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May 27, 2021

Doubt is like being Lost without a Map.

In an infinite space, we are never really anywhere.

Yet here we are. Each day, a new journey. Although we haven’t gone anywhere, no moment here is the same.

Every moment is an opportunity.

Intermittent discursive thoughts, littered with past aspersions cast with the drama dice on a craps table by former lovers, friends, and family for nebulous offenses, often of their own making, clutter my mind.

Untamed, the mind wanders to what was or could or will be.

Each day is a new chance with new choices. I can’t change what was—it’s no longer here. I can’t worry about what will be because what will be is lost in stochastic variables, hanging like an ethereal phantom—it is untouchable.

Each moment is part of the journey.

Doubt is a hindrance. Buddhists describe it as being lost in a desert without a map.

My morning begins with a breath. I inhale three words: “here, relaxed, and loved.”

Here

On this cushion, on this floor, in this building, in Florida, on this planet, circling a sun, in a galaxy, in an expanding space, full of opportunity.

I remember Paris—I was seven, soon to be eight.

My father, sister, mother, and I were running down the Metro stairs to catch the subway. We were excited. We were determined to catch the train. My father held my little sister’s hand, my mother held my little sister’s other hand, and we ran.

Relaxed

Oxygen flowing into my lungs, nourishing my body, easing the tension in my muscles, loosening the knot in my neck, softening my grasp as I settle my hands on my knees.

My father thought my mother had my hand. My mother thought my father had my hand.

I ran, delighted to get on the train. I had gotten on just before the doors closed to depart. People were all tall back then, with long legs, short chests, and smiling heads. The Parisians were no different.

I had gotten on the train myself, proud to be like a grownup and certain my parents were proud of me. I caught my breath, the train jerked into motion, and I began to scan through the forest of pants and dresses for my parents.

Loved

Being here, in this space, relaxed, a manifestation of consciousness and experience, a part of it, like a cell is part of an organ or bone, a part of a greater whole, participating as an expression of life.

I began to cry when through the forest of legs I couldn’t see the trees that were my family.

I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t speak French. I didn’t know where I was going beyond that I was riding a train. I realized I had no idea how to live on a subway.

I couldn’t leave because one day, one day my parents would find me because this is where they had last seen me, and they would search all the trains. I had to ride till then. How old would I be when they found me, there were so many trains? Where will I get clothes that fit?

A man in a dark suit and hat knelt down to speak with me.

He saw my tears. I told him I lost my parents and my sister, but he didn’t speak English. “Dad! Mom!” I croaked. His eyes widened, and he took my hand. He began to shout into the crowd excitedly. Others began to join him. All were concerned.

As I exhale, I say, “now, refreshed, and loving.”

Now

It is not Paris or yesterday or what could be; it is now, this moment in time, where I am breathing out. Now has no expectation because that is yet to come and will come. In eternity, when is now?

Eternity doesn’t begin or end, and there is no reference point for now.

Doubt is like being lost without a map.

A woman also tried to speak with me, her words comforting but incoherent, while still others passed word through the tram, like a wave. I stopped crying as the adults spoke in rapid but sonorous tones to each other. The rhythm and meter were beautiful and matched my heartbeat.

The wave had crested, hit the far wall, and was coming back.

Refreshed

Feeling ease in my body, the warmth of my skin, and a popping in my ears offering the clarity of an unencumbered mind.

I heard my father’s voice, and then my mother’s through the crowd. The man held my hand as he and the woman worked us through the crowd. I could see my father and then my mother.

People were speaking to them. They looked worried and then relieved as the man and woman I was with began to shout and wave to my parents. My sister was crying.

We were the only Americans on the train. No one on the train cared about that. The point was simply to get us together.

Loving

Being able to listen without judgment, sharing without expectation of return, and hoping that kindness and success will befall all.

The Buddhist antidote for doubt is developing or nurturing confidence and clear communication.

My father had thought my mother had my hand. My mother thought my father had my hand, and I thought I should show that I could do things like getting on a train on my own. My sister was simply happy to see me again.

When I breathe in, I say, “here, relaxed, and loved.”

I didn’t know where we were going on that train in Paris.

When I breathe out, I say, “now, refreshed, and loving.”

I can’t remember where we had been. It isn’t important. We had found our way back together.

~

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