My Mother’s House

Thomas Hart Benton

Last night, or rather this morning (Jung says that the last dream of the night is the most important, the one that WANTS to be remembered), I dreamed that I was preparing to leave the house my parents owned, the one that, in the dream, I thought of particularly as “my mother’s house.”  I had taken quite some time to come to this decision, and everything contained in the house was gone.  The house was empty.  I assume that I had sold or auctioned off the contents.  I remember that I was scared about leaving, and was not at all sure where I was going . . . but I was also kind of excited about it, too.

Pema Chodron often uses a Buddhist term that translates as groundlessness, in particular, “positive groundlessness.”  We don’t have a leg to stand on:  not a single one of us really knows what is going to happen in life.  We don’t know whether we’re safe, we dont’ know whether our needs will be provided for, we don’t know what may happen at any given moment.  We are, it appears, powerless.  Her recommendation is to learn to relax into this state, to enjoy the free-fall that is life.  If we can go from “negative” groundlessness (i.e., a chronic state of fear and anxiety) to “positive” groundlessness, she says, we find ourselves opening up to life, opening our hearts and minds and awakening to a state of all-possibility.  Life is suffering, as Lord Buddha said.  But Pema points out that it is not what actually happens that causes the suffering, but our attitudes toward it, the stories we tell ourselves about what takes place, the decisions we make about what happens.

This dream of mine seems to indicate my perception of a new chapter.  I wonder if I can write that chapter without actually attaching a story to it.

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