#5: Breathe

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Hi Folks,

Are you remembering to take deep breaths? All we have is this breath right now. Take a deep breath. Let it go. Do this a few times and come into the present moment with me.

I heard this story I like where a Zen master would ask his students: What is wrong in this moment? In this moment I am always OK. That is amazing. All of my problems are in the past or in the future. In this present moment everything is fine. And the only thing to do is the next right thing. Not everything, but just this next right thing in front of me, which right now is typing this note.

I have been thinking a lot about how much I tend to whine about things. I hear a lot of whining from others as well. I get this real sense that things should be different then they are. But why do I feel so certain?

The whining implies that I know what is best. I know how things should be. But is this true? How could I possibly know? I am so limited. I don’t know very much. I am not God. I am not running the universe. So where does this idea that I know what is best come from? This question interests me.

One thing I have learned is that some of the worst things that have happened to me have opened unexpected doors and new opportunities. For example, I was a terrible high school teacher. I could not figure out how to manage a class of teenagers. It was a disaster. But through teaching high school, I found my way into college teaching, which has become the great professional joy of my life.

I also wanted to get a full time, tenure line position that would lead to becoming a professor. That did not happen either. Instead I teach part time at different schools. And while this is not the way it was “supposed to be,” it has proven to be really perfect for me. For example, when you are full time you are expected to serve on committees and other such chores. These duties require one to be plunged into politics, which I hate.

My life now consists of just teaching, which I love. I come in, teach, and leave. No bullshit, no politics. As a result, my mental health is much better. I never saw that coming. What I thought were things not working out, actually worked out perfectly.

I remember the first time I had my heart broken. It felt like the world was over. Later I realized the relationship would never had worked out and I met my wife. I have many examples like this and I imagine you do too.

So I have been working for years now on coming to a deeper acceptance of the way things are, trying to really let in that I cannot know for sure what is best for myself, let alone everyone else.

We live in a different place than a couple of months ago. Again, there is a sense that we should not have to go through this pandemic. But why not? Who knows what good will come from it?

This doesn’t mean I don’t try to do the normal things, the normal steps to make my life better in ways that seem logical and positive. But I realize that I don’t really know what is best and somehow that is OK. I try to do my best, but also be willing to change gears and go with the flow.

Are you breathing? Come into this present moment with me!

To Breathing!

Apophat



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