Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


cowgirls, Buddhism, and the ‘t’ in meditation ~

I can’t run anymore. Haven’t been able to for years. My doc told me that if I fell one more time on either knee, I’d lose a kneecap. All that’s left pretty much is bone on bone — cartilage went MIA years ago. And I don’t walk on a treadmill, since my joint replacement. Worst of all, I can’t wear cowboy boots.

Digression: I love cowboy boots. Actually cowgirl boots.  They’re comfortable, and sooo cool! They remind me of my father, in a very good way. I remember his long strides, me running to keep up. They’re my own piece of family history. When he died, leaving only a very small insurance policy, we four daughters split it. I bought Dan Post boots, like Daddy’s. I’m sure he would have approved.

So I’m not running — something that kept me sane through a lot of growing up. And I’m not treadmilling, which got me through some later bad spots. I’m barely riding that cool new bike. But I’m a lot happier, still. Yes, I’m dumpier :). And yes, I’m gimpier, as well :). But I’ve changed as I grow older (up?), and I’m okay w/ these ‘losses.’ It’s the upside of aging.

What has changed is my approach to everyday life. I don’t need running or treadmilling the same way I used to (I can’t say that I don’t still miss them — especially the boots!). When grief and frustration and anger come in to my life — as they always do — I’m a little better these days at letting them go. Sloughing them off like an outgrown snake skin. I try hard to live within the moment, these days.  Because as friends and loved ones leave my life, I realise that every moment is a gift. Even anger — which I’m prone to — can be owned and inhabited. I can breathe from the inside of anger as I do from the inside of joy. At least I’m trying to learn how. Not as much fun as whacking something, but ultimately better for everyone.

I don’t think my attitude adjustment is as simple as medication. I think it’s more the meditation — and yes, I find it pretty funny that the ‘t(ea)’ makes all the difference. It feels more like my practice — which is polyphonic, like Tibetan Buddhist chanting — has helped me lengthen what teachers call ‘wait time.’

In the morning, there is tea. A tray, a cloth, a cup & saucer, a spoon. All arranged  mindfully, the beginning of the day. It’s a kind of practice — the morning starting. That first scalding sip a kind of opening of the heart, which sleeps through the night, and is jolted into daylight, no matter how gently I prod it.

Midday there is writing — a poem, a start, this blog, working in my journal. Sometimes an essay, others catching up w/ an old friend via email. This too a practice: trying to find the words to bridge my thoughts w/ the reader’s understanding.

Later in the afternoon, there may be tea again, but this time green, in a mug, one of several bearing bees, given to my by dear friends.  Guaranteed to make me smile and bask in the knowledge that life is very good to me.

After dark, I will sit in the armchair and write in my black gratitude journal, a gift from my younger son. Who ‘just knew,’ he told me, ‘that you’ll love a journal covered w/ a recycled tire!‘ And I do. Mostly I love what focusing on the many things I have to be grateful for has done to the way I close down my days. If a tea tray begins the day, with quiet focus and silence, then gratitude is the other half of that frame ~ reminding me that every day has so much to be thankful for.

And throughout the day there is work: teaching, primarily. My students, who teach me about love, about learning, about so many things every moment I’m working with them. And there’s the garden, where cutting a perfect peony reminds me that there is beauty even in this ‘before’ picture of The Secret Garden. Or filling the bird feeders, as the grackle and blue jay (and a cheeky sparrow) scold me for their emptiness. So that watching the birds feeding is a gift, as is the surprise of the peony (I forgot I even had any in that jungle!).

Sometimes I worry that I’m too Pollyanna. Then flames blaze at the newest injustice leaping off the Facebook page, and I’m reminded of my total inability to stay calm.  But just like Sister Ellie taught me, I breathe in, and try to focus, once again, on the exercise. I was so happy when she told me that ‘coming back’ (coming home?) is the point to meditation. NOT ‘quieting,’ or even ‘calming,’ but just returning, over & over, to the point. Stillness. Observation. Which creates a longer moment between the reading of injustice and the flare of flames. Wait time, in other words.

That’s my practice. It has as many facets as my birthstone, the hard-headed diamond :). But it’s also, sometimes, as beautiful and useful ~

 



Previous Posts

snowy days
Today my son & DIL's back yard is snuggled in under a white blanket of new snow. Actually, the new inches are layered over the previous feet. This is the Blue Ridge Mountains, and snow is part of winter. A

posted 3:13:05pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

the pain we bring to others
There are days we will hurt people. Days when our thoughtless actions will crack through the protective shells we all wear to get us through our lives. There are times when some thoughtless action -- with no ill in

posted 1:36:57pm Mar. 02, 2015 | read full post »

contrasts and contradictions (or not...)
See the snow outside? It's inches -- nothing for Boston (they should be so lucky!), but a big deal for Oklahoma. And more to come, the weather folks predict.  A cardinal is on one feeder, a vivid splash of colou

posted 11:42:43am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

a long long time ago, or, updating our moral software
  This used to be the way America looked at women voting. And to be honest, some of these jokes are still around. But for the vast majority of Americans, we accept that women have the right to vote. Even though it's not in the original Constitution. That's an important 'even though,' sin

posted 10:52:31pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

the vulnerability of grace
This is a post about sharing. About a man who has inspired me for a long time, and his impending loss. It's about intelligence, wit, and vulnerability. And the irreplaceable magic of those braided qualities

posted 4:25:29pm Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.