Zen & Dharma

Commitment is a process of perpetual self-forgiveness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy the time I landed on this tiny wee island three weeks ago I had managed to slightly psych myself out. The Project (previously known as “the Book”) seemed by turns foolish and daunting and trivial and overambitious, narcissistic and deluded. I was calling myself all sorts of names.

Then, I remembered that commitment is a process of perpetual self-forgiveness. Commitment to a relationship, or a project, or a practice. Commitment to myself; to my own integrity. I will succeed and then I will fall down and I will fail, and then I will get up and dust my knees and start again.

I decided that the Project would be an experiment in being kind to myself. I only need to do a little bit, every day – but I need to DO it, not just think about it. I don’t even have to quite know what it is. As Romina says, all you need to do is roll out your mat and you will have succeeded. The rest is gravy.

Every morning I sit zazen on the platform high above the ocean. If it is windy or raining I sit in the garden with the frogs. Each day I do some yoga: a couple of lazy stretches or a vigorous set, no matter. Every day i write, or edit, or paint, or draw…something. Anything. Every day I turn over soil in the garden or I tidy the house. Every day I walk in the forest or scramble barefoot on the cliffs, stepping between sumptuous lichens and tiny clumps of cactii.

It doesn’t matter if what I do is big or small, short or long, enjoyable or excruciating. It doesn’t matter if it is brilliant or it is shit. Who cares. It is about the process, not the product. The process is the product. I think this is what is called “practice”. It occurs to me that this process could take a very long time.

Tomorrow the process will includeI four sea journeys: first in the itty-bitty boat from the teeny-tiny island over to Lasqueti, then the yawling tinpot Centurion over to French Creek. Truck lift to Campbell River, ferry to Quadra, cross Quadra and one last ferry,  to Cortes. Proceed.

6 Comments on “Commitment is a process of perpetual self-forgiveness

  1. Every Lasquetian has puked on the Centurion at one time or another. Unfortunately the time I did I was facing the wrong way into the wind. : (
    Glad that your time on the little island was good, and I trust that Cortes will also embrace you with joy.

  2. Lovely to read your words and be inspired by you yet again. Yes. Do something. Anything. And be gentle and kind. Funny how I’m on a similar wavelength. Nice timing.

  3. I love the photo of you in the boat!

    blessing the boats (at st. mary’s)

    may the tide
    that is entering even now
    the lip of our understanding
    carry you out
    beyond the face of fear
    may you kiss
    the wind then turn from it
    certain that it will
    love your back may you
    open your eyes to water
    water waving forever
    and may you in your innocence
    sail through this to that

    Lucille Cliffton

    xoxo helen

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