The sudden, shocking challenge that appeared in my life recently continues, with my wonderful kitchen partially dismantled, its wet, leak-damaged wood floor torn out by water remediation experts and replaced with astonishingly noisy drying machines.
It has been deeply disorienting to live in a noisy, vibrating space partitioned by hazmat-like zippered plastic walls. Writing has been impossible. I’ve come up hard against attachment, need, my difficulty with not having answers, even as I know that I am very very blessed, that nothing is dire.
My reliance on — attachment to —my space and the nature and life in the park across the way has kept me from moving out for more than a night here and there. I’ve managed though frequent rereading of Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart; Heart Advice for Difficult Times. It is one of the most potent survivial manuals I know, applicable to just about any life challenge. (I carry it on my phone’s Kindle).
Here is the passage I’ve read daily:
If we find ourselves in what seems like a rotten or painful situation and we think, “Well, how is this enlightenment?” we can just remember this notion of the path, that what seems undesirable in our lives doesn’t have to put us to sleep. What seems undesirable in our lives doesn’t have to trigger habitual reactions. We can let it show us where we’re at and let it remind us that the teachings encourage precision and gentleness, with loving-kindness toward every moment. When we live this way, we feel frequently—maybe continuously—at a crossroads, never knowing what’s ahead. It’s an insecure way to live. We often find ourselves in the middle of a dilemma—what should I do…? Basically, the instruction is not to try to solve the problem but instead to use it as a question about how to let this very situation wake us up further rather than lull us into ignorance. We can use a difficult situation to encourage ourselves to take a leap, to step out into that ambiguity…This is our choice in every moment. Do we relate to our circumstances with bitterness or with openness?
That is why it can be said that whatever occurs can be regarded as the path and that all things, not just some things, are workable. This teaching is a fearless proclamation of what’s possible for ordinary people like you and me.”
Chodron’s words have proved to be a healing lens through which to view the upheaval that may last months and that as yet has no clear answers. But her counsel is indeed a practice, with my forgetting and then remembering it constantly, as I cycle between my old way of thinking to her radically new one.
…whatever occurs can be regarded as the path and that all things, not just some things, are workable.
As for Improvised Life, because there are so many unknowns still and so much to figure out —it’s possible the kitchen will have to be dismantled further, and I will have to move out altogether — I am having to play life, and publishing, by ear.
I appreciate your bearing with…