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Lions Roar : November 2015
But sometimes I would make the dash all the way along the landing to the bathroom, and for this longer trek I had to pass the head of the stairs. I didn’t need to do this but it brought me closer to the wolves and somehow that was necessary. If I had really believed in the wolves, I would perhaps have told my parents or brought a sharp tool up from the cellar. But if I hadn’t believed in the wolves, there would have been no problem and I wouldn’t have been so afraid to go out onto the dark chilly landing with the rain pelting horizontally onto the windowpanes. That was what it was like to be me—to be friends with myself at this moment of crossing from light to dark, from the interior with its warmth and smell of Irish stew into the darkness where one day I would have to go. And Can We Be Friends with Ourselves If We Are Messed Up? It is really the same however you feel about yourself: you just be yourself. Sometimes you are messed up, and even when you don’t really believe your stories and fears, you act as if they are true. We all believe untrue things from time to time. Being with yourself is being with that. Let’s say you are a little girl who has a hard time going to bed. It’s a crossing over that you can’t quite bear. First you are you and awake, and then you have to fall into the darkness and forget to be you, and that is called sleep. There is a disturbing giddiness about such moments— forgetting, remembering dying, being born. So you develop bedtime rituals. You look under the bed to check if there is someone lurking. You look in the drawers of the chest, even in the small drawers in case a very small man is hiding there. These rituals become drawn out and are a way to spend more time with your parents. But the unreasonableness exasperates your mother. A therapist recommends taking away one ritual at a time until no more are left. But you know this will never work—the creatures under the bed will prevent it. But the situation could be more like one with the wolves or the bird in the juniper bush. You don’t have to be separate from it. The goblins who might or might not be hiding are the guardians of the crossing over, and we spend so much time in life crossing over, losing places and people and ways of being just when we get good at them. So what does it feel like to be you, to make friends with yourself if you are that little girl? You could tell stories about what is in the drawers, about what color the goblins are. You could ask them if they are blue or invite them to come to Mars with the space colony. You could leave a cookie in the drawer and see if it has a bite out of it in the morning. You could make friends with yourself falling asleep, not falling asleep, forgetting, waking up, remembering, dying—all sorts of crossing over. Enjoying the dark uncertainty. Sideways A practice helps because it comes at the problem sideways. Meditation is essentially about respecting our lives and showing up for them. We don’t need to get ready. Meditation does a lot of things, and there are meditations designed to produce certain effects. But the deepest meditations aren’t about changing you. They are about showing up for your own life before you decide to change or improve it. Meditation by its nature takes away things that you have long assumed to be real. And when something disappears, you don’t have to fill the space. To the extent that meditation is a journey, it is sacred. You walk through a gate and find yourself inside a huge presence, the matrix of everything. This is something large and warm that existed before you thought you were someone. This original heart and mind is the source of what you give and what you make. It’s where you rest when you make friends with yourself. So How Does Being Your Own Friend Look In Everyday Life? Wherever you are, you’re the host. “What’s this?” A woman asks. The stacker at the vegetable bins in Safeway squirms. “Dragon fruit, they said. They gave me half a crate.” “What do you do with them?” “I don’t know,” he says. I snatch one up. “What’s this?” the checkout clerk asks. “Dragon fruit,” I say. “Dragon fruit? What’s that?” “I’m encouraging Safeway to experiment.” A man with Down syndrome is there packing the groceries into the bags. “I know what it is,” he says. He explains carefully, kindly, thoroughly, and everyone softens. He recommends putting them in smoothies. We are no longer traversing through the day and past the moment of being in line. We are here together. No one is in a hurry or needs to apologize for the fruit. We imagine sweet and delicious tastes. The line waits patiently as he explains. The checkout woman and I—our eyes meet and we’re content too. Here’s another example. A woman I know has a voice impediment and often can’t be heard. She was ashamed and was always trying not to be ashamed. But then she did really have this voice impediment and had a terrible time explaining herself to new groups of people. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 56