Notes on a Buddhist path

Where, oh where, has my little home gone?

April 2, 2011 By | 6 Comments

I’m moving. I gave my requisite 30 days notice this week and I will be heading to bigger, brighter, and quieter pastures. Having lived in a lower north facing suite through this long, cold, wet winter, listening to the seismic thuddery and verbose fits of a toddler, the mournful barking and howling of an ample sized dog and two adults who teach music out of their home above me, I am ready for a serious change. Here is where mindfulness and trust come into play.

I’ve now looked at five possible apartments in two days and none of them shout out “yes, this is it!” Apartment hunting, for me, brings up the old lesson of settling. It’s good enough, it’ll work, it will do for the time being. How many times in our lives, our days, each moment do we settle for less than what our heart or our spirit desire? Coupled with settling is fear. What if I don’t grab this apartment, this job, this relationship? Better to have something than nothing. Yet skirting along these mind games is the lesson of attachment. How much more do I really need other than safety, warmth, and a roof over my head?

Well, actually I’ve come to realize that I need/want/crave quite a bit more than those basics. Where one place was affordable it was also small, dark and its so-so-sad energy hit me as soon as I walked in the door. Another place was bright, quiet and had a balcony. All seemed possible until my friend pointed out the neighbourhood drug dealer’s house just across the street. One suite had carpets (I prefer hardwood floors), another didn’t have a bathtub (that is my substitute for therapy sessions), still another was filled with light, noise free, roomy and was situated just below a young couple with a two year old. No, I don’t think so.

The last place I looked at today had all the things I thought I wanted. Much bigger, so merrily bright (windows on three sides of the apartment), exceedingly quiet. It had a bathroom big enough to pull up a few chairs for a chat, a kitchen with luminous morning sunlight and at least double the size of the one I have now, and a roomy, peaceful bedroom with a spacious closet overlooking the backyard herb garden. There’s storage in the basement, a place for the litter box (anyone with cats knows that’s a more important space decision than where to put one’s bed) and even a fire escape outside the kitchen window for growing herbs or for a real feline cat nap on a sunny day.

So why am I hesitant? Two reasons really. One is that it’s quite a bit more than what I want to pay. Second is I don’t love it. I want to walk into a place and feel the “wow” factor. I want to feel a sense of ease, that I don’t have to look for another place to be for a very, very long time. But really, how much wow do I need to live in a space where I will eat, sleep and work?  The ego is so brilliant in the way it coils around our thoughts and feelings to convince us we have to have something or we will feel we missed out. The ego says “it’s okay to spend more than you can afford because you deserve it and since you’re thinking of spending this much on a place you don’t love, why don’t you spread yourself even thinner and get that expensive place you went gaga over. After all, you don’t really need to eat, do you?”

Last December I visited Birken Forest Monastery, a Theravada Buddhist enclave near Kamloops, British Columbia. One evening at tea I asked Ajahn Sona, the monastery’s abbot, for some advice. I was going through a big transition time having just moved to Victoria and I was between jobs and a direction on where to go next. He gave me perhaps the best piece of advice I have ever received in my life. “In any decision,” he said, “always make the brave choice. You will never look back in your life and say ‘wow, I wish I hadn’t been so brave.'”

When I sit with my choices and what the brave decision about home might be I get a clear message to wait, to trust that the right and proper place will appear. The one that may not scream “wow”, but will imbibe a measure of peace and joy when I walk through its door. The one that will fit my budget as well as my sensibilities.

In the Dhammapada the Buddha says “gradually, gradually, a moment at a time, the wise remove their own impurities as a goldsmith removes the dross.” We cling to this life and its seemingly inexhaustible list of choices as a drug addict clings to their next fix. The hope of something bigger and better around the corner just leads us to going in circles, chasing after a shadow that doesn’t exist. When we can let go of each passing desire as so much dross we lighten our lives and our suffering.

I know my apartment will show up. And when it does we will celebrate finding each other. A little Miles Davis, a little wine and a beautiful sunset. Here’s looking at you, home.

Comments

  1. you HAVE found the right apartment by now, right?? may you be happy.

  2. I have Peter! More amazingness arrived today so a new posting will be up tonight. Metta to you.

Trackbacks

  1. […] those of you who read my last entry about searching for a new home, I could have written this bit of good news the next day since that […]

  2. […] Home has been an elusive theme for me. The surprise of finding it in plain sight felt a bit like floating down a familiar river and rounding a bend to view a part of it you never saw in quite the same way before. Perhaps it takes your breath away or in the least it brings a smile to your thirsty lips. […]

  3. […] Home has been an elusive theme for me. The surprise of finding it in plain sight felt a bit like floating down a familiar river and rounding a bend to view a part of it you never saw in quite the same way before. Perhaps it takes your breath away or in the least it brings a smile to your thirsty lips. […]

  4. […] those of you who read my last entry about searching for a new home, I could have written this bit of good news the next day since that […]

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