Sunday, October 28, 2012

There's a storm a-comin

Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Photo and Video.
In New Jersey, we're bracing for Hurricane Sandy. All of the weather reports indicate that Sandy is the worst storm the East Coast has ever seen; and she's aimed right at New Jersey.

These past couple of days have been a challenging exercise in patience and accepting uncertainty. As luck would have it, I am scheduled for a Zen retreat this weekend. Am I going? Will flights be open? Will my basement be flooded? All of these thoughts keep entering my mind, demanding answers that I can't provide.

Uncertainty is the prime ingredient for fear, anxiety, and plain old worry. And it makes for an interesting bedfellow. These past several days I have been settling deeper and deeper into the unknown. As that familiar sensations of worry arise--muscular tension and tight breathing--I open myself to the resistance. Our impulse is to make everything happen at once, to get it all over with in one shot. However, storms don't work like that. You have to wait them out, one moment at a time.

It's amazing practice. Difficult times can be the most fertile ground for practice. But you already knew that; I'm not saying anything new.

What's so easy to lose sight of in a widespread potential crisis like a hurricane is your connection to everyone else. It's very easy to feel isolated, partly because you physically are. But the reality of the situation is that crises like this are great unifiers.

We're not in this alone. Difficult circumstances, and the accompanying dukkha that follows, connect us; they highlight the deep connections that define us and all beings. We couldn't isolate ourselves if we tried.

We are always connected. And it's in those stressful times that we need, rely upon, those connections the most.

The funny thing is that I feel a safe spaciousness, an inviolate center of calm, that can't be touched. It's small yet hallowed. Now granted, the storms haven't arrived yet--either Sandy's forceful gale or the emotional tempest that accompanies her--but this experience has taught me a valuable, visceral lesson:

Sometimes in life we can only prepare so much. After that, all we can do is wait. But I'm not alone; I wait, not only with much of the East Coast, but with all beings.

I wish everyone a safe next couple of days. Let's all make it through this together.

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