May I meet these waves with oceanic presence,
rubbing the irritations of life against me
to polish the pearl of knowing
that this overwhelm won’t last forever,
that a bead of wisdom is emerging
as a keepsake to remember
it was never about perfection, but presence.
Loved ones, coworkers, and others are bound to irritate us. Maybe they’ve said the wrong thing. Maybe they aren’t meeting your expectations. Your default reaction might be to give them a piece of your mind, to wear self-righteousness with pride and show them how it should be done. Or you might blame yourself and wish you were spiritually inclined to perfection, inviting everyone into your heart without question like Gandhi or Mother Teresa.
What if there was a middle path, a place where you didn’t need to walk into a bed of poison oak and let too much self-identification with the story line get under your skin? You also wouldn’t have to run far away to protect yourself or avoid all the shoulds of the spiritual inner critic.
You should be more understanding.
You should be more kind.
The Middle Way might be a path to the ocean. You could meet the waves of your experience with loving presence, rubbing the irritations of anxiety, anger, blame and sadness against you to polish the pearl of knowing. The overwhelming situation (and your reactions to it) don’t need to last forever. A bead of wisdom could emerge as a keepsake to remember that it was never about perfection, but oceanic presence.
Each new pearl of wisdom that forms from life’s irritations can give us courage to meet future waves of unpleasant experience that break against the shores of our tender hearts. We can travel the middle path again and again because we have tasted the freedom it offers first-hand. The Middle Way is not about changing others or perfecting the self, but noticing how we are overly identifying with a story line or pushing away any discomfort. May we rest in the space of loving presence between the two extremes.
May we meet our waves with oceanic presence. When we forget, when we are stuck in a bed of poison oak or find ourselves running far away as we judge our reactions, may the sounds of the ocean call us back to here and now. May be find our way home.
(This blog post is an intuitive inquiry into the nature of The Middle Way. For more information on this concept, please click here.)