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Amending the Schedule

April 19, 2010

It’s amazing to think back six months to when I first arrived in the Bay Area, with nothing to do but look for work.  No major activities, no responsibilities to anyone.  How can things change so much in six short months?

Life these days is something of a Hirshfieldian five-legged chair:

  • Faithful Fools: apprenticing with Tenderloin spiritual-realist matriarchs
  • Art school: blogging and theorizing; submitting monthly assignments
  • Political education: post- organizing for March 4th, now regrounding myself through study groups
  • Dharma: deepening my daily meditation, seeking out communities of advanced practitioners
  • Relationships: a partner, a posse, friends, family, and a few animals

Yeah, it’s feelin’ like a lot.

And I’ve been hanging on to the blogging for dear life, trying like heck to publish every weekday.  But the truth is, that kind of frequency costs me the time to consider the meta-questions, to develop my nascent theories of mindful blogging.  And that’s what I’m in grad school for, after all!

So for the next little while, I’ll be backing off on the daily posting, probably limiting it to three days a week.  I’m genuinely surprised at how difficult this feels for me — how much of a sacrifice or failure it seems — given that, on multiple occasions, I’ve cheerfully abandoned the blog for months at a time.  So, as Shaila Catherine might observe, this becomes my work for the moment: developing equanimity in letting go and switching up the schedule.

Spiritual practitioners thrive in unpredictable conditions, testing and refining the inner qualities of heart and mind. Every situation becomes an opportunity to abandon judgment and opinions and to simply give complete attention to what is. Situations of inconvenience are terrific areas to discover, test, or develop your equanimity. How gracefully can you compromise in a negotiation? Does your mind remain balanced when you have to drive around the block three times to find a parking space? Are you at ease waiting for a flight that is six hours delayed? These inconveniences are opportunities to develop equanimity. Rather than shift the blame onto an institution, system, or person, one can develop the capacity to opt to rest within the experience of inconvenience.

– “Equanimity in Every Bite” (Fall 2008)

A welcome reminder.  And a very helpful practice for those of us with wee control issues.  Just yesterday, when I found myself spiraling downward into disappointment and resentment at canceled plans, I remembered equanimity.  And my disappeared dinner date transformed into a chance to walk, for the very first time, around Oakland’s lovely Lake Merritt.  

Gorgeous late afternoon and evening, complete with a sweet springtime surprise.

So who knows — maybe this downsizing of the blog will open up some other opportunities.  Regardless, I’m happy for the chance to practice letting go.

See you Wednesday, then!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Roger Nehring permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:51 pm

    Take care of yourself first.

  2. Cat permalink
    April 19, 2010 9:20 pm

    Mmmmmmmm. We are seriously on the same wavelength. So much so that I wonder and laugh at how we find ourselves in the same mental place, but you always seem to capture it way more eloquently and insightfully than I.

    I’ve been really really hitting it hard on equanimity. That quote was inspirational and also scary and impressive because I’m not there yet. Nor I do I quite have your ability to muster up the courage to quell my own disappointment and realign myself to new opportunities.

    You’re not a failure. Giving yourself time away from blogging will allow you to return to it with more clarity, greater depth and just more overall UMPH. Quality over quantity, no?

  3. Cat permalink
    April 19, 2010 9:26 pm

    Besides, enlightenment is hard to serve up in daily doses. For both yourself and others ;)

    Even preachers take 6 days between sermons so that their wisdom can marinate…so you’re not doing so bad, bodhisattva.

    True insight is like that—lots of preparation for brief and random flashes of clarity. Without any reflection, you won’t be giving yourself the opportunity or the space to have these answers reveal themselves to you.

  4. Lori permalink
    April 20, 2010 6:38 am

    Ah, precious equanimity. Last night I saw writing guru Anne Lamott speak, and she talked about grace–not in the spiritual sense as much as in the “it” that one feels when she is in situations of great power and overwhelm and messiness and living. Not quite sure how to describe the magnitude of her message or words (she truly was Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow”), but I find peace in both her descriptions of grace and your description of equanimity: that moment within the sea of internal tension and just plain stuff. Do we capitalize on the opportunity to balance ourselves in the midst of the seeming “song that never ends”? Or do we give into the one dominant emotion/feeling of the moment? Or do we run from feeling anything? Sometimes that sea of calm can be fear of feeling (at least for me)…but what do I know?

    Your list of many changes reminds me of just how much can happen when we’re open to living, “while you’re busy making other plans” (Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”).

    Oh thank goodness you live so close–the true benefit of being in conversation with you in a virtual and “real-time” fashion. I look forward to catching up about these topics (and many others) offline as well.

  5. April 20, 2010 12:14 pm

    Thanks, Roger!

    You and Me, Cat, that’s how it is. Quality over quantity, and allowing the necessary time for reflection that yields insight. You’ve got it. I try to remind myself that I can live well in that spacious mode, and that doing more (for me) isn’t necessarily Doing More. You know?

    I totally hear you on the six days of marinating, because communication — especially of nuanced ideas meant to serve people — takes time to craft well. And yet, what I love about the idea of daily mindful blogging is that it helps me ground myself in dharma and liberatory practices in small ways, sunup to sundown. Bringing it to the mundane helps to demystify and personalize (and de-Orientalize, in the case of Buddhist philosophy) the wisdom of the teachings. So that wisdom isn’t only the province of preachers and abuelas and gurus, making these big deep points, but of ordinary people, too, steadily practicing the small, quirky work.

    But yeah, there will be times when I’ll want to post every day, and times when I won’t — so for now I’ll have to try more of the Weekly Dharma Talk mode. ;)

    Lori, I can’t wait to talk more about these questions, and I’m so, so glad we live in the same place again!

    …situations of great power and overwhelm and messiness and living.

    Mmmmmm. Beautifully put. It’s a privilege to get to collaborate with you on developing grace in those situations. Great to have another partner in that work. Talk to you soon; hugs through the internet.

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