without acting on it
enlarges our freedom
We came to Vermont for the clean air, the heightened perspective, the depth of thought and consciousness.
We gave up cable long before we arrived.
Once here, in a town without a traffic light, we learned to live with even less distraction. To embrace silence. Early nights. Slow reads. Pillow talk. Sleep.
Then came the internet.
The web expanded our horizons, enriched our conversations, increased our opportunity, and fractured our attention.
The single screen in the den was replaced by individual screens, of all sizes, in each pair of hands, in every room, at every hour, on workdays and weekends and holidays.
Family time, once incidental, now needed to be scheduled and rescheduled and relinquished in favor of independent pleasures. Moments passing and glancing at each others screens. Morning spaciousness obsolete. Bedtimes later. Pillow talk extinct. Books ornamental.
It’s come to this. To know. That my attention. Has rarely been singular.
In a weekend retreat with Tara Brach at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I make a discovery. Once singularly focused on nothing but my breath, I am overcome. By anxiety.
Soon after, I realize. It’s time.
The first 24 hours are agonizing. The next 48 touch and go. An entire week disrupted by unrequited desire.
Gradually, Facebook fades to the background. Cravings pass like those for sugar following a post-holiday detox.
But in the absence of posting and notifications, something else arises:
Day after day.
Night after night.
Death. Decay. Disaster.
I stay. I notice. I breathe. I take my supplements.
(I drink a little.)
The weeks pass and I begin to notice something else arising, anew:
Like a seedling in May. Or an early morning in June. Or the cool grass under my feet. Or the hush of days end. Or the call of the hermit thrush from deep in the woods. Or the sound of rain on our metal roof.
Attention and intention aligned once again.
At the end of the month, I come upon this Rumi quote in Tara’s book, True Refuge:
Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
I feel the invitation; but I don’t know how to RSVP.
I’m already intoxicated by all there is to share and receive.
And yet, I also sense a subtle shift.
And the freedom that accompanies the in between.