Jack Dog and I just went for an evening walk… an icy, slushy, mud puddle-y, snow melting walk in the dark. Did I mention icy? Welcome to breakup — the season, not the failed romance.
And while a walk is supposed to help your mood, it might have made me more irritable. This is Alaska, people … we’re not supposed to be experiencing breakup and temperatures in the 40s and upper 30s in FEBRUARY.
So while I was grumbling and muttering to myself and walking, I was also thinking about Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun who wrote When Things Fall Apart, and Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change.
And while I don’t like it, what she’s taught me about the significance of cultivating the ability to live with uncertainty, goes right along with my experience of this walk tonight.
She writes, “…we step further into groundlessness as a source of awakening rather than a source of dread, as a path to fearlessness rather than a threat to our survival. (p. 66, LBWUAC)”
“As warriors in training, we cultivate the courage and flexibility to live with uncertainty–with the shaky, tender feeling of anxiety, of nothing to hold on to–and to dedicate our lives to making ourselves available to every person, in every situation. (p. 67, ibid)”
And that was my walk. There would be a few steps where I felt relieved that I was walking on gravelly wet pavement. Then stomping my boots through a puddle. Until suddenly I had to catch myself, because once again I was slipping on ice. Over, and over, and over again.
AND I had this song stuck in my head. Don’t worry, you’re not about to get an ear worm. It’s a song I wrote, and mostly no one has heard it yet, so you’re safe.
It’s a breakup song (the failed relationship, not the season). It was a folk song for about five minutes, but that was clearly too pathetic and sad, so then it became a country song, complete with dog, pickup truck, and drinking.
I’m not generally a songwriter, and this was surprisingly fun to write. Maybe even healing?
But tonight I was just tired of the whole thing.
Back to Pema Chodron …
“The aspiration of the warrior is to not close down ever — even when a personal relationship falters. That’s not to say there won’t be pain involved. The ending of a previously close relationship throws us right into the midst of fundamental uncertainty–and that definitely hurts. We’ve met our edge (p. 74, ibid).”
She goes on to talk about how we do our best by trying to hold that person in our heart, wishing for their deepest well-being, that they may be safe, be happy, live in peace.
It’s all true. The ground beneath my feet has been uncertain for months now. It’ll probably continue to shift between ice and gravel and snow for a while. And sometimes I’ll feel irritable, sometimes fantastic, sometimes just tired.
Tonight, there’s a grilled cheese sandwich with my name on it. And the dog is happy … the ice didn’t keep him from prancing through the neighborhood. One step at a time.