My birthday was this past weekend!
That means more than just a good time with good friends. It means another year under the belt, another chance to reflect on the past and the future. Although my birthday party of this year looked very much like my birthday party of last year — the same guests, the same snacks and decorations, the same board games — so much of my life looks very different from how it looked at the beginning of 2010. Some of the changes have been expected, and some have been painfully surprising.
This birthday finds me at such a transitional point in my life, having just finished graduate school a few weeks ago. The next few months will bring a new place to live and, hopefully!, a new job. While I wait for the pieces to fall into place, I’m trying to be grateful for this in between period, this time to keep my heart open to whatever the future brings.
So today, in honor of my birthday, I’m sharing some thoughts on living in transition by the brilliantly wise teacher Pema Chodron, from her book When Things Fall Apart.
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.
To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness, and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.