(Tonight, I’m putting this photo up for sale on Maria’s Etsy Shop.)
I love train rides, the trip to New York City from Albany takes about three hours, and is a gorgeous ride along the Hudson River. I love the feel and sound of trains, they are hypnotic and mystical to me.
I had this idea that Maria and I need to take the train to Montreal, which is about the same distance, for a weekend.
If she likes the idea, we’ll start saving up.
On the train, I meditated, and the teacher suggested emotions as todays’ topic of thought, – there is one for each meditation.
“Emotions are a part of life,” he said, “giving color and feature to our experience. We don’t need to be free of them, we only need to befriend them.”
I have always seem my emotions as something I have to work on, something I need to control or push into the background, or simply stop thinking about. Something I need to stuff into a corner.
I learned early in life to hide my emotions, as it true of so many men.
In meditation and in life and thought, I have always turned from the fear and anger that have driven so much of my life. I always try to run from these emotions.
I saw them both – resentment and regret and some bitterness – as things I need to shed, and I have worked very hard to do that. In mediation, whenever I felt anger or fear – or the countless grievances and resentments I carry around in my head sometimes – I focused on my breathing, or some other object or thing to distract.
It never occurred to me that I ought instead to stop running from the emotions inside of me, but simply accept them as a part of me, of my life, love, creativity and my writing.
Emotions have plagued me about also been of great benefit to me, they have made much of my life – the farm, my books, my love for Maria, my photographs, my love of dogs – possible. They have, in fact, shaped and colored my life.
They are not my enemy, in accepting and understanding them (which I have worked hard to do for years) I have also learned to have perspective. Anger and fear rarely, if ever, shapes my life or decisions now, and when they do, I recognize them right away as something I need to understand and accept, rather than act upon.
In one sense, they are real, in another, they are just strong echoes of the past.
Looking out at the beautiful Hudson River, I turned off my Aretha Franklin’s “Amazing Grace”album, which I have been listening to for hours. Instead, I thought about seeing my strong emotions as my friends, and I instantly felt a great sense of liberation and freedom, a great relief, a load lifted from me.
The meditation teacher said would be liberating, and it was, almost instantly.
I have often felt anger and fear and grievance, but also love and passion and strength. They have not stopped me, just slowed me down, and caused some pain.
My work is not purging myself of the emotions that are me, but of simply nodding, and saying, yes, those are things I feel, that is a part of me, but that is not the way I need to live. I don’t need to run from them anymore, or purge them. Another gift of meditation.
I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. One of my emotions is a tendency to berate myself and feel stupid.
I don’t really need to do that. I just to nod, and say, “hey, there,” this is a part of me. It doesn’t control me, I just need to shake hands, say hi and move on.