I got a little sidetracked from Pema Chodren last week. It was good to return over the weekend during my morning practice. I'm trying something new, in an effort to let go of my attachment to completion and order. So many habits have formed in my life around these desires- I rush through much of my life in order to be done and check something else off my list. Books are just one example. It feels so good to finish; I love that sense of satisfaction when the chapter is read, the book is done, and I can take it off the "to read" pile and put it neatly in its place on the shelf. So I've begun to placing my bookmark at the end of a chapter, rather than the beginning, to encourage myself to sit with what I'm reading a bit longer.
This morning I found myself, still, at the end of chapter nine - Six Kinds of Loneliness.
The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing our DNA. We are undoing a pattern that is not just our pattern. It's the human pattern we project onto a world, a zillion possibilities of attaining resolution... We not only seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. We don't deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.
Not wandering in the world of desire is another way of describing cool loneliness... The word desire encompasses that addiction quality, the way we grab for something because we want to find a way to make things ok... Not wandering in the world of desire is about relating directly with how things are. Loneliness is not a problem. Loneliness is nothing to be solved.
Another aspect of cool loneliness is not seeking security from one's discursive thoughts... We don't seek the companionship of our own constant conversation with ourselves about how it is and how it isn't, whether it is or whether it isn't, whether it should be or whether it shouldn't, whether it can or whether it can't... We can gradually drop our ideals about who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be. We give it up and just look directly with compassion and humor at who we are.
I love this, especially the last part. I spend so much energy in my life analyzing what I think others' expectations of my life are. Stories within stories within stories until I'm exhausted and very far from a calm appreciation of who I am. I want things to be this way, to be that way, to be just a little bit different from how they are, how I am. I've missed a lot of my life while I run back and forth between what could have been and what should be. Maybe it's time to spend some time in the middle. Loneliness gets a bad rap, but it can be a very rich space, as the ancient Persian poet, Hafiz , well knew.