SIX WEEKS: Learning that Nothing is Everything (part three)
We settled into the dojo, (a 1000 square foot, yoga/multipurpose space surrounded by glass doors) the open space we would be cooking, sleeping and basically occupying the next month and a half – a bare, earth colored room with wooden floors that are covered almost entirely by sky blue colored mats, only a single, Chinese symbol hanging on the wall at the far end of the space, KI, meaning ‘something unclear’. A half wall divides the interior of the structure which is equipped with a simple, clean enough kitchen: an old, gas oven and stove top, double sink and a small, rusted refrigerator. There are also two large bathrooms with hot water and showers on either side. Our bags, which would remain disheveled and unpacked during our entire visit, were tucked away in the boiler room.
The view outside is beyond breathtaking… it is completely enchanting, soul capturing and yet I am…
BLOCKED, DISCONNECTED, WEIGHTED…
something still isn’t clear as the question WHAT WOULD WE DO ALL DAY? is consuming my unwilling mind.
I adore silence and tranquility. I could spend entire days watching a motionless mountain or lake. I own the same cell phone for the past 9 years and hope that it lasts another 9. I don’t use WHAT’S APP. I use Facebook and internet sparingly. I haven’t owned a television for over a decade… and yet… in my mind… a family of four in this place surrounded by nothing, yet everything in a space with no furniture, no phone, no tv, no internet…
WHAT WOULD WE DO ALL DAY LONG?
Sure, if I were alone… but, a family of four and this challenge of ‘survival‘ ahead of us – a place that would challenge our equilibrium and patience, our fragile sense of equanimity with its nothingness and its everything.
We were BLOCKED, DISCONNECTED, in a sense WEIGHTED and waiting at the same time…
We spread out our sleeping bags in a straight line on the matted floor of the dojo. Miniture-sized pillows and apple red blankets ‘borrowed‘ from our Iberia flight from Madrid to Santiago, Chile completed our bedding. Kenia had her stuffed dog, Loopy. We all had our books (Buddhism for Couples by Sarah Napthali was by my bedside) and reading lights. It was 8:45pm and there was still a bright glow coming in through the large, glass doors along with total silence. We fell heavily to sleep that first night – the length of our trip cushioning our dreams and our doubts.
The following morning I woke up, awkwardly twisted inside my sleeping bag. I instintively turned my head to the left and there it was: the light of a new sun blazing over the snowcapped mountains in full summer.
There it was: a sky that hardly doens’t exist anymore… pure, blue, chemical (trail) free.
I thought I was fixed, refreshed: the exhaustion of the prior day miraculously eliminated, along with all those negative thoughts, but then there it was right after breakfast…. the pain, the heaviness, the uncertainty…
BROKEN, DISCONNECTED, WEIGHTED (and waiting).
All of a sudden, I could hardly walk. I struggled to make my way up the three steps of the dojo. I lyed myself down on my right side. This too was exaggeratedly uncomfortable. I tried to raise my leg to stretch it out, but it literally felt as if I had a 100lb plate on top of it. I have been struggling with back and leg pain for a year now, but as in the past I knew that the cause of my discomfort had little to do with my physical problems. My mind wasn’t working and now I was physically BLOCKED, DISCONNECTED, WEIGHTED as well. This knowledge, however, was incapable of soothing away the pain.
Here I was feeling HOMELESS once again, forgetting that home is where the four of us are; that home is inside of me and me alone. Here I was unable to relax in a place undoubtedly created for just that. Here I was aching and frustrated, impatient and a bit scared as I lay on the ground with a 1000 square foot sea of blue all around me…. All I could do was wait… another day as this one came to my mind….
Journal Entry – Arzilla Beach (Fano, Italy), September 9, 2014
There are days as this one that I wake up without breath, unable to see the perfection around me – the love and fortune – suffocated instead by a state of confused thoughts, a need to plan, to know, to stabilize. Fear and uncertainty cloud my head leaving me feeling unsettled and nauseaus. I breathe, I relax, I feel, I watch… or at least I try, I attempt to allow my emotions to flow as questions like ‘what is right?’, ‘What next?’, ‘Where should we be?’ scan my mind… School, homeschool, no school? Where will I put my clothes? Where will I exercise? Will this experience strengthen or weaken my daughters, my family, me? Am I strong enough to push myself to the next level of abandon – to make a choice of freedom for us? Can I find the balance necessary to feel stabile, protected, serene in a new place with less doors, less structure, less things? As I ly under this cream colored umbrella at the beach on this amazing September morning, a perfect breeze caressing my skin and sounds of joy and carefree play caressing my ears, I think and search for the will to go on… I give myself time… I kindly and patiently wait…
The second night we spread out our sleeping bags as the night before. Pillows, blankets, a stuffed dog and books completing our beds. We shut the lights and my family fell fast asleep. I stared into the evening sky -one moon and a zillion stars outside the doors – and then I too shut my eyes, and to the shiniest star I prayed…
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be strong
May I be at peace and at ease
I then repeated to myself: All is ok. All is perfect. This too will pass, this too will pass…
The next morning I woke up not remembering where I was. Then, I heard the little girl chatter, the water boiling from across the room, footsteps on wood…
I looked to my left and there it was again, faithful and kind: the mountains, the snowcaps, the pure, blue sky, the light on this brand new, summer morning. I stretched my arms above my head, I stretched my left leg and then my right… my right leg … the leg that less than 12 hours earlier held a weight too heavy to bear was light and agile. It was totally cured. The pain went just as fast as it had arrived and with no real cause. I was cured. For the moment at least, the anxiety had passed…
BLOCKED, DISCONNECTED, WEIGHTED no longer... I was ready to discover just what I would do with all of these truly gifted days... no furniture, no phone, no television, no internet, no worry….
I was ready to learn, along with my family, all about this nothingness that holds everything!
(And… continuing to realize how truly incredible this mind of ours is going back and forth and back again: total clarity, a bit fuzzy, irrecognizably unclear.)
May we be patient
May we be kind to ourselves
May we be curious and
May we learn to be just as weightless as the wonderful nothingness around us.
With joy and gratitude,
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