I got a lot done, I enjoyed life, and I felt good about my sense of being. But when I went to bed, my task manager application told me I had a long list of uncompleted tasks, and a still longer list for today. I would once more spend the day crossing off the big “to do’s” and pushing the others off to another day.
But when I woke up today and the urge to cut my morning routine short and get started in the office arose, I chose to look the other way. The pressures of business deadlines have subsided and I was fortunate to notice my mind transferring this sense of urgency to other matters. Instead of allowed this to happen, I took a break. I not only spent a little longer than usual reading, but I did so without an eye on the clock. And when I had taken my fill of spiritual reading, I meditated. After that I did something I have not done in a couple of months: I threw the I Ching sticks, took a Tarot reading, and went for my morning exercise walk with weights. Finally I did a couple of light household chores and re-potted a plant before formally starting my day. It was not until 10:00 (five hours after I woke up) that I finally sat down at my desk…and even then I spent an hour reading and settling in!
Today is a good day!
It’s easy to say that on a beautiful day when the spring colors are bursting out (as in the picture). But seeing that today is a good day makes me realize with great clarity that every day is a good day.
A couple of months ago, in Too Much To Do, I wrote about how, despite being swamped with an enormous volume of client work for my business along with the other responsibilities and activities that are important to me, I knew that by simply getting up every day and doing what needed to be done, everything would not just work out okay, but rather everything would be wonderful. I wrote:
“I know with absolute confidence that the end result of this daily activity will be that all of the client work that needs to be done by March 15 will be done, and done well; that the blog and radio show and speaking engagements will continue to flourish through this period; and that my other important activities and personal relationships will be just fine.
I am incredibly busy but I am truly happy. … I am happy because I am in just the place I want to be, just the place I need to be.”
Looking back on the last couple of months, what I said would happen did happen: all my client deadlines were met; I was financially very successful; I continued to invest time in the relationships and activities that are important to me (including writing this blog); and the experience of being truly happy continued.
Today is a good day. I have allowed myself to take a break from everyday activities and slow down. I have allowed myself to look at where I am now and at the experience of the last couple of months. I can see that during that time I found a pretty good balance between, on the one hand, planning and working and getting things done, and, on the other, with not getting caught up in the planning and acting. I just got up every day and did what needed to be done. Sometimes it took longer than other days; sometimes there were conflicts and tough decisions; sometimes there were close calls on deadlines. But in the end, everything happened exactly as it was supposed to.
Perhaps the most important thing about what I did over the last couple of months is that I kept my spiritual practice going. Through the toughest, most overwhelming times, I remained committed to my daily reading and my daily meditation. There were days when I did not meditate till eight o’clock at night, but it remained an important part of my day, a place from which peace and a sense of being could leak out into the rest of my life.
I was reminded this morning of a Zen question-and-answer (technically a “koan”, Case Six from the Blue Cliff Record if you want to look it up…):
“Yun Men said, “I don’t ask about before the fifteenth day, try to say something about after the fifteenth day.”
Yun Men himself answered for everyone, “Every day is a good day.”
There are a lot of interpretations of this story: we can understand the fifteenth day to be the full moon, which symbolizes enlightenment, and see “before” and “after” referring to before and after enlightenment; or we can see this as a reference to the Buddha’s final discourse which was given “at midnight on the 15th day of the second month”; or we can see it as an arbitrary distinction between past and present. But I believe to get caught up in these distinctions is to miss the point. Every day is a good day. Every day is neither past nor future nor anything else: it is just now, the eternal present moment. And it is good.
I am also reminded of the recurring phrase in the creation narrative that opens Exodus:
“…and God saw that it was good.”
Actually it doesn’t matter if I’m happy or sad, busy or free, overwhelmed or relaxed, it’s always good. And what’s more, I know it’s good, even though I’m not always able to slow down enough to notice; even though I am sometimes so immersed in the flow of activity that awareness subsides and I lose touch with my sense of being.
The opportunities are always there, but today is the first day for a long time that I’ve allowed myself a long chunk of time to slow down and just “be”. In doing so I have been able to reconnect with who I am, with who was there all along, and to see that I’m happy, that the world is beautiful, and that I am full to the brim with love and gratitude. I’m able to see that actually nothing is really different today than any other day, except I am a little less caught up in doing and have allowed a little more room for being.
Every day is a good day. Sometimes we are more aware of that than other times. And on days like this I realize the profound importance of my own journey, a journey which I continue even in my busiest of times, a journey of cultivating awareness not just for myself, but for all.
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