Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world.
But you need to breathe.
And you need to be.
Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959
We think we’re supposed to figure out how life should be, and then make it that way. Only someone who looks deeper, and questions why we need the events of life to be in a particular way, will question this assumption. How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be? Who said that the way it naturally unfolds is not all right?
The answer is, fear says so. The part of you inside that is not okay with itself can’t face the natural unfolding of life because it’s not under your control. We define the entire scope of our outer experience based on our inner problems.
Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
We cannot say that we would have chosen much of what has happened this past year, but when things go well, we rarely stop to ask questions about our lives. A difficult situation, however, means we can see reality in a fresh way….
Even when we don’t desire it,
God is ripening.
Rilke, The Book of Hours I, 16
Zen speaks of “expressing a dream within a dream”, acknowledging that we never quite rid ourselves of delusion and confusion, yet we can be present and fundamentally kind. There is so much bounty, so many tangled and twining vines, as well as so much lostness. Practice isn’t abut escaping any of it. It is about putting our feet on the ground, feeling the moist grass, knowing the wet stream of tears on a cheek…and not wandering off, looking for something better. “Here is the place; here the Way unfolds”, Master Dogen wrote.
Summer asks that we not confuse enlightenment with distraction. Where there is a dream of intractable pain, Buddhas show up to be a salve to that suffering. They show up for you. They are not other than you. “Just as cages and snares are limitless, emancipation from them is limitless” Dogen also wrote.
Bonnie Myotai Trace, A Year of Zen
The forest is peaceful, why aren’t you?
You hold on to things, causing your confusion.
Let nature teach you.
Hear the bird’s song …. then let go.
Sit only under a tree that is full of blossoms.