Thursday, 23 February 2012

Day 32

Digitalis, Low Meadow, Day 47
These are entries from my 100 Days log, from 26 June 2011. They are edited for clarity, but otherwise typical. Notes added for the blog appear in brackets.

Very sleepy, from getting up so early this morning. There's no place to nap here, and that's a blessing; keeps me from sleeping the day away. I did sit four times, and may do again in the tent before bed. Once, half a dozen chickadees invaded the Tyvek shelter, searching for food and flitting about.

My eyes have really gone. Can't make out tree types and birds at a distance. I feel like Burgess Meredith in the bank vault.

Surveyed the fruit trees in the orchard. A few have embryonic pears; some have tiny apples. The black walnut is covered with tiny greenish-white flowers, fragrant and often growing in pairs, though you have to look hard to see them. But you smell them when you walk under the tree. No hazelnuts, but the barberry bush is full of pinhead-sized fruit.

Practice doesn't really come into force until about this point in the ango. Before then, you're adjusting and finding your routine. Plus you don't need it, because your mind is kept off your suffering by worldly concerns. Now I'm more settled in (though you're never really "set" out here; never bored), and without normal distractions, both the disease and the cure are more evident. You feel the unease, and so crave the practice. I got up this morning chiefly to sit. I'm reminding myself more often that it's "time to sit," not from obligation, but a sense of need; I want to do it. It's become a natural priority. But it took this long for that to happen.

I repeat my Chinese brother's mantra ["If you don't practice out here, you'll go crazy," from Amongst White Clouds] whenever the solitude feels lonely or I feel a little panicky. Which is normal, when you're completely alone for long periods of time.

My meditation is deepening, finally. It's been off for years. I'd like to return to the quality I had when I started.

I think about those days a lot out here, especially now that it's warmer and sunny. This place feels very much like the woods in Québec, where I spent so much time when I became a hermit. Like there, it's humid and spongy and muddy and earthy, and melting hot in the sun. Flies and mosquitos. Same smells, same sounds: birds, insects, babbling water, wind in the leaves. The sounds of rural activity: motor sports, dogs barking, traffic in the distance, agricultural machines.

Same feelings coming back too, right down to sadness about the marriage and missing my wife, which I haven't done in a long time. I think in French very often out here. Didn't expect all that, to revisit the divorce and my rebuilding afterward. The earth played a major role, in fact the major role, in that recovery.

I went to the barn for water after supper, and when I got back, a brand new molehill was under my pack [kept on the night hoist, suspended at chest level]. The moles here are militant.

These days, a voice says "Past" when troubling memories rise. Which they often do. Remembered happiness or contentment, I let be. Reaching calm, peace, acceptance. Getting better.

Mosquitos, like the ants, have come out in force since it's warmed up. Still very few in the morning, when it's still bone-chilling cold, but afterwards they whine in clouds. I've become used to them, and scarcely notice them when I sit now. But I have to reapply repellent now; used to get by with once a day.

I'm also often badly startled these days by things briefly glanced that my mind identifies as someone standing in front of me. Or behind me, if I've turned around. Once it was my robe, hanging on a tree. A few times it's been my [suspended] pack. I jump hard, heart racing, zero-to-sixty terror in a blink. Followed by a flood of relief when I realise it's not a person, and a weak, trembling sensation. This happened once before, during the period when I'd first got PTSD. Some of that debris must be washing up now, too.

So quiet now, you can hear the silence. Nothing but birds and mosquitoes in the stillness. There's a dove across the ravine, a woodpecker in an apple tree in the low meadow, and a chamber ensemble of songbirds in the forest around me.

Good day; warm, summery. Eden-like after 1600. Productive.
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