When I start something I always mean to finish it. You probably do too. How many of us start something we have no intention of finishing? I doubt I’ll see any hands raised for this one.
Here’s the but – we all don’t finish everything we start. Do we know we’re not going to finish? Are we testing the water or fooling ourselves? The saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind. I’m never sure what that means, but I think I know what it looks like.
As an artist I know that dragging something to its bitter end is not necessarily valuable time spent. So I have work started in my studio that is not finished but has been valuable – or will be put to use Someday. That’s not what I mean about finishing. It’s more like planting a garden and then keeping it weeded even when I forget that keeping a garden is as much about weeding, watering and mulching as it is about harvesting.
It’s about the diet we say we’ll go on, the books we’re going to read, the retreat we’re going on or the art we say will brighten our lives. When the phone rings and it’s someone who needs something, an overdue book, a reminder of an appointment I leap to it. But how do I get my phone to ring for me. Where are the overdue reminders, the missed appointments I have with myself?
Most of the time when I go to meditate I know I’m ready for the phone to ring, for the distraction to happen. It takes extra determination to hold still, to let myself just be. I know this path so well and I know the many “hows” needed to “do the right thing.”
It helps me to know this has been going on for thousands of years. I feel connected to those who are ahead of me. And I feel connected to you who are with me and behind me because I know I’m not the only one who knows all this stuff and then still has to do it.
Pema Chodron writes in The Wisdom of No Escape, “The only way to find yourself is to be with yourself. It’s all up to you. No one will know, you won’t be tested.” Reading, listening, knowing won’t help. Only doing. And it will help right away. It will start immediately. Now. Now. Now.