Monday, March 26, 2012

Wait, wait, this isn't the way

Improving your life it's always the same catch - it's going to take time, energy, discipline, devotion.  We don't want to do that, as evidenced by the books that roll out, wave, after wave, promising to tell us exactly how to be happy, and in seven days. And the problems of recreational drug-taking, alcoholism, addiction to video games and other forms of escape . . . you don't need me to document how much trouble the search for happiness (confused with pleasure) causes.

And if you're reading this, I bet you already know what I have to say, since you are not flinching from the subtext, that thin, well-dressed debauchery may not be the answer, that religion and spiritual practice may play a part.

And if you are in the Buddhist/Taoist tradition, you know the really bad news: nobody can tell you what you need to do next, and then next - in other words, your path.  You have to take the next step into the dark, or the desert, or over the cliff.

But to find your path, you have to seek with a certain energy.  I've heard it somewhere, that by the time you sit down to meditate, you are enlightened. What I think that means is that by the time we STOP! and say to ourselves, I've got to change, I've got to do something, we have seen that our conditioned behavior isn't working. In other words, you have to become acutely unhappy.

Think about it.  Haven't you bumped your head against the same damn wall over annd over? Haven't you just tried harder, because it ought to work.  But maybe the road you're on is way too crowded, people are jostling you all the time. Or maybe it's too barren and lonely.  Or you are always tripping on barriers.  Maybe you fell down and are just going to sit there for a while. Maybe you want to wander off and dance, or sing.  It's your novel. Write it.

[image: a special daffodil planted by a previous owner of this house. The background shows my current interest in the work of Mark Rothko.]


  1. Once again Jeanne, the truth of it all resonates through your words. And it is indeed damn lonely when nobody can tell you what to do but yourself. Or myself.

  2. Yes, I certainly know what you mean. I have no idea what it would feel like to be in step with a big crowd. I couldn't even stand pep assemblies in high school.

  3. I love what you said about being enlightened once you actually sit down to meditate. Of course I'm biased to think (hope) that because every time I feel a little miserable at 5am meditation I try to have the faith that as long as I show up that's a good thing.

  4. Wonderfully said. I especially liked "well-dressed debauchery!"