My mother can’t sit still. Neither can I. In spite of years of a semi-regular meditation practice, exercising like crazy, giving up caffeine (seldom and sporatic), and a host of other techniques, I still can’t sit still. In fact, the most accurate term for my behavior is “squirmy”.
I squirm. A lot.
For ages I tried to fix my squirminess. But after reading the following in opening pages of The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron:
When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are.
I finally realized that I am my squirminess and my squirminess is me.
I like being busy. I like being caffeinated. I like having to sort through chaos. I like having a to-do list eleven miles long.
After coming to this conclusion, I delved head first into as many projects as I can handle.
My current list of active projects includes:
- building and finishing (in the woodworking sense) a bookcase
- sorting through my enormous pile of mail and magazines
- cleaning out our shed
- overhauling my mountain bike
- planning trekking itineraries for our new travel company
- working out all the details of starting a small company
- creating a website for above company
- exercise (gym, swim, climb, run, bike, whatever)
- photography (both educating myself and taking photos)
- two different design projects: a backpack and a crash pad
- finding fenders for my town bike
My current list of inactive projects:
- cheese making
- chocolate making
- training for a marathon
- repairing the fence
- building a new compost system in our yard
- buying and installing a stereo in my truck
- overhauling my touring bike
- cleaning out and donating all the crap I have in my basement and house that I haven’t touched for two years
- antique sewing machine repair
The really interesting thing about projects is this: they truly are meditative.
Even though the list seems crazy and disjointed (which it is), it also allows me to enter a place of stillness and presence of mind.
It‘s exactly what Robert M. Pirsig describes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I never truly realized it before I started on my projects kick, but I am seeking stillness amid all of my chaos. I want to be the hummingbird, buzzing wildly around. Beating its wings 50 times per second, yet still enough to slurp nectar from a flower.
While staining the bookcase last night, I had the most fantastic time. I had a beer on the windowsill, all of the lights on in the livingroom, blues playing. Just me, the paintbrush, and the bookcase.
That is all that existed.