I have about 60 blog titles in a spreadsheet named “Blog posts to write” – some of them with more or less content already attached. And I have probably seven posts in one state of almost completion or another on my short list of posts I want to write today.
But this one has just jumped ahead of all the rest of them – partly because it is about an amazing experience I had yesterday, but even more because I have been having the same amazing experience for the last half-hour. I want to catch it, describe it, while it is still hot – while it is still right in front of me.
This desire to capture it now is pretty paradoxical, because the experience is one of pure being – non-doing – and describing, writing about it, typing these words certainly requires moving into the world of doing. I’m feeling some scarcity about this – some fear that this sweet experience will leave me and not come back. But it has now visited me two days in a row – and a milder form of it has been there very often over the last four months – so I feel pretty optimistic about getting back there later .
And the experience is so much about fullness, wholeness, prosperity, enoughness that the scarcity feeling – the fear of losing this sweet state – is really a whisper, more like a memory of something I have frequently felt in the past than a real here-and-now feeling.
Yesterday I was in the men’s room of the Earth Fare grocery store, getting ready to start my relatively short 5-hour shift. And my brain was quiet. I wasn’t trying to do anything. I wasn’t worrying about anything. I wasn’t planning or preparing anything. I wasn’t analyzing or criticizing or praising anything I had recently done. I wasn’t thinking.
I have been having frequent tastes of this experience over the last four months,. I will walk into a room, or be sitting in a room, and notice that I am quiet. Thich Nhat Hanh, my old meditation teacher (“Thay” in Vietnamese), used to have us meditate that we were “solid like a mountain.”
I seldom actually experienced that back then. I would intend to experience it, would picture what it might feel like to experience it – would think the words “solid like a mountain”, but the experience itself would never come. These days it comes unbidden. The last two days it has come with power I have never experienced before. It has shown up like a motherfucker.
This experience stuck with me as I moved from the restroom to my cash register, logged in, and started serving customers. I found that, with my first many customers. I wasn’t trying to be charming or nice or funny. I wasn’t trying to be efficient. I found that I often showed up in each of those ways, but it wasn’t from trying. If anything, I was trying to extend this sweet experience of only being. But I wasn’t even really “trying” to do that. I wasn’t holding on to it – I was actually holding it very lightly. I was observing it, enjoying it, relishing it. I was smiling almost non-stop, but not a big giddy smile – just a sweet little half-smile, like Thay used to encourage us to wear when we were doing walking meditation. I was having a great deal of fun – not raucous ha-ha fun, but very happy and satisfying. I felt like the cat that had swallowed the canary. I had a wonderful secret.
I saw my friend Ann coming my way through the store. Ann and I are so far mostly just “Earth Fare friends”. We have had some significant short conversations. I greatly admire the memoir she is in the process of getting successfully published. We have become Facebook “friends”, have exchanged a few messages, have “like”d a few of each other’s posts. We have raised the possibility of getting together for coffee. It makes total sense in terms of how many interests and values we have in common, but so far we have not made it happen. And that is feeling blessedly unimportant to me – the measure of our friendship is not how much time we spend together.
I felt happy to see her coming my way. I could tell her about what I was experiencing! I knew that this “activity” of talking with her would run the risk of blowing my precious state of non-doing, but Ann is such a deep, thoughtful, sensitive, supportive friend – overall just such a great person to talk to, with an easy, lovely smile – that it seemed possible that talking with her would only heighten my pleasurable experience.
But I feared that revealing my secret to Ann would be so much fun, so satisfying that I would not be able to rein it in – that I would easily dominate the whole conversation. So I started by asking what had been fun for her lately. She started by telling me that her beautiful, deep, poignant book now has a publication date. She so totally lit up that all I wanted to do was to keep her talking about this. I wasn’t avoiding my topic, just “leaving it out”. It was no longer needing to be talked about, in the face of this new topic that was so hot – so right for the moment. I made myself a mental note to write Ann about my secret – but now I will just share this post with her. And I went back to having a great time listening to her.
This process of not doing anything is proving way more satisfying than anything I have ever tried to do. My ego argues that I will never get anywhere that way.
Just where is it that I would want to get to?