I have been having so. much. FUN this summer. Lots of Bikram Yoga! Lots of restorative yoga! Naps! Good food! Catching up! With every sun, sweat, family, and friend-filled moment, though, comes some pretty intense reflection. I think that's the nature of dates in general, right? They remind us of our limited time on this blessed planet and invite us to think about whether we're living our lives the best way we can. This series of anniversaries have been no exception. I don't think one can step into the next decade without asking, "Did I do enough with those years? Am I really on my right path?"
One of the reflective activities I've been devoting my time to this summer is reading. I have five books in my bed right now, and I'm actually making pretty good headway in all of them. One of them is In the Buddha's Words, a collection of his teachings. It's dense and reminds me of reading the Bible, which, no offense, is not that exciting, so I view my time spent reading it as devotional practice. In a comforting and oft-quoted passages I reread earlier this week, the Buddha is at the end of his life. He tells his devoted but confused disciple "be a lamp unto yourself."
The instruction invites us all to consider what is true for us. As helpful as religious instruction can be, and as devoted we may be to our wise teachers, our belief system has to resonate with what we already know to be true. At best, religion is like a compass. It simply points us in a helpful direction. But whether we have the energy to get ourselves on the path, whether the destination even seems like it would be a cool place to go to... well... that part has to come from inside.We ultimately have to feel the destination is worthwhile and the path the right one, or else we'll get tired, bored, and call a taxi to take us back.
Of course, the trick is that it can take a lifetime(s) to discover what it is we know to be true and to set upon the path we deem right for ourselves. I feel like a newborn baby when I try to think with this in mind, and at the same time feel blocked by mistakes that I already seem to make over and over again. (How is it possible to feel too young and too old simultaneously?)
I have, however, learned or become convinced of the importance of the following things. These are *some* of the truths that comprise my own path, the lamp I will look to when it seems like it's all pretty dark out there.
- I really, really love swimming in the ocean.
- I am as worthy of my own love.
- Everyone is worthy of my love.
- Travel is hard, but damn, is it worth it.
- I love air conditioning.
- I love heating.
- I am terrible at sleeping, but when I do, it's worth the effort it takes to get there.
- I would love to be a "real" vegetarian, but sea creatures taste really, really good.
- I need a lot of alone time.
- I am always so glad I gave up the alone time to be with others.
- It's OK to lose yourself in a book or in watching wind move plants.
- It helps to be still.
- Without yoga, I would not be the person I am today, but my hamstrings will probably never become more flexible than they are right now. There will be no forehead to toes in this lifetime.