Last week, someone who likes my Examiner work offered me a job. Basically, it’s doing what I do already- running and writing a blog, managing relationships with clients and running the social networking account for the business. I’ve been looking for work for a while, so I accepted. The situation seems ideal, right down to the hours.
The first day of the job is tomorrow. For the first time ever, I’ll be working in an office with a desk. I’ve been freelancing for so long that it took almost a week for it to really sink in. Tonight, it finally did.
Now, by nature I’m not a nervous person, but my insecurities suddenly washed over me with an intensity that nearly had me with my head between my knees. Sick to my stomach, I kept coming back to zero as I’ve learned in my Zen practice again and again. If I had been alternating ‘mental states’ I probably would have gotten sick. As it is, though, the cycle just kept getting more and more pronounced until I realized I was on the brink of a full-fledged panic attack.
The ‘What if-?’s were building and building. They had no answer. It was pointless to try. The only rational thing to do was to use it as an opportunity to examine my weak spots. This is a major one. While I’ve never run to stage fright, a huge part of my post-partum depression era was to run screaming from any responsibility, because I was so afraid to fail. This was basically an echo- a weak echo at that, but it’s been a while since I’ve felt it, so it came on like gangbusters. Seriously yucky-feeling.
After speaking with my husband, who assured my capability and his confidence (but knowing it had to come from me to be really effective), I called my teacher Seiho. Everything is practice. We spoke for a few moments and I felt like I was on steady ground again, though the nervousness was still present. The ‘bad’ feelings aren’t always going to go away, after all. Gotta learn to cope- ‘swimming in choppy waters’, as he says.
Since I decided to walk the path of Zen, there’s been the interesting and totally organic side effect of appreciating routine. It’s a bizarre thing. I’ve mentioned here before that I didn’t ‘get’ the appreciation of banal activities, but a few days ago I caught myself looking forward to doing the dishes. Looking back, I realized it has been that way for several days without noting it. As soon as it was noticed, the ‘why’ came into my mind- not striving. Not trying, not reaching for something beyond myself or to be ‘more than’ (the ugly flip side of which is presently being ‘less than’).
As I went through my routine tonight, I decided to listen to an audiobook I have called ‘Instant Zen’, a Dharma talk by 12th century monk Zen Master Foyan. I like the way it reads… as if he’s right there, issuing dhamma like a cold bucket of water over my head. Whoosh! Hard to be involved in your little personal dramas when you’ve been shocked awake.
As often happens, I resumed it from where it was playing a few days ago and the two minutes I listened to it had exactly what I needed to hear at that moment, perfectly so:
“In the old days when I was in the school of my late teacher, I once accepted the invitation to go somewhere. On my way, I ran into a downpour and slipped into the mud. Feeling annoyed I said to myself, “I have been on the journey, but have been unable to attain Zen. I haven’t eaten all day, and now have to endure this misery too.”
Then I happened to hear two people ranting at each other. “You’re still annoying yourself!” When I heard this, I suddenly felt overjoyed. Then I realized I couldn’t find a state where there is no annoyance. That was because I couldn’t break through my feeling of doubt.
Hearing this, though the uneasy feeling didn’t leave me, I felt tremendous relief. Representing my best in every moment, being mindful and seeing what is, nothing can happen but what will happen. Surrender myself to what I’ve brought on, not running away, meeting my life head-on in the secular world with the steady ground of this practice, there can’t be failure. I am not less or more. This is exactly what is happening, and all the rest is the empty balloon of thought- like Master Foyan says, sitting on a balloon brings no comfort.
I’m not writing about this trolling for supporting compliments on the job or anything. As always, it is an open offering of experience. This was a tender moment that needed the light of observance which I offer, for what it is.
all aspects aligned
in all dimensions, reborn.
My cup is empty,
the universe pours out
into where I used to be.