At minute 18, I notice my foot starts to tingle with pins and needles. It’s the same every day, each sit. I only become aware of the time passage when this happens, the body preceding the mind.
Last week I finished my 28 days. I’m still sitting, though I’ve admittedly skipped two days since. The first time I skipped I had an awful night’s sleep. Last night was okay, because I read before sleeping, which activates the same parts of my brain.
As the proof of the pudding is in the eating*, the proof of the sit will be in my work this week. I’m finishing a long-incubating project and also looking for work. Both prospects are equally demoralizing, but in different ways. Zazen has evolved from a way to examine my weaknesses to dealing with them. Hopefully as I continue to sit, this confrontation will allow me to overcome them. The whale is still there – it always will be – but I don’t have to be willingly swallowed.
At the close of the 28 days, I was surprised with how little I felt. There was a sense of accomplishment, of course, but an acceptance overrode that feeling. It’s become a part of my routine. I don’t dread it even if I’m not in the mood to do it. The doubt has largely vanished. But that routine can still be broken; I allow myself to break it. To throw another idiom at you, it’s the exception that proves the rule. By choosing not to sit, my relationship with Zazen is more intimate and personal and respectful. I respect the sit, not the obligation to sit.
I feel very much caught between knowing a lot and not knowing anything. I’m trying to find my place in the world, which is extremely unsatisfying. I know I have to make my place in the world, to carve out that niche rather than ask to be rewarded with something that doesn’t exist yet. At this point in my life, I thought I’d know more, I’d have done more, and I’d just have more. The one thing I still have – will always have – is me. I barely know who that is, but I know who she’s not. And I know what she could be. I have to find a way to find her. Or allow her to come out more. There’s always a tension between the way the world is and the way you think it should be. It’s worth remembering that there are no rules. You can say yes or no or fall off the grid. You can sit or not sit, read a book or play a game. Having this much power or control is terrifying – even if control is all we say we want. Oddly, in giving up some of that control each day, I found it easier to access it the rest of the time.
My neighbor’s dog is howling in time with the music.
I miss my mom, the only person who never minded getting my drunk calls from the back of taxis at 2AM.
My phone is on Do Not Disturb more often than not.
I’m a little jealous of the snowfall in the east.
I’m excited to sit later.
I will try not to fail today.
*I hate that this idiom gets mangled – you can’t shorthand the point.
Best Online Thing I Read Today: Sell Out by Simon Rich / The New Yorker
Song I Loved Today: Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping / Grouper