I used to wonder if the “back to school” feeling went away– that persistent knot in your stomach, the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not you will like your teacher or classmates, the shiny red apple advertisements all over the stores, a child wearing a backpack and smiling (what’s so happy about a time like this?). The school supplies made me nervous, too, yet I loved writing neatly in the first page of a new notebook, the cover clean and a little stiff to open.
The “back to school” feeling did go away. I think this is the first year that I didn’t feel like I was going back to school, even when I wasn’t. And now there is mostly joy as autumn approaches. Even though training oneself to look at the good in all things is an ongoing practice, I can sense improvement in my perspective, even just a tiny bit.
Right now it is raining and I am enjoying the sounds: the strong smell of wet grass, the steady trees, the incredible morning quiet. I’m thinking about how there are always changes to endure and that we can’t always be in control of the outcome. And what is the outcome anyway? It seems even that can change.
I used to think that we had to put on blinders and ignore the hard parts of change, keeping our eyes on only what is good. In some cases (the fun times), it’s okay to meditate completely on what’s good, but it is tempting to become a pleasure addict and lose the lesson that can be found only in what is hard.
The key to my anxiety has been seeing life as a series of problems that need solutions and the anxiety has been tightening me up in fear. I’ve been impatient and desiring ends. It wasn’t so much the end of summer that I had been lamenting, but the beginning of a new school year that was not even close to being over yet, the beginning of winter, the book I’m still reading (how many pages left?). In my life, I’ve wanted so much to finish, to reach the end, and then when the beginning came again, it wasn’t enjoyed because then I’d be anxiously looking toward the next end.
My mantra this month is to enjoy what I’m actually doing instead of craving the high of accomplishment, of finishing, of finding a solution, of being done. I realize that the happily ever after ending, like in the fairytales, is not reality in this life, that this life is much more complexly beautiful than that.