I spent most of yesterday down at the Garland Community Garden dumping dead leaves, sprinkling compost on top of them and then soaking the pile heavily with water--all in preparation for spring planting. As usual, when alone, like many folks, I tend to contemplate the heavier side of life as well as many of its ironies and paradoxes. Somehow, although perfectly natural, it seems a bit twisted to me for the dead to nourish the living, yet that is certainly the cycle of things in the garden--especially if you are an organic gardener who uses leaves and compost to create the soil for your seeds.
It's the same way with relationships, the leftover experiences and memories become the soil for new relationship and life experiences. We bring that soil with us and in many ways it is similar to the soil in the garden. If garden soil is toxic or lacking in essential minerals, it needs to be cleaned up before planting new plants and so it is with relationships as well. I guess that's why we are often advised to take some time to examine ourselves before seeking another relationship right away. And I guess that is why I love the garden so well as it contains far more life lessons than I'll ever be able to grasp in one lifetime.
As Pema Chodron points out in his book, "Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change": "In difficult times, the stress of trying to find solid ground--something predictable and safe to stand on--seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux--just like plants in a garden. Everything keeps changing, whether we are aware of it or not." And yet, so many of us spend so much time trying to "stabilize" things. In fact, these very efforts are often the source of our unhappiness.
Perhaps the main requirement for "living beautifully" is to come to terms with uncertainty and change and realize that I can never completely 'get it all together'. Increasing my tolerance for instability and change by learning how to embrace unpredictability and uncertainty as vehicles that can transform my life is one good start. At the moment, the best I can do in order to travel in that direction is to continue repeating the mantra: When one door closes, another even better one opens.
I might do well to consider practicing the three vows of the Buddhists:
1. The Pratimoksha Vow which is the foundation for personal freedom--a commitment to doing our best to not cause harm with my actions words or thoughts.
2. The Bodhisattva Vow which is the next step to being comfortable to groundlessness is a commitment to helping others by nurturing our compassion.
3. The Samaya Vow which is a resolve to embrace the world as just as it is now without bias. Anything and everything is a means by which we can awaken further. (This belief seems to dovetail into the door closing and another one opening.)
Perhaps one of the weirdest paradoxes of nature to me is that December 21 marks the beginning of the deadest season of the year--winter. At the same time, the very day after the Winter Solstice, the days begin to get longer and the dark night shorter. The promise of spring is then the gift of winter.