I’m telling myself. The phrase seems to suggest something like a resolution, an aspiration, a mantra, as if talk was a sort of incantation. And it is. Words have that kind of power. But I often get lost in a loop of expectations and disappointments when I try to take command of even my own everyday experience.
I am trying to practice more the untelling myself of everything I think I ‘ve known. It is a great privilege to retire from the whirligig of the workaday world; to slow down, to rest, to reflect, to reimagine the self, and to reinvest into those things I’ve forgotten I loved.
And even, to stop telling myself what it is that I loved, that those things should be my passion even now too. But we change in every moment, and over the years, who is this person in the now in respect to all those fallen leaves that were as inscribed leaves, attempting to label, attempting to get a handle, attempting to find something, anything, that was affirmed and fixed.
Best to be done with subtlety: don’t look, don’t tell — moving away from all these attempts to fashion a story about myself that pertains to any other part of my story. There are many. They fold into each other, even as if chapters in a book. From my linear perspective, one chapter ends, many of them abruptly, and a new chapter had to begin. From there, so often, so much energy was put into explaining how this chapter came from the previous chapter, and how it relates to a chapter four stories before. What if, I think in almost horror, if I am actually only an anthology of completely unrelated short stories. I would have to read my life again to give it proper care as to what it was and is to me — in this particular envelope of story that I live in now.
I feel like I am starting to do that. That each part of my life can be unraveled as a leaf can be taken from the pile in fall and given appreciation in and of itself. I have a few leaves on my home altar right now: fall leaves, mostly beech, perfect little almond shaped boats, veined, somehow living even though dead. Camus say fall is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.
Beyond that, is there any necessary story to tell about any page or leaf within the context of the life of gifts that have been offered, other than the path to see the gifts better. That is the path I seek. That is, in moments where I dwell with a truth I can only give to myself, and even then, only momentarily. More than enough because moment follows moments, as sun flirts with cloud, and each release a kind of light and shadow that has no judgement other than what I put upon it. This life so faulted, so perfect, so uncontainable.
I sought perfect for a long time, to be a perfect, almost disembodied kind of spiritual being. Yes, for a short time I was one of those that thought a human being could live only upon sunlight. No eating or drinking necessary. Even now, I grieve the loss of the seed pit within that perspective. It had the best intentions.
Pema Chodron says it takes us a long time to see our mind freely, that is to free our minds a bit, free mostly of a deadening duality. A duality cultivated only because we have been invested in duality for such a long time: before our birth, before our parents, birth and so on down the line. If I could free anyone, I would like to think I would liberate the ancestors first; after all, they went through the desert, so many of them, without even a glimpse of the promised land.
But that is where I’m at too; I keep thinking there is a promised land beyond these moments with the leaves. I think that there is. That “more” abides within discrete jewel like moments where keen devotion to the pile of leaves, gives a present and fuller reverence. I can be companion to as many life leaves as I can, one at a time. I don’t even have to select; they blow right into my face, and then I need only guide them, gently, into my cupped hands, and look at what I have been offered, freely, simply, by the death of a season.