This afternoon, emerging from eat pray love, I was pretty sure I had been transformed and finally enlightened and would forever after be able to detach from the circumstantial, the daily and the difficult and to resign in the unmoving hub of God's grace and presence, firmly planted in the true self. Talk about living vicariously. Somehow reading Gilbert's instant changes (instant being over an agonizing disciplined 4 months), complete with the ability to let emotional muck slide off her back and to sense blue spiritual energy zinging up her spine while she meditated, made me feel like I too had radically awakened. Or at least that I would by the time I went to bed.
I have one relationship in my life that insists on being an especially trying one -- relentlessly so. I thought of it immediately when I read the following passage: "If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it's working on you... It burns away the ego, turns you into pure ash. It's supposed to be arduous..." (ch 52)
I know this relationship for me, like "the Geet" for Gilbert, exists in my life to kick my ass, to bore holes through my smugness and pride, to stretch me until I almost rip, to make me lose my sense of North over and over, and ultimately to help me find it again with more certainty and truth than ever before.
I have learned, slowly, that the pains of this relationship really have to do with me, my own reactivity, fears, control issues, and that that those are the parts that I have to (and hate to) work on... So today, operating from my new contemplative-enlightened state, I meditated in the loft, among boxes of Christmas stuff, sitting on the floor, freshly inspired by Gilbert's success.
In real life, I do not meditate. In fact, despite growing up in a Quaker school (where, let's be honest, Quaker meetings had nothing remotely to do with meditation or even quiet for that matter), my whole body usually rebels against it: my mind squirrels around racing, chattering, digging for excuses to leave; my body starts feeling creaky --back hurts, knees ache, neck feels stiff; and negative talk permeates the quiet with its assortment of whispery doubts.
But TODAY, determined and open, I found that I actually stayed put, that my body sat quietly (except for a weird throbbing in my right wrist that I kept expecting to receive a God-given message about but didn't ) and even my mind held no violent rebellions. Instead I perched calmly, weaving between my mantra come and my bouncing thoughts -- Ashrams, details of childbirth, the few friends I know who meditate, plans for a salami sandwich downstairs...
By the end of my 10 minutes, I was so proud of myself -- a sure fire sign that I had not transcended, blaringly confirmed later that evening when I talked to my difficult friend on the phone and lost my cool and all patience within the first 30 seconds and never regained it. *sigh*
So it turns out - surprise, surprise - that I have a ways to go still. Quite a ways. And it seems like 4 months cleansing and facing myself and my God in an Ashram in India would be a great way to start (though I think I'd actually find it ironically anxiety-producing, but isn't that part of the journey?). Or even living in a retreat community here with a spiritual director who would push me to inner depths and honesty would do wonders. Even for 1 month. But I see no way for either to happen in the next... oh, couple decades. So, something will have to give and come to life here in the loft with the dusty breeze and hush of traffic slipping in through the vents.
In the last couple of hours the Santa Ana winds have kicked up and are now howling at the skylights and tearing through the trees, littering the ground with the leaves and weak branches that refused to fall on their own. Maybe that's what I need too -- a raging Santa Ana that will knock me down, blow straight through me and clean me out.