“You are never going to get it all together.” ~Pema Chodron, American-Buddhist nun
This is one of my favorite teachings from Pema Chodron, every few months I stumble back onto it. Each time I find my way back I realize, “Ah, I’ve started trying again.” I’ve started believing in the possibility of getting it all together, getting it all done, getting my life in order, tying up all the lose ends of the moment, being “on top” of my email, workload, household chores, even my emotional states.
There is so much support in N. American culture for the idea of “getting it all together.” It’s easy to start believing in the possibility of it.
“If just get those new storage cubes, and a shoe rack for the hallway, a more comfortable work chair, faster computer, new internet modem, better vacuum…then...”
What is at the end of that “then.” I’ll never know. Each time I catch myself in this pattern I remember that then is now. And that I don’t have to wait to enjoy my life. Life is not a never ending to do list, unless we make it into one. Life is washing the dishes, cleaning the floor, doing my work, writing this post, tending the gardening, sleeping, being with friends, going to meetings, drinking a cup of tea, watching my cat snuggle with a turtle.
When something crazy happens, or something we call crazy but which is actually normal in the grand scheme of things:
a massive flood, a hurricane, a friend dies…
all the stuff is dropped and people are suddenly out on the streets surrounded by muddy possessions, accepting help from neighbors they’ve never met, sobbing into the arms of a person that a day ago they would have called an “acquaintance,” holding hands, giving love, living wholeheartedly with one another and we think,
“What was I so worried about yesterday? The sun was shining, the rain was a pleasant relief from the drought, my friend was here, our basement was dry.”
For a few months, days, moments, no problems exist within the scope of something bigger than. And then the dust settles. The grief lifts…little…by…little.
We start to try again,
to get it all together, until we remember we cannot.
And we have a good laugh because we catch ourselves trying.