I went to Bookpeople tonight and bought a new copy of When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. This is the book that I read -- or I should say that R read to J and me -- when things got so tough for us on the road, and the ideas in it -- which come from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, through Pema Chodron, who was his student – got me through that difficult time and profoundly changed the way I live my life. Though my meditation practice has lapsed the last couple years, I still refer to those teachings and ideas daily.
I looked for this book on my shelf last week -- I must have given it to someone, because it wasn’t there. But the more I thought about it, the more hesitant I was to read it again. I have begun to worry that this notion of detachment from desired outcomes -- a central idea in these teachings and one I’ve strongly believed (I have “Abandon any hope of fruition” tattooed on my arm) -- is somehow behind all this chaos in my life the last 5 years. Is my success at letting go of any expectation of getting anywhere the reason that I can’t seem to get anywhere? It seems to me that what I need right now is to get my shit together, not to be cultivating contentment with the fact that I can’t get my shit together. I don’t want to be content with living in a homeless shelter and panhandling on the access road.
On the other hand, the source of this pain I feel now is my inability to let go of the future I had envisioned with M. I’m scared to let go of that vision because it feels like letting go of the very possibility of an enduring bond, a lasting partnership based on love and affection. I didn’t believe that it was possible, not for me, before I met M, but I let myself believe in it with him because I thought I was witnessing it happen. It felt miraculous. And, like most miracles, it was just a lie somebody wanted badly to believe. How will I ever let myself be that vulnerable again?