Rest stop.

Hilary_1940s

Photo by Mutsumi Gee

Big band gig. Sunday night. I had worked an ear-splittingly loud and seemingly interminable party at the restaurant the night before, so my voice was hoarse. Fortunately, after a little warming up, my voice rallied. The band began to play, the buoyancy of swing music kept my fatigue at arm’s length, and I made it through the gig.

Afterward, while waiting for the subway back to Brooklyn, my mind ping-pong’ed between cataloguing every item on my “to-do” list and berating myself for being unproductive and disorganized. The train arrived. I found a seat, opened my magazine, and zoned out. The next thing I knew, I heard the subway conductor announce, “The next stop is 125th Street.” Shit. ShitShitShit. I had taken an uptown train instead of the downtown train that I needed, adding at least 30 minutes to my (already long) trip home.

buddha It should be noted that this little subway incident took place halfway through a 6-week class on (wait for it) mindful awareness meditation. I’ve been studying mindfulness in the present moment and didn’t even notice I got on the wrong train until 6 stops into my ride? Great. I take a class on mindfulness and wind up doing something completely mindless.

Friends, I am weary in my bones. My voice is tired. I came home from the restaurant the other night and dissolved into sobs: “I can’t do this for another ten years. I just can’t.” Just getting to the meditation cushion and sitting with my frenetic, impatient mind is proving to be more difficult than I could have imagined.

All this to say, then, that I don’t have any pithy words of inspiration today. I have no answers. Today, I only have questions and doubts and fears and frustrations. So it was with deep gratitude and relief that I stumbled upon this talk by the ever-humorous, ever-human Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. Namaste.

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8 thoughts on “Rest stop.

  1. Hilary,

    Why is it that I am always running late to get to my meditation class?
    It seems I hae to “speed up” in order to “slow down.”

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    Sounds a lot like you went through above, sans Gertrude Stein advising us that there was “no there, there!”

    You go girl. You got a response out of this old Army guy on Veterans’ Day.

    thank you,

    Michael J

    Will be reading you more later.

    • Thank you so much for these words. And thank you for your service; my dad and brother both served in the Army, so Veterans’ Day means a lot to my family and me as well. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. wonderful. i meditate and am a space cadet still, and feel very understood by you. i hope you really take that nice talk by chodrin to heart.
    now, you are a singer and i can’t seem to see anywhere on your blog that would tell me where i could see you. is that my dumbness or are you really that self-effacing?

  3. I like to think that you were being extremely mindful of what you were reading in the magazine. If you look at it that way your classes have been a complete success…6 stops!

  4. Hilary; far be it from me, a stranger beyond the occasional cyberspace sentence (and fan of your singing) to in any way suggest a turn from your own spiritual practice, but I wish you would consider practicing TM. I have, since I was given the gift of it as a wedding present in 1981 (by my former brother in law who has been a trained teacher of it for decades), and it’s always brought a very deep and ever increasing in-the-moment vibration to my life which gives much peace of mind & soul. It’s also an extremely simple practice when learned correctly. Just a thought toward your happiness. Best, Steve Lampert

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Steve! I’ve never done TM, but I have a friend who is an experienced practitioner. I’m definitely curious about learning more. That said, Tibetan Buddhism and the Shambhala teachings have spoken to a deep place in my spirit for many years, so I feel strongly that that direction is the right one for me right now. Thank you for the thoughts and the good vibes, Steve!

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