Life does not require rehearsal: it executes itself perfectly continuously, never pausing to reconsider, never begging a do-over. This does not mean that our response will always be one of pleasure or amusement or enjoyment; it might be the opposite.
But our response is just more of life happening: whatever label we assign it, it’s still just life.
This is simply a way of saying that what is is what is: it’s this and nothing else. This is all there is. This this, and not any other this.
When we give attention to what unfolds or appears – to what is – it is always there. We are giving attention to what is given to us, in the sense that we do not have to invent or create or amend it. Here is the world, and every one and every thing in it, and every thought and idea about it – given, continuously, without condition or qualification.
We don’t get ready for life because life is always already ready for us. Life lives us; not the other way around. When we observe what is given, we are there too – our thoughts and ideas, our feelings and memories, our habits and appetites, our fears and our hopes.
That which constitutes “us” and that which constitutes “life” are not different. It is like a single river flowing. There are all these eddies, flowing and following their flow, but they’re still just the river.
Someone might say, well, we can practice at certain aspects of living. We can improve at them. That’s a form of rehearsal, no?
It’s a fair point. I am a better writer today than I was twenty years ago because I write consciously daily, study other writers, and so forth.
I am more patient today because I have observed the consequences of impatience, which motivated me to observe the conditions giving rise to it in order to train myself to respond to those conditions differently, more patiently.
But even in the moment of all this “practice,” what is life doing? It is certainly not waiting on me to be more patient or to write in a better way. My “practice” is just life being life. In that moment – in any moment – what else can life be?
What happens subsequently – as a consequence of practice – is always only a dream, in the sense that it’s not here presently, while what is happening presently – what is here presently – is always complete and whole. Nothing is ever absent, even when the present is comprised of longing for what is absent.
Be honest. Can you find one moment of your life which is not complete and whole?
Don’t tell me of a time when you were sad or angry or hurt or otherwise put out. In the moment of your sorrow, your sorrow was perfect, was it not? When you looked at it clearly, was it not there in rich and vibrant and resonant plenitude?
And was your resistance to it not also perfect – full and strong, crackling with judgment? And your dislike – wasn’t that perfect as well? Clear and disdainful, like a well-lit middle finger?
Consider that sorrow and joy are like one sea – when seen in this light, the sea is dull and green and flat. When seen in another light, it is blue and throbbing, spitting salty spray.
The same thing seen two ways according to perceptual circumstances: just so with what we call happiness and grief.
Thus, there is nothing to be done. It is all unfolding precisely – perfectly – as it does. Which is another way of saying that one can do anything: bake bread, pray the rosary, give your honey a massage, go walking in the forest, write a letter, remove a splinter.
If you look at what is happening, there it is happening, and your looking is as much a part of “it” as that which is looked at.
There is nothing special or unusual about this! No training required, no secret handshake. No learning or healing, no willing or choosing. No God or Jesus or other divinity, east or west, large or small, needs to intervene.
This right now – this this – is sufficient unto wonder and delight.
Life is expert; life is prepared; life is performing on the high black wire without a net, no pole for balance, and no cameras taking note. We hold our breath, clasp our hands, turn earnestly to scriptural babble. We think we’re not ready, that we don’t deserve it, but we are and we do.
And really, how could it be otherwise? Can you find even the slimmest of slim spaces between you and life?
Of course not.
This is it: and so are you.