Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Staying Awake and Shaking the Dust

My biggest missteps in life have been when I haven't been fully awake.  You know those moments, you're on auto-pilot, the to-do list is your guide, and you just keep moving forward without actually looking around or listening to what's going on inside of you.

Sometimes it takes something really big to wake us up.  Sometimes, it's a lot more subtle.  The subtle reminders are the ones I'm most interested in at this moment.  These are the ones that will sustain me. Subtlety sounds really nice right now.  I feel like a lot of us wake up and make big changes, but can fall back easily into sleep as we try to move through and navigate what's in front of us.  We can make excuses:  I'm just going to push on until _______.  If I can just get _____ done, then I will ______.  I made a promise to myself that I would not go back to sleep, but I'm also finding it difficult to do when I feel like so much of my world is in flux.  A nice, long, sleep sounds pretty lovely... Staying awake, however, is a constant practice.  I don't always succeed.

I am shedding skin of late.   I'm "shaking the dust" (Thank you, Anis Mogjani:  I feel like I'm plucking barnacles off, and saying goodbye one by one.  I have burst into tears randomly (or have wanted to)--as I look out at my students and hear their insights, as I ride my bike home from work, as I settle into deep relaxation at the end of a yoga practice-- and with each "welling up," I realize I'm simply saying goodbye.   I'm saying goodbye to a period of time, a particular place, particular routines, and an experience or two I wouldn't have minded skipping--but many more I'm glad I've had.  And I'm stripping back down to what's essential to me and in me.

I'm trying to remain present, awake, and alive as I continue to move forward and make changes in my work, my living space,  geographic location, my academic pursuits--and there are times when it feels so overwhelming that I just want to coast through the next two months with my eyes closed.  I try my best not to close my eyes:   It would be a waste of a beautiful Tucson spring, for one.  And, for two?  I run the risk of not moving forward with eyes and heart wide open.  It would be a pity to have come this far, to have worked so hard to put all of these changes in motion...and not even be fully awake as the work comes to fruition.   I slip into moments of hiding from it all, shutting it all off, but...I forgive myself for these moments (and sometimes thank myself for them)...and I move on.

So here's the work:  To remain open even when life feels overwhelming.  To be patient in the midst of flux and uncertainty.  To stop and notice when things are beautiful, and to stop and notice when they're not.  To not cling too tightly to any step along the way, because it's all "along the way."  To remember that even when our skin feels like it's flipped inside out, that it's so much better than going back to sleep and going through the motions.

"Walk into into it, breathe it when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob tightly and open on up and run forward and far into its widespread greeting arms with your hands outstretched before you...fingertips trembling, though they may be."--A. Mogjani

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