Archive for September, 2009

Cold Feet

September 22, 2009

You start small. With a rock. Place it in your left hand. Give it to your right hand. Give it back. Repeat as often as necessary.

This is a generosity practice given to me by my friend Jeanine. Her Buddhist teacher explained that the visceral experience of letting something go–even something as relatively worthless as a rock—is useful in getting rid of stinginess and attachment.

It’d be a good exercise for me. More and more I’ve been noticing the ways I angle for my own benefit: the bigger plate of gnocchi, the fuller glass of merlot. And the ways I can’t let go: of relationships, or a certain pairs of jeans that “I might just wear again someday.” I’m even anxious about things I might need in the afterlife. Today, when the clerk at the DMV asked if I’d register as an organ donor, I balked before saying ‘yes.’ What if I’ll need my liver?

I’m thinking of all this because as the With This Ring Project website nears completion, I’m feeling tense. Having second-thoughts. What if it’s a complete failure? What if I regret this later? How will I be judged? What if I become an avid diamond collector 20 years from now, or someday find myself a bag lady in need of spare funds?

But on the brink of any big commitment, who doesn’t get cold feet?

Just this morning an IM from my friend, Josh, popped up on my computer screen. Josh has been on an interminable quest for The One, and has dated many women:  a biologist, a jewelry-maker, a poet.

“I feel like a heel.” He typed.

He’d broken up with another woman.  She was gorgeous, worldly, spoke fluent French. For a while he was sure she was ‘it’– so sure that he invited her to live in his Oregon house. But as shipments of her furniture began to arrive from Florida, so did a freight of doubts. I think this is moving too fast, he fretted.

A fellow Sagittarius, Josh and I commiserate over our trouble with commitment. Romantic indecision seems writ in our stars.  Even as we profess desire of partnership, we remain unmarried in our mid-thirties, archers afraid to surrender.

But brain scientists and the Dalai Lama are saying that the key to happiness is truly giving yourself to someone and something—a cause, a lover, a child. If this is true, than so is the opposite: The key to misery is not giving yourself. So, as I snatch the last cold beer out of the fridge and mince and fret about auctioning the ring, Josh’s Facebook status update flashes on my screen like a dire warning:

Time wounds all heels.

Start small. With a rock.