I think I’m coming out somewhere on the other side of the work strike that has plagued our company and the lives of our 10,000 employees for the past six months. After countless weeks of not enough sleep and too much food, of tears borne of exhaustion, it’s finally over. Going back to work last Monday was stressful in itself, especially after being prepared in Sunday night’s “psychological debriefing” to expect more aggression, shouting, and verbal abuse. But it was non-eventful and it felt good to be back with the team. We’ve lost two of our team members who decided the job wasn’t worth the stress – one to Vancouver, which – from her email – sounds like paradise, and another to a new job in Montreal. Their leaving has fed my restlessness and left me impatient to change the sameness of my days.
It’s hard to settle back into the mundane, to work at creating something ‘new’ and at the same time, wait for life to naturally unfold as it will – and what other choice is there? Things come in their own time. Trying to rush growth is like trying to rush the wind; we delude ourselves into thinking we can control all things, but it’s delusion just the same and changes nothing except our sense of contentment. I’m so slow in getting that. So many times I remember the Buddhist proverb to ‘hold on tightly, and let go lightly’ – I’ve struggled to understand it, and now struggle to live it. To pour energy into creating something new in an effort to move forward, and at the same time to sit back and wait and to be optimistic, even peaceful, in the ‘old’ requires me at once to free my creativity and harness my impatience - different energies that are born of the same desire. I haven’t mastered it yet, and I don’t know how to master it. It challenges me to be peaceful in the moment, in what I’m mentally and emotionally already moving away from. My busy-ness convinces me that I’m doing worthwhile things, and that slowing down gets in the way. It seems that my most difficult task is learning how to fully live in - to breathe in - each moment.
In writing this though, I’m drawn into an awareness of this moment:
The sound of a skateboard rolls by my open window, a dog barks and a crow caws in the background; a branchy elm brushes against the window screen and stirs the candle flame in my room. I’ve lit candles around the living room, as I do each Sunday when I write, but today I notice the warm golden light that brightens the corners of the room and the scent of satsuma and spiced vanilla that blends with the earthy aroma of fresh coffee. The music blends too – bongo rhythms, guitar and a digeree-doo – hauntingly beautiful melodic compositions played by an Irish couple that I met on the waterfront a few weeks ago and whose music mesmerized me.
Charlie, my kitten, lies curled up on the wicker hassock beside me, asleep in the morning sun. I sit in the rocking chair as I write and feel the words of this quiet morning slip easily across the page, infused with rhythm and satsuma and spice. The music changes and Vivaldi fills my space with soft strings and the background sound of waves splashing on the shore.
I am suddenly struck by the exquisite beauty of this moment – the symphony of sunlight, sound, and scents that plays before me. Have they always been like this, these Sunday mornings that have slipped away, one week into the next? Have I not noticed before, as preoccupied as I’ve been with exhaustion and overwork and the desire to change my life? Have I not heard the harmony in the rustling branches, and birds and dogs, and the laughing voices outside the window – and beneath it all, the sure, steady rhythm of my own heart?