Trying to do things in a Zen way
I’m not sure how to do things in a Zen way. To me, Zen is about being selfless and doing things in a natural, uncontrived manner. I’m not sure I have that freedom right now.
I have to function for two, myself and my husband. I read Zen books and magazines and they talk about the virtues of silence and solitude. I read them and think, “That would be nice!” There is nothing silent about calling people to fix the various parts of the house that are breaking down. I have to let go of the money involved in a non-dramatic way. There is no solitude when Barry spazzes out about the window fracturing into pieces from the pressure of pushing it upward to put in the air conditioner.
What I have always loved about Buddhism has been how reality-based it is in terms of psychology. It understands how the mind works. However, much of it is Asian-descended and patriarchal (read: irrelevant) to me, married to a husband capable of taking responsibility for nothing. My philosophy at this point is basic: If you’re not going to help, you don’t get a vote.
I try to live a simple life, eschewing non-necessities. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize just how little one needs to live: shelter, clothes, food, and meaningful activities. Everything else is optional. Needing to function for two has forced me to put my physical and emotional health as a top priority. I just got my first mammogram in over a decade. I want to leave Michigan knowing my health status. I explained to Barry, when I saw the hole in my window so close to my head, about how to get things done if I should die. If there is no Cindy, his options get real limited, real fast. I can only “dumb down” things to a point. Beyond that, he’s on his own.
I am reaching my limits, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There seems to be some understanding of human limitations in Zen. I cannot find solitude or silence at this point in my life. Anyone or anything that does not understand the slamming of a person against their limits is out of my life. It’s not just about other people’s suffering anymore; it’s about my own. I don’t have the time or energy to pretend otherwise anymore.
My life is taking a different direction now than I thought it might. For the first time, I have a sense of clarity about what to do and why. I am being driven by necessity and safety.
There is a hole in my living room window. I don’t feel safe sitting in my chair at the window as I have for years. (Turns out it was a BB, but a BB to the brain would still have been problematic.) So I had my chair removed. I had been planning on getting rid of my chair when Barry passed anyway and the chair is in sad shape, so I moved up the date for chair removal from “someday” to “now.” There is now more space in my living room. I feel like various problems (safety, space, etc.) all got solved at once.
And so now I have nowhere truly comfortable place to sit in my own living room. I don’t plan on fixing that issue. This is the best way to not sit and watch TV and waste my life I can think of.
I know I have to get rid of the vast majority of Barry’s modelling stuff. And I do a little every day. Progress is being made.
Monday, I got the gutters cleaned. Things are getting done. Perhaps I have had a spiritual breakthrough.
I’ve never had this degree of clarity. I have spent my life being continually overwhelmed. I still feel a little of that, but not like before. I feel like I have my marching orders for who-knows-how-long. Others can approve, disapprove, or whatever, but people not supportive will play no role in my future.
Do I know what I am doing? Not in the slightest, but I’m learning as I go. The fastest way to destroy any positive momentum would be to go to the furniture store and purchase another recliner. I could sit back, relax, take a nap….Wait a minute. Where did 2015 go?
No, that is not a valid option. Pick again.
So much can (or not) happen in such a short period of time.
I’ve been talking about something spiritual (demon? entity?) stopping me from making even the most basic of progress in terms of moving. The realtor doesn’t get back with me. The plumber doesn’t arrive or call. The lawn people do not take the fallen branches from my back yard despite numerous requests to do so.
Also, I had to explain to the student loan people that my general, durable power of attorney (DPOA) did not (and never will) expire simply because the notary’s commission expired in 2013. They wanted Barry’s signature, something tough for him to do, so I mailed them a copy of the DPOA, which they then did not recognize as valid. I thought I would have to go get another one until a friend explained the concept of “durable.” The next day, I called them back and said I would not get another one because that would be conceding that the one I sent them was not valid, and I am unwilling to concede that on any level. They acted like it was just a big misunderstanding. No. This is serious legal ignorance and incompetence on their part only. My comprehension of the situation is 100% accurate and sound.
Now something else has happened. This past weekend, Barry and I were watching TV and suddenly heard a very loud “ting” sound. We had no idea what it was and didn’t give it another thought. A couple days ago, I looked at my living room window and saw this perfectly circular, tiny hole. I described it to a friend. I answered a few questions about it and she said, “Yeah. That sounds like a .22.” I looked again at the hole and saw just how close it came to where my head is while watching TV. Whatever the hell this is, I now know that it wants me dead.
Monday, before I noticed the hole in my window, I went to the blessing and saw some of my new-agey friends. I told them about some of the happenings. One nice lady said, “Have you thought about surrendering to the situation?” I said, “No. Capital n, capital o, all bolded, all italicized. Absolutely not. That’s the best definition of ‘good little victim’ I can think of. I’m fighting spiritual warfare and your suggestion is to capitulate. Are you kidding?”
I’m between different worlds. I have known Protestants that blame everything on demons and see them around every corner. They seldom take any personal responsibility for their contribution to a given situation. I’m talking about the type of people that pray against diabetes while eating a Hershey bar. The opposite world is the rose-colored-glasses new-agey world that sees the spiritual world as all sweetness and light. Both are ridiculous. I’m not saying there aren’t angels; I am only saying that there aren’t only angels. The spiritual realm has a dark side, as well.
There’s an article in the May Shambhala Sun, The Problem of Evil, by Zoketsu Norman Fischer. He tries to bring some sanity to the discussion. “The great death, oneness, enlightenment, total acceptance of reality beyond good and evil–this is a necessary step in Zen or any other profound spiritual practice. But although this may be ultimate, it is only a step. Zen calls it ‘the great death’ for a good reason. It is a kind of ‘death.’ It requires a complete letting go, a complete relinquishment, in trust, of everything that one has identified as one’s life. To be truly alive, as Zen practice sees it, one has to die–to let go of life. But until we are physically dead, we can’t remain dead. We have to be alive. We can’t remain in the darkness and purity of beyond-good-and-evil. We have to arrive in the daylight of this physical, limited world of distinctions and moral choices. Difficult though it may be, there is no escape and no alternative.” Until we are dead, we live in the relative reality of good and evil. Period. Declaring non-duality prematurely is delusional and plays into the hand of the dark side.
I believe I stirred these spiritual energies up when I started getting rid of Barry’s stuff. I believe this is why Buddhism and other religions are clear on the necessity of not getting attached to things. What is attached to your stuff? Do you even know? It may not be benign or friendly.