A surprise twist to my year of “bardo:” I’m back in Philly! An 11-month-old (the child of dear friends) asked me to come and play with him for a couple of months, and it turned out to be an offer I couldn’t refuse. So here I am, living a few blocks from my kids and spending most of my waking hours thinking like a baby. Turns out it’s the cutest and sweetest meditation retreat I could’ve ever imagined.
My bardo year so far has been bursting with such a lot of high adventure: skyscrapers and canyons, national parks and remote little towns, rivers and volcanoes, goats and buffalo, friends and strangers. It makes for great stories and photo albums, and I do love that every day is exciting and different. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and can honestly say that I (almost never!) take a moment of my good fortune for granted.
But what’s less obvious and more difficult to put into words is how very secondary all that is, in contrast to the things that are happening inside of me as I move freely through time and space. I can’t really express the way it feels to be so fully in the world while so utterly unbound by it. I’ve spent a lot of my inner and outer life very aware of struggle, and have felt a lot of personal and global heartbreak. I had grown comfortable with thinking that this was how my life would always be.
So it is from that familiar place that I’ve found myself floating for the last nine months in an odd sort of sea of curious tranquility. It’s not the Grand Canyon or the gorgeous Seattle skyline or the beautiful handmade tiles in New Mexico that are the best thing about this trip. Every little bit of those do contribute, but the best thing is a slow infusion of new feelings that let me breathe better, see beauty everywhere, and relax amid the chaos.
It’s wonderful to discover that my life can also encompass this level of inner calm.
It may seem that exchanging the carefree traveler’s life for a life of childcare responsibilities would be a stark and incongruous change of pace. But it turns out that the two worlds are, for me, almost exactly the same. In both lifestyles, the center point is being present in the moment. I know what a cliché that is but I can’t honestly think of any other way to say it. Maybe all those boring monks and gurus have their finger on something foundationally true after all.