Thursday, September 2, 2010
Once again I can't sleep, laying there, thoughts running through my head. Nothing worrisome or stressful, simply a series of ideas moving through like a news-ticker. It happens far more now that I am in New Mexico, perhaps caused by the altitude, sleeping closer to a sky alive with lightning or moonlight. I wonder how these atmospheric conditions interact with the electrical activity of my brain.
So I sat out in the living room, looking at the stars filling most of the large bay windows. A few of them skidded past as if streaking the glass itself. Oh, right, tonight is the first night of a meteor shower. Maybe that's why I can't sleep.
And the thoughts continued. I've been so busy here, working over 40 hours a week after a decade working fewer than 15. I no longer have the time to write, to read, to hike, to cook a meal eaten before a DVD. The summer has moved past with little3 acknowledgement.
Spatially too, I feel compressed. We live in a beautiful casita north of town, surrounded by mountains and trees and wildlife. But I miss walking and biking around town. It is tough being tied to an automobile. When we decided to live out here, we justified it by saying that even if we live a minute away from the plaza, we'd still have to drive for shopping and to dine with friends. But everytime I visit someone, I envy their proximity to bike paths and cafes. I especially envy one friend who takes nightly strolls to the plaza to watch the live music there.
I sit in my chair, the clock ticking toward morning. Gradually, my thoughts slow, and my mind is taken more with what I see before me. And it hits me. How can I feel hemmed in when I surrounded by so much space, by the desert, by the stars? I realize now that the reason for my anxiety has been my attempting the impossible task of trying to fit new life into old patterns. Why not instead open up to the new possibilities?
Back when I was twenty-two, I spent the better part of the winter reading the biographies of those writers and artists who intrigued me. I found that in many cases, I was more taken with their lives than with the works themselves. And it was then that I decided that I would make my life my art. And from that moment began my restless seeking, and roaming, and study. Nearly every moment of my time in Japan felt under the pressure to do everything I possibly could there, to accept every opportunity. And I admittedly did a helluva lot. And it was rewarding.
Now back in the States, I don't have that sense of "I gotta do this, and I gotta do this, then I wanna do this." But as the months have passed and I've tried to settle, to establish balance, I've tricked myself into a life out of balance. I should know better, since experience has taught me that this balance is illusion anyway. What really exists is flow. But now I'm fighting the current.
While I was living and practicing at Upaya, I knew this. The very first week there, I was overwhelmed by how good it felt to simply sit, and I promised myself that I would pass a calendar year without leaving the state, and stay connect to the here and now. And as I sit watching the sky I remember this feeling of presence. What follows is a shift in my vow to live my life as art. I will seek instead the value and joy of being present in the moment instead of trying to do it all. I'll seek quality rather than quantity. If I have less time to do the things that define me, they'll have more power if fully delved into.
I recognize now that I've spent too much time expecting relationships to function on auto-pilot, since I was ever moving on to the next book or trip or happening. Which goes some length at explaining why I'm so crap about keeping in touch. When I was younger I thought it was cool to never look back, just forward. Later it was frightening to look back, since to reflect on something was to own it, and to own something sets us up for its loss. It reminds me -- in a very roundabout way -- of something I heard David Lee Roth once say. Something like, "While driving, I always have one eye on the road and one eye on the rearview mirror to see how good I look getting there." Good ol' Diamond Dave, always living in the present.
On the turntable: The Eagles, "Desperado"
On the nighttable: Lynn Cline, "Literary Pilgrims"