Duramen

My mind raced. I thought, “I knew it. I wouldn’t feel anything. Do I ever really feel anything? I move through my feelings so fast.” It seemed my thoughts had given up on me, and it hadn’t even been 5 seconds… Then, pop, there it was; something in my chest, a heavy feeling that sort of pulsed with each breath I took.

“Maybe I just seldom notice what’s going on in me.” I let that thought go, and tried to just be with that weight in my chest. “Is it always there? Is this different than normal? Is it a wound?” What makes a wound? It didn’t hurt. In fact it felt good. Well, saying that is over-simplifying. It didn’t feel good, but feeling it did. It was like finding this amazing part of me, my heart, that had been there all along but that I didn’t pay enough attention to.

The weight started to lighten. No, not quite. It was still there, the same as before, but I felt connection spreading. I felt my awareness of this part of me expanding, and in this greater context the weight wasn’t so heavy. I felt that this was what connected me to everything else, though that’s not quite right either. It was bigger than that, yet smaller too, more intimate.

As I thought through this, I lost the feeling again. I was thinking about it too much. I wanted to just be with it. I felt in my mind this vibrating tension, like my brain was pushing up against my skull. I sat with that too.

Why am I sitting on this buckwheat sack with my legs crossed? Well, I do this regularly. I think it’s helpful in getting to know myself and in becoming more skillful in my choices. But I also do this because it helps me feel better, calmer, less lost in the pounding pressure of my mind; because it makes me feel both more connected and less attached, both more myself and part of everything else, both all and none … because really what’s the difference?

That’s what the buzzing in my head is, differences, and I’ve got to be a part of that too. It’s unavoidable, and it’s our teacher. Words and choices, labels and society, norms and dichotomies all help us learn, but the biggest lesson is that they are all part and parcel of the same infinite un-creation.

How does knowing that make me anymore skillful? How do I act from that place, that knowledge? What binds everything together? Love? Gravity? Are they the same thing? A force pulling us together that can sometimes keep us apart.  Didn’t I just say everything was the same thing? There’s that bzzzing again.

Words are to experience as an mp3 is to vinyl; much worse than that in fact, but the same idea, low fidelity. The problem isn’t limited to words either. Hell, even our eyes suffer from it; we manage to see solid objects in a multitudinous ocean of energetic particles. For most of our purposes it’s better that way, but sometimes you’ve got to see the forest or at least stop running into that tree.

So, I’m feeling hurt, but that pain in my chest connected me with my heart, and that in turn connected me with everything else. I’m feeling hurt because my father, who recently married a woman younger than my wife and estranged himself from me when he discovered I was having a son, his first grandson, saying that he needed to put his past behind him for reasons that had nothing to do with me, well he sent me and my brothers an email telling us his wife Renee is pregnant, wishing us the best, and halfheartedly asking “If you feel up to it, let me know how things are going” before signing off “Love, Will.” Who the fuck is Will? Oh… that’s right… this guy is Will. Dad is dead… or, just, different. Differences, like branches hitting me in the face.

I’m really in the woods now.  But we all are, and our roots feed from the same wellspring. My heart drinks the same water as his. What’s skillful then? In this ridiculously complex world of differences, how do I act with the knowledge that we are all part of the same whole, that despite differences everything is also the same kind?

There’s my answer; right there in that word: kind. I might not know exactly what to do, but at least I’ve found my compass, and maybe I can make my way around this tree.

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