I try not to wish for things, to hope for things, to crave things outside my peripheries, but 68% of the time I'm unsuccessful. I wish for more time, less global chaos, extra money, better ideas, longer vacations, abundant peace. I hope I don't fall into a fire pit. I hope my knee will heal so I can run from ferocious predators. I hope an earthquake doesn't devour Portland. I hope I can visit my grandma soon. I crave bread and butter, wine, feta cheese, Vietnamese soups, chocolate lava cakes, a new haircut, less pilly sweaters, a firmer bosom and rump. The wishing, hoping and craving turn into mental skyscrapers that prevent me from seeing the sunset, the shape of the trees against the sky, and the moon edging its way into night.
Thanks to my daily meditation practice (and a million other spiritual cliches), I know, deep down in my aortic valve, that this wishing, hoping and craving stems from a place of fear. The yucky kind that likes to smother its fowl entrails all over the place. The kind that permeates every nook and cranny humans have chosen to be. So, my goal for the moment (which sort of feels like a wish, but it's not), is to recognize my fears before they turn into desires, and those desires morph into a sticky web of patterns that become harder and harder to climb out of.
Growing old and being ignored or forgotten in the process, losing my creative zeal, disappointing my family, not being a good enough mother, wife, friend, neighbor, artist, employee, stranger, something horrible happening to my family, and of course, death are the fears that currently inhabit my brain. Instead of just allowing these fears to move in and out of my consciousness, I tend to build little barriers to keep them out, but in doing this, the fears are affixed to my innards like old gum on a tree and are manifested in a multitude of ways. I rub my hands together, peel my nails off, change my clothes more than 2 times in the morning, drink another glass of wine, make art, go to the gym, get defensive, over "like" things on facebook, scratch my head, sigh, turn up the music, huff, write, pick up the guitar, eat ice cream, buy another pair of shoes, apply lipstick. Obviously some of these manifestations are much more productive than others. It takes another level of questioning to decipher what is healthy versus what is pattern inducing.
Man. Keeping this brain in check is strenuous. I need a drink...or to remember:
"Mindfulness is cultivated by a gentle effort. Persistence and a light touch are the secrets. Mindfulness is cultivated by constantly pulling oneself back to a state of awareness, gently, gently, gently."
- Bhante Henepola Gunaratana