A sense of twilit pause permeates this chunk of time prior to the new year…it’s so tangible. Uncharacteristic surround sound stillness, that final rhythm that seems to get lost in the buzz. In a working culture known for comparatively stingy vacation allowance, un-busy feels welcome healthy. I know this is not true for everyone. God bless the service industry. But you can picture me fireside in pajamas, sipping hot mug of java, looking out at another clear cold day, wondering what this 24 hour episode holds.
Been afloat in different locales, liberally sprinkled with family love and friendship, very personal intervals of movement practice, long drawn out creative kitchen spells, breathing sky-earth-air, thought-provoking reads. I really have no idea what will happen today…and I like that. Since mid-December, almost everyday has been bathed in this sacred sensibility of not-knowing. I suppose retirement would smell like this. I wonder.
But I still have an ancient call to teach in the world and on way underground levels, it is being fed in ways I have learned to trust. There are no themes arising, no through lines becoming clear, no curriculums manifesting. One of the books I’m reading is by Martin Shaw A Branch from the Lightning Tree. Its subtitle—Ecstatic Myth and the Grace in Wildness—sums it up. I love this deep drop into fabled times where predictable work-a-day village life ceases at the risky forest edge and the mysterious tree gloom reveals “something sublime in the life/death/life movement of the seasons, to know that contained in you is the knowledge to pull the sword from the stone and to live well in deep woods in fierce winter.”
It is in darkness, cessation, curious wandering that life renews and reaffirms. It is here, in this mysterious underground that I feel myself in residence. A wandering soul I cannot separate out from my teaching self. What needs to come forth in January? In this moment I know very little, indeed less than ever. That there is nothing worth offering, that we all need to wander through that proverbial forest together and find our own swords. I barely remember what being clear feels like. Clarity seems like presumption. How in the world do I hold a village space AND invite students to wander in the forest? What to do with a mixed room populated with brand new village people needing basic initiation and elders entirely ready to move independently into the forest? Don’t ask me.
Rebecca Solnit says that taking a pessimistic view (or for that matter an optimistic one) implies that we are clear about outcome. Debbie Downer (last newsletter) is a pessimist. She knows for sure we are going to hell in a hand basket. Lucky for me, this depressed character decided to move into the back seat. Here in the dark forest, I feel hopeful. When we truly don’t know, anything is possible. I suppose this is the same place that doubt resides. But in this quiet moment, in this pervading peace, I choose hope. Happiness is clearly not a sustainable state. For me anyway. But sparkling moments of joy are everywhere if we choose to notice: out this window, across the street, silver wisps of chimney smoke are merging into sky and there are blushing rose flowers emerging from a cactus that has been living on my porch for more than forty years. My coffee is organic Bali Kintamani. Miracles abound.
Despite these forest wanderings, you can note the web page: there are many offerings on the horizon. No worries…we will wander and find our way together somehow.