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Archive for June, 2011

I have written time and time again about the benefits of learning to sit with ambiguity and the healthiness of accepting the  impermanence inherent in life and in being human.  I do believe these are indeed worthwhile skills or attitudes to cultivate and discipline in oneself.  I have experienced many moments in my life in which challenging myself to sit with ambiguity or reminding myself of the impermanence of life has led to greater growth, greater happiness, or greater insights.

Recently my car was broken into.  My in-dash stereo was ripped out unceremoniously leaving an ugly, gaping hole and broken black plastic strewn all over the seats and floorboards.  No more music during my 30+ minute drives to and from work.  No more feeling of security being parked outside my own apartment.  No more feeling of being safe.  My horror at the destruction of the interior of my vehicle made me realize that, on some level, I am actually fighting against the fact that all things change and pass away.  In the moment of seeing the damage, I did NOT accept that, for example, something as simple and material as my car is subject to the laws of impermanence.  It bothered me to see my car in this “changed” state from fully operational to vandalized.  Maybe being bothered by this situation would be considered very normal by most people?  Probably.  But what I’ve been cultivating and focusing on–this idea of acceptance and impermanence– has not “sunk in” as deeply as I might have assumed.  My reaction to this break-in is evidence of that.  I can understand the concept of impermanence intellectually and agree with it, espouse it.  This situation teaches me that I am further from really knowing the truth of impermanence at my root, feeling that it is true in all situations, all times.  Part of me feels like if I had been able to see this situation through the lens of accepting impermanence that I would have suffered less.  Hmmm.

Here’s the rub for me:  how do I reconcile an appreciation for impermanence with my own safety?  I truly felt unsafe being at home after this violation.  It was a challenge to not think about this happening again in the future, or launching into planning how to control my car at all times, even when I am not present.  So this situation has also brought up in me my need to control things in my life.  It is hard for me to accept even just this idea that I cannot control what will happen to my car–even if I get the flashiest, most expensive car alarm–it could still get stolen or vandalized.  Period.  The idea that I can 100% control things in my environment is indeed an illusion.  But it is so tempting!  I WANT to feel as if I have some modicum of say in what happens to my possessions or how safe I feel.  I am interested in reducing the likelihood that my space will be violated even knowing it is never guaranteed no matter the steps that are taken.  This car break-in smacked me in the face with the fact that I am not invincible or untouchable and that the physical world is subject to natural (or forced) deterioration.  In some ways I feel I’ve failed the Car Break-In test.  And I have increased my suffering because of it.  If I were to fully accept the impermanence of the physical world, a car break-in would not be as shocking and perhaps I would not take this act so personally.

It gets me wondering how a Buddhist nun might respond to a car break-in?  And, is that really my goal:  to be like a Buddhist nun in all things?  

current music faves:  lady gaga (ha!), adele, metric

current show faves:  the killling, game of thrones, united states of tara, bones

breakfast today:  vanilla yogurt, sliced bananas with granola on top

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