Friday, October 24, 2014

Pema Chodron

I've been ambivalent about finding a Teacher. Possibly this is because my experience of being a student has sucked.  I was a real dum-dum.  I had potential they said, but I didn't get the memo, I stared out of windows at the birds wondering what it would be like to saddle one up with an acorn cap and fly to a land where there were dragons.

I was halfway into my usual sustained and plodding mediocrity in my sophomore year of college when I took a marine bio class and, as Gru says in Despicable Me,  LIGHTBULB.   This school thing involved hip waders and algae samples!?! And microscopes? Lord!

I knocked myself out to collect and correctly identify intertidal snails like a person who has just learned learning is exhilarating. I was outlandishly good.

I rode that high into my 30s; I had plans in my imagination to do something big-time at oh, say, maybe, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or -- why not  -- Scripps.  I had t-shirts from every major marine biological lab. And then...

Nosedive. Crash landing. Chronic illness. All the plans poof.

For the last few years, I have been sitting like a castaway in the salty remnants of my clothes on this crusty island called What The Fuck? Like Job, picking my scabs, in complete bewilderment, mirror-signaling to the rescue planes to no avail and nightly leaping in a dance of frustration around a giant bonfire on the beach.

So yesterday I figured -- screw you rescue planes -- I'll listen to a podcast of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron's. This little wizened white woman, telling me there is nothing to rely on, to "abandon hope." She was funny about it, too. LIGHTBULB.

For the first time in 20 years I have a teacher. I'm putting myself under the microscope. My thinking that is; my body has already been under X-rays and in MRI tubes enough for a lifetime. What I'm in the process of examining is my thinking that everything must be a certain way, that I must be healthy and my vertebrae undeformed, and my face unlined, and my house uncluttered, and my pain completely dissolved for me to be happy and to learn anything new.


  1. I remember the time of day when I read this bit of a quote from Pema on the internet: why make such a big deal?

    And some time later, a Buddhist friend said, just stay with it.

    Simple and at the time, simply impossible. But now, being a sort of chronic illness veteran, I find this is the only thing at times that stills my panicky heart.
    Don't make such a big deal and stay with it.

  2. I'm going to put that on a t-shirt. THANK YOU.

  3. Reminds me of this ... It's kind of just our choice whether we move forward or not, right?