28 April 2013

Bliss Is Hard

In case you do not know, I have been trying a little mindfulness.  That's like the song, "Try a Little Tenderness," but with more thought.  (Speaking of which, whenever I think of that song it evokes a weird and wonderful move, "The Commitments," about an Irish Soul Band.  Check it out sometime.) 

The problem with mindfulness is that it makes you think about the present, not the past or the future.  Yeah, that's the point, I know, but it also means that you realize the border between past and present and future is a creaturely thing.  From a cosmic point of view (if such a thing exists) there is no past or future.  As I sit each day, focusing on now, reveries from memory come up.  I gently set them aside, as the experts say, and attend to the present.  Future things slip in as well, and I gently set them aside, but both past and future ever linger near the edge, as they must. 

This all sounds abstract in the writing, but in the moment it means that anything from any time can grab me.  And like a song that you can't get out of your head, that looseness of time can rear up when you least expect it. 

This morning, before sunrise, the chattering of the birds and the faint aroma of grass swept me back to my boyhood.  Or rather, the psychological space between being 60 and 10 vanished and I was both for a moment.  E. B. White recorded a moment like this is his exquisite essay, "Once More to the Lake."

Those moments come more often now, and are both unutterably precious and dangerously selfish.  At such moments I am envious of those who never moved from their childhood homes, and thus can live past and present all the time.  How I long to go back to Maryland - with its light green grass and the racket of crickets and the smell of mulberry.  Those memories make me wish simply to be alive, 'witnessing to creation,' to paraphrase Annie Dillard.  And isn't that what the whole mindfulness thing is about?

No.  There is work to do.  Even fabled YHWH worked six sevenths of the time.  I weeded my yard yesterday.  My wrist hurts from leaning on it.  Must drop the car at the service center this evening.  My son graduates from college in six days.  And there is church of course.  Good things.  But a few more reveries would not do any harm, would they? 

3 comments:

Elisa said...

No, my dear Revered Doctor. There is no harm in reverie. I too am practicing, in an off-hand, inconsistently consistent way. Which is just like me. Pema Chodron's way. Make friends with whatever pops up. Make friends with needing to do it "right" and then not doing it "right." Stops the judgement. Makes everything friendly. Opens the nowness and the reverie with acceptance and no blame. No blame. No shame. No sin. No heaven. No hell. Then chores. Blessed be.

joanne peterson said...

April is the awkward month-like an adolescent,stumbling into laughing May-fumbling and unsure. Pensiveness and yearning are come with the rising sap! At times, April pierces and cuts a heart to bits but sweet, foolish May waits joyous and prancing.minds

Donna said...

The reveries are the gifts to the aging.I have lived long enough to wander back to the sweetness of youth, lilacs in bloom, riding a bike without a care and being goofy, potentially important and serious about clouds and stars. They soften the hard realities that can also charge forward in my mind. A balance of both gives me that rear view mirror view of life. But I know, because I am old and have learned some lessons the hard way, I must keep my eyes on the immediate road. The future gets smaller compared to the past. I spend less time on the future. There is a lesson learned about opportunities and calamities that stop at my door. I try to welcome all my memories and plans as guests in my being. There is room for all of them. How they manifest; how I act depends on the wisdom gained in a lifetime.