Friday, October 22, 2010

When things get sticky

Though my children assure me it's been there "forever," yesterday was the first time I'd ever seen Seattle's Bubble Gum Wall.

Located on a back alley that leads up from the waterfront to Pike Market, the wall is literally covered with bubble gum -- often applied in very creative ways: stretched into words and symbols, or pressed down with pennies, pulled into drips -- it's pretty bizarre.

And it's a perfect illustration for today's topic -- when things get sticky.  Things have been sticky here for about a week now: nothing serious, nothing like the kinds of challenges so many of my friends are experiencing, just... sticky.  I'm being irritable, and judgmental, discouraged... and finding it hard to like myself.

In the midst of all this a note arrived, all unexpected, from a new reader who happens to live in the town I was born in, in Virginia.  And even though I'd felt the blog was suffering from my internal malaise, she took the time to write and say how much it meant to her.  Which was a lovely bright spot, but became even moreso when she encouraged me (since I was looking for something different to read that might help) to go back to Pema Chodron's Comfortable with Uncertainty.

It was a wonderful reminder of how kind the universe can be; that when you're twisting and turning in the throes of it, a gift can arrive to help.  So today's gift (thank you, Cheryl!) from Pema Chodron is this passage:  "Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better.  It's about befriending who we are already.  The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are.  That's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

Curiosity involves being gentle, precise, and open -- actually being able to let go and open.  Gentleness is a sense of goodheartedness toward ourselves.  Precision is being able to see clearly, not being afraid to see what's really there.  Openness is being able to let go and to open.  When you come to have this kind of honesty, gentleness, and good-heartedness, combined with clarity about yourself, there's no obstacle to feeling loving-kindness for others as well."

Ah.  I see.  I've been here before -- In fact, I notice -- from using the google search off to the left -- that I was reading and blogging about this book almost exactly 3 years ago -- and it's okay.  I just got sucked -- again -- into thinking that all this practice would make me a better person.  Nope.  Doesn't seem to be happening.  And I need to forgive myself for that, accept and love the cranky parts that are surfacing, embrace the stickiness.  Which is not all that enticing a prospect, I have to say -- but then, it never is.

But hating myself for not being a more compassionate person is not the answer.  It's time to walk in there "with tremendous curiosity and interest" and figure out what's got all my protectors on high alert.  Perhaps -- since I liked the dragons and princesses so much -- I need to think of myself as the prince, gently peeling back thorny vine after thorny vine as he struggles through to awaken Sleeping Beauty.  But then some part of me wonders: how did he know she would be there?

But maybe he didn't know.  Perhaps he just had to trust his instincts and keep plucking.


Maureen said...

Well, that Bubble Gum house sent me on a search and I found that a lot of articles have been written about it. I think I'll put it in a Facts, New or Not column (with credit to you, of course). It's fascinatingly icky.

Love today's Chodron quote.

Louise Gallagher said...

I too love Chodron's quote -- and what you wrote.

it isn't about 'better'. It's abot being. Who I am. right now. And loving me -- warts and all. Thanks for reminding me!