In this case the waves are on land. I’m on the Belt Parkway to JFK, before 7 am and already it’s bumper to bumper. A stream of tail lights weaves its way between the majestic maples and oaks that persist alongside all of the people here. Their leaves scream their brilliant swan song as the sun rises behind me. It’s yellow and gold, crimson, and tangerine orange in the trees. It’s peaches and pinks in the sky. It’s autumn.
I’m heading west. Round and around I go… leaving home, going home.
Seasons, cycles, patterns repeating… these are the waves in the ocean of life. We’ve all turned away and have been knocked over. Perhaps you’ve learned to watch, jump over, dive under or ride on top of them. Maybe you have felt peace, joy, terror, doubt, or exhilaration in the presence of their power, our power. These waves are consistent and unpredictable.
I’ve been in the midst of a lot of movement these past few weeks… how about you? What have you learned about this season, this phase of life, this time of the month, this person who you are? Do you face the waves or turn away from them? Do you jump over or dive under them?
Here’s some of my story as an example of how this reflection can go: My birthday and the start of the school year (around which so many years of my life and the lives of so many close to me still revolve) are in the fall… it feels like a beginning. I feel ready to jump or dive as I face these waves… I don’t always get the timing right but it’s mostly fun. I love the colors, the smells, the temperature, the holidays and rituals… really everything about fall. So much so that I often travel outside of Alaska at this time of year (our fall is VERY short) to find more of it somewhere else. I was born under a new moon and am of the age when a monthly cycle is still moved by hormones responsible for the survival of the species, whether I like it or not. (These cycles also began again during this trip.) I am in a phase of life where I am a responsible party. I am sandwiched between generations more vulnerable than mine. For as long as I can remember, I’ve also been a responsible party though… that might be a “me” thing, exacerbated by a phase of life thing. It’s also, no doubt, a birth order and gender “thing,” being of this culture as I am.
So there I was “in” traffic. Or, more precisely, there I was, “as” traffic, with some doubt, some terror, some peace, some joy. I noticed I was breathing and invited more in… I switched gears to “slow and steady” and metta arose in my mind.
I wished for myself and all beings that we be safe and protected from harm, that we be delighted and content, that we be resilient and healthy, and that we may be free. I wished it especially for: the person in the car behind me (who I’d been imagining might hit me like on the Seward Highway last summer), and for the person in front of me, whom I was afraid I’d hit! I wished it for my sister who I was leaving, again, on Long Island, with tears in her eyes and three precious (and rascally) little beings to get to school, and for my dad, alone in the house that was once SO full. I wished it for all of you, in the midst of all that you are, and for all of your fellow drivers and family members.
Then, I arrived at the airport, weaved my way through the security checkpoints, and all of the people until I found a quiet place. There I stood firmly on two feet, stretched my arms up overhead, leaned over and touched the ground and then stood upright again. There, peace.
It is with great pleasure that I invite you to return to practice in person with me next month in Anchorage. The holidays, the new year, this next breath… all of these waves are coming. Practice receptivity, readiness, and peaceful presence… future you (and all of your fellow drivers and family members) will thank you profusely!
Deeper dives are always available for us once we’ve gotten acclimated. Next up on-line is our Winter Course (free for Members) and 200 hour Teacher Training (rolling admission.) Our next big retreat is in Taos, New Mexico on the other side of the Equinox. Have you been? I’ve heard that it’s a most magical place and I can’t wait to explore!
With heartfelt gratitude, hope, and love,
Margi and the whole amazing YMH team