February 2011


I tried something new the other day.  I wanted to read a good non-fiction book.  Something spiritually oriented but how to find the right thing?  I went to the library and found the “200’s”, the spirituality section, and just wandered around. 

I found all kinds of stuff I had no interest in reading, but found some cool things too.  I picked up Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions For An Ordinary Life.   Miller writes like a normal person who happens to be a Zen Buddhist priest. 

It’s a here’s-how-I-hit-bottom-and-found-buddhism book but totally lacking in any conversionary rah-rah sentiments that would make me drop the book in a heap on the floor.  After her first marriage breaks up, she has this to say about fear:

We are unavailable for any truly loving and fulfiling relationship as long as we are trapped in a committed relationship with the most controlling part of our own mind — our fear.  Our fear of what will happen and our fear of what will not.

Nearly everything we’re afraid will happen is going to happen anyway so what’s to fear?  There is no secure or unchanging ground, and we make ourelves safe only when we see and accept the way life is.  Utterly spontaneous and impermanent.  When it is time to laugh, we laugh.  When it is time to weep, we weep.  We are cheated of nothing in life except that from which we withhold ourselves by ego’s narrow bounds.  These bounds were made to break; indeed they must, if we ever hope to be whole again.  

Karen Maezen Miller

I’ve had a bad case of February-itis lately.  Well,  for exactly two weeks now. 

I’m just bluck and sick of shovelling and having road salt on all my jeans and tired of the cold and the dark because they make me tired.  I just can’t wait for it all to be over.  I want to bundle up, curled on the couch for hours on end.  But I don’t.  I push ahead, trying to get stuff done, grumbling the whole time.  I’m just not myself.

Usually I’m pretty energetic.  Positive even.  Can’t wait to get out and do stuff.

I had a phone interview yesterday and it was tough.  I tried to say all the right things but just couldn’t find my usual groove.  I couldn’t seem to get my “here’s how I’m awesome and energetic and positive” out there.  Because I’m not feeling it, any of those things.  I was doing a ‘Fake it Till You Make it’.

And it sucks because I’d be better if I had work to go to because I’d have a full work day of distractions to take my attention away from bluckiness.   I wouldn’t even see the snow falling *again* because I’d have my face in a computer screen.  I’d be completing Important Tasks.  I’d be all like, “weather?  what weather?”.

My hope is that I did get my message across enough in the interview with Boss Man.  It’s a cool job and I’d really like to have it.  Maybe because I’m feeling so bluck I’m just finding another excuse to get down on myself.  

Phone interviews are tough because there is no body language to read. It’s like talking into a black hole. Maybe it was fine. Maybe I’m just finding another thing to get blucky about. Who knows.

That’s the perils of the job hunt in February.  I’d like to email Boss Man  and say, “really i’ll be so much better in March and every other month. February is just off for me.”  Naw, instead I’ll head back to the couch.

I saw this on Pema’s Facebook page and thought of all the people i know (including myself) having a tough time with February, or Winter, or Life.  This is for us:

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both.

Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.

Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.

Excerpted from “Start Where You Are” by Pema Chödrön