As John E. said in his email from a few days ago "mindfulness in daily living is . . . the point where my personal spiritual practice touches the social realm, the world of others." I'm conscious and aware of "the others" who may be reading this blog - a few friends and sangha members, my family, a curious few who want to know more about me, even my former ex-, etc. This is the "social realm" I touch with this blog, and I am attempting to bring mindfulness to this particular contact.
So let me say that on the morning of September 11, the third anniversary of that tragic day, I met my friend A. at the Starbucks in Kennesaw, near where the Rio Bravo used to be, to go hike Beech Bottom Trail in the Cohutta Mountains. A.'s husband, N., couldn't make it, so it was just the two of us.
I had also made plans to meet L. that night, so A. and I drove straight on up to the trailhead without delay. However, since we didn't get on the road until about 10:30 and the drive took 2 1/2 hours, we didn't get to the trailhead until about 1:00 p.m. We hiked straight in - four miles - without significant stops, and got to Jack's Creek Falls at around 3:00.
Jack's Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall consisting of two drops with a deep plunge pool at the bottom. At the falls, we finally rested and ate bagels. There were about a dozen or so people at the falls, some sunning at the top of the falls and others swimming in the plunge pool at the bottom. I asked a passing hiker to take a picture of A. and I, and as we posed, I joked to A., "We better not touch each other. There's no telling who'll see these pictures." "Oh, yeah?," she replied with a grin, and wrapped her arms around me in a big mock hug . . . just as the picture got snapped. "A little jealousy's a good thing," she joked.
We headed back to the car at 3:30. I hated to rush us and be such a strict taskmaster, but I did want to get back to Atlanta for my date with L. The hike back took two hours, just like the hike in, and we didn't get back to the paved roads, and into cell phone coverage, until 6:00 p.m.
I called L. to tell her we were on our way back, but that given the driving time, I wasn't going to be back until 7:30 or 8:00.
"Would you like me to bring some dinner over and meet you at the house?," L. asked.
"Well, I didn't want to ask, but that would be great," I said. "I'd love that. I'm going to be exhausted by the time I get home."
"Or, would you rather go out to dinner? We could go to Nuevo Laredo for some Mexican. I'm worried you won't get enough food if all you eat is what I could bring over," L. said.
I told her that I was going to be pretty tired, but could always muster enough energy to go to Nuevo Laredo, so I'll leave it up to her - either eat in or eat out. "Do you want me to call you when I get closer and give you a better idea of exactly what time I'll be back?," I asked.
"No," she replied, "I'll be over at 8:00 either with food or ready to go out."
I got home at 7:30 and took a quick shower. L. called at 8:00 to ask where I was. I told her that I had been home for a half hour, and she said "great," she'll go pick up some salads and meet me at my place.
I figured, then, that I had at least a half hour before she was going to be over, so I watched the last quarter of the Georgia-South Carolina football game (the Bulldogs came from behind to win). But L. didn't make it over until 9:00, and in an obviously pissed-off mood.
She was disappointed that I was so late in getting back, that the Saturday evening was virtually wasted for her. I told her that I did the best that I could, but it was a longer drive up and back than I had thought, as well as a longer hike. We hustled all day as best we could, and took very few rests, but 7:30 was the earliest I could make it back. During the week, I had told her that I had thought I could be back around 6:00 or 7:00, and she said that although she appreciated my call from the road that I was running behind, if she had known I was going to be so late, she would have made other plans.
I asked if the real reason that she was mad was because I had gone off hiking alone with A. I had tried to call her that morniong to let her know that N. had backed out, but only got her voicemail. She said that wasn't the issue - she was surprised I even had brought it up - she just felt that the evening was a waste.
We ate our salads pretty much in silence, and shortly after, she said that it was time for her to go home.
"Well, where does this leave us?," I asked, meaning her and I as a couple.
"This is the way we drift apart," she said. "You agreed last week that it was better just to let the separation occur naturally, without a dramatic 'breakup.' and this is how it starts."
"You had said that you didn't want to spend the Labor Day weekend alone, and neither did I," she continued. "But now that's over and it's time for us to start to separate."
It was unfortunate that during the pleasurable Labor Day weekend, I was able to forget our agreement that afterwards we were supposed to let our relationship just naturally dissolve. The discriminating mind, which seeks after what is pleasurable and avoids that which is unpleasant, had attachment to our relationship, and was not facing the reality of the situation.
So, I wonder, how can I bringing mindfulness to my daily living and into the social realm, when I still am not mindful of what is going on in my heart? Am I ignoring the unpleasant, and living in delusion?
L. was obviously no longer my "former ex-girlfriend," but now, once again, just my "ex-girlfriend" (or "ex-former ex-girlfrined?"). But still, the attachment remains, as irrational as it is.