The practice of meditation has afforded me what appears to be a lifetime of food for thought. Yet the simple act of butt meeting cushion can be reduced to a very basic question: Can I try to focus on just being for 15 minutes today? 20? During that time, can I relinquish my urge to do stuff? Yet, without fail, while practicing I find myself ping-ponging between being and doing. Mentally writing this to-do list or that blog post. Then remembering the breath, noticing the things going on around me, the honking rush hour traffic, the oscillating fan turning my way, the flicker of the flame in front of me, ceaseless feline activity. Perhaps part of the point is just noticing this tendency with a light touch and a sense of humor. I think of it as my doo-be-doo-be-doo practice. I hum it to the tune of Strangers in the Night, perhaps an apt analogy for the struggle between accomplishing and simple existing.
Recently, I came down with pneumonia that had me flat on my back for a week. Then I was traveling in a country where I speak the language poorly and could not do many of the things on my growing to-do list. Without the ability to doo-doo-doo, I found myself wondering, like Little Orphan Annie, how am I going to earn my keep? As if my self-worth and very value was tied to my ability to do, to achieve, to cross things off the list.
But part of what I am learning from my study of Buddhism and practice of meditation is that I don’t need to earn my keep, per se. That inherently I, and all beings, possess basic goodness, something that is constant and pure, though often forgotten or obscured. I’m not unrealistic: I know how important it is to do, to make progress, and to bring home the bacon, or in our case, the tuna. But I do feel it’s important to periodically remind ourselves that even when we are not able to doo-doo-doo, we can just be our basically good selves. And that is more than enough.