I missed yesterday’s post; it ended up being a bit of a crazy day. I biked into Lower Manhattan to drop off some supplies at my temple and to check out the scene. People were using fire-hoses to “de-water” their basements and shops all over Lower Manhattan and pushing their flooded-out cars down the block, and cars and bicyclists made up our own traffic rules. People in the Alphabet City projects and in the Battery Park area (technically an evacuation zone!) were rather shell-shocked but it was hard to tell exactly how far the flooding had gone or what the damage was in every case. I suppose the aftermath of the storm – living in the City of Darkness – is at least as traumatic for us go-go-go New Yorkers as the storm itself.
Last night I went to Radha Govinda Mandir for evening bhajans. I haven’t been in ages, and it’s been a long time, too, since I sat in kirtan. Something my soul needs more often. At the same time, yesterday I was remembering two tendencies and wondering whether they may have been in play: first, to default to action rather than intentionality; and second, to run around seeking catharsis rather than being. I’m not sure my activities yesterday were a manifestation of those two tendencies, but they’re definitely something I need to watch out for.
The other big challenge I’m facing right now is my number one tendency: obligation. When I’m feeling obliged or bound to certain things, then it’s hard for me to do what I actually need to do, versus what I think I have to. I also get very tense, walled off emotionally, and bitter. This can be very tricky when it’s about schoolwork, because technically I have to do it all, but some of it I really feel obliged to and don’t want to… leading to procrastination. (It’s a lose-lose.) Right now, I’m feeling obliged to taking care of certain people, when I think I’d be better off treating these few precious days as a break to spend time seeking deeper faith and getting my (mountains and mountains) of schoolwork done.
Thomas Merton has a verse along these lines:Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.
The trickiest part for me is knowing what is actually required, when there are so many things to be done. I suppose this month is about finding more intentionality and sacred direction. Lord, guide me.