The sun comes up every single morning. What a gift, what a blessing. When we conceive of the new day as new opportunity, everything opens up.
Today is just beginning. That means that my experience of today is also, yes, just beginning. So I have choices. I can choose to make this a new beginning or a continuation of what was. Actually, of course, today is always both of those things. Taking a leap into something new can be frightening. We shrink from fear, pulling ourselves inward, like an everlasting snail withdrawing his tiny horns from an aversive stimulus. But once pulled in, once shrunken into myself, pulled away from the world, I am tight, tense, afraid, anxious, then actually interacting with the world becomes difficult. I am constrained from acting as I might want to act. I am unable to feel my own experiences of the world because I have shrunk away from them.
What if? If only I realized that I am always and everywhere interacting with the world, actually am part of the world, taking in the world through my breath and my eyes, my ears and my skin, and adding parts of myself to the world just by being alive and being present, well, might that awareness not help me to know that fear itself is an illusion, just as separation is an illusion?
Well, it’s a thought, anyway. I was talking with my friend and body-worker Kathrine Walker about this miraculous interface between the human body (MY human body, your human body) and the world. We were working with a meditation on the breath, visualizing the lungs right down to the alveoli, the location where the amazing happens: air from the world interfaces with the body and becomes part of the body. I recalled the other places where this occurs: in the sensory organs and within the digestive system. In each system, there is a specific place, specific part of the body which developed for its particular interface with information from the world….the retina gathers light energy and converts it to something your brain can understand. The hair cells of the basilar membrane of the ear can take sound waves and turn them into neural transmissions. Inside your nose are receptors that collect molecules of substances that waft in on the air you breathe, and those molecules are turned into information for your brain to interpret (“Hmm, apples….that reminds me of fall and our trips up river to pick apples.”) The world is coming to us every moment of every day, and the world is becoming us.
When I breathed into that awareness, when I actively sought to notice air becoming me, sound shaping my mental experience, feeling the sensation of really deeply looking at colours, I could just barely begin to touch this reality. But it meant something. It meant that I could let go of a lot of my striving. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep myself safe from the world. No matter how much I try to control myself, my future, my life, things are happening every single millisecond that I cannot control.
The good news about that was this: I don’t need to set goals, to create rigid structures for Self-Improvement, to follow somebody-or-other’s plan for getting a better body, more spiritual soul, sharper intelligence. I just need to breathe and to be, and in so doing, I am becoming more part of the world and letting the world become part of me.
Could be a scary thought. Or it could be extraordinarily freeing.
On this last day of the year, I think I’ll choose to find it freeing.