Tuesday, November 28, 2006
This morning I took a walk down to the Hudson river at daybreak. At this time of year, the salt marsh at the mouth of the Sparkill creek is mobbed with huge flocks of migrating redwing blackbirds. There are so many of them the sound of the flock out in the marsh sounds like the roar of a stream rushing over rocks. This is the second day I've walked our dog Isabel down there as the sun rose, just to appreciate the impressions.
It was a serene beginning to what turned out to be a very hectic day. I was bombarded from every side. I work as an executive in a fast paced business, and as if that weren't enough, there were important personal issues to deal with as well. Business and personal life don't tend to wait for each other.
Time may well be "the universe's way of preventing things from happening all at once," but time didn't seem to be doing its job very well today.
The only thing I have to fall back on in a situation like this is the sense of my body. It's a constant companion and a reliable reminder that I am here. Even if my mind is unable to remember that- it's weak to begin with, and distracted by the relentless demands of corporate multitasking on top of that- my body knows something more. It's smart that way. Like the emotional part, it's very powerful and well equipped for the kind of work it has to do.
So at every opportunity as things hammered away from the external side I tried to remember to breathe and to invest in sensation of my body. It repaid my effort by working with me off and on all day long. With that kind of companionship, things didn't seem so bad, really!-- which is the catch phrase of what I call my Stupid Man's Zen. No matter what comes along, at some point during its development I try to say to myself:
"It's not so bad, really."
There may be times when it IS rather stupid to say that, of course. No tool is universal (except Love, and none of us seem to be very expert in its use.) However, on examination, most everything I think is really bad and take personal offense at isn't so bad if I examine it a bit. And at least if I tell myself it's not so bad, I give myself permission to try and confront whatever it is in a more positive way.
Throughout my life, a lot of my work has consisted of this: finding little tricks to help myself get over the negative bumps. For example, I remember how, when much younger, I used to lie in bed every morning after I woke up and give myself permission to blow off work that day. Eveery day I would do that, and every day, as soon as I had given myself permission to be a total flake, I got up and went to work.
It may sound stupid, but whatever works, works.
That's what the stupid man's zen is all about: just working.