NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

Embracing Edginess

April 29, 2010

I just received wonderful news. A cyst was removed, and the final pathology report declares it is benign. One would think I’d be shouting with relief and gratitude, dancing light-heartedly in the streets, welcoming the peace and calmness after months of worry. But no. I’m grumpy. Even with my dog. True, it’s been a most revealing and tiring three months since I found the cyst. Yes, I had minor surgery and there is such a thing as recovery time. Yet this feels somehow edgier and deeper than what’s been happening recently.

 

Then I remember something Pema Chodron wrote in her amazing book, Practicing Peace in Times of War:

 

If you want there to be peace—anything from peace of mind to peace on earth—here is the condensed instruction: stay with the initial tightening and don’t spin off. Keep it simple.

 

 

As I write this I feel myself reaching out to the edgy feelings, instead of making excuses for them—Don’t spin off. I notice the tightening in my shoulders, my jaw. I’ve followed her advice before, and it works. Now I remember. It’s like hunkering down and listening to what is speaking to me in my blood and my bones—a subtle yet powerful voice is bubbling up toward the surface and wants to be heard. The least I can do is become quiet, and attentive, so when it does indeed ripple up from the depths, I can hear what it has to say. Then decide what to do, or not do.

 

To honor the simple yet somehow such difficult act of being quiet and attentive, there has been a change of plans. It’s time to read the novel sitting on the bedside table for a bit, and leave the more pressing list of to-do’s until tomorrow morning when I’m fresh, and perhaps, not as grumpy and edgy. Hopefully my shoulders and neck will have relaxed, allowing more energy and blood to flow and feed my brain.

 

Maybe the voice will speak to me in a dream. Or in the pages of fiction, some phrase or description or bit of narrative will trigger an “ah-ha” moment. Or just having made peace with this edge of not knowing, I will be gifted with the high, clear voice of grace, informing me of some bit of much-needed wisdom, some suggestion for action, or some insight into a tricky situation.

 

Meanwhile, I’m off to sit in the lounge chair with my dog, and read. Keep it simple.
 

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