This is an idiosyncratic collection of material intended to help me get through some upcoming challenges. If anyone else finds it useful, that's gravy.
No other word will do. For that’s what it was. Gravy.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don’t weep for me,"
he said to his friends. "I’m a lucky man.
I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure gravy. And don’t forget it."
~Raymond Carver, "Gravy"
We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who's awake, that's death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn't have any fresh air. There's no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we're going to have an experience that we can't control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we're going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head...
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart
Amy and I spent the past week on the Mendocino coast, just north of the little town of Gualala. One evening a planet appeared low in the sky as the last light of sunset was fading--you can just make it out in the top left corner of the image above. Pictures like this fail to do justice to the real thing, of course, and yet they still serve a important purpose, prompting memories of moments that shouldn't be forgotten.
After I took this shot I stood looking out at the Pacific, watching the stars slowly emerge as the sky darkened, listening to waves crash into the cove below, feeling the air swirl around me. It was a moment I've experienced many times during our trips up here, and yet there was something different about this one. Amy had gone back into the house, and I sensed her presence and her absence. I felt alone beneath the sky, before the sea, and also together, with her and in some sense with humanity.
And Listen to This
I am going to make it through this year
If it kills me
Photo by James Cridland. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.