Important things. Urgent things. Things I had very successfully avoided doing so far.
So there I was, cranking through my list. Maybe you know how this feels. It does not feel wonderful. It feels more like cranking an old-fashioned ice-cream maker, where somebody accidentally put in sand instead of salt. Even though I was working on projects I care about, it was mechanical and dry and onerous. I honestly think it would have been more fun to investigate my own teeth with a pair of pliers.
And then before I knew what had happened, the moon swooped into view. It had been hidden behind a dramatic bank of clouds floating just over my slice of the Tokyo skyline, and it was very dramatic. In fact it was kind of show-off-y, if you ask me. This tiny luminous arc pushed up through the clouds and then kept blooming. I watched it, transfixed, as it rose steadily up into the sky, growing enormously big and bright in its full-moon glory.
I think my mouth might have hung open. It was that sacred and spiritual.
And then I started giggling. I laughed so hard that it’s lucky my neighbors were out or they definitely would have sent over the nice people in the white coats.
I put away my list. I sat down to write you all this letter.
Here is what I remembered!!!
As usual, it was something I already knew. It’s what Martha Beck calls ‘Beginning At The End,’ and it’s serious magic. Here’s how you do it.
First, I thought of this goal that I was so dutifully plugging along toward with my lists and my cranking and my bad attitude.
But I didn’t think about it as a goal I had to work desperately hard toward. In fact, I imagined that I already had it. I imagined it in such gloriously delicious detail that I sat there with a big goofy grin on my face. I might have drooled a little. (This is how you know you are deep in meditation and about to achieve enlightenment.)
I imagined all the feelings that I believe this thing, which happens to be a certain amount of tuition money, would bring me. I imagined how safe I would feel, how grounded and sturdy. I let my body actually sit more heavily in my chair, felt it holding me up. I imagined how proud I would be, and a sense of pride began to well up almost on its own. I felt how calmly maternal I would feel, knowing that I was taking good care of my beloved daughter, and the warm glow of loving her spread all the way down to my fingertips. Also, I truly believe that if I have this amount of tuition money, I will be prettier. Even though I know this is ridiculous, I nonetheless felt my posture straighten a little bit, my chin lift just a smidgen.
And there you go. Like magic, I had given myself the very things I was longing for. I thought I needed the thing, the intermediary, to get me those feelings, when all along they were just feelings, just thoughts, and I could trigger them all on my own. By thinking about safety, I could ground into the support that was already there. By thinking of love and pride, I was flooded with– love and pride.
Weirdly enough, I find that this sort of imaginative play is a powerful magic spell to bring that intermediary thing rushing into the fold as well.
So here is what I wish for you. I wish you moments of timelessness. I wish you moments that are so tiny, so ordinary, and yet so ludicrous in their eager beckoning for your attention (their wild wave or super soar right outside your window) that they throw you out of the relentlessly ticking chronological time, chronos, and into your true nature, which is beyond time, which is what Madeleine L’Engle calls kairos. True time.
And in that moment of truest time, where time paradoxically winks and disappears, may you sink into yourself, find what you are longing for, and then give it to yourself.
On a silver platter, if you like. Though I can also recommend tea and cookies…and moon infusions.