well, i finished the essay at around 3:30 this morning, and i was so hopped up on caffeine that i probably didn’t drift off until some time around 4. my alarm, of course, was set for 6:30, because i figured it would take me an hour to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head to the shuttle for 8.

i’m glad i had that foresight, as it took me an hour to do anything other than press the snooze button.

sometimes i can function of very little sleep, other times it feels like i have to remind myself to breathe. today was one of those second times. maybe it was because in the few hours that i napped, it had rained again and i woke up to a soft grey sky; maybe it was that i literally had just enough time to throw on the clothes that i had dropped at the foot of my bed, grab my computer disk and head out the door; but whatever it was i just couldn’t shake myself awake.

i must have looked like the funniest sight: wild (and red-) eyed and wild-haired bee, stumbling towards the bus with her briefcase full of school books in her purple fall jacket and her orange shoes.

i bought my orange shoes to wear to a maceo parker concert back in july. they have bows on the top and thin rubber soles. i love them first of all because they’re orange, second because they’re slip-ons, and third because even though they’re shoes, i can still feel the earth under my feet when i wear them.

i sucked at meditating the first couple times i tried doing it.

i don’t know if it comes across in my writing style here, but i can be a pretty excitable person. people have described me as ‘child-like’, ‘bouncy’, and ‘full of energy’ my entire life, and i remember my mother once exasperatedly telling me to go to my room and try to just sit for a while.

i couldn’t. there was this force that seemed to propel me off the ground, in the same way i couldn’t handle silence, or being on my own.

but the idea appealed to me – meditation – the idea of sitting still, and allowing calm to enter and flood my being. i just wasn’t ready for it yet.

when i was in my early 20’s, i met a good friend who introduced me to buddhism. i had dabbled a bit already, but with his influence i started to seriously read the dhammapada, and books by thich nhat hanh. i was really struck by the idea that every action could be a meditation, if one stayed in the present moment and remained mindful. with that awareness, washing dishes could be a meditation, or reading a book, or soothing a child after a fall. anything.

i liked how that idea felt under my skin, and i started trying to remain more inside the moment. which was very hard for me to do.
i can be a squirmy bee, for sure. i plan lots, dream big dreams, and can be the ‘what’s next?’ girl if i’m not careful.

this summer i travelled by myself across the country to b.c. for 6 weeks. i had a lot of friends and family out there, but in essence i was alone. this was meant to be a sort of self-test. the last time i had travelled alone anywhere was to california in 2003, and i crashed and burned on that particular venture, so i needed to know that i could take care of myself for an extended period of time.

this year, in fact, has been about me learning to take care of myself, by myself, with no safety net.

i didn’t just go to b.c. to test myself, though, i went to heal in a lot of ways, too. most of my family i hadn’t seen in at least 10 years, if not double that. both sides of my family, since my parents’ divorce, had just gotten progressively more and more pissed off at each other. living that far away from the drama, it just looked to banane and i like some gigantic, immature game of telephone.

i spent the first 10 days of my trip in vancouver, with the aunt that i hadn’t seen in 17 years. and while i was there, i found out a WHOLE lot of family skeletons that i was uncomfortable – to say the least – with. like ginormous, racist ones. i felt myself biting my tongue the entire time.

at the end of the week and a half, i escaped to victoria for 3 days, and for those 3 days i did approximately the following, in varying amounts:

  • talked to met on the phone
  • slept
  • ate
  • drank wine
  • biked around
  • lay on the beach

oh, and i also watched the quarter-finals of american idol. but i digress. on the second day, i found myself on gonzales beach, which is the beach in the picture.

to be honest, i love the ocean, and i love the beach by the ocean, but gonzales was a bit too crowded for me. so i started to walk. away. away from everybody and everything.

before i knew it, i had reached this stillness, both exterior and interior, that i had never felt. i could feel my blood pumping in my wrists. i could feel the sunlight splitting over my head. i was aware of each muscle in my foot bending and squeezing its way across the sand.

that was my first true experience with mindful walking, and good lord, i got addicted. for a walker, there really is nothing better – to just concentrate on the movement. each tiny, impossibly infinite movement.

i realized early on that my snazzy orange shoes were going to fit the bill for the fall months when it got too cold to barefoot my meditation around montreal.

and so when i stumbled out of bed this morning, and had to go back to my bedroom five separate times because i was so tired i kept forgetting things, and i couldn’t make coffee, i decided to put them on. so i could feel the pavement beneath my soles, the soft fall grass, and try to pierce through my space cadet uniform.

it was hard. at first i kept noticing things and thinking about how much i wanted to blog, or take pictures of. ooh, look at the contrast of those red berries on the yellowing leaves of that hedge! that line from that sexton poem – i could use that in what i’m working on. i have that story due for next wednesday. etc., etc. so i started trying to incorporate my five senses.

the air smelled like nothing but cold. all of the fall colours (tree, and leaf, and burning bush, and house) stood out at once soft and incredibly vibrant after the rain. i listened to some girls speaking spanish together at the bus stop. i felt the soft cloth covers of the poetry books i’ve been carrying around to read at any small moment. and i felt myself sigh, just a little bit, and realize again, just how lucky i actually am.

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