(i.e., disengaged from my familiar self). That’s what I thought this morning as I lay in bed. I haven’t slept more than a few hours for a few weeks, which (apparently) began after Matt and I stayed in a musty hotel room for a few nights during which neither of us slept well. No other symptoms except a nervous system that feels as if it’s plugged into an electric socket. It’s operating on a different frequency—almost like when I was addicted to amphetamines but without the buzz, the heart racing, the anxiety.
Maybe it’s mold-related. I’ll check that out with my doctor. And maybe it’s just a few weeks of not sleeping well (the effects that not sleeping has on the body/mind). Or maybe it really does have something to do with the effects of the everyday practice of sensing, looking, listening, bringing myself back a thousand times a day to what isn’t wrong. To the sound of the wind, the dappled light, the sip of tea. This foot, this bite, this face in front of me.
On the absolute level, it doesn’t matter whether it’s toxic mold or being lit from within. On the relative level, of course it matters because I/we need to take care of these physical forms and do what is necessary for them to thrive. We need these bodies to hear, taste, see, sense, love.
Here’s all I know now before talking to my doctor (and after doing research on toxic mold): I’m not sleeping well and my nervous system is functioning in a way that I don’t recognize.
Remember that story of the man and the helicopter? Here’s my version:
A man was standing in a house that was being flooded (Oy, talk about mold). He called out to God, “Save me, God, save me.” A rowboat came along. The woman rowing the oars said, “Come on, get in.” The soon-to-be drowning man said, “No, God is going to save me.” A little while later, as the house continued to fill with water, a cruise ship came along. The captain of the ship said, “We can help you get into our boat.” And the drowning man said, “Nope, God is going to save me.” Then a helicopter came along and the pilot saw the house, which was now filled to the top floor with water. The pilot called out to the drowning man, “I’ll send you a rope, climb up, and you’ll be safe.” And the drowning man said, “It’s God that’s going to save me, not a helicopter. I am going to wait for God.”
The man drowned and when he got to heaven, he said to God, “What happened? I believed in you and you let me drown!” God said, “Didn’t you notice that I sent you a rowboat, a cruise ship and a helicopter…”
What I hear in this story today is that we keep holding on to our thoughts of what is happening and what needs to happen, and this obscures the facts.
We ignore simplicity for fabrication.
We ignore the facts for drama about them.
And the “we” I am speaking of here is the mind--both our individual and collective minds--not the essential I.
The practice of returning to what we know, sense, directly experience while disengaging from the wild, scary, amped up stories of our minds is rigorous. But (IMHO) it’s the main practice because it makes room for everything else. For fear about toxic mold (my mind loves the thought of having something to get scared about) or for the possibility that light is raining down on this body, this room, this life.
Either way, toxic mold or raining light, there is a presence in me/us that holds both. That has room for an everyday-crazy mind and for being lavished with light. Like the blank screen in a movie theater that is unaffected by images of drama or comedy, we have the ability to hold, to notice, to be tender towards and amused by the passing show. To take action when it is necessary. To take care of these physical forms. To get caught up in the drama and then to return to what is untouched by it. It seems to me that our daily challenges—frictions with others, worry about our kids, sickness, sleeplessness-- are our rowboats, our cruise ships, our helicopters. Do we keep waiting to be saved and drown in our fear-based stories or use them to climb to the sky of ourselves?