We’re headed to the North Shore tomorrow. To our beloved Gooseberry.
Life’s thrown some sucker punches our way this year, and the enthusiasm is tempered, but still, deep down, it is there: the primordial pull towards the mighty Gitchi Gummi. I’ve got a plethora of reasons that this trip will inevitably be bittersweet, but also a handful of overpowering reasons that it will be fantastic.
The three monsters I gave birth to top the list.
The Lake herself, Lady Superior, rides their coattails, along with her entourage of waterfalls, basalt and rhyolite cliffs, and armies of birch and pine and undeniable autumnal beauty.
I’ve been meandering through varying stages of blissfully engaged and violently reactionary with this year’s word choice. There have been enlightened stretches and moments of running from the present like it was on fire.
Because sometimes it is.
But for the past month or two, I’ve been settled uncomfortably into the lap of an overwhelming busyness and what I have to believe is it’s accompanying stagnation. Somewhere in the whirl of crazy, I whittled Here and Now down to a narrow, and let’s be honest, pathetic, definition.
I didn’t abandon my pursuit of the present. Far from it. I’ve been religious about my times for prayer and meditation, and relentless in my pursuit of the readings and experiences that bring the moments of brightness and peace. But I haven’t allowed life the time and space it’s needed to ferment the actual present moment.
I actually managed to find a shortcut.
Incredible, now that I’m here thinking about it, but I took this pregnant idea of Here and Now, in all of its immensity and potential, and tucked it neatly into my backpack, so I could drag it along with me without having to look at it in its essence. I simplified. I covered up the brightness within–the part that my heart knew and longed for–and I somehow managed to turn Here and Now into an intellectual exercise. Then I gave it the merest portion of my intellect, and kept on plugging.
Funny how it didn’t result in much.
A couple of nights ago, while re-reading Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits, I was hit with the very idea of true mindfulness and presence almost as though it were a new revelation. My chest opened up a bit, something that happens whenever I do stop to really, actually breathe, and I let it in. It opened and gathered in that puff of real, living air. Wow. How had I reduced the practice of true presence to a mere struggle against multitasking? How did I lose the life, the heartbeat of the practice?
I’m glad I didn’t completely abandon the ship, but wow. We’ve been sinking, this ship and I.
Even after that minor epiphany, I drew back into the flow of life and managed to leave it behind. I am a master of denial.
It’s only now, days later, that I’ve had the time to ponder the thought. It’s only now that I’m processing the revolutionary idea that I’ve–once again–gotten caught up in my own addictions to the past and the future, the thoughts and the fears and the worries and the rumination of the pain.
Cutting myself a little slack, sometimes life just plain sucks. Sometimes it is very hard not to focus on the objectively nasty situation at hand. Hard to not regurgitate over and over again. Hard to not twist into knots over the unknown future.
But still, there was a time, not so long ago, that I was in a bit of a better space, and somehow able to accept the thoughts and fears and worries, allow them a little room to vent their pain, a little space to express themselves, and then let them go, in favor of the present moment.
Most of the time.
OK, some of the time.
This is the place that I need to get back to. It’s really just a matter of deciding. Shouldn’t it really just be a mater of deciding?
- Recover the skills of residing peacefully in the Here and the Now.
- Leave residence only when doing so is actionable and necessary.
- Return home as quickly as possible.
- Breathe again.
Gracefully, the shores of Lake Superior are one of the most excellent places I can imagine for regaining health and happiness. The shores of Lake Superior, in their sublime beauty alone, bring healing even when we’re not present enough to be looking for it.
That we’ll be there by lunchtime tomorrow is no small blessing.
You know where to find me…