6:30 a.m. Last day of August. My favorite: time of day, time of year, spot on the planet. Most early mornings are spent in silence and solitude. These moments are improved by the beauty that is summer. I watch from my garden deck overlooking the oak savannah as a buttery sunlit field gradually spreads over the meadow. There is deep peace in this little spot of glory. Deep gratitude finds a similar spot in the center of my body.
It’s all perfection in this liminal time.
The time before the Issues and Improvements Department opens for the day.
Apparently there’s a lot of me that thinks I could use some help, could be better. Do more. Quit wasting her frickin’ time just hanging out. And she has a few things to say about duties and goals. She has a whole team with clipboards and plans for my day. She frowns on me from the other side of the door, locked out for now. I sit peacefully in my pajamas, watching the sky and the birds and animals show up for the day.
In the opinion of the Head of the Improvement Department, a quick Self-Help project is just what’s needed. Its operational mission is to convince me that I have a problem that can be fixed in any number of ways I have not yet explored. She keeps nagging me on and off throughout the day.
But mornings. They’re my time. For many years I have opened the day with silence. Then I pick up my pen and write my “morning meditations,” with the prayer and the hope that this will remind me of what’s really important to my soul as I prepare to for my day. This morning routine has become as necessary as breathing. There’s a good hour before the world around me begins to assert itself, to give me something I must react to. Before I move into the day’s lists and calendar items.
It’s a Be Here Now kind of start to the day. Breathing. Silence. Dreams re-emerge… Thoughts and images of all the people I hold close show up on the screen. I watch. Send love. Send prayers. Breathe. Be. There’s nothing to do. Nowhere to go (yet).
I write down a few observations about the wisdom of the season: the trees, sky, weather, the turning of the planet. What teaching does the world around me offer? Here. Now.
Then there’s an urgent phone call from the Improvements Department. Someone in my world is a problem (usually me). After a thorough review, it has been determined that I must: stop eating all sugar, walk 4 miles a day starting today (on creaky knees, yet), read the Bible or the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita. Now.
All of it is offered For My Own Good. Although there can be true guidance in the recommendations of the Department, much of it is the same old well-oiled loop of self-judgement: Strategies for dealing with some outworn thoughts that go something like this: I’m not good enough, fit enough, prepared enough, enough enough.
All the searching of the past thirty years has taught me to see most of these lies for what they are: an old, tired, narration of a story about me that hasn’t been updated for the last thirty years.
I thank her for her opinion and then go back. Back to Being. Here. Now. This morning.
This is the practice, the challenge, the evolution.
Peace. Awareness. Mental Loop. Note what needs to be heard. Thank the rest. Go back to breathing. Rinse and Repeat.