On my way to Arkansas this morning, to spend time with Greg’s dad in the hospital and allow Greg to go get some much needed sleep, I listened to The Untethered Soul, by Michael A Singer, on Audible. Chapter 18 is called The Secret of the Middle Way. It was perfect, listening to this chapter, thinking about Bob and life as I drove.
Writing of walking the middle way, Singer gives examples of living life at the edges, at the extremes. For example, one can never eat….or eat all the time. Both extremes can’t be continued, without disastrous results. The middle way would be to eat, when the body says it is time to eat, and to eat something that sustains and nurtures the body. Another example I thought of would be, I can never speak….I can talk all the time. Or I can find the middle way and speak when I feel compelled to speak and have something worthy and uplifting to share.
Trying to maintain the extremes takes massive amounts of energy, energy that isn’t available then for living a joy-filled, abundant life. Singer uses the picture of a pendulum. If it is pulled 30 degrees to the right and released, it will swing 30 degrees to the left. That’s a physics law. If you pull a pendulum one way, it will swing the opposite way just as far. We often live life like that. If I starve myself for days, I am apt to swing the other way just as far, and overeat when I finally give in and eat. It’s not healthy. It’s not easy to maintain, without massive effort. How long, Singer asks, will a pendulum stay at its outermost position? Only a moment, without continued forces moving it. How long can a pendulum stay at rest? Forever, because no forces are moving it out of balance.
To walk the middle way is to stay in a space with no energy pushing me to the edges, to the extremes. It is to stay centered, balanced, at rest within. If something happens….a car cuts me off in traffic….I can swing to an extreme and react from that place….and stay in that agitated place for an unreasonable long time. Or I can let go of what rises up, immediately, and stay centered, stay present. If I start to go off center, I can return, as often as I need to.
This is the way I am journeying. This is the path that brings me such peace and joy. Lived with such awareness and such simplicity, life indeed becomes simple as it unfolds in front of me. And I am always present, always there, as it unfolds. When I am swinging from extreme to extreme, life is exhausting, confusing, out of balance. In reality, I am the one who is exhausting, confused and out of balance.
I loved this section in Chapter 18: “When you stop being confused, everything becomes simple. If you have no preference, if the only thing you want is to remain centered, then life unfolds while you simply feel for the center. There is an invisible thread that passes through everything. All things move quietly through that center balance. That is the way. It is really there. It is there in your relationships, in your diet, in your business activities. It is there in everything. It is the eye of the storm. It is completely at peace.” Ah, yes. Peace. I’ve been very aware of peace this week.
I needed to hear this today. I wanted to be reminded. As I journey with Greg and his dad, I am feeling for the center. I am allowing life to unfold and being present with it. I am not demanding that anything has to be a certain way. I trust that the Divine has brought us all to this exact point in our lives, together, and we will walk through this, with no expected outcomes other than we will walk together in faith and love and joy and peace. I feel that invisible thread. It runs through the center of this situation. It loops around our wrists as Bob and I hold hands while he sleeps. It encircles the bed and the room, the hospital and the medical staff, the family and friends who love Bob. We are open to everything, and attached to nothing. Life is continuing to unfold. I don’t want to miss a second of it.