“The limit of what we can accept is the limit of our freedom.”  

These words from one of my Buddhist teachers have come back to me in recent days as I continue to wrestle with the challenges that populate my life right now. 

The most pressing issue confronting me is the need to find a new place to live, and friends have offered a number of amusing if improbable suggestions:

Put your stuff into storage, get an airstream trailer, and travel the country.  

Move into a house filled with kooky roommates, and then write about it.

These ideas make me smile, but even more they bring me face to face with the very real limits on what I’m willing to accept. I’m anxious about what lies ahead because of my own requirements. If I could make do with less or other, I’d be far less stressed out. This isn’t a judgment or self critique but simply an observation.

And that’s where I am right now, holding these facts in awareness: If I could accept a lifestyle that I’m not willing to accept, I would have more freedom. I would be happier. I’m not trying to force a change – that would be disastrous. This is simply about seeing and watching what happens.

Over the years, I’ve had a freighted relationship with Buddhist practices. I’ve always loved the teachings but struggled with meditation. Which is like saying you love food when you love cookbooks but dislike eating. 

“I don’t know why I keep doing this when I find it so unpleasant,” I said to my teacher during a hellish 10-day silent retreat.

“Why do you do it?” She sounded genuinely curious.

The answer is I don’t really know.  But this is what I do.  I go long stretches thinking that I’m totally done with it all. Then, something happens to reel me in. I pull out my meditation bench.

That’s how it’s been for the past few days, and this time, uncharacteristically, I’m finding sitting restful. It feels like the right thing for now. And so: I’m going to do it. 

Plan B Nation

Living Creatively in Challenging Times
Amy Gutman

Amy Gutman is a lawyer and writer who lives and works in Plan B Nation.

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