to me) Native American, from my yin yoga teacher, Saiko:
The river flows,

the grass grows, and

the wind blows....

This post is dedicated to Nick Dallett, good friend, former colleague, and musical co-conspirator (together we are the Cat's Cradle Robbers). He thinks--among many other things--that complex pleasures are underrated. Nick has a gift for rolling with things as they are, though he'd tell you that he has worked really hard at it.


  1. I am humbled and moved to have a post so dedicated. Thank you.

    I'll share something that came up in a yoga class a few months ago. I believe it was Andrew Datti from the Bastyr college teaching this particular class. He read a quote from a yoga scholar while we were holding a shoulder stand, saying that when life was overwhelming, that spending extended periods in inverted poses helped one to accept with equanimity what life was offering.

    I spend a lot of time inverted while swimming, and I've found great benefit in it. Indeed, becoming comfortable and getting my bearings while my body is inverted seems to help me cope better when the world is metaphorically inverted - when I "don't know which way is up."

  2. I mean every word of it, Nick.

    Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

    This metaphor of inversion supports the concept that "our bodies are vehicles for enlightenment". A paradigm that I'm still allowing myself to know.