To continue with the fly theme, broadening out from meditation into life in general – something that I am always trying to do. I treat so many ‘problems’ like the fly. I spend so much time and energy in worrying about what is going to happen next, what might happen, about what has happened previously(less often), trying to predict what will happen next. The moments of the problem itself are so much briefer, in the kind of proportion of time that the fly was actually a problem compared to when it was a potential problem – that is, for the vast majority of the time, it was only a problem because my mind was following it, thinking about it, deciding about it.
The quality of being during the problem moments are different to the worrying before and the regurgitating after. During the problem, I am very present oriented, the problem itself is the only thing I am doing.
An example: the problem of the anxiety of visiting the doctor when suffering from a serious illness. The day before I begin to be struck by a feeling of impending doom, that I conscientiously:
1. pretend the feeling isn’t happening
2. acknowledge the feeling is happening and tell myself off for having it – what’s the point?
3. try to distract myself with something else
4. either accept and observe the feeling (usually liberating, but can involve time spent in misery first) or get drunk (usually liberating, but can involve time spent in misery later).
I move into and out of these states until the time of sitting in the doctor’s presence. At this time, when the problem is in the present, I am usually focussed only on what is happening at the time. No, no, I’m not. I’m often focussed on:
1. what the doctor may/may not say next
2. whether I understood what the doctor just said and whether I need to come back to that question
3. desperately checking through brain to make sure I haven’t forgotten to ask any questions
4. starting again from step 2, because I didn’t really hear the answer, since I was so busy thinking about the next question…
But when I can get to the present even here – sometimes there are immense, sudden shocks, or slow, sifting shocks. But they only take up a few moments. Then once again, it’s what am I going to do next? What does this mean for the future?
Now the fly will remind me, the only question is what does it mean for this moment. And if one is in this moment, one doesn’t need to ask the question.