This exact time last year I was heading for Berlin, to a teaching given by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. It was a good time, with lots of very happy blogging. Today I’m in Vancouver, at UBC, again coming to hear Rinpoche teach. It’s a different time for me—my heart sobered, my life quieter, with a lot of alone time.
This morning I got up early and walked out of the campus apartment I’m sharing with a couple of friends, in search of coffee. The sky was gray, and the air was cold enough for the down vest I brought. UBC is a big campus, and feels almost like a little suburban town—lots of roads and construction, a lot of standing on the corner, waiting to make sure that the car coming will stop, even at 6:30 in the morning.
What I realized when I was doing just that—waiting for a car to stop—was that the last year living out in the country has slowed me down, internally. I’ve grown accustomed to the gentle pace of country living, and that pace is very much in line with where my mind and body feel happiest. The frantic pace of cities, and even suburbs—traffic and noise and shopping and lots and lots and lots of people (strangely often drunk)—requires an amping up of energy that, for me, sometimes makes feel literally less stable: like I’m more apt to lose my balance, or my shit.
It’s silly, I know, but at the slow pace I can come out to the clouds and the trees and the air, and just settle there. That’s what I love.
Today is the first day of the teaching here, and there will be Rinpoche, and there will be friends from all over the world. I’ll try to hold my seat—the one I found in the last year.
Yesterday I drove to town to get coffee and went off course to look at the gigantic pink and white peonies at the farmer’s market in Greenport. Then I stopped at Sep’s, the farmstand up the road from me, and picked up some fresh strawberries for breakfast. While I was gone, a process server came up the driveway, my landlord reported, looking for me. The process server said that he had papers he needed to put in my hand. My landlord felt concerned and protective. We live out here on the edge of the world, with only the trees, the birds, the deer, and bunnies as witness. I live in the back, alone.
I know what the process server wanted to hand me: divorce papers. I didn’t expect them yet (I thought we were negotiating), and I didn’t expect them here. Anyway. I get very sad and anxious when I get these messages from Julia though she’s nowhere around, and usually I have to take a Xanax and cry a little bit and hyperventilate and watch the clock for time to tick slowly by. Yesterday, though, I went into the my kitchen and took down the two photographs that are propped up by the canned food: one of me and Maudie when she was about three months old, and one of my teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, with his teacher, Dilgo Khyentse. I brought them to my table, where I work, and propped them up against the bowl of smooth stones and delicate shells that I’ve found at the beach. I sat down and stared at them.
Love keeps me sane. Love for and from my daughter and my friends and my teachers. I am learning to turn to them in these moments, rather than fall down the dark, sad hole where there is no love at all. I am getting only slightly better at this, but better is not bad.
Sitting at my big table working, the birds and the leaves and sunshine singing outside. My old friend Ivy posted about this band, the Avett Brothers, this morning, and I’m glad; I’m going to be playing this song all day while I proofread a book for my old friend Bronnie.
I was just reminded of this story that I really like, about Trungpa Rinpoche. I guess one of his students was slacking off, or slumping over, or just not being upright and lungta-fied. So Rinpoche said to the student, “Student”—I don’t remember who the student was—”Student, pull your socks up.” And the student said, “But Rinpoche, I’m not wearing socks.” And Rinpoche said, “Then pull your pants up.”
Haha. Love that.
Last night, at the benefit for Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s nunnery in India at Tibet House, I shook Gloria Steinem’s hand and said, “Thank you for all that you’ve done for us, and for me,” and she smiled and said, simply, “You’re welcome.”
I never knew I’d have a chance to express my gratitude to someone so important in my—our—life. It was like thanking my mother.