Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on December 23, 2014

Before I forget, "Season's Greetings" to all my Facebook friends. The Christmas holidays, especially that grim week between Christmas and New Year's, has always been an odd time for me. I am sure it comes from 40 years or so of running a business moment to moment, and then suddenly each year there is a week when chaos intervenes, mail slows, people vanish, and the finely tuned business-interface more or less shuts down. I apologize for feeling that way. Perhaps now that I am retired I can let all that go. Anyway, in this (for me) Limbo-like time, please allow me a little rambling.

Meanwhile, I have been thinking about how hard it is to get started in life and to find some self-confidence. I can remember times when I was all alone with myself, making an effort at, you know, trying to get a start. No one could see me and no one knew I was really trying except me, whoever I thought I was at the time. I didn't know myself. And it is reminiscent of the old question: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I'm sure I don't know the answer to that, but I sure felt unheard and unseen.

And I'm not by nature a philosopher; I fancy myself more of a phenomenologist, someone with some awareness of inner change and perhaps some practical insight. Anyway, back then it seemed that I was embarrassed to make any kind of fresh start, to make even some paltry effort or gesture in front of the mirror of myself, cynic that I was. Who was it that was embarrassed and who was aware that I was embarrassed? Did the cynic in me put out the fire of effort before it even got going? Sometimes my feeble efforts to make a new start amounted to, as the old saying goes, "just a fart in a windstorm."

As a boy scout I can remember trying to start a fire with flint and steel many years ago. It was hard to start those tiny fires. Although, like all of us, I knew I was at the center of my own universe, it was hard to sense that anybody was home. I kept thinking I should be somewhere else and that perhaps there (wherever "there" is) I might find or be the center. As it was, I couldn't feel that center, even though intellectually I knew I was always there and that when I moved, it moved with me.

It was much like one of those days in winter when the snow falls, but melts the moment it hits the ground. Nothing accumulates. Self-confidence is the same way, endlessly waiting for it to take hold and build.

Obviously, always looking elsewhere for a better place to make a nest or coveting someone's else's nest won't cut it. We have to begin where we are because, well, that's where we actually are. We have to get our hands in right there and work it. It reminds me of one of those astrophysical gravity maps (like they show for black-holes and other bodies), where a body makes an indentation or pocket in space by its very gravity. So it seems that way back then I didn't take myself seriously enough to be grave, to have any gravity. And we all know that gravity attracts. I saw nothing about myself that was very attractive.

We can't settle into our own life's pocket if we have no pocket. I learned in meditation training that I always rolled away from the pocket and out into distraction until, after many years, I reached some kind of critical mass and turning point, after which the tendency was to roll into the pocket and stay there. Musicians call the pocket the "groove," and staying in the groove is what it is all about. Meditation is the same.

But how do I tell that to a young (or older) person who is not yet serious enough (grounded) to have any gravity or pocket, much less know how to stay in it. This is why the Tibetan Buddhists say that of the "Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind Toward the Dharma," the most important one to keep in mind is "impermanence," the fact that death is but one breath away. It seems that only the threat of the grave (like smelling salts) will drive us to us accumulate enough specific gravity or "center" to form a pocket and stay in there. We have to live to do that.

I don't particularly want to be morbid and I know that most folks "really" don't like to be morbid at all or even think about it, yet you and I both know that death is hanging out there waiting for its time to come in. The Tibetan Buddhists say that it is important not to shut out such thoughts because we need them to sober up enough to get serious. It seems that whoever said we all go around acting like we are going to live forever was on to something.

So, our specific sense of gravity perhaps depends on popping enough balloons to bring us down to earth so that we can live, experience, and eventually "know" something about what we are talking about. The queue at the near edge of experience must be very long, is my guess, folks afraid to take the plunge or even stick their big toes into the water. The Buddhist's "Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind to the Dharma" are said to galvanize us into experiencing existence enough to at least take a compass reading so we can know which way we are going.

I could drone on, but you get my drift. We can't seek forever and still find anything. Like those little dandelion seeds floating in the wind, we each have to eventually come to earth, take root, and dig in. And my point is that we won't be doing that somewhere else than "here" and at any other time than "now." And you will have to do it while you watch yourself in your own mirror, so don't be shy. It is an "all out" kind of thing. If you don't do with 100% heart, nothing much will happen.