In contrast

Hello again dear readers,

It's been a while, a while that has carried us into 2017 which, so far, has ridden in like a gentle breeze and has swept me forwards and onwards with a fair amount of joy and peace in my heart.
In contrast
As I told you 2016 ended at the top of a very modest mountain, but in all its modesty the symbolic timing and the beauty of the experience are apparently working wonders and has brought me a surprising but very welcome reunion with my strength and resilience, the one that has always made me feel ready to take on anything, any time.
In younger years this comes with flair: falling in love, having your heart broken, changing countries and lifestyles, we take aweinspiring journeys, we explore sex, drugs, being or not being...and life happens at a higher speed. But my middle age years consist of a much less impacting and more subtle reality, not so flashy, and as I continue to investigate it, I'm seeing that what aging really does is that it in most cases confines those highs and lows to the more internal theatre of your mind, heart and body. Your body doesn't want to move at such high death defying speed anymore, your heart feels more fragile as it's felt the ache that history brings and your mind works best when it's without pressure, it enjoys a slower speed. To be home feels better than being out, etc... And this more mature resiliance smiles back at the years past and...feels surprisingly content at simply doing the dishes after a soft morning yin practice.

However, the incredibly polarized field of emotion I feel on a daily basis is in no way different from the one brought about by the exhuberance of my youth. It's more concentrated, contained within the restraint of staying with past and present choices, definetely less exuberant... but I like it, it feels closer to truth. If once I felt ready for anything, any time, the second part of my life is commited to find peace with everything at all times. Less heroic, maybe, but oh, such a beautiful aspiration. An impossible one, like the Boddhitsatva who vows not to give up until everyone is free. Impossible undertakings have always been in our DNA, certainly in mine, but now instead of looking further and dreaming bigger it's all about seeing clearer and loving kinder. Instead of looking for the richest possible experience I can get, the proximity of old age turns me to look for my most valuable apportation, for a simple but clear experience that binds me to life and the living, with love and appreciation.

To see beauty everywhere is not an immediate, basic instinct for most of us and it requires constant attention to the management of contrast, it's a work much like that of a photographer who tries to adjust the light until beauty appears in the viewer of the camera. Light is always here, if you know how to look.

So regardless if your highs and lows are provided by grandiose gestures or by the more focused but subtle appreciation of a perfect breath...from dramatic life changing events or from acknowledging your aging colon and that general sense of boredom of a life that is shrinking...the feeling which defines it, resides inside of you. When the external circumstances become very repetitive and the need to keep your eye on outside events becomes less, that opens up and sharpens the awareness of what is happening inside. To the sensations, the thoughts and those habits that lie behind your description of what is happening. The more confining reality is, the more space and time you have to get closer to the eye of the storm. Monks and prisoners alike have gone through enlightening experiences through confinement by being deprived of outside stimulation. I'm not saying that the midsection of life is a prison or a monastery, but at the same time in many ways, I am.

And so, in a new year, that beyond all cliches does feel surprisingly new, I once again vow to awaken to love. For the moment I share this vow with you here and if we meet on the mat, we'll renew it together, as many times as it takes.

May we be happy, my friend


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