This morning I woke up in my usual Monday morning funk. The 'to do' list began scrolling in my minds eye, before my eyes were even open. The dread and resistance to having to wake up, get out of bed, and start doing all those things felt like a heavy lead blanket holding me down.
My dog Wyatt, however, simply woke up - eyes open, tail wagging, tongue licking me into consciousness. He is total presence and joy. He does not have a 'to do' list, he does not limit his life with expectation, responsibilities or shoulds. He just is: happiness, love, joy.
I wish I was more like my dog.
The first hour of my day passed like many Monday mornings:
Wake up 14 year old son Tom
Say bad words under my breath when I enter the kitchen and see that the child who promised (s)he would load the dishwasher after I went to bed last night didn't actually do that.
Poke my head into Tom's room and wake him up again
Yell to Tom from the kitchen that he really, really must get up now
Start the car and defrost the windshield
Really yell at Tom now because he's going to be late yet again for school
Take Wyatt outside for a quick walk
Drive Tom to school.
Driving back home I think about the rest of the day - the things I want to do and the things I have to do. I never noticed before that there are two columns in my to do list. The things I'd like to do and the things I'd really like to avoid doing but should do. This is one of my lists of attachments and aversions. Mmmm...thank you God for that moment of clarity. Can I allow myself to see how I label things as good or bad; the things I want and the things I want to have go away? Can I see how the wanting is what keeps me stuck. I spent a week in December at a Sedona Method Retreat (www.sedona.com) where I learned how to let go of the underlying 'wants' that keep me from my true nature. So, why are they still here? Will I ever let go of all this stuff?
Sure, I tell myself, someday I'll let it all go. Someday, when I'm grown up, or at least when my kids are grown up, I'll become enlightened. After all, how can I become enlightened, be totally free of my limiting thoughts and beliefs when I have all these obstacles in my way. The 'if onlys' are my obstacles, my excuses. If only I had a better, more fulfilling job. If only I was financially independent. If only I wasn't a single parent with 2 teenagers and a twenty year old living at home. If only my house was clean. If only my house was clean and on the ocean. If only my house was clean and on the ocean and my sailboat was docked right outside. If only I was younger...or older. If only I was in the right relationship. If only I was not in a relationship. If only I found the right practice, right teacher, right tools to somehow make it all possible. If only I weighed 20 pounds less. If only I wasn't in the throes of a hot flash right now.
Wow, when I start listing them, and believe me, this is not a complete list, I am amazed at the creativity of my excuses. I laugh at them, but they do not go away. They sit there, ugly gargoyles that they are, arms folded, daring me to argue with them. "Go away" I say to them. "Make us" they retort. One or two of them are snearing. Another is making rude gestures. They are like sentinels standing between me and my mythical 'someday' when I'll become the peaceful, impeturbable and wise me that I know is in here somewhere.
One of the ways I have given these obstacles the power they have over me is by invoking them first thing in the morning as I re-enter the physical world. They are the shoulds and excuses, regrets and longings that I recite like a mantra as I wake. I have been on a spiritual journey for years, studying with learned teachers, reading all the great books and going away on retreats. I don't remember learning anywhere that starting my day with negative thoughts and emotions will bring me to enlightenment. What have I been doing? Have I been paying any attention at all?
So, I find myself here on this Monday a little disgusted with myself. Ok, more than a little. I like to think of myself as an overachiever when it comes to learning new information. There are lots of things that I 'know', but I realize that I'm not putting them into practice, or at least not enough, and not even believing some of them.
What if I believed everything I've learned from my masters and teachers, the ones seen and unseen? And what if every thought, word, and deed of my day reflected those beliefs? What if I believed Lama Surya Das when he said "It's easier than you think", or the Buddha who taught that enlightenment could happen at any moment, or Jesus who said "The Kingdom of Heaven is within."
I feel both excited and challenged by this thought. Why don't I do just that, why don't I simply believe and then act on my beliefs? Why don't I start doing this right now, today, an ordinary Monday in March. Doubt creeps in and I begin to make plans to postpone my possible enlightenment. Maybe I should start this on the Vernal Equinox which would be much more auspicious. Maybe I should wait until I come back from the next retreat. Perhaps I shouldn't even try this. It's foolish and so am I.
My dog is staring at me. He places a paw on my knee. He licks my hand. He invites me to wake up now. And could I please take him for a walk?