The list

The List bitmap






I had set myself so many goals:

  • After nearly ten weeks of couch-potatodom following surgery, I would begin a careful re-entry into exercise with physiotherapy and aquafit classes.
  • I would meditate for two half-hour periods each day, the way I used to do.
  • I would launch again into vegetarianism, which I had let go following the surgery.
  • I would study and make notes on the stack of Buddhist books I had chosen for this period, one every other day.  After all, I reasoned, if I can wade through a novel a day, it should be no sweat to read a Buddhist book every two days, right?

  • I would abstain from my blogging and networking sites – and from email – for a period long enough to reduce my attachment to them.
  • I would complete a major housecleaning, long overdue from my surgery period.
  • I would make a number of additional small changes that seemed important to this new system of self-improvement.

As I looked the new list over, all of the items seemed doable; after all, I had already accomplished each of them at some point in my past!

Starting the New System….Or Not:

I knew something was up when I began to postpone the start date for my enterprise, again…and again…and AGAIN.  In fact, almost a month went by from my original start date, and no beginning in sight.

Instead of launching the food program that my body actually needs to stay well, I kept on telling myself that just one or two little chunks of cheese wouldn’t hurt….just that tiny wee sliver of pizza, sooo delicious, after all….it would be really rude, as a guest, to turn down that homemade ice cream sandwich (even though there were two other guests who were too full to have dessert)….okay, just this once, I’ll have that Thai dish fried in the flour batter.

And somehow it seemed vital that I check my email before meditating in the morning; and of course that stretched into breakfast, and then there were just so many things to do….

It got so bad that on my way out of the room one evening, after spending many delightful hours writing  on the computer, I glanced at my cushion awaiting me on the floor in front of my altar and thought to myself, “Oh dear, another day missed.  Oh well.”  And went to bed to finish my latest novel.

Housecleaning?  Forget it.  I was too busy clacking away on the computer, writing, sending and answering emails, checking my networking site, and reading literally everything I could lay my hands on (except the aforementioned Buddhist books I had planned to study).

So Here I Sit:

So here I sit, with my nice, neat list in a shambles, my resolutions dead on the floor around me.  Hmm.  What’s happening here?  A slight case of resistance, perhaps?

I knew, of course, that I was tackling quite a number of things at the same time; but they were all things I had managed successfully before, so I thought it would simply be a matter of picking them all up again where I had left off.

Well, apparently not.

Instead, I seem to be rubbing my own nose in my foolish, imperfect bombu nature, almost as if the naughty little girl inside me is saying, “So you think you’re going to be perfect, eh?   Hah!  I’ll show you!”

Believe it or not, I’ve actually been a highly disciplined person for  most of my adult life.   However, it’s clear that this particular characteristic has fallen completely by the wayside at present.

On top of that, a new kaleidoscope of feelings has emerged:   frustration at my lack of good, old-fashioned gumption; the occasional unpleasant dose of guilt (but apparently not enough to jump-start the list) — and also, oddly enough, a combination of peacefulness and complete contentment, with the occasional brilliant blast of pure joy.

I can certainly understand the guilt; but in between the guilty moments, there are these long periods of happiness and feeling somehow….complete.  Now, what on earth is that all about?!?

The Un-List:

As I sit here thinking about it, it occurs to me that there have actually been a number of interesting things happening while I was busy putting off the business of disciplining myself.

For instance:

After several weeks of thinking about the fact that I’m fascinated by other world cultures and languages, I noticed for the first time that our branch library had a Newcomer Information desk.  (It had been there for two years, but I somehow hadn’t realized it.)

Two days later I was volunteering at the library in an English conversation program for newcomers to Canada, where immigrants from all over the world can practice speaking English.  I’ve discovered that I love this work, so much so that I’ve applied to a second organization to do the same thing.

I’ve also been “contemplating” (for lack of a better word).  There seem to be many quiet, inner moments happening each day, although I’m doing nothing in particular to encourage them.  Periods of contemplative quiet seems to fall over me like a veil of silence in my mind that clears a space for openness.  I have no idea what that’s about, but it’s very, very peaceful.

Although it’s clearly not a book every two days, I’ve started to actually read the books I had set aside for this period, not because they’re part of my “study program,” but because I’m drawn to them again, as I was in the first place.

I’m presently working my way through David Brazier’s books, and I’ve just finished reading “Final Gifts” and “Final Journeys” by Maggie Callanan.   Although I definitely don’t prance through them the way I do my “mind candy” books, there is a sense of them sinking down into me and taking root there.

And strangely enough, even though I’m not doing my formal sitting practice, that feeling of “accompaniment” that I’ve had most of my life now often seems to contain a most astonishing element, particularly in these circumstances:  a feeling of being cherished, of all things!

As a result, I tend to slip into a kind of quiet gratitude, a sort of nembutsu, perhaps.

“Curiouser and Curiouser”

So you see, it’s not really a list of accomplishments at all.  In fact, it’s more like having stepped into a stream of synchronistic energy and being propelled gently along, with a series of subtle, organic changes taking place pretty much on their own – “going with the flow,” you might say.  I think they’re good changes; I certainly feel good about them, anyway.

The thing is, of course, that there’s nothing remotely resembling a “system” going on here.  I’m accustomed to systems, and not having one makes me feel slightly off kilter.  There’s a slightly schizophrenic quality to it all.

“’Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice.”

No kidding, Alice.

Part of my mind spends a fair bit of time watching this whole experience with something like wonderment.  Could it possibly be as simple as just finally letting go of the “lists” in my life and letting this flow take me where it will?

On the other hand, I might simply be indulging the laziest, most slothful tendencies in my personal bag of tricks, habits that have suddenly popped up, full-blown, from the Jack-in-the-box of life-long repression.  Heaven forbid I emerge on the other side of this experience to see that reality is actually a household that’s fallen down around me and Jabba the Hutt gazing at me in the mirror!

Or maybe this is simply something that naturally happens when you begin to get old.

So the bottom line is this:  I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on here.  I’m inclined, though, to just flow along with it.  I’m not hurting anyone that I know of, and most of the time I’m aware of a quiet little hum of peace and contentment free peace signflowing through me.

And hey, who knows; could be I’m finally (nearly half a century too late),  simply blossoming into some kind of ancient hippie!

Peace, man!