Most of us “serious adults with responsibilities” find it hard to to relax, to allow ourselves to open up and play with life in ways that reveal humor and wonder on a regular basis. That’s why we remember the moments in which we do, so clearly – they are exceedingly rare.
But, I’ve learned it possible to truly live this way, even if I haven’t actualized the possibilities. Having shared the early stages of my story with meditation in Part 1, this tale begins to be a little more wild and challenging, also more fun.
I was fairly content with the progress I’d made. I’d found a comfort zone I could retreat to and even hide in, a world of new learning and curiosities. So I quit therapy. True, I hadn’t conquered the anxiety nor faced the issues of the family, but I reasoned that those developments would come in time, now that I had the tools.
To be honest, I had a somewhat strange when I think of it now, and more dualistically ‘religious’, redemption mindset then too, so every step toward empowerment felt like something huge that I needed to testify about. I feared that if I didn’t give miracles their proper due, I was pushing my luck and would, after having climbed so far, find myself sliding down the chute again. Rather than push further, I decided to draw back and be content – what I thought of then as humble, appreciative.
I wobbled. I got caught up in daily work and health issues again, fell into distressing arguments again (feeling each as a full blown catastrophe!), and began to lose faith in all the tools and tricks I’d amassed.
Until one day, I took my daughter to buy shoes.
Wandering the the aisles of a DSW store that afternoon, looking for just the right shoes for some event, was the most ordinary thing in the world. She has particular tastes, and after a while I left her to it, standing off to the side, just people watching to pass the time.
When this happened:
I noticed I was not thinking.
It isn’t that I’d been unconscious, with time disappearing into an auto-pilot state, but that a quality of mind so vivid and open, and so different from anything I’d encountered before, subtly revealed itself. It was as though I came online.
Far different from the spiritual experiences before then – dramatic visions that characterized my later teen years – this was without side effects, non-intrusive – natural and generous, like happening upon the sky.
I’d been coasting it for a while before I noticed.
Seeing that I wasn’t thinking did then gave way to thinking again, and I began to articulate for myself what this shift was, but my thinking didn’t lessen the awareness. I stood in that spot like a Cheshire cat until my daughter was ready to go, basking, suspecting nothing would ever be the same.
Not that which the eye can see, but that whereby the eye can see: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which the ear can hear, but that whereby the ear can hear: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which speech can illuminate, but that by which speech can be illuminated: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which the mind can think, but that whereby the mind can think: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore.
(from the Kena Upanishad)