I have been working, working, working and murmuring "I am out of balance, I am out of balance." When asked by my friends and family why I have suddenly taken on so many new jobs and responsibilities, I reply "I started taking iron pills."
Upon reflection, there seems to be more to the story than this: I think I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could be well again and productive and whole. Perhaps if I work more, I will worry less about the physical vulnerabilities that are now part of the landscape. Working to outrun fear, seems like the American way.
Still, I have some spiritual ninja warriors who help guide me back when I have jumped the tracks. First are my children:
"Mom, why are you working on the week-end? We miss you."
"Mom, those people don't need you more than us."
Sometimes the needs of others seem more exotic than the needs of those we see day in and day out. No more working on the week-end. Thank you ninja wee ones.
Then came a dear friend. We hadn't talked in awhile and ran into each other at a holiday party. She was genuinely distressed that we had been out of contact. I explained my predicament of working all the time but it sounded like an excuse, even as I was saying the words. I don't want to be the person who puts work, however honorable, over relationships. Thank you ninja friend.
Then came the lama.
Lama Migmar is the chaplain at Harvard University and I had the great honor of hearing a dharma talk he gave on Sunday, entitled "Calm Abiding." Oh the twisting and turning it takes to carve out 3 hours during the holiday season to hear a lama pass on his wisdom on maintaining a calm spirit. Oh the spiritual reality of sitting on the mat to quiet your mind when you have been working, working, working. Brutal but so necessary. He spoke of many things, and the group meditated together. He told a parable of a woman who lost a needle and many neighbors helped her look for it outside. Finally, one asked her where she had last seen it, and she responded with "inside my house." When asked why she joined the search outside, she responded with "you were all outside looking, so I thought I would join you."
We are a culture that looks outside for what we have lost. However blessed I have been in the last year, and I am so very grateful to be here, I have lost something. I need to head inside now.
I may struggle with my monkey mind for many lifetimes but I surely hope this gets through: Always, always hang with the lamas.
Namaste my patient friends:)