A while back I was able to train with Roshi Daniel Terragno, whose words had a way of being clear and penetrating for me. Once we were talking on the phone and I brought to him the problem I had with my work. I believed I should be sending manuscripts out, and I couldn't make myself do it. I had a sense of being an engine at the starting line, huffing and puffing, but not able to get traction and move forward.
He said (I could hear the shrug), "Why don't you just send something out - that will change the energy around it."
I loved that. I have a mystical streak a yard wide, my grandmother would have said, and have experienced energy in many contexts, enough to know it's real. Change the energy around it is a principle of feng shui, for instance. I've read the advice that to recover from a spouse's death you should immediately change the bedclothes, and if possible, the position of the bed in the room. I experience energy every week when I get acupuncture.
Yesterday this particular concept popped up for me when my friend Gini called. We usually have lunch on Wednesday, but neither of us had any ideas. "Do you want to do lunch or breakfast?" she asked.
"Breakfast!" I said. What a good idea! Get me out of the house, something different. I asked her, "White Castle or Waffle House?"A change from our usual quiet sort of place.
I swear I could see her eyes light up. "Waffle House!"
Well, we had a good time, and ate as you can there, terrifically enjoying the grits, hashbrowns smothered and covered, a full midwestern breakfast and really good service with the coffee. It turned out to be a good place to talk after a meal, too, not too busy, they don't bug you. Then, coming home we got lost, you might say, and enjoyed a leaf tour of the neighborhood we have lived in for much of our adult lives.
Different is refreshing. When we choose it, I guess. Maybe we could look at all change that way. This morning I got up to a storm of falling oak leaves. It wasn't very windy out there, but it was as if all eleven oaks out back decided it was time. My impulse was not to like it - fall is hurrying away faster, too fast. Don't like winter. I didn't like yesterday either, when I got up to black sticks. So many leaves had fallen overnight that the woods had a new aspect, was no longer about foliage but about the black lines of trunks and branches.
Not liking reality - Daniel calls that stuff "preference." I'd prefer Indian summer forever. I'd prefer to live in northern California, only not to lose the roots I have here. When the sun shines, as it is right now, I grasp at it - how do you do that? I don't know. Inside me that engine is saying Stay, stay, stay, like a child trying to make something happen through sheer intensity of wishing. I prefer sunshine. Beyond "prefer."
Tonight is Trick or Treat here, so yesterday Gini and I stopped at Giant Eagle to get some candy. Lord, they have a great candy shop. We got foil-wrapped eyeballs for the kids and authentic Reese's peanut butter cups, and various old-fashioned penny candies for ourselves. Checking out we found ourselves in the cigarette aisle and my craving peeked up. I think craving is preference with chemistry added. We both quit smoking years ago, and had to work very hard at it, too. We agreed that we would love a cigarette just then, and were going to let that impulse pass.