Avery and I talk about restaurants, Buddhism, skillful cursing, hopelessness, the smell of wood and the ways we resist our lives as they are right now.
When Things Fall Apart
I’ve read books written by hardcore Buddhists for distracted regular people like me, but this older one by Pema Chodron might be best for the person who is at the end of her rope, the Tibetan term “ye tang che” which means “totally exhausted.” Fed up with being fed up, or like they say in the twelve steps, sick and tired of being sick and tired.
We live in a world that has more distractions than ever, but where we are all, frequently and paradoxically, reminded to “be in the moment” and practice “mindfulness.” This modern tension means that a lot of us have turned our striving and trying-too-hard, waiting for tomorrow to save us, to the spiritual/holistic realm.
Pema reminds us that we are never going to get it all figured out or buttoned up—particularly our spiritual lives. In fact, the groundlessness--the feeling of being lost and hopeless--is actually the path to enlightenment, a secret trap door we are stomping all over the top of, demanding it be shown to us but unable to see it in our furious striving.
There is no arrival—and to strive for it, to believe in that sort of perfection “is a sort of death.” There is only just this flawed and perfect right now—even if it involves “tomato juice on the white suit,” Pema’s metaphor for the crap cocktail life sometimes serves us up.
The subtitle of When Things Fall Apart is Heart Advice for Difficult Times. And despite the fact that we live with unprecedented ease and technological advancement, something feels uniquely difficult about right now. Times are strange. The old answers have been blown to bits, leaving us grasping for a new identity, a different perspective. I found one in these pages.
The trick is remembering.