Staying open to life on the road is easy. There are always fresh sights. Fresh people. No responsibilities. No drama. I would wake up at 7 am and be greeted by a new day with a full range of possibilities and no obligations.
Staying open to life when I am living my daily is harder. Each day is like a ball that the world says “catch.” There is so much coming at me in terms of my job, my friends, my commitment to health, that I find myself tuning out just to stay afloat.
The most difficult situations to stay alive to are the tough ones. I want to wrap stories around them just to condense them to bite-size understandable portions. I want to freeze them into pieces and make sense of them. I want to do the right thing.
But life isn’t a one-dimensional experience. It is round and full of movement and ultimately, irreducible. Nothing is ever just one way. Truth is much larger than logic.
The cool thing is that lately I can feel how this frozen life is different than actual life. I don’t think that was always the case. But now, I have this emerging sense of how this story-telling is less than the fullness and trueness of what is. And I have a small, growing feeling of how to stay in the tumbling current of everything that is happening. Feeling things, letting them really touch me without flinching, is intense.
Last night I happened to go to a dharma talk where the speaker was talking about how this aliveness is the path. Learning to stay present is the ground of Buddhism. This isn’t a far-off conceptual idea. It is every day. It is about being happy, really happy. And about being sad, really sad.
So my question for the Buddhist speaker was this: if we stop telling ourselves stories about the world, and just let it be incredibly messy and confusing and with no clear answer, how do we act? How do we know what to do?
And his answer (paraphrased) was that we don’t. Let go of the idea that you know what you are doing, that any of us do. Being human means nothing works out the way we plan. Just do the best you can. Bring your heart. Enjoy it all.