> jumping into life.


I've been reading Zen again. Winter is the time for introspection; why not navel-gaze when I'm curled up under the blankets anyway? This season's first revelation came after losing my wallet for the, I swear, fifteenth time in as many days. This time it stayed lost for a good 48-hour period, long enough for nonchalance to fade into discomfort and mild panic. Until I found it, of course, in the pocket of the only pair of pants I hadn't checked, because they had been sitting in a pile of just-washed (and therefore innocent) laundry, though they were not themselves washed, nor innocent.

What I realize is that my habitual carelessness has turned to a true mindlessness - the opposite of the mindfulness I hope to cultivate in my life - so that I lose my wallet once a day, my keys twice, forget appointments and textbooks, arrive late to class every day for a week. What I realize is that the manifest disconnection between my mind and my life is merely one side of a deeper truth, one way that my psyche has chosen to deal with the fact that I am not living the life I should.

This was a tricky knowledge to come by: they say that the opposite of a truth is another truth, and one such is that I am living exactly what I want. This school is where I should be, no doubt. This major, same. This relationship, with all its struggle, is exactly right. So what then? I seem to have gotten the outline right but neglected to color in the details accordingly. See the previous entry, for example.

I deeply believe that the most important work a person can do is in their own life, each day. I am not living each day. Though the greater framework is right - I am where I should be - I am not how I should be. I am not holding to beauty and savoring my tea. I am not grateful for sunlight or shadow or the shoes I wear. Each day rushes from too-early alarm to exhausted collapse. Right livelihood but not right action.

On the prosaic side, one day he tells me that if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of our relationship. And now, when I think of a spectacular new idea for a fundraiser that I don't have the time to plan, or when I blithely mention that I missed breakfast, he pokes me and asks if I'm taking care of myself.

And I'm doing better.


The cycle is easy enough to predict: I am overworked, tired, and irritable. I snap at friends and lovers, perform substandardly in school and life, eat poorly, sleep worse. I do not have the time - or percieve myself as having the time - to do those things that I know nurture me: bake bread, sip tea, walk in the woods, meditate, cook, read for pleasure. I become more tired and irritable, feel more overworked and less capable of defending myself against the world and its pressures. I feel guilty for long showers and stolen naps. My relationships disintegrate more, including the one with myself. I become more tired and irritable, ad nauseum.

One of my least useful but most convincing skills is the abstract analyzation of myself, in which I can see and understand perfectly my actions and the motivations behind them. Yet somehow, I allow myself to remain powerless to change. I know that I need to take time for myself, sleep more, breathe deeply, but I cannot find the time, make the time, dredge the energy for self-care.

Then sets in the bitter fear - that this will be one more playing of the tape I tried to leave behind. Winter coming. So I grasp to small beauties, as I have always done, trying to narrow my focus enough that grace cannot escape me. The color of light on the brick, the reach of plants toward the window, the mystery of evolution, the flavor of pecans. Some writing.