Friday, 9 May 2008

Coming home

The bluebell wood where I walked with friends last week

Yo, dear readers, I’ve been away for a long old time. Somehow the rhythm of my life got interrupted – a fortnight of Hakomi in Sheffield, a week-long visit from my old pal Pete from Italy, a fortnight in California helping my father settle into an assisted living facility, and most recently a visit from my beloved friend Courtney from the Pacific Northwest. Writing has taken a back seat.

But my reading this morning was Hexagram 24, Line 5 – which is a wonderful line, and it has returned me to this blog, amongst much else.

Hexagram 24 is formed of Earth over Thunder; its name is FU.

FU carries meanings of coming back, coming home, returning or resuming. The text speaks of returning to the Dao, that is, of finding your way again – maybe you got lost, or maybe there was just a digression.

If we look at the form of the hexagram, we can see that one yang line has entered a condition of total yin; it corresponds to the return of the yang just after the winter solstice, or just after midnight. At those times we do not see spring flowers or a glorious sunrise; the yang is protected deep in the earth, and on the surface it’s still cold and dark; but we know the light is on its way.

I’ve had this hexagram a lot in the last few months, but never this line before. (I have, several times, had Line 6, which is pretty hairy). But Line 5 is a sweet one:

Honest return. No regret.

Dun, translated as honest, means good, honest, sincere, loyal, generous, someone with integrity, on whom you can rely. This could be a person, or it could refer to a return to this state. Lynn translates it as “simple honesty”; Wang Bi’s commentary says it is magnanimous and free of resentment, and the Commentary on the Images refers to self-examination.

And the Rogue River Commentary on this line spoke so clearly to me today:
This time he went way too far out. The path went on forward, yet he came back, and will not do things that way again. To stay your own best friend after a misadventure like this needs more than forgiveness, but to whip yourself for acting the fool is to play the fool twice. So he had a rough time, made a mistake, believed wrong things, drank and turned into a jerk, got angry and lost a few friends. We need to turn our regrets into lessons. Honesty stings, but the toxins dishonesty swallows will kill us. A straightforward, critical inventory is the shortest way back home, less loops than shame or guilt or repentance. Good judgement might pronounce some atonements, but it takes the best lessons forward: ahead is work to be done, a smarter life to be lived and consequences to own. Why live out our years in memory of our regrets?
I became aware today of so many things I’m coming back to. On a mundane level, I’m coming back to regular exercise, which has been interrupted by travel and guests, and is something I need in order to feel at home in my body. Food, too: getting back to a diet that feels natural for me.

My worries about my father have settled, now that he is happily settled into a fabulous care facility. I stayed there for a fortnight myself while helping him move in, and am confidant that he is in good hands.

I’m ecstatically getting back to gardening: the clematis has burst into bloom, the wisteria is about to do the same, lots of buds on the new rose, lilies of the valley and jasmine opening white perfume, loganberries and the grapevine full of infant fruit, fig tree opening frilly fists with tiny green buttons behind. The first globe artichokes have appeared; runner beans are nosing up the poles, and the tromboncino’s have sprouted.

One of my best friends, who had disappeared into New Boyfriendland for six months, is back.

I’ve returned to teaching, more than the Yi workshops. After a break of nearly ten years, I’m running a series of workshops on the therapeutic relationship.

And I’ve returned to this blog.

The Rogue River Commentary on the text for Hexagram 24 says, in part:

Is this not a high, holy thing to spend some time where we belong?

And LiSe says:
Only by being oneself over and over again, one fills in one’s place.

I feel like I’ve been away, and have come home to my own life; I can let my hair down, kick off my shoes, and wiggle my toes in earth that I know, and that knows me. And yet I wonder: How is it that some parts of my life feel more like ‘my life’ than others? Isn’t it all my life?

That’s how I’m using the Yi these days myself: as a gentle reminder to ‘notice this’, a ‘thought for the day’, an invitation to observe my life that day from a particular angle. It’s a bit like looking through pinhole glasses – sometimes when you narrow your view, you can actually see more.

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