I'm not a racist nor a racer — what am I doing in the human race? Where are we going? Is that where I want to go? How fast would a person need to go to win the race? What would a person win if they won?
I don't care about winning?
What if... I never did care about winning?
What if... the race isn't about winning anyway and racing is the entirely wrong thing to be doing?
What if... I'm just not built for that kind of thing any more — and maybe never was?
What if... at 78 I'm finally feeling ready for something else? Not racing. Not even hurrying. Not pressuring myself to get things done.
What if... I just sit in the sun, in the rain, watching the birds fly, watching the madly busy squirrels, watching the raccoon who is watching me back?
What if... I don't know where I'm going and don't care?
What if... I have this list of things I want to do, want to complete, even feel that I need to do and I Just Don't Do Them?
Some weeks ago, I was thinking about being earthed, grounded or just floating somewhere between earth and the heavens, on the balancing point between trying and not trying — like a surfer on a wave. And I recognized that this would be such a wonderful relief to be only as earthed as I needed to be, only as connected to higher self as I needed to be at any given moment. No more. No less. Completely at ease.
I remember that some years ago, I "invented" an exercise somewhat like meditation, somewhat like a formal relaxation exercise, but not really quite either one. I called it "floating" and you just laid there letting go. If you realized you were thinking, you let the thought go. If you realized a part of your body was tensing, you let the tension go. It was wonderful! I don't remember why I stopped doing it, but I'm going to begin again. It led to the most peaceful sleep I've had — one that you just floated into and peacefully drifted around.
What if there is another kind of relaxed balance I need to find? Something between working and playing — or no! Perhaps... a way of working that is playing. No, that doesn't sound quite right. Perhaps a way of just being.
SallyCat just hopped up beside me and put her paw on my right arm, as if to stop my typing. I stopped. She stood there for a full three minutes, as still as a statue, gazing at the computer screen. Just looking. I held still too, watching her. Then she gave me one of those inscrutable cat looks and jumped back down. I'm not even going to try to guess what that was about. But this marks the place where that happened.
Many years ago Dr. Jean Houston did a workshop in London that was wonderfully experiential. Among many other things, we did an exercise that was very powerful. We were given handfuls of small slips of paper and told to write down who we were, one thing about ourselves on each piece of paper. It could be anything. Labels. I am... woman, mother, author, teacher, strong, weak, tired, et cetera. We all scribbled away industriously. Then came the hard part.
We divided into groups of three. Two sat on the floor while one stood up. Standing there, we had to go through all of our bits of papers and read each one aloud. And then, after reading one, we had to say, "I am not this." and drop the paper. Not put it down, not throw it away — just drop it, just let it go. Some of them were easy; it was a relief to let go of those. Others were hard. Sometimes one of us would look at a paper and put it on the bottom of the stack in our hands. It was too soon, too hard to let go.
But in the end, we had to let go of them all.
Each one was a relief or it was hell. There didn't seem to be much space between the two.
Next, we meditated on "Who am I? What am I?" and when something rose up in our minds, we consciously let that one identity fragment go. Poof. Gone. Breathing in, breathing out, arising, falling like a wave, like the deep tides running in and out. After a while, I felt empty — but not in a good way, not at peace. Then I realized that, in this emptiness, there was still a small something scurrying around, looking for something to be, something to do. When I tried to let it go, it looked back at me, hands on hips, lips compressed, toes gripping the ground, and even in its defiance, looking around for something to do, something to be. I laughed because it was so small and yet so defiant — 0bviously, it couldn't be powerful. I was wrong.
Back then I tried to "let go" of it from many angles in multiple ways, but none of what I knew seemed to be the way to deal with it. Then I forgot about it for all of these years until just now. It's still there. I don't think I want it to be there. This is what keeps my to-do list filling up faster than I can empty it. It is always trying to justify my existence. So.
Now, all of this doesn't stop me from having moments of pure stillness, moments of bliss, moments of healing. It does stop me from being there all the time. (Is that what the human race is all about — achieving a permanent state of pure bliss? Somehow, I doubt that... but what if it is?)
And, you know, it isn't that I want to stop "doing" — it's just that I feel a need to do it at a pace that is not harmful to my health, not always pressing my nose to the proverbial grindstone, not standing on the edge of a cliff in a strong wind, my wings flapping while I try frantically to maintain traction on the ground.
This is a test. Everything is a dratted test. Not only are we in the human race, but we're being tested? Is that fair? Did anyone promise that O Universe was going to be fair? Now I'm wondering if we were promised anything at all?
Is that what it means to be human? To always be trying, to always be testing ourselves? Is that what the whole race is about? If it is, I definitely want to resign.
As you can see, I've got myself all tangled up here. I need to learn more, find different ways of dealing with that persistent part of me. Listen to that! "I need to!" Perhaps not needing is what this is all about. The answer is probably something about love and trusting the process — most things are.
I remember many years ago teaching a class. At the lunch break, I went out to look for something I could eat quickly, but found the main street blocked off and people not being allowed to cross. As I stood there trying to figure out what to do, I realized that something was coming, so I stood there watching. Soon, people started running by. The first one was an ordinary man, just relaxed but running. He didn't look like he was working at it — just taking it easy, smiling at people in the crowd. But he was first. Closely behind him were several men, who were all seriously puffing and struggling, working hard with their whole bodies. But the first man was just cruising along, his legs doing all of the work and the rest of him just along for the ride.
There was a bit of a gap behind them, and then came many people, also working hard and looking determined. There were dozens of them, all running in a crowd. They were followed by another gap and then the stragglers, one by one, working the hardest of all and looking defeated. The only one in that whole mass of people who appeared to be relaxed and enjoying himself was the man who was first. By now it was time for me to get back to the class, without lunch.
Later in the group, we talked about this — about how the most relaxed person had been first, how everyone else was struggling so much, straining every bit of themselves, working so hard, being so tense. We thought about how tensing up might not make us work more effectively, how tightening up perhaps didn't make the healing energy we were trying to channel go faster or be powerful. We discussed the possibility that maybe being at ease might allow it to flow more strongly, like a broad smooth river rather than a narrow, tight channel.
During the next practice exercise in healing, every once in a while, I gently reminded them all, healers and subjects, to let go. We found it was astonishing how much trying and tensing everyone was doing — and how it appeared to not only be useless but to actually slow the energy flow. And when we finished the exercise, everyone looked better and had an unconscious small smile.
How far does it have to go, this "letting go" business, for us to be free? How far do you have to strip down to find out who you really are?
Or is it like Sir Terry Pratchett wrote about the Disk World, and it's turtles all the way down?
Copyright ©2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.