Tuesday, January 16, 2007

writing, the heart

You know its cold when the water in the toilet bowl is frozen, as I discovered in Jetsunma’s laundry room: and that at the end of the day, not at the beginning! The air turned bitter yesterday afternoon as we were feeding the dogs; I wrapped my scarf as best I could around my naked skull, but that was negligible protection. By the time I got home toes, fingers, bones were chilled. Many of the dogs enjoyed snuggling in their igloos, while others rejoice in this weather – out and about even as it snows. Nyima is like that, as well: snow, rain – she is oblivious. Poor Milo and Gypsy get chilled and shivery sometimes, and I rug them up in jackets or sweaters – something Milo is happy with once on, but the dressing process itself..…!!!
I am sorry to be a delinquent blogger, it is not due to a lack of wanting – it’s far subtler than that. The temperature doesn’t help – the computer is in Jetsunma’s library, which is next to the laundry and also unheated and uninsulated, and the water in the dog bowl there is frozen, an indication of how I feel if I spend any time at all in front of the screen. Certainly not conducive to reflective or creative writing. I have now set up a loaned laptop in the log cabin main room – the only heated space - and I was given one of those gizmos the size of your thumb that manages to store uncountable words in its memory, so now I can write in warmth, and sometime later download it as a post.
But its not just the weather, I guess, it’s also that time seems to be shrinking, even as the days grow marginally longer. Despite any good intentions, I am perpetually three steps, three lists, three days (whatever measure I use!) behind where I think I should be, creating a constant, low level hum of stress in my mind. You can see I have not mastered the technique of being in the present, of just letting it go. Although I will say, I am noticeably better than a few years ago, when the internal tension sometimes became almost unbearable – the sense I should be doing something other than whatever activity I was actually engaged in, combined with a perverse resistance to change either the activity, or the thought (or sometimes even to do anything at all), that made living within my own mind an awful dance of despair, for which I was the sole choreographer!
And it not really the time, either – it’s more that life is not what it was in many ways (ah! is this a reflection of impermanence!), and in the readjustment, or however to describe it, sitting down to write has slipped slightly by the way.
A couple of years ago, in exactly this darkened, cold season, I wrote a book about living at Dakini Valley and practice. I sat at this very same window, on this very same laptop, and most every night reflected, and wrote. I was the sole resident here, and sharply aware of the wilderness embracing me; life at the Valley was a different experience than now. Nyima had just joined our family, and Gypsy and I were adjusting to her puppy exuberance.
I was disciplined about writing – which I love to do anyhow, but this process became a practice in itself. The idea for the book had arisen in Jetsunma’s mind, so I knew to embrace it fully would bring more than pages of words. And it did; taking the time to contemplate my life here, and the meaning of practice, helped me recognize better the sameness of the two, and in turn the very acts of contemplation and writing became potent. Before I began, as I sat at the desk, I would say prayers, so that the words arose from the intention of benefit, and then the process of writing was a method for softening my mind. It was a great gift Jetsunma offered me - doing what I love became a tool for knowing the potential inherent in every moment.
Which is not to say I have continued to live with that awareness, but of course neither is it lost, it cannot be. It is the shape and colour and texture and sound of my nature, our nature, but I forget that most of the time.
I was reminded of it tonight, as I went out, flashlight in hand, to remove the peanut filled feeder from the tree, often emptied overnight by the resident family of raccoons. The ground glittered, as if embedded with diamonds, or as if I walked on the sky itself, bejeweled with stars. Momentary flashes, arising and disappearing in less than a breath, yet splendid in simplicity. The earth rich, bursting with light, both hidden and visible all at once. I remember it was like that one night in the winter of writing, although at that time the ground was crisp with snow. I was deeply touched by the magnificence of this place – its capacity to be all that is possible: beauty, joy, awareness – in every single moment.
Our hearts are like that, studded with jewels, the true value of which we forget, or ignore. But they glitter all the same, like a treasure chest, just waiting for the moment when we remember to look inside, and recognize the precious qualities always there.

1 comment:

Tooky said...

Very well put, Kunzang:
"the sense I should be doing something other than whatever activity I was actually engaged in, combined with a perverse resistance to change either the activity, or the thought (or sometimes even to do anything at all)." How true this is, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Reading how cold it is down there gave me goose-bumps! Bundle up and stay warm!

Love, Tooky & Katie