Of the the things I like most, like the feel of a fresh new start or the knowledge that in an hour or two I will be in the easiest part of my day physically, I would have to say that my morning coffee is the pinnacle of my a.m. routine. I love everything about it. I love the smell of a pot brewing as I lay tucked into my favorite soft blankets. I love the methodical movements as I reach for the cup, set it on the counter, lift the pot out from the maker and pour it into my carefully selected mug for the day (I have a collection of mugs made by an 80 year old potter I dearly love...the potter and the pot). I love the smell and the steam as I move the mug towards my mouth. I always let it linger there, just a moment, before I give it that first test sip of the morning. Slowly, always slowly, as to not burn my lips or the tip of my tongue, I tempt my senses, just for a moment. And then the full rich taste of coffee. Nothing tastes like the first sip. In fact, if left to "sip amok", I find that by the sixth or seventh cup the taste has progressively gotten less satisfying. Funny how one will continue to drink something that no longer tastes good merely out of habit. And then there is the warmth. The soothing warmth as it moves from mouth, to throat, to esophagus, to belly. Ummm...the warmth of coffee in my belly. Nothing like it.
The world moves slow as I sit at my counter and drink that first cup. It moves slow and easy and I cherish the stretched out tick of our old kitchen clock.
In the realm of letting go...
There are things I have had to let go of in this life. There are things I have chosen to let go of in this life. And then there is everything else in between. The stuff that lingers. I don't think I can say that one or the other is any more or less difficult, in fact, it's definitely relative. But the stuff that lingers can be particularly and chronically painful. For example, I know I shouldn't drink coffee. I've been told this by every doctor that I have. Yet, as I sit here typing these words, a cold cup-o-joe sits directly to my right on a silver dollar coaster brought back as a souvenir from a vacation out east over thirty years ago. Every day a little battle goes on in my brain. Every day the health conscientious, rational Theresa waves her little white flag of surrender as the caffeine addicted, habit mongering fly by the seat of her pants Theresa does the little Starbucks happy dance of victory. We'll, there's always tomorrow.
I heard a quote the other day by a guy I can't remember. Oh, I could go look it up, but today I am just typing freely. I'm not really working at it, and going to my iPad and finding out the name of the guy who gave the last Dharma talk would definitely be considered "work" for me today. Getting up, walking to the living room, opening the iPad...need I say more? Anyway, the quote was this...
"We hold on to things that we think are gonna 'do it' for us."
You know, the stuff that we think makes us happy...finally. This is usually the stuff that makes us skinny, creates well adjusted kids, gives us the perfect job, makes us healthier, solves our financial woes, mends broken relationships, keeps us awake, answers all our spiritual questions, makes our parents finally understand us, numbs our senses and bestows on us a blessed cloak of eternal peace. You know the stuff. It's the stuff we obsess about in our minds. It's white noise. It's mindless....or mindFULL chatter. It's the story we tell ourselves day in and day out, without even realizing it. It just plays quietly on and on and on. These things we refuse to let go of because we think they're helping.
And maybe, like my coffee, it is...temporarily. My coffee does wake me up. It does put me in a good mood. It does make me happy - in my ever fleeting breath of a moment. But the bigger picture says differently. The bigger picture reflects a huge energy and emotional drop in about an hour, and then maybe some irregular heart beats, and then maybe some especially swollen joints, and then a headache....
Yet, we hold on. Why? What are you holding on to? And why are you holding on to it? Why am I?
For me it's about fear. It's about being uncomfortable. Feeling shaky and groundless. A little personal note here about myself. I can't sit still for very long. (yes, that might have something to do with eight cups of coffee) I'm working on it, believe me. Me and two very good therapists, along with the help of countless others who come to me by book, or CD, or ancient text, or podcast. I can't sit still for long and I feel the intense urge to fill space up. I fill it up with thought, or writing, or picking at hangnails, or eating, or cleaning, or reading, or whatever. I just fill it up. It's why meditation is still work for me. (I refuse to give up though! I believe the sages to be true...along with all the well founded scientific research!) It's painful, and not just because of my joints! I get uneasy in empty space.
So I fill myself up. I fill my space up. In a sense, I try to make myself FULL of what I think is "gonna do it for me". And this stuff can be pretty sneaky, disguising itself as spirituality or even mindfulness. In my effort to "let go" of self, I simply put on the cloak of the moment. Today I am blissfully mindful...so much so that I need to rush to my computer to write and tell you about it! Get it? Anything but just sit and experience it.
This is the thing...
So you ask, how much do we "let go"? We can't very well walk around in life letting go of everything. There are things that need to be thought about and things that need to be done, bills that need to be paid. If you're anything like me, you try to pin down the details because the vague is...well, painful. We want to know the right mix. How much can we let go before we are considered down right irresponsible? It makes me think of this cute little story I heard one time about a question that was posed to a wise old monk. His student asked him one day, "How much of the self is needed?" to which the monk replied, "Enough to get out of the way of a bus." Believe me, when the time comes, you will know what to do! Making decisions based on the reality of the moment is the best way to care for your future.
We don't need to pin it down my friend. You and I are beautifully and wonderfully made, intelligent beyond our imagination. Letting go and revealing what really resides within you will only make you better. For within you and within me lies the Kingdom of Heaven. All we ever need. No need to fill or cover or boost anything up. In fact, we only need to let go.
Can you trust that you are good enough "as is"? Because you know what? "As is" is as good as it gets. Anything more is less.
I wish I could end this with some grand proclamation in regards to my future caffeine intake. I'm working on it. I'm working on a lot of things these days. What I can promise you is this - that every day I will let go of something - if you will too. It may be the same thing over and over and over again in the same day. And that's perfectly okay. It's not so much about the arriving as it is about the journey anyway.
Oh, to be transparent
I shall feel
in my nakedness
finds its way
it is worth
to join the
Holy, holy, holy
Peace to you,