I see a month ahead with no scheduled events outside of online courses and Zoom meetings. I am all-in on the random texts, inspirational e-mails, enthusiastic FaceTime with Eileen and Charlie, the House Party app with the kids, the informative videos, and the COVID-19 global map updates. I am following the CDC guidelines. I’m doing what I’ve been asked to do.
Yesterday, I did a very stupid thing. I weighed myself. I stepped off the scale and stepped back on – convinced that it was off from lack of use. Like my laptop, I figured it needed rebooting.
Then I did what I usually do when faced with a problem. I attacked it systematically with my if – then approach. I printed a calendar page of April and plotted how I would establish better habits by May 1st. I got this, I thought. Check marks represent glasses of water – a minimum of 8 per day. M stands for meditation, R for running, W for walking, and the dreaded number in the top left corner is my weight. Then I set goals for every three days leading up to a loss of 7 pounds by the end of the month. Feeling quite smug, I looked at my system and thought, There. Skinny by May 1st. Easy.
The motivation worked until my butt hit the couch at 7:00pm. Then the cookies called me from the freezer. They actually shouted at me by name, and I caved.
I start again this morning. That’s what we do. We get up and start again. The weight loss doesn’t matter. I know that. And I know the desire for discipline is part of my quest for control during uncertain times. But that’s just the point. This uncertainty is now, and that is where I am going – I am right here, this morning, writing this post.
The chocolate chips are a numbing tool. Ice cream and wine also work. I’ve learned over the last 37 years that running also does the trick. If I get out there and move, I feel better. My roommate from college Kathy told me that emotions need motion. Maybe that’s why I’m a runner. I’m loaded with feelings.
In his contemplative meditation post this morning, Richard Rhor wrote that “if we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some way.”
Transform pain into what? I think the answer is compassion for self and others. Forgiveness, empathy, the joy of understanding, unconditional love. I have this longing (i.e. compulsion) to create a synopsis of the writings of Richard Rhor, Thomas Merton, Mark Nepo, Anthony de Mello, St. Ignatius, holy scripture, . . . and tie it up in a bow and say, There. Now I have it all figured out. I’m good. The rationale is similar to my April calendar – it entails a concrete schedule. With this plan, I will be all set. I will be enlightened.
It doesn’t work that way. Transformation is not something we can plot. I look at the books on my shelves, and I think if I can just absorb all the writing of these beautiful, profound authors, I will have arrived at a place of peace, self-acceptance, eternal love. Last week, Richard Rhor wrote about the power of being endarkened (vs. enlightened) as a lens to the Light. This muddle of my life offers me great opportunities to be where I am. To sit with it. That feels good.
The truth is that we are not arriving. We are here, now. And that is all we’ve got. Friends sent a text thread yesterday reminding me of the timeless words of St. Therese Lisieux:
We can always dance in the knowledge of knowing we are loved – right now exactly as we are.
With love from GrandmaNance – who loves to dance.