Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Year of Doing Nothing (post 2.02)

In her book, Start Where you Are, Pema Chodron says that real life problems, even interruptions, "are the material for waking up".  In Chapter 12. "Empty Boat", she states:  "interruptions themselves awaken us, the experience of both absolute and relative bohichitta, to the open, spacious quality of our minds and the warmth of our hearts."

Today was another snow day, even though we didn't have much snow.  My son was home.  My partner was working from home.  Somehow I missed the call of the snow plow operator the day before and  my vehicle was one of several that was plowed around, snowed under, and subsequently sealed by freezing rain.  I went out cheerfully and began to dig out my car around 3 pm.   After all, when you are doing nothing, you may as well be cheerful about it.  (...and I must acknowledge, shoveling my car out at 3 pm. was a bit more pleasant than shoveling it out at 8:00 pm and trudging off to work).

My neighbor was coming home and was about to park his car next to mine when he realized what I was doing.  He pulled out his shovel and began to help me dig out.  My neighbor, who barely speaks English, chatting about how crazy this winter has been, helping me, cheerfully helping me, dig out my car.  "No where to put it", he says, and then he remarks on how wonderful it is that my windshield wipers can be positioned manually up, as his car can't do that.  Amazing technological advances to be grateful for.   Amazing neighbor to be grateful for.

I think, sometimes. this is the point of practice.  To learn how to be present in the midst of each and every moment, as much as possible, even, or perhaps especially, in those moments which seem to be inconvenient interruptions, drink in the full experience of life, in all it's complexity and unpredictability, and remain cheerful, light-hearted.   Here, as Pema Chodron says,  is  "the open, spacious quality of our minds and the warmth of our hearts."   This is the gift.