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Dancing Ecstatically.

Some weeks things fall apart.

The job is lost. A parent or your children have hurts you cannot protect them from. A person you love gets a diagnosis of something terrible and unfixable. Taxes are due. You forget a meeting. You say or do something that makes someone feel small. You break something that can't be replaced. The love affair ends before it begins.

The way I have learned to get by is to be zen about it all, to be not attached, to let what comes come and what goes go, to embrace the terrible, beautiful truth of impermanence and of a lack of control, and to let people and situations just be what they are, without the need to change them or want them to be different. To be present and full in this moment. No future, no past, just now.

To be grateful for all that is.

I've got that, in spades, the gratitude. Because gratitude is easy. It's an easy emotion to hold. I vastly prefer a full heart, a deep breath, and a thoughtful rumination on impermanence to arguing with reality. I've basically perfected a mild shrug, a sigh, and the thought Shikata ga nai, or "It can't be helped."

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.

I've come to see even that can be a crutch. My pattern in the past has been to pull away from the pain almost immediately into blessings-counting and cognitive repose. I don't deserve to have to get to feel anything unpleasant because look at all I have to be grateful for.

And guess what that does? It gets me off the hook of pain, and keeps me from feeling stuck, and as I used to say, "wriggling on the pin." I can't be hurt, or disappointed, or despairing if I really don't want anything, never expected anything, or didn't count on anything.

Not getting in the ring is a lifestyle decision. Not feeling anything, not risking anything. Keeping everything at arm's length. Cut and run before the last song plays.

What this denies me is the experience of Quan Yin, the Saint of Compassion - the experience of suffering that deepens and connects our experience to that of others, so when they suffer, we know. 

I Know. I suffer with you.

I tried something different today, with Ken, my brilliant and skilled therapist.

Ken said, after I had run on for 15 minutes about what I thought, "When you stop storytelling about what you think and what it should be, tell me what it IS. What it feels like."

I opened one eye, and peered at him from behind my squinty eyelids, sitting zen-style, hands in my lap. I took a deep breath.

"It hurts," I said.

"Where?" he said.

I swirled a hand roughly over the center of my body. "In my chest. My throat feels tight. My heart aches. My stomach is shaky."

"Can you sit with that?" he said.

"Yes, but it makes me want to cry. I wanted to cry all day yesterday and last night." I said.

"It's OK if you cry. Can I support you in that?" he said.

"Sure," I said, and, reluctantly, I let him hold my head as the dam broke and I wept.

"How does that feel?" he said, when I stopped.

"Better. Now I get to learn to like wriggling on the pin, right?" I said to Ken, snarkily.

"Maybe you can think of it as dancing ecstatically..." Ken replied.

"...Because it's feeling, and it's real. Welcome to being human. Isn't it beautiful?"