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Lions Roar : November 2015
friend to myself is not actually being a friend to myself. We think all day. We go through our internal filing systems: we imagine dating the person in the next car at the stoplight, living in a white house in that little town on the Mendocino coast that we drive though, making costumes for carnival in New Orleans. We imagine life with a different childhood. We imagine life if the person we loved hadn’t died or if we went to Mars with a colony. All that too is a way of being ourselves. We can rest in our restlessness, our ambivalence about life. We can just rest in the movement of life unrolling, carrying us along. Making friends with ourselves is not just clearing delusion out of our minds. Sometimes it’s hard to tell delusion from clarity anyway. We can also rest in our imagination. What’s that like? Siberian Timber Wolves When I was three or four years old and living in my grandparents’ house, I had to go out from the warmth of the living quarters onto a landing to get to the toilet. That was fine, but the landing had stairs that led down to the cellar where tools were kept, including a great-toothed, two-handed saw like an animal on the wall. The stairs faced north, and in the daytime I had a view of the pussy willow outside and the sunlight was a caress coming through the wavy glass of the window and the cobwebs high up. At night, though, the landing was cold, the old linoleum floor was unforgiving and slanted away, and there were wolves in the cellar. Grey Siberian timber wolves to be precise, rarely found in Australia. They moved silently in a pack and had pollen on their fur and could not be relied upon to stay in the basement. At one stage I invited tigers into the cellar but they led their own haughty life. Aloof and devoted to their obscure purposes, they offered no help in interactions with the wolves. So I had to come to my own terms with the wolves. I would make a dash from the kitchen to the light switch on the landing and then into the toilet. This was all right. I learned to place my hands just so in the dark to find the switch. PHOTOBYPAULTREACY/MILLENNIUMIMAGES,UK SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 55