Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That Time of Year

It's that time of year. All the causes for celebration and excess are over... Thanksgiving, our daughter's birthday, Christmas, New Years' and, finally, Ellie's birthday. A month and a half, non-stop. Then you climb on the bathroom scale and are confronted with the damage wrought. And there are no more excuses...

There's something similar that goes on with my writing practice. There has been plenty of great frivolity to occupy these pages in the past few weeks, but they have begun to feel, well, not to put too fine a point on it... er, flatulent. A lot of hot air--not to say gas--and not a whole lot of substance. My judgment. So I sit here at my desk and ponder the need to delve a little deeper into the mysteries of life and what the teachings of the Buddha can do to help us address them and, if necessary, accept them for what they are. And my mind goes blank. Freezes, as my old PC computers used to do so often, and requires a push on the re-set button before it starts to glow again. I have grown lazy, and comfortable, and fat. My judgment.

One week from today we say goodbye to our Bush and hello to our President Obama. I see the nation in something of the same predicament in which I have just described myself, although the crisis, in my case, is perhaps a little less advanced. We did, for quite a while, as a nation, grow lazy, and comfortable, and fat, but now we have stepped on the scale and, hopefully, out of denial. So will we emulate our fit and lean new President and learn to control our appetite for insatiable consumption? Will we continue to insist on our inalienable right to ice cream, while so many starve? Will we find within ourselves the will to make the necessary sacrifices, if we are to get the country back on track? Because I truly believe that this is what it will take, from corporate leaders to professionals to blue collar workers. Obama will almost certainly fail without goodwill and practical support from all of us in the form of sacrifice. I watch with dismay the signs of a return to partisanship and inflexibility. It seems that everyone insists on his or her right to be right--especially, alas, the Right.

As for myself, I intend to be more circumspect, more conscious, more compassionate to myself and others. I understand the wisdom of the Buddha's Middle Path, and intend to hew to it with greater attention to the ways in which I stray and find myself, as a result, in trouble. I realize that the Middle Path is not the Easy Way, and that I will need to be vigilant in my effort if I am to succeed. There's much work to be done. Let the new era begin!

4 comments:

Paul said...

Hi Peter. I too feel burdened by too much fat in the same sense as you mention. Not enough mindfulness and not enough effort have pointed me in a backward direction toward old habits and practices I'd thought I'd abandoned long ago. Like you, I feel the need to reinvigorate my resolve and get back to the the necessary work of the practice that matters most.

robin andrea said...

It would be a wonderful thing if the new president could truly usher in a period of mindfulness and turn us away from the utter gluttony of our collective ways. Sadly, part of our economy's health has built in to it the need for our insatiable appetites of every kind. It will be an interesting tension.

mandt said...

It seems to me that The Middle Way is so difficult at first because it requires high consciousness in every mundane reflex. It is sacrifice that demands our sense of narcissistic purpose and is ironically both necessary and delusional. That's why I am so fond of the last two Ox Herding pictures...

citizen of the world said...

Personally, I am planning on celebration and excess on the 20th.