Along this trip so far, I have been so blessed with simple yet gorgeous experiences. Have also been settling down into myself after a long while of distractions. Friends and family, from the outside, would expect a person to be basking in ecstasy and gratitude, yet I admit, I am juggling those sentiments with real feelings that come when you have been neglecting them. These tend to come up when we finally relax.
I'm not one to stay down or high, to revel in any emotion so much as feel it and let it pass--but I do realize that I haven't really had time for a lot my feelings in my hard-driving life back in Doha, and that if I am to do what I came here to do (create authentic works of art and write authentic words and simply express in creative ways what is true unto my world) I have to give the whole range of feelings, reflections, experiences, thoughts, a chance to sit at the table as much as possible.
I am fortunate. This is what is happening. This is why I planned to be here in this month, despite my mind wanting so much explanation and still, sometimes protesting (even if it immediately realizes it can't turn the tide and keenly shuts up). It's chilly and reflective and rainy here in Florence, and the overcast brings everything, everyone's expressions, all the siesta-closed-for-business signs into striking perspective for this new alien resident. The darkness enfolds a lot of daylight still.
Anyway, to the point, Shuffle on iTunes has had its funny way of being synchronistic (doesn't it?!?) and has shuffled in a particular clip of Pema Chodron talking to a crowd on The Heart of Bravery--A Retreat With Sakyong Mipham and Pema Chodron--Part 3.
I purchased this recording on a whim a little while ago. It just keeps on coming in handy. Here's a little taste and tribute (again, it's just a taste--her whole talk is actually hilarious and cathartic beyond my ability to explain ... it's just so good, I love her soul so much!):
"If what I'm talking about today in 'enlightened society' is a process rather than a goal, then the process is of lots of us being brave enough to feel and be and then touch into the lineage of all the people who have ever in the past, present, and in the future, been brave enough to go, to this place. And it's like washing dishes, you don't just go once, to this place, it's a way of living, it's a way of continually awakening and deepening, further and further.
And if you don't keep tending the garden, the weeds grow back. But then, just like when you love your flowers and all the bees and birds that come around, you tend it with such gentleness and love. So love is a big ingredient in the whole equation. Love. Love, appreciation, gratitude, kindness, all of the heart guidelines.
I have discovered all of those qualities so much in this raw and vulnerable place, of feeling what we feel with a sense of 'this is basic goodness; there's nothing wrong here.'
There's nothing in this view of meditation all together--when properly understood--that is corrective. It's not about improving or making yourself better. It's about being fully, genuinely, human and who you are, but without the spinoff.
And even with the spinoff, like when I say, when you catch yourself and just feel what you feel, even if you're two hours into the spinoff, or four days later, it's never to late, you know, to feel, and be in touch."