Friday, October 1, 2010

Zen in everday life

Portrait of a moment in time:

A young woman sits at her desk, buzzing with caffeine and nervous energy, eying her phone nervously. She is clearly trying not to focus on the phone: she searches the binder in front of her for information, enters it into her excel sheet, strives to work productively. But her eyes involuntarily wander back to the phone.

She picks it up, checks for voicemail. There is none. Of course there wouldn't be, she thinks to herself, it didn't ring. She puts it back down and mentally chastises herself.

The phone rings. She jumps, fumbling to answer it. Her light eyes instantly dull as she realizes it is not the call she's been waiting for. And so the day moves on... This young woman is me, of course. And this moment in time is my Friday.

I've studied the power of now. I've talked about living in the moment. I've even studied buddhism at a monastery when I was younger: learning to meditate, trying to imagine life outside of the realm I know it in. During calm periods of life I've actually lived in the moment- for a moment or so. I've always thought, in that way that someone who isn't a buddhist monk might think, that if I spent all day everyday mediating and studying the words of those much more enlightened than me, and had nothing more to distract from these practices than sunlight, wind and the occasional chirping of a grasshopper that I might be capable of reaching satori, too. (Maybe even nirvana, eventually.)

But I don't. My life is real. I have nothing but attachments to the physical world. Every second of everyday I am constantly pulled into it, like gravity. Sure, you can jump- but you always come back down to earth. It makes sense that monks must seek such a simple existence in order to achieve enlightenment: there's just too much noise otherwise.

So I think that hoping for a higher way of living that would somehow allow me to walk the path of enlightenment while still living in the real world is just too tall of an order. At least for me.

No, I think the key that I should seek is not to understand the true nature of existence. I think what I should seek, and what I might actually have a shot at, is being at peace with NOT KNOWING.

Not knowing when or if I will get what I want, what my life will look like in the future, how I will handle the challenges I face, or what the hell it all means. To know, in an enlightened way, that I DON'T know and to be ok with that? Now that's enlightenment worth seeking.