Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How To Find Your Path

Faithful Readers may recall me talking a while back about softening around pleasant emotions in line with the project of working with difficult emotions. Here I am doing it again.  How nice that is, since it has been bad weather in my brain lately.  I say "brain" rather than "mind" because I think it's my chemistry that has me in a state best described as ADD; my 83 problems are behaving just now.  I've never been diagnosed as ADD, so I hope it's a passing thing.

In an effort to gain some sense of control over what seems to be a whirlwind of clutter around here, I asked a friend, Chris, to come over in her professional capacity and help me organize my study.  Ahh.  We must have taken a hundred books out of here and put them on the dining room table, her doing most of the carrying, where they now await Tom's culling.  History suggests he will take some of them down to that room now called a man-cave.  It has everything in it he doesn't want to see thrown away, including an antler he once found walking through a woods, though I've never seen any old chewed up bones down there.  In a few days Chris will come back and take the remaining books out of here to a closet in the church where they will await the church's next book exchange day.

Rambling lead-in.  You can do that on a blog.  Nothing to sell, no editor to please but me.

Apple, blossom end (unedited)

 Chris was scheduled to be here two hours, but we got a lot done the first hour, and I wanted to sit down and did.  I am really out of shape just now.  Here's what I'm most grateful for: she asked me if maybe we'd done enough for now.  I know, I'm a grownup, I can say when I'm tired.  But I was on her schedule for two hours of work, so was hesitating to cut it short.  Her sensitivity felt caring and tender.

The feeling I had about all this - the help with decision-making, the pointers toward what I need to do next, the sensitivity toward my tiredness - I can't really name it.  It is in the area of my heart, an expansive softness.  You know, it's one of the principles of Zen that you can never capture anything in words.  But I could call it gratitude and be close.  Sometimes things like this spill over in tears for me, but I thought I'd just stay with it, let it be there.  Accepting is part of the process of working with emotions.

For most of my life I was an independent person who could do anything, or figure out how to get it done.  (The kind of woman who is the lifeblood of a church. Fortunately, there is a younger generation doing that work now.)

Aging and illness have forced me to give up many kinds of work, including volunteer work.  It's been hard.  But not as hard as refusing to accept reality.  It's taught me to ask for help.  As I enjoyed this soft feeling, I realized that this is my path right now, where spiritual and psychological growth meet.  Connecting to my own reality; asking for help. 

It points out to me once more the truth that no one else can define my path for me.  I am the only person who knows enough about me and my whole history to know what I need, and take my next step.  This is a sort of principle of Zen, going back to Taoism.  That's why it's said, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him," meaning, stay away from anybody who promises they know your path, and are willing to sell it to you. You find your path yourself, one step at a time.
You can see the above inspiring Apple Mandala at Fionaviola's Etsy shop, Chain Stitch. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It helps.

  2. Too true -- you have to find your own path. And, you have to ask for help when you need it. Thanks for explaining the Buddha...kill him saying. I never really understood it before.

    1. Another thought I have about that saying is that in the course of serious practice we can get to feeling very holy and special - note that I don't want to admit to this, but I've seen it in others, too. I found that was another ego structure, prettier than the first, but a fantasy. For me, the Zen path has been about incorporating body and behavior, and all the dirt of living in this garden. There is a spiritual state in which we see everything is holy and also flawed, broken, suffering. And I am no more so than anyone else.