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I am sitting in a bar on the way to Racine for the Quest winter retreat.  I actually managed to leave so early as to give myself time to stop on the way for lunch.  I’ve never done it this way before.  My usual way is to pack up very late and/or very early before retreat, cram something into the beginning of the day, start out just a bit late and become utterly frustrated when traffic slows my frantic pace, and finally, arrive at best just as the first meeting begins and at worst, after supper.  This behavior makes it impossible for me to settle in and prepare for the experience.  Some fear, some apprehension, some betrayal of self.

And today — well, I’ve been cutting expectations all week.  Didn’t “finish” Julia’s room, didn’t go to the seminar that I didn’t want to attend, didn’t even hang the four little pictures that I finally framed this week.

And it is all ok.

Perhaps I am taking something of mindfulness in.  Unmindfully, judgementally, I might add, Finally!

So, sitting in this bar and at first feeling guilty and uncomfortable being here.  As if lunch (with a diet coke) is some kind of ultra indulgence that I have no right to.  The physical feelings — part of the week’s assignment in the online meditation course I’m doing — are a queasiness starting in my diaphragm and moving out to the edges of my sides as if not really inhabiting my whole body.

But I settle in, order lunch (and my diet coke) and open email.  We are asked to be computer-less for retreat and I comply to the best of my ability although I am planning on doing some course reading at night and last retreat I wrote on the keyboard instead of a notebook.  Checking email is far away from the spirit of the law, let alone the letter.

In my box, is an email with attachments from my friend whose mother died last week.  She sent the order of service, written tributes and obits for her mum.  This is a woman who I liked so very much.  We met when her daughter was our exchange student and she came to visit.  During our first evening together in Indy, David, she and I went to an Indian restaurant and had planned to go to the symphony.  We ate and talked and missed the music all together.  She was one of those very precious people with whom conversation was effortless.  I have not known many.  So many people knew her so much better than I did, but I was not wrong at all for wanting to know her so much better than I did.  Her husband used the words “generosity of spirit” in describing her.  I have used those words to describe what I want to grow into.  I am not surprised.

I sit in a bar, with a few tears falling into my diet coke and a headache from not having a good, long cry.  I hurt for them, I hurt for myself.  How many times do I need to be reminded to seize life and suck it all dry!?  If I am going to have to hurt this much, I have to suck out all the joy when it is there for the taking.  I am reminded of day lilies — blooming furiously for one day.  Blink, walk quickly, wait and they are gone.