Seven houses, more precisely. Seven houses I didn’t get. And to extend that precision, I am not literally a train, nor have I even figuratively been thrown off the primary track of my life, having never chosen one. However, since I started actively looking for a house I have slept less, drunk more, eaten worse, shortened my meditations, and written almost nothing. House hunting in an inflated seller’s market, in a good economy, is fucking with my Qi. How embarrassing.
On the plus side, it’s been a long time since I experienced ongoing, uncontrollable anxiety, so I can better sympathize with my countless anxious fellow humans, and I think that has real value, especially since I live with one of them. Anxiety is such a fraught physical and mental state, and so hard to adequately convey; I won’t even try.
As I was going through this sleepless mini-hell, Ben would occasionally say, “imagine how bad this would be if you didn’t meditate daily?” and I couldn’t help but think of that Brady Bunch episode. You know, the one where they go to Hawaii and Bobby finds a cursed totem and makes a necklace out of it and they keep narrowly escaping terrible deaths, like a tarantula bite and a surfing wipeout, and they keep saying, “good thing we had that good luck charm” when really it’s bringing them bad luck that they barely avoid succumbing to? I know it’s ridiculous to think that meditation could be making my life worse. But is it really ridiculous? Yes. It is. Still, it is important not to become complacent, to keep questioning. Mostly, I think this sitcom keeps emerging in my brain as a cover for my real fear – that after years of meditation and several years of serious commitment, I could still be derailed by a fucking house. Pardon me, seven fucking houses.
Another benefit is that trying to talk myself out of my anxiety, while futile, has led me to semi-daily sessions of appreciation for all the reasons I shouldn’t be anxious. I know how lucky I am: to have a safe home and money and a job, and friends & family & health and a beautiful city; and the opportunity to experience joy and wonder; and the ability to recognize and appreciate all of that.
I’ve also gotten a tasting spoon refresher of the unfairness of life – the “what do I have to do…” frustration of doing everything “right” and having it not work out the way I want it to. I have sometimes feared that I have been too lucky: that getting what I want, even when those desires are perfectly humble, is a dangerous thing. And this time it hasn’t gone so easily. So I appreciate this experience. I really do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get what I want, or something in that neighborhood. More than anything right now, I just want it to end. Living with equanimity when living with expectations has proven nearly impossible for me. How do I appreciate my neighborhood while excitedly making plans to leave it? How do I bid on a lovely little home without fantasizing about how we’ll spend our lives in it? As a result, I’m developing a greater understanding of what goal and future-obsessed people go through all the time. Christ on a cracker, how do you do it?
So my month away from the blog has been chock full of lessons and failures. I hope you’ve fared at least as well.