What would you do if someone handed you eight hours, whatever you’d packed in your bag, and a small, well defined space to be in?
Watching my fellow train travelers, some of us become delighted (hmmm….can I do yoga here? Look, an outlet and time to write!). Some of us become distracted (how many phone calls can I make, texts can I send, or attempts can I make to connect to a mysterious wireless network?). Some of us become irresolutely malcontent (there was “poor Aunt Peggy’s” niece who seemed convinced that Amtrak was playing out a personal vendetta through the series of engine malfunctions delaying arrival.)
Travel in general, and travel by train, leaves no room to imagine that I am in control of arrival, speed, or conditions. It reminds me to surrender early and often. And it gives me time to write.
If cross country train travel is the only time I write, I might need to start traveling more. Certainly, as I find myself on an east bound train currently almost half a day late, there is ample time to think, space to write, and a lot of humanness to observe. A friend reminds me that the unconscious life is no easier than the engagement required of the spiritual life of evolving freedom. In that there is a point where the choice is irrevocable.
I’ve chosen and am chosen.
Certainly this last span of time hasn’t been easy. (A friend calls these times AFGO—Another Fucking Growing Opportunity; constant growth is productive and not necessarily comfortable, but I’ve written about that before.) Really, I’ve been so busy living, growing transforming, that there hasn’t been time to write. My ordination in March fired me to undertake a ministry that I didn’t fully comprehend, and so when nothing appeared as I thought it would (even though I wasn’t conscious that I had a set of pre-conceived notions), the dynamic tension between polarity of the inner landscape and the outer reality became too much. Or was that inner reality and outer landscape?
Two weeks in Santa Fe for healing, and a prayer: “Okay, Spirit, I heard you call. I came. And I can’t do what you ask alone. So, if there are others here—colleagues, playmates, friends—that I am blind to, open my eyes. If they aren’t here, could you send some really, really fast. And if they aren’t coming, could I go back to where my people are until others arrive or until I can lure folks to come back with me?”
As a beloved elder commented when she heard this prayer, “That’s being Real with God and shows you know that God is real.” Amen, sister. It’s all as real as it gets.
I returned back to PA to step back into the fire; a do or die move.
More to the point, things shifted. Especially once I realized that while I feared that undergoing the transformation that would heal my sense of disconnect because I thought it would in some way further alienate me and make it impossible to stay with the situation at hand (rather like an electron that become super charged and jumps a valence level), my greater fear was that I would resolve the duality and suddenly no longer have to struggle to stay. I’d be free to stay. I’d be free to go. In that kind freedom endless energy becomes available and it becomes possible to stay on even the most arduous course.
Beautifully frightening, scarily alive. It’s not always easy, but it does tend to be remarkably simple.
I began to realize that heart breaking grief, bone shaking anger, gut wrenching fear were not signs that something was wrong. Likewise, effortless joy, heart melting bliss, and soothing contentment were not necessarily signs that things were right. As right and wrong began to lose both their polarity and their meaning, my whole world opened up.
First, I stepped into some intensive work that was highly rewarding and called on every skill I’ve ever cultivated and used every experience, job, and training I’ve ever held. Then, I met some new people, discovered other yogis and healers (literally right around the corner). Moreover, some of the small, subtle tensions that come up when an adult daughter moves in with her adult mother came to a head, and mum and I stepped up to the plate. (It’s not over, but it’s started. Relationship is like that.)
Yesterday, sitting for seven hours on the hard brick yard of the Las Vegas, NM train station waiting for the train, I felt how, while there is often a bit more work involved in making an east bound trek, this is nothing personal. I’ve just spent a week in the Mountains, cooking, praying, meditating, eating, breathing, sleeping, sitting, walking. I’m reminded that just being is a creative act. And that all the need to do, to be busy, to use this time of waiting is somehow less interesting than breathing and being grateful for the moon rise.
I find that I’m neither looking forward to the blessed moment when I can unpack my bags and stop moving nor clinging to this luminal space of travel. In the mountains I noticed how constant my mind chatter is and how effectively this constant thinking keeps me “me”– small, tight, and “safe”. The unpredictable motion of the train makes being present easier and being with strangers lets me hear and unravel the stories I tell; there are so many fewer options, so little I can control, and it is so clear that worry and effort will be ineffective.
In the café car this morning, I found a bit of space and made it through my yoga practice. Every pose is a balance pose on a moving platform. When the attendant came down (just as I made a vigorous step back into Warrior II), he said, “Ooo-kay. Don’t kick me, right?” I promised, “I won’t kick you if you let me keep stretching.” Later, he shared his (brief, positive) experience with yoga and we talked about hip openers. Moving with grace.
I have gratitude that I can use this spaciousness of waiting and delay as a gift and not an irritation. I’ll have a full day in Chicago, money for food, and a bed for the night. (Amtrak rocks, by the way, in the way they deal with a less than ideal situation. I’m impressed.) Just to be in the spaciousness that allows for this, the level of nourishment and the clarity free from fatigue…such a blessings, a mitzvah.