When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I kinda rejected the “Faith of Our Fathers”, and went in search of a “better” way. Enlightenment, nirvana, achieving a “Zen” state all seemed to offer an interesting way, maybe a “backdoor” to heaven. That’s not really what this post is about.
Starting week 7 of extreme isolation, with the world all around me being shut down as well, I’ve found myself not really down or depressed, but just kind of floating about in a detached way, with little or no enthusiasm, no exciting projects, no compelling reason to invest myself beyond the very superficial. As I was self-analyzing my feelings (or lack of them), I realized two things.
First, if I remember right, “Being Here Now” is the essence of Zen. And that is pretty much where I’ve been for the last six weeks. And I’m pretty bored with it, which is why I will never reach that state of Enlightenment, where you are 100% happy to live totally in the now.
Second, I realized how much I love anticipation! And therein lies the rub, as anticipation has been cancelled for some dark, murky future date. Someday, there may (or may not) be a cure for COVID-19. Someday, there may (or may not) be a vaccine for COVID-19. Someday, there may not (or still may) be a need to be compulsive about social distancing and isolation. Someday, there may (or may not) be a return to a simulacrum of the life and activities enjoyed pre-pandemic.
As I’m sure I’ve written before, planning a trip or visit provides me nearly as much enjoyment as the trip itself. I can spend hours and hours planning routes, lodging, sites to see, activities, and expenses. My imagination takes me on the trips several times before I go, and my anticipation grows as the time for the trip approaches.
Once on the trip, I try to milk every moment of being there then (heh heh), lapping it up, reveling in it, totally opening myself to the experience. Once it’s over, I like to compare my plans with how the trip actually turned out, and I generally get satisfaction from that. But now, planning feels more like buying a lottery ticket, knowing full well that the odds are stacked against you. The conspiracy of life removing the joy I get from anticipation is ANTI-anticipation. On the other hand, the extra joy I get when I’m living life to the fullest in the moment I planned for I call anti-ci-zen-tation.
So for me, this is a battle between anti-anticipation and antici-zen-tation. Terri said I just needed to fight these feelings, so I guess that would be anti-anti-anticipation. I’m trying to fight it; although there is no way I could even think about planning a significant trip anytime in the next 12-24 months, I am looking at some more local possibilities in another six weeks or so. I may be looking at those reservations with the same skeptical hope I do at lottery tickets, it’s a small step.
PS: I know in the light of the profound suffering of many, this seems puny and very self-centered. It is – I freely admit it. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, who weren’t able to be with them at the end. My heart goes out to those who are losing the businesses they dreamed about their whole lives, and everyone who is really struggling to get by.
I am blessed beyond belief! I was also blessed with a very introspective nature I have to deal with occasionally, helping me to learn more about who I am, even at this age. I share this because you or someone you know is trying in their own way to figure things out right now; this is me, trying to figure out deeper parts of me. I hope your journey, whatever it is, is leading you to light places.