One of the many nice things about having a lovely, long vacation is that it shakes up one's routines. And I am a woman of routines. Maybe it's part of being an INFJ, but I'm constantly trying to come up with a perfect daily routine that will take all the stress out of my life and hopefully set me up for major spiritual awakening.
What this meant before my trip was that I was constantly racing against the clock to try to fit in 20 minutes of centering prayer (which is only half of the recommended practice) and about 15-20 minutes of writing 750 words in the little bit of spare time I have. But a funny thing happened while we were in New York. The centering prayer fell completely away, immediately. And then one night after we got home from a lovely day of exploring the city and having a delicious dinner with friends, I just didn't turn on the computer. I realized the next morning that this meant I'd broken a 130+ day streak of 750 words. (For those of you in the know, look for my name on the Wall of Shame for the October Challenge. And soak it up.)
In the past this probably would have put me into a cycle of shame and regret. Instead I had a good laugh and felt a weight lift off me. What has been coming into the space left by these practices is a gentle, easy just being with myself. Instead of racing through my life to pack all of it in, I'm feeling like there's more space just to attend to these different aspects of my life, and by not feeling under stress to do it I'm enjoying it all more. I'm paying a lot more attention to how things feel and judging it all less. It all kind of has become very beautiful and sort of delicious, just by seeing it as it is and having the time and space to be with it in a more realistic and less perfectionistic way.
By writing this, I'm definitely setting myself up for a major swing in the other direction. And that's fine, actually. I'm seeing that I always learn something from the hard times, too. I'm learning to welcome it all. Part of that has been noticing how much I try to dance as fast as I can to keep things good, to feel happy. I can feel like a roach under a glass, spinning faster and faster trapped in trying to keep it a certain way. And I've noticed that part of that is a desire to feel like I deserve it. I'm doing the work so I deserve the goodies.
But in being with that feeling, I've realized what I'm secretly avoiding while doing that dance of worthiness: just feeling grateful. By trying to do it all myself, I'm avoiding the vulnerability of just relaxing and feeling grateful. So I'm exploring a bit of surrender and ease. I'm enjoying attending to my life in a more present way, especially fixing warm and nourishing food as the weather allows for more time in the kitchen. And I'm surrendering to feeling grateful for all of the lovely gifts I receive every day, from the amazing people I'm so blessed to have in my life to the gorgeous display of fall color in my physical world. There is so much to be grateful for.
A line from that Czesław Miłosz poem, "Late Ripeness," I explored this summer has been a regular companion lately:
We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.
I think it is pride that's kept me from using that gift, but I've taken off the wrapping and I'm so grateful.