February 8, 2015

day 404

"A friend of mine from Santa Fe went to visit Roshi when she was up in Minnesota.

She said to him, "I'd like to study Zen."

He said, "It's no big deal. Here's a book." He lifted a book off his desk. "You can either fling it down or place it down, like this." He demonstrated placing it down. My friend said the way he placed it, the book became a real being.

"That's all," he said, and smiled.

The tricky thing about Roshi was, the things that were extraordinary about him, you couldn't copy. They came from within him. What you wanted in him had to come from within you. You could get up at four-fifteen A.M. a few times to get to the zendo by five to sit with Roshi because you wanted to be noticed by him or to be with him, but you couldn't keep it up for those reasons, especially since it didn't impress him. Finally, you had to give up all that. You had to do it because it came from inside you, because you wanted to do it, whether he was there or not. And then it even became empty of that. You just did it because you did it."

-- natalie goldberg, long quiet highway

day 404: a big breakfast, a day spent curled up watching movies and napping, and then dragging yourself out the door for one easy mile that you are not remotely feeling. and then it's a mile in and it turns out you're feeling fine so you think you'll just keep running for awhile, and the air smells like wood smoke and then pizza and then bacon and then rain, and the stars are unexpectedly out, the clouds illuminated by an unseen moon. is there lightning? it seems like maybe there is a very occasional flash of far off lightning. you decide you might as well just do your long run today after all. you don't have music, which these days is unusual, so it's you and your wondrous, surprisingly content, quiet, grateful mind. the miles are easy until they are hard, and then hard until they're over, and all of this is completely the point. you run a little past where it hurts, because that's how muscles grow: by breaking down and then mending the weak places until they're strong.

instead of one mile, you run seven. life is unpredictable that way.

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