Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Confronting Fear, Thoughts about Meaning

Goodness, it certainly has been a while since I've written a post for Praying Horse, I'm in the middle of writing a humongous document/manual at work (darn those paying jobs!) and haven't done much other writing besides my own daily journal.

(Pig picture from Project Gutenberg.)

I did write about a recent experience with confronting nature in all her awe-inspiring majesty, which ended up scaring the pants off me, during two close encounters with wild pigs. Obviously, everything came out OK, but what I've found fascinating is examining the stark contrast in the fear I felt while retreating from the pigs and the sort of undefined nervousness, or as one of my friends calls it, the "vague medium of anxiety", that I have experienced in the past on a frequent basis. I get it, that's what adrenaline is for, not for getting worked up about what someone else thinks about you, or whether your child is getting a B instead of an A in first grade, or whatever the issue du jour is. I'm starting to pause now when I get that quivery feeling - is this a wild pig, or is it a gruntin' ground squirrel? By no means have I sorted all of this out yet.

People I've talked to about it have said that I'm brave for going on hikes alone. Well, not really. It's just a walk, sometimes my husband doesn't want to go with me. I'm not going to stop doing walking just because he has something else to do. I'm also not going to start carrying firearms, as at least one person suggested. I will avoid the area where I saw them last however.

Also, I'm going to tell a story on myself here that for a few days after Pigapalooza II, I tried to figure out if there was some additional deeper meaning to it. I looked up wild pigs as totem animals. Etc etc.

This last weekend, I found a wonderful article in Tricycle Magazine, actually from the Spring 2007 issue, which we just received as part of our welcome for subscribing to the magazine, that more or less got me to pause a bit and wonder if I weren't indulging in the practice of Taking Myself Too Seriously. This is from an article by Lin Jensen entitled Wash Your Bowl: "To attribute meaning to an event or to a lifetime of events is an expression of dissatisfaction with things as they are. This is true of even the subtlest attribution. If I wash dishes as a practice in Zen mindfulness, I indulge my resistance to simply washing them in order to get them clean. I want the washing to be something more than what it is, and so I give it spiritual significance. I want my life to have meaning, and so I complain to myself and sometimes to others if what I do and what I am appears meaningless. Well, our lives are meaningless if we take meaning for a coherent narrative plot of some sort. When we strain to make our lives otherwise, we're merely telling ourselves a story. You and I don't manifest in the universe as meaning, we manifest as living human beings. We're not here to represent something else. We're here in our own right. A human being, or a garden hoe for that matter, is complete in itself."

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