It seems like this happens a least once a year, but especially during those seasons of exceptional change, such as now. We are now deeply into the changes of fall/autumn, and the shake up is beginning to be felt in other ways. While it is still bright and summery down on the Front Range, the mountains a few miles away have shed their brief summer skins and laid themselves bare for the oncoming winter. Each morning when my alarm goes off at 7:00, the sky is a little darker.
The outer changes of the seasons seem to be reflecting the inner changes I’m beginning to feel as well as the changes I see happening in the lives of those around me. Things are just frickin’ wild right now. The climbing community experienced a great tragedy recently, which reminds me of the tragedy I experienced at this same time last year, amidst a time when I felt most alive. Hauntings of past relationships and traumas keep appearing in my mind as well as the minds of my friends. I’ve been spoken to in manners both cruel and kind, and learned the value of never taking anything personally. New relationships are beginning just as I can feel my perception of myself change. I am simply trying to illustrate the chaos that I feel all around and inside me at the moment.
I’ve been going to a meditation group for the last few weeks in order to practice grounding whilst I am in a particularly vulnerable time (also known as graduate school applications). Each week brings a discussion of a particular topic in the Shambhala tradition of buddhism, and this week was all about the falsity of the “self.” In Shambhala, there is no “self.” The way in which this was described left me confounded as the to the applications of such a concept. The reading asked whether or not you are the same person as you were when you were five? It asked, “Where is your ‘self’? Can you locate it?” It warned away from keeping a rigid idea of your “self” for everyone is always a moving, changing being.
While I still believe in a “self” of some sort, I can agree that each person is in a constant state of flux. All of life is in a constant state of change; it’s what some people would call chaos an uncertainty. Others call it possibility. To have a sure sense of self is to feel secure. To feel your sense of self change is to be unsettled.
While tragedy, new beginnings, fear, possibility, change, chaos, unsettling, and leaves swirl around us, I think the trick is to lean into it…and get enough sleep.