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Equanimity Arising

Can you call it “equanimity” if it comes and goes?

I had a day recently at the beginning of which there was a storybook sky and at the end of which I marveled at my own equanimity. I had a relaxed, open attitude to the whole day and everything in it. Boy, it felt good! I went to pickleball, had fun playing, enjoyed all the people there, and then, somehow (obviously, because I’m 72), pulled a muscle in my hip. Ooh. Played another game even though it hurt and then thought I’d better stop. I called my Super Fabulous Magical chiropractor and as always, got an appointment for later that day.

If it’s not close to dinnertime, Miles is the picture of equanimity.

My hip hurt but I felt peachy, nonetheless. I knew it would pass, as do all my little injuries. I had things to do and I did them. I went to the bank and had a pleasant little chat with the young teller. At home I watched, mesmerized, as a fallen tree was being removed from my neighbor’s carport roof with some kind of giant cutting-and-picking-up contraption. Fascinating! My life felt good.

Then I went to see Mr. Magic, the chiropractor. That was fun, too. A lady brought her little dog in with her. Everyone seemed to be in jolly moods. Mr. Magic did all the adjustments, told me not to sit, to ice and then stretch twice a day. “Stretch how?” I asked. “Use that sheet I gave you.” In all these years I had/have no memory of ever having received a sheet. “Well, could you give me the sheet again?” When he handed it to me, he said, “In ten years when you come in with this same thing, I’ll give you another sheet.” Fun.

I marvel still at that day. I had to stand up for piano lessons. No matter. At little Henry’s lesson, there was the usual fidgeting and messing with the pedals, which I have asked him a hundred times not to do. “The piano is not a toy!” I’d said, again and again. On this day he was doing it again and I was asking him not to. Then he says, while fiddling, “Is this the one that’s just for fun?” Aiyiyi! “No! The piano is not a toy!” I was flat out amused, though. Enjoying this little cutie pie. The whole day long, everything seemed so easy, as if me and my life were sailing along on a tranquil lake in a small blue boat. I marveled. I have marveled at it again and again.

Especially since it was followed by several days of moods, worry about my dogs, and grumbling. Anger with the bank. Wishing for sun when the day was gloomy. Wanting not to do my tax prep. Etc. So if equanimity is defined as “evenness of mind especially under stress” and/or “general balance and harmony,” does one day count? Even though the day included a pulled muscle, discomfort, and inconvenience (but also Henry)?

I think, as Jack Kornfield says, equanimity can “arise.” I let it arise on that great day full of ordinary things. I did do that. Humans are just not capable of letting it arise all the time. Are we? Well, maybe some are. But are they, really? A very few might be. But do you know one? I don’t. Even the Dalai Lama gets rattled. Jack Kornfield too, probably.

“Those who are doomed to become artists are seldom blessed with equanimity. They are tossed to drunken heights, only to be brought down into a sludge of headachy despair; their arrogance gives way to humiliation at the next curve of the switchback.” – Patrick White, Flaws in the Glass

“To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.” – Pema Chodron

“Equanimity arises when we accept the way things are.” – Jack Kornfield

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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