Letters from Home

Lean In

Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron
an amazing book!

There has been a small book on my bedside table for a couple months now. I opened it once, and after that I did not touch it.

The book actually doesn’t seem to sit or even lie on the table. It seems to hover— held aloft from the earth and all its possessions from the energy of its message.

Which, of course, I cannot speak of, because I have not yet really read it.

Tonight it fell open to  the middle, to page 55, the last page of the chapter “We Have What We Need.”
Here’s what I read, without intention.

“Then the next time you lose your heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in…. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves.

“This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering — yours, mine, and that of all living beings.” –– Pema Chödrön

When I received this book, Colin looked at the cover and said: “How appropriate!” and smiled.

I had only just started taking swimming lessons, to overcome my fear of deep waters.

I bought goggles, then, so when I finally was willing to open my eyes, under water, I could see.

I could see, but my mind would leap and my breath disappear at the sight of the deep end’s floor sloping away from me.

Fear is a well-worn path– one we often know so well, we don’t realize we are careening down its rutted spine simply by feel– eyes screwed shut.

Fear is a tentacled nightmare and it grows bigger, wilder heads in the black pit of abandoned sleep.

The way legs move below the surface is beautiful and erratic. We forget our legs in a swimming pool, like we forget our weight. Like we forget our weighty attachments.

Change the way you see it and lean in.

Note: “Taking the Leap” isn’t available on Audio, but you can download the Kindle version Here!

6 thoughts on “Lean In

  1. Harumph. I landed here, via Tara Gentile, through Twitter, immediately after sending off a little piece of a memoir as submission to a summer writing workshop. In the little piece, I had written about a moment when my heart was shattered by simply looking at my daughter’s face. And how the pain was so sharp and immediate that I gasped. And how I couldn’t even take it in but had to pretend that I was okay so that I wouldn’t grab at her, or make icky demands by ‘feeling’ something. I find this particular coincidence to be remarkable – and moving. And I wanted you to know that. ANd to thank you.

  2. We have this book hovering around somewhere in our house, too. Think I might pick it up one of these days soon. For a variety of reasons, the future has become wide open for my family and it can be scary as shit to think about. I wonder what leaning into it would change?

  3. I am totally taking this idea with me today. So often it’s easy to pull back, especially in times of uncertainty and with my ? of a future, and all my fighting against it, I forgot that I have to be present and in the moment to live it. So I will lean in the next time that wave washes over me.

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