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In This Moment

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comfort

Late

Am I late?  I know the feeling so well.  Today I board BART  at 8:03 AM.  My goal to be at my desk making calls at 8 AM.  That makes me late…Or do I make myself late?  Walked down to the station rather than taking an Uber, that pretty much made the difference.  Talked with my wife about plans for the coming week.  That made the difference.  Played mini-basketball with my son.  Of course you can add up each little thing or you can pick them out one by one.  Each one makes the difference.  What’s the net product?  I’d rather be late like this than on time missing any one of these things.

Maybe the real feeling of being late that rankles is the feeling of being out of control.  If I’m late by choice it’s OK.  If I pretend it’s not by choice, my whining causes damage to my self.  The train sits at the sunny BART terminal at MacArthur and I see an attractive woman with slumped shoulders.  I have to say she doesn’t appear attractive. Maybe just for an instant before the slumped shoulders registered.  It’s like being late: if you think you’re late and you slump sadly then you’re the essence of late, you’re the self-condemning late person rather than the cheerful late person, and that makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

Now I’m on time, at this moment, because I’m doing the one thing I’ve agreed to do right now.  Write.  Even though not everything went as planned today, I said I’d call the Uber at 4:45PM and start writing for 45 minutes at that time.  Even if I haven’t written for every second of the time, I have done it.  Even pulled a picture of a tree taken against the sky and placed it onto this post.  Why?  Because we all know the tree is not late.  And I’m supposed to switch to going for a run at 5:30 PM, and no, I’m not required to do that while in the Uber as long as it gets me home within another 15 minutes.  So I could be on time for that too.

Here’s the real challenge.  As I was stepped into the elevator to go down to the Uber I could feel it.  The resistance.  Inchoate.  Resistance to actually sitting in an Uber and doing my writing the whole way.  And that is the failure, not the reading of emails, the quick playing a round of a video game.  The failure would be in that tired moment at the elevator.  So I said to myself, at that moment, look at your reflection in the elevator doors, face the resistance because this is it, here.

So, am I late?  Only when not present.  One thing we do that trees probably don’t do:  pretend this isn’t really happening.  I’m thankful for all the things I can do that aren’t getting to work on time.  I’d still like to set a time and be there.  More important to me, to set a goal and reach it.  More important still, to have a clear intention and stand with that.  So my various intentions are to follow through with some core goals, and deliverables in service to these goals.  Such as spending time with my kids, making creative contributions to the world, as for example building applications and writing on subjects that others actually read.  Things I’m excited to be present for.

There comes the tricky part.  I know in principle, what I want to do.  Yet in practice it’s easier to oscillate between two states: reacting to what’s at hand and recuperating from that.  Do you notice those two things can describe a life?  Technically I’m outside the iron trap now to the extent I’m not either reacting to the command to write nor escaping from my life through writing complete crap.  But guess what lies outside the trap?  A wasteland.  Yes, you step out for a second and there you are in a beautiful, terrible and bare place where it’s cold (or unbearably hot), you have no apparent sustenance, and no one to help you.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  The iron trap:  answer emails, then, after an hour or two, go to the cafe and try to forget.  The wilderness: instead of playing a video game, checking email, jumping on the Web while I sip my coffee, I write.  And the most wildernessy thing about the Wilderness is stepping into it.  That’s when the resistance reaches such a peak that to submit to the desire to not move forward seems very pleasurable: “What, you dare to set aside email responsibilities (pleasure of checking, of addressing, of deleting) to create something new?”  Surely not now.  And the pleasure of just a momentary diversion–can’t I do that first?  Or, wait, what about just writing now.  Well, it’s either now or else I’ll be late for life.

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Rain

It’s back. And I Ching says “immaturity is a household,” “a leader must bring children to knowledge” and “the child takes over the family.” Today I feel taken over.  Not only by the children but by the indirectness of my path. Yesterday I toured a building for a second time with a client.  Why do it twice?  And today I toured no building and yet made few sales calls.  I did swim in a pool, at 7:30am, that was so filled with people that at one point I had to circle, three to a lane.  After that the day followed no direct course, and I essentially sat by and watched it go, while came the wind, then the rain.

I read some hexagrams of I Ching and now the rain plaps and draps, trickles and shimmels around me in this room that I keep saying I’ll use for…this. Yesterday in the building we toured for the second time I saw a room within a suite that I hadn’t seen before. In the room sat a man at a desk facing a row of many-colored bottles before a window.  Quiet music seemed to come from an old wood-encased amplifier. He didn’t turn, in his modern, 1960s chair, to face us, but continued to work. This tenant has an office that is so much more beautiful than mine. Mine at work, that is.  At home, I’ve set up two offices. The first one is business and my wife uses it also, and the kids and she are in there now watching gymnastics videos.  Here I am, in a jutting peninsula of the house that presses into the rain, before a diamond-shaped window, the very desk and window at which I stood twenty seconds after entering this house for the first time fourteen years ago and thought to myself, “I like this.”

The rain is back. Perhaps to stay?  To end the drought.  I feel positive energy coming into me in this room. I thought I’d feel that in the other office that faces green trees and faces south. But I find recently that this quiet room facing north is the place that rejuvenates the most.  So I have my office retreat just like that other guy…I only have to remember to use it.  Corollary for my brain.  I only have to remember that my mind, my very choices, are opportunities to retreat, to build, and to create beauty.  I remember when I first bought this computer and began to use it as a writing sanctuary, a special place to work.  I tried to set up shop in various places, in San Francisco.  Tried to and it worked to some degree, but I wonder what is next.  Typing in the small quiet office at my home.  How fortunate I am to have three offices plus the ability to work anywhere with my laptop or my smart phone.  Really begs the question of what work shall I do, doesn’t it, and when?

The sun comes partially from behind the clouds and my wife turns around from the little table where she’s eating lunch to see what is all the fast typing.  She laughs and says she had imagined I was sitting here in this little office entering numbers on a calculator.  That’s about right: I’m always calculating return on investment from real estate.  And as a salesperson, much of the time the returns are not mine or even realized by anyone I know.  Just quick math on a calculator and then it’s over.  I even wrote an email to a client between when she laughed about the calculating and when I continued writing here.  Email said Hey look at the deal you’d be getting at this rent multiplier, do you want to proceed?  I actually did that.  So in a sense some of that furious typing was from making calculations.  Then back to writing.  Sun’s still out; rain fell hard earlier.  I’m passing time until this waterproofing consultant comes by to inspect some areas above our unit.  Then I have to pass the time before doing a tenant walkthrough inspection at another property.  Strange, but filling in these gaps with writing can work.  I’m not sure how it all ads up across sales, investment and writing, plus family, but I get the feeling I need to take a step back and see how things go for a bit.

I Chings says nothing because I’m not reading it.  Just sitting here at the quiet desk with my son looking over my shoulder.  It is early morning, barely seven, and I can hear the water trickling in the fish tank, the low howl of the water going to my wife’s shower, the clump as that water stops, and perhaps above all the sound of my son reading and exclaiming “Don’t say that!” to everything I write.  Now he’s hitting me.  He says Why do I like writing so much, only math is fun.  Writing should not be used in this way, to describe one’s situation, one’s momentary experience.  Now he huffs off to take his shower.  Quiet returns but is infused with his concern for me, his perspective.  I can feel where he head-butted me in the shoulder after I wrote the “Don’t say that” comment.  And still I Ching says nothing.

Now he plays his guitar while I type on the bed.  Older now, enough to be real but not felt, (a week, maybe less), so I can’t just say Oh it’s been three years, see how my life has gone… No, it’s only been three to six days so it’s hard to really say I’ve gotten older, surely not noticeably.  The children haven’t grown visibly taller.  But you know, they have grown more mature.  And I’ve changed a little.  I can see myself coming a tiny bit farther out onto the rim of the crater we seemed to fall into some years ago with the Great Recession (do people still remember that?).  Perhaps there’s another crater a few days ahead, but thank God I’ve crawled out of this one.  Uh oh.  Now he’s taking my computer and setting it aside before he jumps onto me for some wrestling, his once-tiny but always round chest hammering down on me, his legs strong enough to lift me off the bed even though I outweigh him two-to-one (correction: 1.5-to-one…when did he get that big?).  There’s nothing to get away from, only moments to attend.  Maybe the sun will come out and everything will be fun, fun, fun.  Or maybe it is already fun and can just keep raining.

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