spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureFlower tears/faux_to digit
The more attached I am to my agenda, the more irritated I become when nothing and no one seems to cooperate. I tend to take each delay or disappointment personally, as if the world and its denizens conspire against me. Since moving to a retirement hotel for older adults at Lake Merritt in Oakland September 25, I have been back to the city six times in five days. Between traveling the Bay Bridge and relying on public transportation, crowded BART and Muni shove matches I have experienced what seems like a lot of anxiety and irritation. Impatience is as good a name as any for the unpleasant feeling.

Moreover, I have 7:30 breakfast every Monday in Noe Valley with a friend and moving to the East Bay hasn’t changed that pleasurable routine. And yet impatience clearly encroached this last Monday when after breakfast I would have liked her to put my welfare over her own and rather than dump me on the 49 line because it was more convenient for her, have driven me to my meeting at the church. And as much as I love this friend, I was annoyed which felt the same as  impatient. I became a small, constricted self, a wronged being who clearly didn’t matter all that much. And I didn’t like myself for being an unloving, ungenerous friend.

AND whether I’m traveling on BART or Muni or on foot, breakfasting with a friend, or meeting with the minister, I fret that my condo won’t sell fast enough at the too-high price I’m asking. I am disappointed at being this avaricious while professing aversion to economic inequality.

Yet when I sit still, recognize, acknowledge and inquire into this feeling I’m calling impatience and fear, it doesn’t boom with annoyance, it whispers, “What about my needs? Don’t they matter? Am I going to be overlooked? Am I going to get enough?  In short, how long am I going to have to scream in this crib for a diaper change? I’m seeing my impatience as one cover up for vulnerability.

I believe “What about me?” to be what humans feel, not just what I feel. One night around the dinner table at the Hotel Lake Merritt amid older adults, I mentioned impatience, and many of these new acquaintances were quick to own it as a personal bad habit. Stories went around the table about being seated in this very dining room before another group was seated, but not being served before it.

Unjustly, I think we would all call this reaction petty. I think it’s bigger than that, not worse, just bigger in as much as it constricts our focus, it narrows our attention just to the piece of the moment that has to do with personal discomfort and thus shuts out mostly everything else.

Writer, Storm Jameson puts it like this, “There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute.  There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle. By releasing our attachment to having life a certain way, we receive the blessings of the awareness that is always and already here.”

Public transportation, bridge congestion remind me that life is the present, and the present isn’t necessarily pleasant, but it is the moment I have, the moment I chose. And lessons can be learned from everything and everyone.


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