Yesterday i learned that, in French, the days of the week are named for the planets and Lundi (Monday) the moon. And it blew my mind.
I should be mind blown that i am learning such French things because i am living in Marseille. But i am not. I am actually quite not in shock, quite comfortable, harmonious with this two and a half month little French life i get to live. Such ease has a lot to do with what else i have been learning lately: to be present to the "immediacy of the experience."
This lesson is courtesy of Pema Chodron and her book When Things Fall Apart--it's not something i was reading because i was in a crises, but rather something to read in order to learn to embrace crisis. Other wisdom bits include asking how willing we are to loosen our grip and how honest we want to be with ourselves; with curiosity, what might seem like a problem becomes a source of wisdom; that we ought to relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart (my God, dont you just love that?! LIMITLESSNESS of the HEART!); Pema says that "we use our emotions. We use them. In their essence they are simply part of the goodness of being alive [but] instead of letting them be, we throw kerosene on our emotions so that they might feel more real;"(her language in this next bit, as in the latter, is what touches my nerves) when you fall in love, you should recognize the impermanence of it, and let that intensify the preciousness; by looking into our own hearts we find the completely unclouded and awakened experience of how things really are--experience being our ultimate teacher because our personal experience is the only true experience we have and we must totally commit to this experience so that we might totally commit to an unconditional relationship with reality. So wise.
I want all of these words, particularly the first bits (i love the intensity of the word immediacy with experience), and the last: commit to an unconditional relationship with reality, tattooed on my body. And i am only half kidding. Actually i am not kidding at all, i am just trying to decide what i want scripted on my left arm so that i do not forget what i have learned. It is one thing to learn such things though, another to put them into practice.
The thing with practicing presence, though, is that it cannot really be taught. I feel we are all at one time or another, in fluctuations throughout our days, present and totally gone; it is a human struggle to be immediate, to be not planning, or thinking of anything other than what we are currently a part of. And really, there is nothing wrong with that. You see, what i have found is that our daydreams and reflections are as much an integral part of our present being, equally shaping our reactions and opinions and permeate our sense of self so that we may be less black and white. Less "now here" vs "no where." We cannot be told which one to be, or even which one we are, but we can notice, when we are here or entirely somewhere else just how grand our connection feels.
That, to me, is the greatest way to learn about presence: to truly allow oneself to feel connected. To notice flow, ease, the un-blown-ness of the mind. For me personally, it is when i don't feel the need to rush, when i don't create an agenda, instead allow the day to take me somewhere in and amoungst or completely free of routine. I love routine. I love finding a rhythm to move to, a clean line to my day. But i also love when that line zig zags or the rhythm changes to a heavier, jazzier beat, and i can stay with it--presently.
For example, today was my first day alone in Marseille. After a short but the absolute sweetest reunion with my soul brother D (who, p.s. recently accused me of being too present moment....), it is just my English speaking self to hang out with. And down the rain comes. Literally. It poured until about 2:30 this afternoon. This was no trouble for my sleepy, jet lagged self, as it provided a good excuse to stay inside, pants free, with wine, and words to write. When it did let up, i left to get more wine (for just 3 euros i should note...and a chocolate bar that cost three times as much), and managed to find, seamlessly, all of the places that D and i hit yesterday. This is a grand feat for someone who is notoriously lost, and one of the signs to me that i am exactly where i need to be.
This ability to navigate in somewhere unfamiliar has only happened to me twice before: in Sanfrancisco some odd years ago, and more recently (as in two weeks ago-ish) in Yelapa Mexico. There is so much, so so much i could write about Mexico (and have already written so so much on SF), but if i could say one thing that i took home from there was living the lessons of being in the immediacy of the experience, and loving, unconditionally, my reality. I found that balance between planning or expectation (ive also wrote alot about expectation) to motivate my days, and simply allowing what was offered to happen. I found a balance between the black of control and the white of simply going with the flow by being present for each experience, seeing how i was behaving/feeling/sharing in such moments and letting myself learn about, well, myself. In that way i began to see that it wasnt black or white at all, just as it is not yin or yan. It is yin and yan, the same sides of a mountain, with the sun casting light on one but not the other, but the same rock form all the same. It was all just me. And that was mind blowing.
You want to blow your own mind? Spend some time with you. Notice your habits. Notice your routines and whether you like them or not. Notice what rocks you and what lulls you. Drink wine in the middle of the day. Or dont. Wear pants. Or dont. Meditate. Talk out loud in whatever language you wish or wish to know. Create something, even if it is just a piece of yourself you want to know more intimately. Pema says to point to your own heart, see your fears, and discover what is true. The source of wisdom happens directly in the moment, when we stop to experience each moment as new and stand with pride and recognize its sacredness; i say that in doing so you become more comfortable with the present, less on either end of a dramatic spectrum and more in harmony with you.
So i hope you didnt expect to learn about my time here in Marseille through this post. I mean really, not alot mind blowing has happened: i have grocery shopped, yoga'd, drank, and danced, alone and with some beloved company. Just another Samedi--Saturnday. Just another stream of thoughts, some pictures to follow, and stay tuned for more moments, including what i choose for that tattoo...