I’ve been feeling vulnerable lately. Health problems for friends, the anniversary of a friend’s death, bad economy, a shaky work situation. What does security look like? I remember after 9/11 it seemed that everyone was creeping around, looking left and right, wondering if another attack was imminent. We took solace in strange ways–reading the news obsessively, willfully ignoring the news, getting active politically and eating gallons of ice cream.
Security is a funny thing when you’re an adult. As parents, we try our best to give our kids a safe, unencumbered childhood. Yes, things are complicated at times. How do you explain why a person gets brain cancer and has left the hospital to come home to die? We parcel out appropriate bits of information, but usually kids ask questions we don’t expect. And we deal with it.
I’ve been really angry about this vulnerability I feel. Angry for the anxiety of my friends and loved ones. Peevishly short-tempered some days and scared that my carefree days are not only over, but have been replaced with fear. Thinking anything could happen at anytime and I’m not safe.
But yesterday the sun was shining. It was warm. I accomplished a lot. It occurred to me that vulnerability cuts both ways. It can leave me breathless with anxiety, but I can also decide to appreciate the things in my life that are lovely. I can be mindful of the feelings, people and moments that are sweet, funny, meaningful. I’m tired of hoping things will get better. I think it’s better to soak in the things that are right in front of me. I’m uncomfortable writing about this. Too sappy? Too cliched?
I just turned to an expert for some validation. Over the years I’ve reread Charlotte Joko Beck’s chapter entitled, ‘No Hope’ from her book Everyday Zen maybe a dozen times. It’s a good lesson and reminds me that we acknowledge the bitter along with the sweet. A deep Buddhist practice moves even beyond these labels of good and bad. I’m not there yet. How about you?