The practice is not knowing. It’s a practice for a reason. I want what I think is right. I want what is best for everyone. I want. I want. I want. Even when I say I’m not attached, willing to accept whatever the outcome, open to the unknown. Secretly, I’m holding out for my secret agenda. No matter how deep my intention or how honest I think I’m being, there is, lurking under it all…things will go my way.
I’m finally seeing at this very subtle level, walking around with this “I know what’s going on” energy. I think I’m open, ready, accepting, ready for whatever life hands me. But, isn’t being ready actually a kind of control? Ready for what? If my stance is one of being ready then perhaps I’m actually bracing for…the unknown…the uncertainty…the not want I want.
What does this openness look like? What does it feel like? Random? Haphazard?
There is a difference between accepting and allowing. Acceptance feels like stipulations are part of the deal. Allowing is being completely open. Not knowing.
This is my zen practice. Bearing witness to the not knowing so I may respond with a sense of compassionate wisdom. And then yesterday:
The vet opens the door and motions me, “Come with me”, he says. Walking behind him, I’m wondering where my Lucy is. I see her, leash and dog, being held by the vet tech.
We take a left turn into a small examining room. I already feel like “scared woman walking.”There’s a large computer monitor on a desk. The vet, in his grey scrubs begins; “Here’s Lucy’s leg, here’s the bone, here’s the tendon. And here, this big ball of fuzzy mass. That’s a tumor. And see all those spindly fibers? (Am I supposed to be answering as if I’ve seen numerous x-rays of my dog’s skeleton?) The tumor’s moved out into the surrounding tissues. He rattles off what for him has been said hundreds of times before.
To me it all begins to sound like blah blah, blah blah blah. Woosh. Ears fill up with water. I’m waterlogged. I can pinpoint the moment grief was stirred.
Metastasized/lungs/amputation/two months/six months/pain relief.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Lucy’s wagging her tail. The vet tech is waiting for the doctor to finish. He’s hanging back.
Dogs don’t live through this kind of cancer.
Electricity is moving up and down my body. Up and down. Tears. Tears. There is the space around me and it is holding me.
The young man returns the leash attached to Lucy back into my hand. The vet says I’m sorry one last time. “Go home”, he says. “Talk to your husband”, he says. And then, “I do recommend amputation…as soon as possible.”
But, go home. I want to be home. Now.
Lucy and I walk back to the examining room. The door closes. She wants another treat, up on the counter. Thinking…”Lucy has bone cancer. She lives. She will die.” Can I hold the space for both of us right now? What is holding the space? The afternoon sun coming through the window. Now. Now. The wind is whipping up the last of the autumn leaves. Now.
Moment after moment, simply breathing the truth of the moment which is nothing more than what is. Exactly. Just this.
It’s all a test. I sit. We sit. For the benefit of all sentient beings. And then we bump into life. Or more accurately, life bumps into us. And there, the practice holds me, joins me. Embraces me. There it is. The poignant “not knowing”. Not knowing is trust. Radical trust. Every moment is exactly how it is meant to be. There’s no question. I return (almost daily) to Byron Katie’s quote, “when you argue with reality, you suffer.”
I can’t and won’t begin to talk about what Lucy has meant to me, what she’s given to me. She’s still alive and I owe her my presence and love and care. That will be for later. Later than sooner. I’m being greedy. I want the most I can have of her. That’s not my choice is it?
Being “comfortable with uncertainty” doesn’t apply here. There’s certainty in each moment. Certain. Certitude.
I couldn’t be more certain than this.
~The blue sky and bright day.
No more searching around! ~Mumon’s verse, The Gateless Gate, Case 30.**
**Borrowed from “Paradise in Plain Sight”, Karen Maezen Miller, Chapter 5