As I've said before over on my other blog "Trusting Delight", my goal--as that name implies--is to stop doing things when I begin to sense I am doing them from a place of struggle and burdensome effort. Which, I now see more clearly than ever, doesn't mean that I have to stop doing them entirely and utterly.
It may mean quite simply that I take a break. Go for a walk. Chill out. Look for another way forward. Or as one of my once-upon-a-time favorite monks once said to the mother superior of a neighboring convent, "Lighten up, Sister!"
I honestly believe that doing this gets to be fun, at least most of the time. When I'm tracking well, I remember a photo that Martha Beck included in a blog post on this topic. It showed a dog leaping in the air to catch a frisbee whizzing toward it. Maybe the dog's jaw was just clamping down on the frisbee.
And underneath Martha had written the words: "It gets to be like this!"
And she meant it. Which makes me want to find a photo of a dog catching a frisbee (or if it were my dog's happy endeavor it might even be his eating a pile of his own s**t, but that doesn't make me happy, so . . . never mind) or of some other creature unburdened by self-doubt or excessive self-consciousness or religious crap doing what it loves to do.
Which reminds me of some of Walt Whitman's lovely lines in "Song of Myself":
"I think I could turn and live with animals . . .
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth."
So doing this blog in the way that I wish to do it (at least most of the time, so that I don't come to hate it and wish I'd never started it and decide to abandon it, again) requires vigilance. I think I hear the refrain of Mad-Eye Moody to Harry Potter, "Constant vigilance, Potter!" Am I making that up?
Or maybe I could find a lighter, more fun-sounding word than vigilance, yet not as airy-fairy, new-agey sounding as "awareness" and not as teacher-scolding-kid-daydreaming as "pay attention"! Maybe. This finding of a lighter word may not happen overnight.
The thing is, I am finally (not "finally" as in "for the last time because now I really get it and am an expert and will never falter" but "finally" as in "it's about time") getting that this requires not only vigilance but really, really taking responsibility for myself, for noticing my states of mind and body and being willing to do something about them. Not waiting for someone else to do it. Not waiting for some magic potion solution. Not thinking that I've arrived somewhere (like "enlightenment"?) and now am exempt from having to pay attention.
It's part of valuing myself, honoring myself, loving myself, and especially it's part of staying committed to my own happiness (and from that, I believe, my own living with generosity and compassion and making my best possible contribution to the world).
And while I could beat myself up a bit or talk myself down a bit for not having figured this out before now, for not having gotten it all pulled together in my thirties or forties the way Elizabeth Gilbert did, or Natalie Goldberg did, or Christine Kane, or any number of my other personal heroes, that's just a big waste of time and energy and a violation of all that I've just said above.
To the best of my ability I commit to being done with that. At least I'm getting it at age fifty-five instead of sixty-five, seventy-five, or whatever. At least I'm not dead yet.