I have not attended my regular Tuesday night sangha for a month, and I feel lost at sea because of it.
It started because the first Tuesday of the month was election day, and I had duties at the newspaper. Then I caught a bad cold, and missed two weeks, both because I felt miserable, and because I couldn't risk being around our teacher Darlene Cohen, in her compromised state of health, with my nasty germs. And now, this week, when I was thinking I could finally go, I realized that once again I have to miss. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, our press deadline has been bumped from Wednesday night to Tuesday night, so I will be at the newspaper until late - I generally don't get done until midnight, so there is no way that I can show up for a 7 p.m. sitting.
In the meantime, Russian River Zendo has already moved forward on the first steps towards dharma transmission for priests Cynthia Kear and Sarita Tamayo, and will complete that ceremony by mid-December. People are cooking food to support Darlene and Tony as they struggle to cope with her worsening illness, and all the tasks that lie ahead of them. I am on the food preparation list, but we are progressing in alphabetic order, and with the last name of "Wing," I have not yet been called upon. I have written cards, and kept in touch via e-mail; but I feel woefully disconnected right at a time when I wish I was close at hand offering support.
Being sick, of course, didn't help. It was just a cold, but it was a doozy. We have no back-up staff at work, so no one can call in sick. I had to work, even on my worst days, which meant that I came home and crashed afterwards, and needed to conserve my energy in order to show up again the next day. It's been a while since I've been this ill. Finally, though, I have stopped coughing, and have regained most of my strength.
My routine has been shaken up, though. My blogging was nonexistent. My sitting practice fell by the wayside. We had pet crises at home in addition to deal with, and a number of other anxieties, and it simply felt like all my energy was scattered, going no where in particular.
Ironically, I had signed up at the start of the month for something called "NaNoWriMo," which is National Novel Writers Month. The idea is to try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. People all over the country (and the world) participate, logging their progress via a website. A friend talked me into giving it a try. I started off with a bang on Nov. 1 and 2, and then Barney got sick, the kitten got sick, I got sick... Sigh. So much for writing 1,600 words a day. I did, at least, come up with the premise for a novel, and make a start, and I am hoping to create my own private "NaNoWriMo" soon, maybe in December or January, when things have calmed down a bit.
Because that's something else that has dropped off. My writing has been neglected terribly. Somehow, the discipline of one thing reverberates through everything else. Sitting affects writing affects eating habits affects exercise. At least that's the way it works for me.
So I am in sore need of my sangha, of their support, their presence, their solidity. A month on my own is far too long.