Notes on a Buddhist path

The Sweet Spot

August 12, 2012 By | 6 Comments

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

This weekend I was looking forward to a blissful 48 hours of no plans. No coffee dates with friends, no appointments, no wanton lists of things to do or any other confines that would take me away from writing. The last couple of weeks have been a hard slog at my day job; early days, late nights, meager lunch breaks and last weekend I worked from home as well. Admittedly the work of late has been different from my regular office administration duties. These extra hours have been filled proofreading and editing, work that brings me alive, yet the hours reading words that aren’t mine poke at me sometimes and remind me that the time I’d hoped would be fruited with my words is already spoken for.

At the end of the day this past Friday, my boss reluctantly asked if I and one of my co-workers would be able to proof the latest draft of our project that’s due back Monday morning. A heavy sigh escaped with the words “of course” as I headed out the door. We’ve all been working hard and I’m sure it weighed heavy on her to make the request, but it had to get done. A worker bee heaviness began to coat my weekend wings.

In all honesty it hasn’t been all work and no play these past couple of days. I made my weekly visit to the farmer’s market, finished a few long standing errands and even managed to watch a DVD on Friday night. I worked for a few hours yesterday and this morning relished a leisurely session of yoga and meditation with Clause, my ailing elderly cat, by my side. As I proofread and marked up pages I felt a sting of resentment itch inside of me. At the same time I kept reminding myself to be present with the task at hand, mindfulness passing in and out of me like so many bees buzzing in a garden. A couple of times in the afternoon Clause wobbled into the dining room where I sat and looked mournfully up at me. A soulful meow pressed itself from his concave frame and I petted him for a few minutes before returning to my reading. By the end of the afternoon I’d made my way through all the edits and corrections. A full day’s work spread over the weekend and it was done.

A couple of months ago I got a tarot card reading, something I do every once in awhile to catch a glimpse of what I may expect of the future. The theme for these next six months is to step into soulfulness, intuition and a luscious way of being in the world. My assignment: accept the gifts offered by the universe and notice openings to the fulfillment of my soul.  It’s easy to open to life when it plops sunshine lollypops and rainbows at my feet. It’s quite another thing when life pushes up against me in a way I may not necessarily find pleasant or desirable. And that is where the real work lies. We don’t grow in times of joy; we grow in times of diligent patience pressing us into servitude. It’s in opening to life’s plain, common work, to its daily duties and to the brilliant chance to proofread on a perfect summer’s day.

There’s a sweet spot in sports, a small succinct area on a baseball bat or tennis racket where there is no force, no rebound, no pushing back. When a ball makes contact with it the results are stupendous. When I slam up against resentment or anger or any number of other delusional emotions, I’m forcing my way by means of attachments and aversions while missing the sweet spot of peace that arises when equanimity embraces everything it meets. My life feels so full now; full of gifts and openings that surprise me with every breath. There are words and writing, proofreading and editing, whispers of cello lessons, morning meditation and yoga with my cat. It feels that so much is being asked of me and yet when I stop my whirling and batting at buzzing phantoms I see magnificent spaciousness has found its way to me.

Late this afternoon after I finished my work I went into the bedroom and laid down on the floor with Clause. He looked at me with a bit of consternation and a patch of drool coating his chin. I held out my hand and he pressed his cheek into it. Although words have filled much of my past few days, those moments of lying on the cool wood floor and stroking wet black wet fur were all I needed to feel the sweetest spot I could ever imagine.

Last night, as I was sleeping

By Antonio Machado

English version by Robert Bly

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Last Night as I Was Sleeping” from Time Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado by Robert Bly.

Image credit: Newland’s Bees by Discott – Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Greetings Tess: this to let you know how I receive your blogs…A GIFT! I hear you and am so grateful for your “Suhurat” and what and how you share…This one gave me that moment of awareness that endorses and lasts!…a beam of light! Your life is full of rich and carefully discerned choices…I love hearing about it and the wisdom and light that arise from it. So, herein, another note of thanks as I sniffle and exclaim, “YES”!

    • Lois, you have no idea how your words have touched my heart today. Thank you for your gracious appreciation. I hope wisdom and light travel with you always.

  2. greetingsfromcoupeville says

    Dear one, your eloquent words have been tweeted and pinned because the world should know about you.

  3. Thank you M. I am humbled by your words. My hand to my heart, my friend.


  1. […] be with Clause when he died. I’ve known this day would come for quite awhile. Last week I wrote about our time together on that same bedroom floor, knowing he would be leaving soon, knowing I would grieve and feel the […]

  2. […] be with Clause when he died. I’ve known this day would come for quite awhile. Last week I wrote about our time together on that same bedroom floor, knowing he would be leaving soon, knowing I would grieve and feel the […]

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