Wednesday evening when we were writing death poems at our zen center, there was another person who was exploring the metaphor of rivers and rocks in her poem. Only this person emphasized the erosion of the rock as the water rushed over it. I’ve been thinking about her poem since I wrote yesterday’s blog post. It makes me realize that even the rocks are impermanent. They only appear still at the bottom of the river, but this is merely and illusion. The reality is that they are changing and becoming different with the rush of the river’s current.
The river rushes
Taking everything with it
While the rocks are still.
My mantra for last year was Roll With The Punches, so I was thinking, if I were to have a mantra for this year what would it be? I have been doing a lot of letting go lately and it feels so good. I think this, naturally, is my mantra for this year.
I started a new habit the last week of December. I am going to get rid of at least 1 thing every day. So far I’ve taken 3 bags of stuff I don’t need to Goodwill and I know I won’t miss it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I need and what I don’t need and why do I have so much stuff? And what prompts me to buy the stuff I do have? I have decided that I want to be surrounded by things that I truly love, not the things that I feel beholden to. I will buy something and because I bought it I will feel like I have to use it because I paid money for it. I hate wasting money to the point where I will just keep something around because I spent money on it, even though I don’t use it and it doesn’t suit my needs.
For example, last May I was out shopping, aimlessly, and a 5 year, 1 line a day diary caught my eye. And I bought it without giving it much thought except, “ooh shiny!”. I’ve been using it everyday since, writing down a few lines about my day. It’s a really nice idea, actually. Each year I will see what I did on that day and can reflect on it. However, I already have this kind of diary electronically, and I’ve already been using it for a couple of years. I realized one day that writing in this journal everyday felt like a chore, and it was taking time away from doing other things that I might rather be doing. And also, every time I looked at it I was reminded of my complete thoughtlessness when I purchased it, and I felt some guilt. So using this journal, great idea as that is, was not making me happy. So I decided to just throw the thing away. You know what? It felt really good to do that.
“Let go of that shit.”
Let’s see where this leads me. 🙂
2017 was such a shitty year for me that I decided that my mantra for 2018 would be “Roll With The Punches.” It turned out to serve me very well. To be honest, I didn’t get punched very much in 2018. Or if I did, I don’t remember the sting. In which case, the mantra really did serve me very well.
So what exactly does “Roll with the punches” mean for me, after a year of living it? It means acceptance. It means acceptance of everything, good or bad. Just lean into everything. Don’t ignore the bad stuff. Don’t ignore the anger, the grief, the sadness, or the pain, just because it’s an uncomfortable experience. Invite it in and ask it what it has to teach you.
I think the biggest example of this lesson for me this year was when I sprained my knee. It was very tempting to be angry with the turn of events and get down on myself for not being able to exercise. But when it happened I decided that I was just going to accept the circumstances. So instead of getting angry and upset I kind of enjoyed moving around the world more slowly and noticing things I wouldn’t normally notice because I’m usually rushing around. I don’t want to say that hurting my knee has been a blessing but in a way it kind of has. It shook things up and changed my world for awhile.
I feel like, learning this lesson, I’ve unlocked an achievement (if life was a video game). I feel happier than I’ve been in ages. I have learned that I can be happy even when I’m sad. That’s kind of a neat trick.
Here is my 1 Second Everyday video for 2018. Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings happiness and peace to all of your lives.
“Tonight Raf and I are drinking the last bit of whiskey we bought at a little whiskey shop in Norwich. When we were offered a taste I went to pour it myself and kind of got my hand slapped by the proprietor. Then I pretty much gulped it all down like a barbarian. I was that American.”