Seems like I should have known this before. But I am mostly indoors in the evening. I am not sure why. It is cooler and lovely most evenings in Ojai. Last night I was watering as it was getting dark and I realized that there is this whole world of things that happens in my backyard as dusk settles in, that I miss every night because I am inside my house, doing, well, I can’t even say. Sometimes it is reading, chores, working, sometimes I am watching Netflix. Often I am not even home. I am out galavanting around with teenagers which is its own kind of fun.
I have been trying to get an evening meditation thing going for about 25 years. And last night was the first night I can claim any success. I actually returned to my meditation garden and sat on my cushion and meditated. And this is how I came to know that the night belongs to the crickets. I have lived in my home seven years this month which is longer than I have ever lived under one roof...ever. I think I knew there were crickets. I am sure that I did but that fact did not permeate my existence. It didn’t matter or really even register. But as I sat in full lotus last night, I was completely aware that the crickets owned the night.
How could I have lived here for all this time and not realize how loud and active they are? How could I be a person living a life and miss such a marvelous sound that one who lives in a bucolic area would have occasion to know?
I have been too busy that is how. Consumed with thoughts and schemes and plans for my future: work, not work, children, child rearing, dating, relationship issues and the like. In short, I have been consumed with self...again, still.
But last night as I sat in quiet contemplation of everything and nothing, I became aware of the whole life that I miss that occurs every night in my backyard. Available to me at all times, I am just too busy with other things to take notice.
I have believed that my life would be more grounded and peaceful if I meditated at night as well as in the morning. The morning thing has come and gone, but it is always on my list of things to do every morning. Meditate. Yoga. Walk. Gym. Write. These are my daily essentials. And I have been married to them for decades. But I have been in a kind of open marriage with them - they are always on the agenda but they don’t always get my full attention.
As I navigate another relational ending, causing the inevitable questioning of what my part was/is and how I keep ending up where I find myself, I have leaned heavily on this morning routine. Coffee. Writing (I am just not sharing all of them at the moment). Walk. Meditation. Yoga. Gym. I need these structures to my day to keep me moving and sane.
But I am a little like a flag being unfurled - tightly wound, committed to form, but then once I open up, the day begun, I am a bit of a loose canon. And so I just waver until I collapse myself into bed once more.
I have long had it on my daily list to meditate at night. It is even a manifestation on my daily inventory. But up until last night it was either something I didn’t think of until the following day, “Fuck, I forgot to do that last night!” Or something that I thought of and then very quickly decided I didn’t want to do it, “You could meditate now...yeah, I don’t want to do that I am too tired.” Yes, I actually said that to myself like meditation is too taxing an endeavor...
Well, that might be because it is. I have seen pretty stalwart people brought to their knees in trying to develop and maintain a mediation practice. And perhaps besides getting sober or going to the gym, I think a meditation practice is the thing that is avoided more than any other. Which is funny because all that is required is that you take yourself somewhere relatively quiet, and just exist. You don’t have to have props or mantras or even know what you are doing. For me, meditation practice is about sitting with myself, as I am, every day so that I come to know myself better, more deeply and with more compassion. And that is not even the goal. The goal is to become more awake in my own life but even that isn’t the goal I sit with everyday. Actually, truth be told, I have no goal in my practice everyday except to do it. Faithfully and gently.
I am finding that meditation practice is a fountain of self knowledge and awareness. I can’t change anything I do not know about and develop awareness about. And I am not sitting there to change myself, but to come to know myself better. The evaluation of things I would like to change comes later after sitting day after day with myself as I am and doing my best to drop the storyline that tells me I am nothing or I am a really big deal. Both are operative all the time, at least in my mind.
So last night it was a total delight to have finally added an evening practice to my day and to find that the night is enveloped with cricket songs, longing for love and companionship. Calling to each other, “over here, I am right over here!” And that makes me think of us, doing the exact thing in relation to others, except perhaps we do it worse than the crickets. They have no pretense, they are out looking for love and sex and they are pretty open and honest with their pleas...us not so much.
And it was there on the cushion that I contemplated my own attempts at love and once more found them so very lacking. But instead of launching myself into action, I just sat with the feelings of loss, sadness, despair and a fading hope that I will ever be able to sustain an intimacy as I listened to the cricket song that took over the night. And I was there, alone, but content as the evening turned into night. I was there on my cushion, alone and safe and I felt cared for, in a kind of universal sense with myself, about myself.
I care about me. I am listening to me. I am taking care of me in ways that I have never before. And I don’t know if that gets me any closer to finding a partner, but it does make the life I am living right now more peaceful, kind and affirmed.
Joke appears to be on me again...I have avoided sitting with myself every evening because I was so afraid of what I might find and as is usual, I overcame the fear and was rewarded handsomely with a new experience with myself...and crickets.
And it was lovely, so lovely that I intend to keep this practice going. A nice bookend to all my self care mornings. I think that I deserve a nice peaceful quiet reflection upon day’s end. I am not sure why I haven’t allowed it until now, but I am grateful that last night I just sat quietly under the emerging stars and Wisteria and came to know myself (and crickets) a little more deeply.