A leg up

Never apart

It is never apart from this very place

Awash in a river of grief and illness, I found myself like one “riding in a boat, [who] looks around and sees the shore, [and] mistakenly thinks that the bank is moving.” [Genjo Koan, Paul Jaffe; from TTS sutra book] What a swirl it has been: the numbness of a grief so keen from a death such that I just forgot to sit, a trip back to my childhood home staying among family and lulling into their rhythms and ways and deluding myself that I had no time or place to sit, back home to illness in the wake of the shock of the grief. For the first month, I didn’t think about it. For the second, I missed my practice. I missed my cushions and the resilience that my time on them lends me. I missed being a duck and letting it all roll off my back, even for just a little while each day. I missed knowing myself, seeing my lens for what it is. I knew how to get it back, but it had drifted ‘so far away.’ How do I tell my roshi that I’ve slacked off so bad and I feel so guilty? How do I forgo a drink with dinner to take the edge off so that my mind can be clear to sit once the kids go to bed? There’s never any time, and I never have the energy. And it’s just so hard, and I feel so crummy about it, and, and, and…

And then my roshi reached in and invited us up to the weekend retreat. We went. We sat. We listened. We laughed a great deal. (Wait, what? Well, Red Pine was presenting, and well, he’s Red Pine.) Most importantly, we sat. That was it. No guilt, no fuss, nothing to do. Don’t just do something; sit there. All that other stuff is just delusion. Sure, that two months is gone, but today isn’t.


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