I live about 50 miles west of Washington, DC, where the suburbs merge into the exurbs. In 2000, when we first moved in, a neighbor’s cows sometimes got loose and grazed in our backyard. The 16 households that comprise our homeowner’s association chipped in to pave our road, and it’s up to us to maintain it. No government entity plows the snow for us. And the county-maintained road with which we intersect is not high in priority.
In the blizzard of 2010, it was days before we saw any moving vehicle, and the company that usually plowed our street didn’t have a plow large enough for the accumulated snow in our driveway. So it took awhile for things to return to normal. We even had to hire a backhoe before it was over.
Now, we’re halfway through a blizzard that will be about as large as or larger than that one. Having endured four total hip replacements and three dislocations even tough I own only two hips, and having two severely arthritic shoulders, there’s not much I can do about the snow. A good day to catch up on my reading as well as writing.
One of the articles I read was this one by Adrienne LaFrance in Atlantic calling email “one of the world’s most reviled technologies.” If you have been reading Melting-Pot Dharma long enough, you know that I’m about to make a connection between blizzards and email and tie it all in to spiritual wholeness.
I’ll start with the blizzard. Some of my friends react to it by becoming anxious — worrying that they might not have enough milk, or that the electricity might fail, that they might miss an appointment, or that the birds might not find enough to eat. But once we have prepared as best we can and the snow starts falling heavily, there is nothing left to do. We’re ready to practice self-healing by stopping and resting. Here’s a quote from a talk from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:
Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the art of resting. Resting is the first part of Buddhist meditation. You should allow your body and your mind to rest. Our mind as well as our body needs to rest.
The problem is that not many of us know how to allow our body and mind to rest. We are always struggling; struggling has become a kind of habit. We cannot resist being active, struggling all the time. We struggle even during our sleep.
The blizzard forces us to choose. We can worry about it and us, or we can relax into it, enjoying every moment for what it is.
Of course, even though we’re in a blizzard, and even if we lose our power, humans and computers that are still functional will be sending us email. Either today or when the power returns, we’ll have a blizzard of emails, texts and other electronic communications to plow our way through. For many, that can be another trigger for anxiety. In the Atlantic article, LaFrance says “email seems to be infused with an extraordinary amount of dread and guilt.”
I wrote yesterday about the difference between suffering and insufferabilty. The number of emails in my inbox may be an annoyance, but it’s only insufferable if I make it so. If I start to feel burdened or annoyed, that’s the time to stop, breathe, smile and rest.
So what do you get when you cross a blizzard with an email inbox?
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine