The following words came spilling out of my head recently as I was thinking about re-connecting with a dear one in my life. It all started with: “there are a lot of things I don’t know” —
There are a lot of things that I “don’t know”:
Is anyone but me ever going to read my book?
Will my daughter finally find her own path and freedom from sadness?
Why do we have a maniac running for president in this country?
How can I be comfortable with the profound ignorance and greed in our world?
Why don’t the hummingbirds ever come to my rooftop?
Why can’t I be a good baseball fan?
When is my ankle going to stop hurting?
Why don’t I remember my dreams?
How much longer will I have the loving companionship of Jackson the cat?
Will I ever find the peace that Buddhism promises?
Why do I hate the Blue Angels so?
How is it that loving someone doesn’t guarantee being loved?
There are so many other questions that I don’t have answers for, and during these darker days of fall I hear them echo in my head:
Will I die alone?
Will I ever learn another Goldberg Variation?
Will my book ever be published?
When will I make peace with my body?
Will I ever re-read Anna Karenina?
Will I get to Tibet?
Will I ever fall in love again?
What about craving?
Will I ever sit another month in silence?
Will I ever taste perfect porcini mushrooms again in Italy?
Once you accept the unanswerable nature of our journey through life, you can actually move forward more freely and thoughtfully, because you’re not tripping over the questions you think you should answer. “Don’t know mind” is one of the great gifts of Buddhism, I think, and after all the decades of striving to figure things out I am SO grateful to simply say, “I don’t know.” And it’s o.k. Because life goes on.
People are born, grow up, fall in love, get sick, and ultimately die. Politicians lust after power, get elected to office, then lose their way, or lose their ideals, and then they are gone. Animals come into our world to teach us and offer us beauty, and they too grow, get sick and die. Ideas are born into our consciousness, worked on in solitary, and then come together as a painting, a book, a sonata … they are gazed at, read, and listened to … and then, like everything else, it all goes quiet, because we are impermanent.
I’m off to my little house by the beach to gaze at the ocean during these gray and stormy days, and marvel at its mutability, at our ever changing, watery nature. Alive for now – just this moment.