This Is What We Are Trying To Do

InAcchord a capella, 2009

InAcchord a capella, 2009

22 November 2013
6:43 pm

T. —

My body is in this habit now. I was awake for most of the night because I had to get up at 2am to order a bag online. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is a special bag. Only 10 of them were being put up for sale today, and were expected to sell out promptly. When I woke up this morning, the bags were still there, and I could have just gotten it at a more normal hour of the day. Sarah’s flight was delayed, so suddenly my day freed up to just allow me to have a lazy day of finishing some things, looking at things, and generally being quite exhausted.

I didn’t mean to write in the evening. I was ready to write to you this morning, but I think that’s just the pattern my body has adopted. I’ll honestly stop qualifying it or apologizing for it now. Clearly, November is just that kind of month for us. Flexible, and full of holes and building up. I’ll just allow it to be what it is.

Ways other people could make my life easier:

  • Give me more singing. Let me sing more. Bring me to the music. I know the picture for this letter isn’t that clear, but it was a still shot of a video from my college a capella group, when I sang “Fix You” by Coldplay. It was one of the happiest moments of my musical life, which you can see painted all over my face.
  • Books. More books. Share books. Take books. Talk about books. Bring me to the books. Show me the books.
  • Know me. Try to know me. Like to know me? Engage me, and I will be engaged, and I will engage right back. Just be here, and stay, and we can build something great.
  • Just tell me what to do. This is more for my loan company, for my bank, for all the bureaucracy. Just tell me what you want, instead of telling me all the ways I’ve done it wrong.

Ways I could make other people’s lives easier:

  • Be patient, be kind, be present.
  • Love everyone as if they were my own parent, as if they were my child, or my brother (courtesy of Garchen Rinpoche).
  • I am here. I am present, I am willing to help. I will treat your work as important, if not more, than my own, and I will help you to fulfil it.
  • I really want to teach.
  • In the meantime, I am a support.

Ways I could make my own life easier:

  • Ask for what I need.
  • Acknowledge the feelings I am experiencing, and know that I am not my pain. I am not my jealousy, nor my frustration, nor my anger. I am something else entirely.
  • I’ve started trying to listen better to my body, to what it wants, and to when I am neglecting it too far. More listening, more gentleness, but at the same time, more stretching of limits. More pushing myself to do what I know I can accomplish but have never asked of myself yet.
  • Do justice to my work. Invest. Show up.
  • Let it go. I love this parable: “The true spirit of Buddhism was expressed by Buddha’s directions to accept nothing, to find out for oneself, to treat his teaching as a boat needed to cross a river: When finished, leave the boat behind.” – from Why I Am a Buddhist by Anthony Billings.

Remember this:

What a weird impulse writing is in the first place — to make something out of memory and observation, out of emotion and thought, utterance and silence, the stated and the implied. Out of nothing, as a woman once said to me at a cocktail party. Yes, I thought to myself immodestly — just as God created the world. We try to say exactly what we mean, to put the exact word in the exact place — and then we take it out to the mailbox and put up the red flag.

This is what we are trying to do at our house: simplify, appreciate, stay close, be kind, tell the truth, work as we are able, rest. We’re keeping to ourselves, reading out loud, going to bed early.

We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect characters to match. Our imperfections should not keep us from dreaming of better things, or even from trying, within our limits, to be better stewards of the soil, and more ardent strivers after beauty and a responsible serenity.

– from A Hundred White Daffodils by Jane Kenyon

Good morning, and good night,


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