On Sunday, I received an e-mail with a negative tone. On Monday, I received another one, from a different person. Both sent me into a spin. Both had great impact on me. I asked myself what I was feeling in response, and the answers came quickly … fear, sadness and then grief.
There followed the classic question “Now what?” How do I hold all this? What would the Buddha do?
I sat with me and let myself feel those feelings. To really let them in. And they were most willing to come in. Soon I was crying. A day later, not so much, but the underlying current is still woe.
The Buddha was a pretty smart guy. He talked about the Eight Vicissitudes: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and disrepute. He essentially said that we can be the most happy and kind creatures on Earth, and still we’ll experience the negative halves of those pairs. So the loss is vivid and the pain intense. What’s to be done except let it be there? “Go away” is useless. Covering it over with alcohol, food or TV goes nowhere. Wearing a fake smile is transparent to the rest of the world.
So, “Hello, loss. Thanks for coming by. Stay as long as you like. I realize you’ll go when you’re ready to. After all, you’re just a visitor here. This is not your true home.”
After yesterday’s e-mail, I was walking along Bloor St. in Toronto, quite lost. My head had dipped down. Happily, I noticed this. Again and again, as the crowds surged around me, I said “Lift your chin up.” Each time it felt good to do that, to let go of “I’m bad” and realize that there’s a lot of living to be done. A lot of people to contribute to. And a depressed human being doesn’t do much of that.
Here I sit, tapping away. My chin is up. My fingers are down. And I have no clue who will come my way tomorrow. What I do know is that I’ll be ready for them.