I didn't intend to go quite so long between posts as this, but things have got in the way. I mentioned before that I was going to spend more time gardening over the summer, so you might assume from the title here that I'm going to entertain you with stories of all the blissful afternoons amongst the shrubbery that have kept me away from blogging. But as so often in life, it hasn't been quite like that.
There has been time for a bit of horticulture in between the traditional English summer raindrops - not to mention the gale force winds that ripped the honeysuckle off the side of the garage - but in fact my protracted absence has had more to do with unscheduled health problems than to undue time spent dawdling over the bedding plants.
I mentioned a while back that I was going to be consulting a specialist clinic about my CFIDS. Tests have now been carried out and I'm duly imbibing a host of noxious concoctions to start to put things right. Which means that I'm now in one of those 'worse before you feel better' situations, with which all of you who have consulted an alternative practitioner will no doubt be only too familiar. On top of which, I think I may have contracted a stomach bug, though with everything else that's going on, the truth is that it's difficult to be sure.
I've been ill for about twenty years all in all, so you'd think I'd have got used to it by this time. But my condition is variable, so I experience different degrees of feeling ill. There are times when I've managed to organize my life around the condition so well that I pretty much forget about it altogether. But these last few weeks, I've found myself remembering how I was at my worst, and tapping into some of the trepidation, helplessness, and sheer mind-numbing frustration which went along with that.
In other words, I've been arguing with reality. I've been feeling ill but wanting to feel well, not just at some time in the future, but right now, this moment.
If I'd read my blog carefully, I'd have known this wasn't a good idea.
It's fine to imagine a healthy body, to conjure up dreams we would like to bring into being, but to wish for the present moment to be something other than how it is is like banging our heads against a wall. And that's what I've been doing.
It's funny - when you're down there, when you're doing that, it's often difficult to see that you have any alternative. I found myself wishing I had some complex routine of spiritual practice to which to turn to help me to find a way out of it. There's something to be said for Dharma, I think. The only thing I do every day is meditation, which isn't always enough to knock me out of that old familiar human condition of raging against what is.
But then, the other day, I suddenly found my way back. I found the key and turned it in the lock and emerged into that wonderful garden where struggling ceases. The tension inside me faded away and I felt an energy flowing through me, as though everything I'd been raging against was now a part of my own power instead. It was as though I had been struggling against the river of life, but now I had turned and allowed it to carry me forward.
All of this was familiar enough. I've now experienced it numerous times and have written about it here on the blog before. The key, too, was familiar to me. I've written about that too, over and over again. And yet, as always, to take that key and feel it turn in the lock and actually emerge into the sunlight of the garden came as a wonderfully welcome surprise - as though it was happening to me for the very first time.
Regular readers may have guessed that the key I used was acceptance: that I simply accepted the way things were, including how I was feeling, instead of raging against it and demanding that the universe be other than it is.
I feel I should scream this from the rooftops. Simply accept this present moment, really accept it, and you hold the secret of life in your hands. That is all you need to know about enlightenment, all you need to know about anything. Once you accept What Is, in this one moment, right now, then all the tortuous ego dance of 'what if', 'if only', 'I really have to' and 'I shouldn't have' can finally fall away and leave you free to live your life as it is, in the glorious wonder of the present moment.
It really is that simple.
At least, when you're there in the garden, it seems to be that simple.
And yet, curiously enough, when you're here on the other side of the door, it doesn't always seem to be quite so straightforward.
I spent that whole day 'in the garden', 'in the zone', feeling the universe moving through me. And just for the record, no, I didn't make a miraculous recovery. Yet feeling as relaxed as I did, I felt a lot better, and the remaining discomfort no longer seemed so important.
But now, several days later, I am outside the garden again. I have found my way back to the door and am holding the key in my hand. But I can't seem to quite turn it in the lock. You know how it is with keys sometimes. You need to have the knack. Just jiggle the key a bit to the right, or a bit to the left. Or pull up the handle of the door while you're trying to turn it. Every key is different.
But right now, I no longer seem to have the knack of opening this particular door.
I know that the key is acceptance, but I can't quite seem to quite manage it. I tell myself I am willing to accept what is. From time to time, I even seem to do this. But I am still outside the garden.
So I ask myself: what is wrong? What I am not accepting? Is it the way I am feeling? Or is it something else?
And I have come to the conclusion that it is something else.
What I am not accepting, right now, is that I am standing outside the garden.
And I won't get back in that place until I do.
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