An unexpected evening alone at home, and I’m filling it. It’s so interesting to watch what I do, I’m pretty highly directed inside.
- Give a co-worker a lift home to SF, with a little side tour of where I grew up
- Pick up groceries, a roast, shiitake mushrooms and golden beets
- Make my first stew of the season, messing up and cleaning up the kitchen
- Work on memorizing a buddhist prayer
- Balance three checking accounts, for my mother and myself
- Pay bills in Canada, for things Nancy and I bought together
- Put on a James Bond movie (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”)
It’s just 9pm, and I’m getting ready to dine. Diana Rigg graces the screen in the background, one of my favorite actors. But it seems worth pausing, and looking at my last three hours. I’m loving the phenomena of my life.
In buddhism, phenomena are all the things that we experience and sense as incarnate beings. There is a lot written about this, for example, Steve Tibbetts says,
All objects that can be encountered or taken up by the mind are, while appearing clearly, devoid of inherent self or essence…. all phenomena, inner and outer, mental and physical, have no inherent essence or existence. They merely appear. The true nature of phenomena places them beyond the extremes of existence or non-existence. The true nature of phenomena is luminosity, selwa, the unity of appearance and emptiness.
Good to remember, since it’s all so pleasurable, and easy to get attached to. I feel so joyous cooking and eating a lovely stew, I’m happy watching the movie, keeping the paperwork together. I won’t die wishing I had seen more movies! But on the personal level, I’m having a delightfully sensory evening, with a sense of accomplishment.
Ah, the stew is excellent, with a touch of apple vinegar and red wine, the slight sweetness of the beets and carrots, sauce thickened by potato, fresh herbs, well-carmelized pieces of beef that I still consume with a blessing. The pleasure of taste and smell, after bringing my touch and sight and mind to the creation, is so full.
There is an urgency to what I do. I notice that I want to fill every moment of my life…I awake at night, and I meditate to soft presence. I have a few minutes while dinner sautés, and I move things up and down through the house. Even in this moment, I am hearing the first rain drops fall in months, and I think about what I might need to go running outside and take care of. Some part of me wants to cram every greedy moment full of aliveness, experience, presence, even as I contemplate the duality of “myself” and all of these activities and pleasures.
Oh, hell, I just remembered how this movie ends, Diana Rigg dies in his arms. Is that phenomena too? Is our mere existence, our incarnation, simply phenomena? I’m no longer present, wondering if I actually want to see the end of the film. Shall I watch it, and cry at the end? Thoughts pile on thoughts. The Diana Rigg I am watching no longer exists, as she is seventy-four years old. Do I feel sad about that?
I take a deep breath, and return to the present. It’s all just phenomena. All of it, even my grief. I relax back into the movie (or is that “my life”?) anticipating all my feelings as I watch. Phenomena are so delightful.