I’m feeling weird these days. OK, but weird.
The whirlwind and pink glow of early sobriety is fading and the over excitement is settling. I’m looking around my life and realising how much of it is about escaping the present moment. TV, eating, working, podcasts, busy work, (blogging even) all designed to keep me from being quiet with myself. What the hell am I so afraid of? I’ve had weird moments of insane joy (don’t know if I’m losing my mind here people). Small flashes of intense joy, just being with my children looking at their faces really BEING THERE with them. I’m oscillating between these small flashes of joy and flatness. I also have these thoughts of how I had a narrow escape from death. I feel as though I’ve dodged a massive bullet by being able to get sober again and it’s making me really emotional.
I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book ‘The wisdom of no escape’, I highly recommend her book, the teachings can very happily sit next to any religion you practice.
In the book she tells a Zen story about some tigers and a strawberry. I’m changing the monk to a woman because that’s the way the author told it and because I can…
There was once a woman who was being chased by a ferocious tiger across a field. At the edge of the field there was a cliff. In order to escape the tiger, the woman caught hold of a vine and swung herself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, she saw, to her dismay, there was another tiger on the ground below her! And, furthermore, two little mice one black one white were gnawing on the vine to which she clung. She knew that at any moment she would fall to certain death. That’s when she noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, she plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in her mouth.
She never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.
One could simply interpret this as “when your life was in danger or you have a near death experience life becomes really clear and you appreciate the present moment so much more.”
Another interpretation is that the tiger below represent the anxiety of the future (and also our inevitable death) and tiger above represent the pain of the past.
The vine is the material world and the mice the passage of time. They are black and white because they symbolise day and night. This represents how each cycle of day and night brings us a little closer to death.
The strawberry symbolises the energy, beauty and vitality of the present moment. It is always there, available for those who are willing to bring awareness to it.
We are all born with one foot in the abyss, it’s the human condition. I once heard a talk where the speaker suggested you set an alarm on your phone each hour to remind yourself of the pure miracle of your existence! It’s a bloody miracle that you are alive and that you are breathing, each moment is a miracle. How quickly we forget this and take it all for granted.