Wednesday, April 29, 2015

You are here <-----

     I have been spending some time on my butt lately, aka meditating, and it's been good in that I've really started to understand this one thing - Life is what happens when you stop trying to be somewhere you are not.  You know how when you really want something, say that new car, house, job, vacation, stiff drink, girl, guy, divorce, it's all you can seem to focus on.  Sitting on that cushion and doing absolutely nothing sounds easy, but if you've ever tried it you know how difficult it can be. It's when we let go of the struggle to not be there, to allow ourselves to soften, to have compassion for our minds, that we begin to start living.

Day 3 after being burned, the blisters
were beginning to break.
     I remember well seventeen years ago, April 1997, when I was burned extremely bad after slipping backwards on a wet tile floor, dumping an entire pot of boiling water pasta all over myself.  I had 2nd degree burns on 40% of my body according to my doctors. The pain from burns is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I was on a morphine IV and was still in tears while having to scrub the dead skin off my body twice a day in the shower with one of those plastic brushes. The pain was so intense I needed Demoral shots on top of the morphine to handle those showers.  Relaxing enough to fall asleep at night was difficult. All I could do was feel pain. All the time. I'm still not sure how I managed to sleep, but I did. I guess when I finally stopped focusing on it, or on the desire to not be in the situation I was in, I was able to move past it and just stop. Just be.

     At the time I was at the height of my running career. I had finished well in the Boston Marathon the previous year, and was planning on a strong finish at Honolulu that December. Needless to say this burn episode put a big fat pause on my training. Full stop.  It's a whole other story, but I ended up recovering from the burns and managed to run a 2:42 PR in Honolulu that December, placing as top military runner. It truly is amazing, the capacity of the human body to handle pain, heal from that pain, and grow even stronger. The scar on my bicep is a reminder of that time, and although I don't often dwell on it, I guess it was my first tattoo, with a less than heroic story.

     Back to that whole thing I started this off with, that wanting to be, do, go, etc. something/place you're not. Yoga is a daily reminder of this to me. I get on my mat, and although the body is still in a pose (mostly) the mind often wanders. It's the same, and even more magnified while sitting on a mediation cushion. I read once that meditating is like being locked in the closet with a maniac. Humorous indeed, but it's up there on the list of one of the truest things I've read.  You may not practice yoga, but there are other things we all do to be present.  Many things in life require a great deal of concentration and focus. I guarantee if you've ever jumped out of a plane your mind wasn't thinking about what you had to buy at the grocery store later on.  Find your thing that helps you to be in that moment. 
     So here I am, living the dream so to speak, yet I often feel there is something lacking. Maybe it's just that I'm feeling guilty for enjoying life so fucking much. I mean, there are people out there suffering every day, and who the hell do I think I am, audaciously "having it good" and all?  But I'm here, which is the only place I can be, just like you're in the only place you can be. We begin each day as the person we are that day. We can do things to change that person, but for now, that's it. You can't be someone else. You're exactly the student, yogi, teacher, whatever, you are supposed to be, and that's perfect.  Yoga isn't about the poses, those are just the pretty parts. Yoga is about this - chitta vritti nirodhah - Stilling modifications of the mind. In other words, when we can be the observer of our lives without attaching to those feelings and urges to be in another place, or pose, or have X in our bank accounts, we can begin to live our lives. Life in this moment, right here, today, this minute.       

     You're reading this right now, not tomorrow. I'm guessing that even while reading this you may have had 100 other thoughts not related to this blog post. Hell, I had a 100 other thoughts and I wrote it. My advice is to quit beating yourself up about it. Quit trying to be the person you want to be five years from now. Trust me, when five years comes along you'll probably be much better than you could have possibly have imagined, so just stop worrying about it, quit thinking with your head, and start living with your heart. That brings me to another tattoo, that heart chakra on my forearm. It's a reminder that I've never gone wrong following my heart, and I intend to be the fool that keeps on doing that. It causes pain at times, but it's my pain, and I get to be the one to relax into it enough to fall asleep at night. Let go, live. 
Yes you will be, stop worrying about it.