It’s been a wacky couple of weeks.
J. and I both sick with the cold from h, e, double hockey sticks.
A lump on Mowat’s back that the vet determined to be a tumour that had to be cut out and sent for further testing (still waiting for results).
Then, because he’s Mowat (the dog who needed double knee surgeries at two and is the only canine I’ve ever known to freeze his tongue on an aluminum ladder in a northern Manitoba winter), he developed a penis infection.
It’s okay. You can laugh. The poor dude’s on the good drugs now and fully his rascally self.
Then more bad stuff happened (but everyone’s okay).
While it’s been irritating to constantly have to whip out the credit card over the past several days, it’s also been sort of interesting.
Because all this craziness has been running parallel with the thinking I’ve been doing about doubt.
Doubt, my personal demon, stirring up indecision, questioning, perfectionism, worrying disaster anticipation, fear of the future.
Turns out – I learned recently – it’s also one of the five hindrances called out by the Buddha as he sat under the bodhi tree, gunning to gain a deep understanding of his mind.
Common, it seems, especially for creative people who are compelled to build the road in front of them, brick by chosen brick.
So, I’ve been examining it.
How it lives in me, stops me from doing stuff, stalls my forward movement, and arises in my practice.
What I know is that, for me, it’s easiest to shove away doubt as I’m writing a first draft. I’ve trained myself to just GO at this stage, muttering little mantras as I write, you can change it later or why not? or shitty first draft.
But as I’ve been typing up the draft I wrote about in my last blog post, the uncertainty’s become more present.
Out of my brain bloom comments like: Nice try, but I don’t think so; Where’s the meaning in this?; There’s no coherent theme; So simplistic…
Blanket statements and self-criticisms that are too wide and final to ever be true about a working draft.
In Buddhist texts, doubt is described as a bowl of water you can’t see into because it’s so murky with sediment and when you can’t see, it’s called being blind.
One of the meditation exercises I’ve been trying is a challenge to sit with a broader uncertainty: not of the blank page, but of the blank future.
It involves asking oneself, once calm, What will happen tomorrow?
“See if you can be with the experience of not knowing, uncertainty, doubt, maybe even confusion, worry or fear which this question may elicit,” the exercise asks.
The idea is to just watch what happens in the body and the mind, without judgement (or, you know, to just watch the judgement too, even name it – oh, there’s judgement).
This morning what occurred to me is this: doesn’t it seem truly radical to just accept the unknowable?
To not be burdened by interpretations and expectations of what will come?
To see the future instead as simply one thing: possibility.
Not bad, not good, but open.
“Faith is the antidote to doubt,” I heard somewhere recently, maybe here. “Faith is a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Because as anyone knows who’s ever put ten minutes on a timer and written with the one simple rule of not stopping the pen, it is truly astonishing what can be born from the blankness.
You can’t make this stuff up.