Monday, May 21, 2012

embracing uselessness

Teaching meditation to Norwich City College students: validating to see how far I’ve come since school, to see what life experience and the Dharma has given me; humbling to realise how I am still the scared seventeen year old who doesn’t know what to do with her life. And good for my ego that most of them weren't really engaged in what we were saying. My friend said, “Humiliation is good spiritual practice.”

It’s all in a theme for me: dropping my expectations of how I’d like things to be, letting go of the idea that I need to be perfect, seeing that I can’t do everything. I cannot keep this up. Not just the overtime at work, the commitment to Sangha projects, the daily meditation and yoga practices and the practice journal, the meeting up for coffees and teas and the endless emails. I can’t keep up with all that, but furthermore, I cannot keep up this idea that I can control every facet of my life, or even every facet of my job. And I cannot keep up the belief that my self worth is defined by my accomplishments.

But what happens when I let that go? What happens when I stop over-identifying with my job? What happens when I realise I can’t have an eye on everything, that some things will go by without my say, without my input, without my presence?

On one hand there is an immense relief. I can stop. I can not go to that event, I can not offer to cover that class. But behind that is a frightening realisation…that it will all go on without me. That I don’t need to be there. If something needs to be covered, someone else will step up. And if it’s just a case of being present at an event, or showing up at a class, I realise…I’m not that important. My presence does not make or break other peoples’ experiences. What a blow to my sense of self, the importance I’ve pumped into myself.
Fear wells up. If I’m not there, will people forget me? Will someone else take my place? Will I become dispensible?

And if I am not always doing something, leading something, practicing longer or more often, then what good am I? If I can’t show you a list that I’ve checked off, if I can’t prove my worth, if I can’t earn my keep and my space, then what good am I?

I fear I will become lazy, indifferent, uninterested. I will become uninspired, stagnant, boring and unnergised. If I do not move forwards I will slip backwards.

But there is a quiet counter voice. It says my worth is innate, not attached to a spiritual checklist. It says I do not need to do, but to be. It says here I am. It says, lovingly, that I am useless. It says 70% is perfect. It says practice Just Sitting. It says stop, and rest, and trust that what I do is enough.