Happy New Year, Baby
I meditated this morning. It was a pathetic facsimile of meditation, I’m afraid. I placed the new purple zafu and zabuton that I got from Luigi for Christmas at the top of my yoga mat. I set the timer on my phone for twenty minutes. I sat cross-legged, straightened my spine, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.
My mind ricocheted wildly within the confines of my skull. A list of things to do began to write itself. It got so bad that I had to get up for a notepad and pen. Or, I believed I had to.
I went on many rides from the platform of my head, down all kinds of alleys, most of them dead-ends. Only occasionally and briefly was I able to bring myself back to the task at hand: my breath. Simply noticing the breath. Simply allowing myself to be breathed.
Even though it was paltry as far as a practice goes, I noticed a change in myself on the walk I took afterward. I went to the mountain, where I knew I wanted to go for the afternoon of New Year’s Eve to, hopefully, assess my Self, my life, 2020. 2021.
The first fifteen minutes, however, were as they often are when I begin these hikes. The trail was muddy. I felt tired. Out of breath, out of shape. Daisy bounded ahead of me. She pooped on the trail. I bitched under my breath.
But, near twenty minutes in, a change began to bloom inside of me. It started small. I was breathing hard, scaling a steep hill. I noticed I felt less mad, less rushed, less anxious.
I noticed a huge, spreading oak positioned on a broad plateau to my right. I admired her dark branches. I noticed splashes of yellow leaves shining in the damp forest. Bay and oak tree trunks were covered in brilliant green mossy sweaters. I touched them. My palm sank into their springy lushness.
I noticed the hair under my underarms and laughed. I thought about my daughter, who refuses to shave her legs, armpits, or anything else. I felt emboldened by that. I noticed how… luxuriant the hair was, and it made me laugh. I like to be “well-groomed,” and I felt curious about this new Self, a beautiful, sexy, hairy new self. Why not?
I made it up to a ridge, where the MacDonald Trail met the Park Ridge Trail. There were more people there. I don’t like to pull the mask up and down repeatedly, so after five minutes on the busier trail, Daisy and I retreated back. We’d already hiked up a steep mountain for about 35 minutes anyway; it was a good time to turn around.
Before we did, however, I noticed the change of light at the top, the splash of sun in the valley, the brilliant gold of the path.
We made our way back, Daisy and I. On the way down the hill, I thought about how frozen I feel, how frozen my writing is, how I’ve felt I have nothing whatsoever to say lately. I thought about how frustrated I am with myself. How disappointed I am. I chide myself on not doing enough. On being disorganized. On buying my daughter a five-year planner when I’ve never even gotten close to planning half a year. What am I thinking?
Then, it occurred to me to wonder if maybe, when it comes to writing, just a response is needed. A response to the world. Maybe all that’s required is that I notice. That I notice and respond. That I notice and note a reaction in myself. That I engage. Maybe my writing doesn’t have to scintillate, or uplift half the earth’s population. Maybe it’s okay to just become aware of one’s surroundings. One’s life. One’s thoughts. And respond.
Just then, the sun’s rays, slanting from the left, brought the path into silvery high relief in front of me. I noticed how the dead leaves shined like coins there. And I was suddenly awash in emotion. Tears sprang to my eyes. I felt enormous compassion for myself, for my friends and relatives who are old, sick, and dying. For all of the world.
This morning, Luigi said, “Pamper yourself.”
Why did he say that?
It was so interesting. He asked me to slow down, enjoy my coffee, and “pamper myself.” And I realized how seldom I do that. How nearly never I do that.
After my shower today, which was after my brief meditation, I wrapped a towel around my head to keep wet hair from dripping on my shoulders. When, a few minutes later, I removed the towel, there was something new in my hands. There was a gentleness. A caring. A respect and a regard for my Self. Me.
Happy New Year, Baby. Keep the faith. Remember, when you lose it, that it’s still there. Find your way back. Breathe. Notice. Respond. And honor that response.
And, yes, pamper yourself.
And keep meditating!