Yesterday, I got some bad news.
A house we were looking to rent got snatched out from under us. For whatever reason, the landlord decided to go with someone else. That's the second time this has happened to me in the past two months.
I found out while I was at work. It was like having a bomb dropped on my head.
For a few hours, I was pretty useless. I bitched to my family, bitched to our realtor, put in inquiries on several other houses. I felt my stomach turn into a pot of cold ball bearings, grease, and pieces of glass. My heart thumped in my chest like someone was punching me from the inside.
This is pretty natural. It's reaction. A thing happens, I react. Just like everyone else.
Earlier in the day, I had contemplated going home, I felt so paralyzed with anger, worry, and fear. But I ended up staying late, my nose buried deep in the code. I didn't finish what I was doing, but I made great strides. It felt good.
What I was doing, that whole time, was staying.
This is something I learned about from Pema Chödrön, in her book/audio lecture Getting Unstuck. Our whole lives we're taught to run from suffering, that discomfort and pain are just not to be allowed in any way. It's bullshit. We expend more energy running away from feeling something bad than just outright feeling it. Instead, you can lean into the pain, really take a good damn look at it, feel it, and move through it.
At 1:30 I was having chest pains. At 3:30 my girlfriend Squee messaged me to check on me and I told her I was "not great, having trouble thinking, and leaving at 4:30". At 4:30 I had started to make progress, and was deep in my code. I didn't leave until six.
At one point, I told her how I'd started to get my code to work, and then observed, "staying is powerful. Crazy powerful." I told her about what I had experienced staying:
You don't do it. It's done.
If you do it, you're just trying to do it.
If it's done, it happened.
Which I added, is the sort of crazymaking batshit talk that drives people bananas about zen stuff.
After my commute, I had another episode of expectation fever, which again, is normal. Sadly, I made bad food choices (I really didn't need two bowls of cereal after my initial small dinner. But my samsarra got out of control, and I tried to comfort eat. Go me!) I got lost for a while in my bad feelings, again.
Then I remembered to stay, again.
You know when this lesson is over? Never.
I'm grateful for it.