Sitting With Sylvia

We’ve all experienced some pretty powerful emotions since Tuesday evening and I wanted to share the experience I had at Spirit Rock on Wednesday…

Having listened to many of Sylvia Boorstein’s dharma talks, I have always wanted to sit with her. I’ve had her schedule marked on my phone for some time and was looking forward to a Wednesday that I could head over to Spirit Rock! Lori and I were planning on going yesterday, but a couple of weeks ago she let me know she would be unable to make it and I kinda put it on the back burner,,, until I sat in our meditation group Tuesday night and felt so much better…

I don’t know about the rest of you but upon entering the building that evening I sensed a palpable energy, and it wasn’t necessarily a good energy (for me at least). The results of the election had begun rolling in and it wasn’t looking good. A sense of shock pervaded the room and our faces showed it. This was monumental. Historical. And there we all were – together. What meant the most to me was the actual meditation, which became calm and peaceful and I sensed all of that energy that had been detected earlier dissipate in our common goal of coming to that peace that passes understanding and that presence we have all grown to know and love.

On returning home I felt the unease begin to creep in again and I thought to myself, “Well this was so wonderful tonight – I will journey to Spirit Rock in the morning”.

Leaving at 7:25, I was quickly engulfed in the bumper to bumper commute traffic, with no agenda accept to get there by 9. Listening to a dharma talk from Dharma Seed, I was cool. So cool that when Siri suggested a quicker route I thought I didn’t have anything to lose! (Plus, I changed Siri’s voice to the Australian male, and I just couldn’t say no!) Before long I found myself going through the town of Novato (or was it Petaluma?) and out into the country. I began to look around at the stunning landscape and felt such a sense of peace and connectedness with myself, the land, and curiously enough, my country. Truly, I felt at one with the universe and ever so grateful that I have the practice that I have. Just loving life and all that it entails – the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the sadness and the joy of living in this human body on this fragile planet.

I remember thinking as I slowed down to snap photos that I would be fine if I didn’t make it to sit with Sylvia, although I was sure she would be imparting wisdom and dharma in her inimitable way that would surely inspire my post-election increasing sense of well-being!

As I zipped along I passed the most stunning glass-like lake. The reflection of the land around was perfectly mirrored on the smooth surface. The heavens came down and landed on the water with such clarity I was stunned.

And that is when I passed the Highway Patrol who instantly turned on his lights and siren and yes, I was pulled over. It has not been a regular occurrence in my life but indeed it has happened more than a couple of times! I was so taken with the experience I was having, that I was pretty much nonplussed with the speeding ticket… however, I will admit as I pulled away my mood did a little bit of a nose-dive. I thought to myself, “How funny, for this is life. One minute blissed out, the next – not so much”.

I eventually made my way to Spirit Rock and being about 20 minutes late, I opened the door quietly and tip-toed in.

And sitting up in front of about 70 folks – was not Sylvia.

It was Tony.

Tony, Sylvia’s friend.

He was great and his dharma talk was on point – compassionate and relevant to what we had all just experienced.

And that is when I had a good chuckle over the best laid plans and expectations we project in our lives. Whether it be a beautiful and inspiring drive through the countryside being sidetracked by a speeding ticket, the expectation of sitting with Sylvia turning in to sitting with Tony, or the fact that the one I expected to lead our country will not be doing so.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we talk about the “ism” of alcoholism. It’s mostly discussed around the notion that alcoholics are different from the rest of the normal folks of the world. The “ism” of the disease supposedly sets us apart from our brethren and the idea is to fight hard to recognize and eliminate or minimize behavior that may lead to another drink. I haven’t particularly been a fan of this concept, but I do know many who hang their hat on this concept and live their lives in the “ism” of the disease.

What I have learned in my years of spiritual inquiry is I have adapted the “ism” of living. The “ism” of just living life on life’s terms – as in “It is what it is”. This is the “ism” I choose to hang my hat on today, and I have been greatly enriched and blessed that you folks are all on this journey with me.

Or I with you. Heck, we’re all in this together!