Thursday, April 8, 2010

The gateless box

Last night we invited our Zen group here to watch the PBS special on Buddha's life. Some of the people who came were new to us. All said at the door, "I don't have a television, myself." Sigh. Tom and I manifest our flaws. I was glad to see this touched upon in the special - that even Buddha himself could get angry. I liked that. Just that afternoon I'd gotten too tired and had a temper flareup. Stupid. After that I found myself sitting and trying to dispense with the sense in my ribs and throat of having had an adrenalin spurt. Then I talked to myself about just accepting how I am, adrenalized and all. I don't think this is some form of mental illness; rather it's pretty much what we humans do. It just takes years of practice to notice yourself doing it.

We enjoyed having people here, just the right amount of people, the right people, bringing the right snacks. I was amazed to see Sheba take up position in one of the little blue armchairs and watch the program. This is the cat that six months ago, even a month ago, left the room when anyone came into the house. We talked about how much cats like meditators.

Let's see - what was I going to write about? Oh, maybe how I am at a fruitful time right now; every day or two I clean up some little mess, some square foot of my territory. The other day it was my closet floor. Took out the pictures-we-don't-know-what-to-do-with-but-are-grasping. Put all my purses in the right size plastic box. Put shoes on top of said box. It was awe-inspiring. We've been here seven years; I am beginning to address the problem of what to do with the pictures. A couples project. Ah yes.

Today my spring nest-cleaning went even better. Calmed and softened, refreshed by being with meditators, I realized I could take a different approach to the archive box that has been sitting on my study floor nagging me, haunting me, insisting it had priority over more interesting things to do. Sorting these old papers was a job that was going very slow.

Wait, I thought, isn't there room in these file cabinets? I refer to two four-drawer file cabinets, the ugly old functional kind that you thought you needed at one time. Actually, they're very pretty, now that I look at them with gratitude. For these cabinets yielded two empty drawers to me, and I filled them with the stuff from the box.

You might say that wouldn't satisfy you, and I can't blame you. You might say all I have done is hide the papers from myself. But it's bigger than that, somehow. After months of hating that box, I saw my way around it - an obstacle that's not an obstacle, really. Its solidity melted as I realized that the only reason those old papers mattered was because I could see them. Now they became nothing but a bunch of old papers in two drawers, to be handled at some other time. Or not.

But before I closed the drawers and took the box downstairs to Tom, who's been wanting an archive box, I pulled out a fat file titled humor in red like that. I remembered how I went through a spell of writing short humor pieces after I got my PhD, a sort of finding my voice again.

I liked the first one, which is about my negative attitude toward pain. Reading it, I was pleased to be reminded that in 1996 I suffered keenly from fibromyalgia. A combination of years of sitting, Flexaril at night, and the slow magical unstressing of personal growth has made fibromyalgia pain no longer an issue in my life, though I left it in the piece, because it worked so well there. That was then; happily, this is now.
[image: a type of box, from this creativity website]

1 comment:

  1. I have done the opposite, sort all the clutter and put them into labeled boxes.. to be dealt with later when I have the time. We have a saying, (rough translation) youre still headed there, and im already on my way back.

    So maybe one day, Ill take them out of the boxes and hide them in a filing cabinet too.