“I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest suntans. I’ll be back, I’ll re-emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don’t want me to go where you go, so I go where you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon, there’s a lot ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the lock and the knob turns.”
“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern.”
–Frank O’Hara, Meditations in an Emergency
The door slammed open and she came trudging in. Then she started talking all about her horrible day and her coughing and her overall misery. I listened to the labored breathing and the edge of frustration in her voice. Then I sighed, opened my eyes, and resigned myself to another day. My new morning exercise would have to be put on hold for a quieter time.
I’ve been searching the past couple of weeks. Searching for what, I’m not exactly sure. The answer comes to me in bits and pieces daily. But the hunt is on for something more. I’m calling on everything within my grasp to help me figure out this deep yearning I have inside of me that I can’t quite define. Enter meditation.
Ibn Taymiyyah’s quote above coupled with Frank O’Hara’s seminal work has an irony that’s not lost on me. A 13th century Islamic scholar and homosexual poet from New York in the mid-20th century don’t have much in common on the surface but it is their deeper awareness of the self brought about by observations and study of their environments or faith that strike a chord in me. I’m not particularly spiritual nor do I follow a specific religion. I can’t even say that I’m on a journey to discover my beliefs in God or a higher power. What I can say is that I’m on a journey to discover who I really am underneath all the layers of crap I’ve been shoveling for years. And trust me, the layers run deep.
I took a step back recently from all of the modern tools that I have recently embraced in favor of a more solitary exploration. This means no Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram. Even this blog has to take a back seat while I focus most of my energy on accomplishing what I’ve set out to do. As much as I enjoy networking and connecting with people on each of these platforms, I’ve also managed to avoid a lot of the hard work that’s needed to get myself on the right path. I find myself disconnected with writing and my goals. I still wake up everyday with a heavy heart. I still go to the same job that leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I still have the same bucket list of things I want to do but I don’t make the investments necessary to get them done. I’m still on square one and I’m tired of the scenery here. For all of my talk about nutrition and keeping our bodies healthy, I forgot the soul, and it needs nourishment too.
Meditation was one of these things that interested me but I shied away from because it didn’t seem like something I could do. I labeled it as an exercise for either Buddhist monks or that annoying author of Eat Pray Love (not a fan). Then one of my good friends started meditating and she shared her experiences with her guru, Gabrielle Bernstein, with me and how it was changing her life. All these scary words, “meditating” and “guru” and “enlightenment” sort of freaked me out. I couldn’t imagine what it would mean to embrace these things for myself or that I was even capable of taking them seriously enough to make it worth the effort. I went to a session with Gabrielle Bernstein last winter and found it interesting enough, but not something that I would extend into my daily life. Case closed, door shut.
Nine months later, here I am sitting at my desk at 6am, my eyes half closed, listening to meditation music and focusing on my breathing for as long as I can. I’m following a life coach/spiritual healer/affirmation blogger (?) and slowly allowing the words of love and encouragement to wash over me. And I want more. I want to take meditation to deeper levels and restart my yoga exercises to take in the more spiritual elements that I could never really understand before. I want to reshape my life from within by healing all the broken parts that I’ve never stopped to fix in the past. I want to forgive myself for not being everything I thought I was supposed to be at my age. I want to forgive others who have wronged me or my loved ones so that I can move forward. More importantly, I want to get to know the real me. That might sound a bit corny, but its the honest truth. There’s a person in there that I haven’t taken the time to meet and it’s time that I do.
Strip away the social networks, the friends, comforts of modern life, and even your family and then you realize that you have to rely on yourself. I feel the strength of my surrounding network each day and I am so grateful for those bonds because they keep me grounded. But it’s time for me to establish that connection with myself because I won’t always have everyone there with me. Maybe I won’t be on here as often or you won’t find me pinning random fragments of a so-called fantasy life on Pinterest for hours on end like I was doing a month ago. No more daydreaming. No more complaining. I’m putting in the investment now.
As always, keep paying it forward. And breathe deep. 🙂