Forever—is composed of Nows—
‘Tis not a different time—
Except for Infiniteness—
And Latitude of Home—
From this—experienced Here—
Remove the Dates—to These—
Let Months dissolve in further Months—
And Years—exhale in Years—
Without Debate—or Pause—
Or Celebrated Days—
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Domini’s—
Dear Loved Ones in the Light, what is going on with me? What do I need to learn and to change to get past this stuck period of small but persistent troubles in my life?
You are tired and you are used up. At least that is how you are feeling—as if every moment is weighted down by the unmet requirements it holds. You are struggling with the same weights that have submerged you throughout your life. You have opportunities for genuine escape, but even those seem daunting because you think you need to approach them with a high level of attention, skill, and subsequent success. What are you going to do to change?
Change is in your hands, even though you feel that your whole life has been tainted by problems such as you are experiencing now. You see the vast blessings in your life, but you feel you are not doing your part, and that is true, but not out of laziness. Rather it is out of fear and a sense of being overloaded and buried by expectations. When are you going to look for the joy rather than the homework? When are you going to release your life from its chains and barriers, all of which are self-imposed—the serious ones, anyway. When are you going to take a few steps per day, rather than all or nothing? You see the totality of what needs to be done, and you freeze.
True, sometimes you actually dive in and do the job in a great marathon of effort. But especially in times like this, when you are not feeling well and energetic, you freeze and so cause yourself additional pain, guilt, and regret. Take your book that you are wanting to proofread. Why don’t you tackle three chapters a day? That isn’t a lot, and you don’t actually have to be perfect, catching every possible needed change. You can repeat reviewing the book after you’ve been through it once, and you can repeat the review a third time if you wish. Then you will have achieved your goal of having your book ready for publication. A similar approach—tackling a small amount frequently—will work well for you in going through your collection of keepsakes and your items in storage, as well as in the routine winnowing of your other possessions.
You are very concerned about running out of money. But you aren’t doing what you could be doing to try to earn some money. Finish getting The Girl in the Leaning Tower ready, and then put your considerable energy into selling it, not giving up at the first or second obstacle. And as you review your possessions, you will find a few things that you will be able to sell as need requires.
And what about your blog writing? You can always do the sort of writing you are doing right now. The key is to find questions that are narrow enough to lead you down different paths, rather than always down the main road of your struggles.
Your ideas of reading as your will takes you and of taking on bigger writing projects as they present themselves are good ones. After you finish proofing The Girl in the Leaning Tower, you may want to consider working with your parents’ letters, as well as doing more to promote their books.
And why have you recently had a larger than normal series of nagging problems that, while not tragedies by any means, are nevertheless disconcerting: mice invading your kitchen, the theft of a keepsake Santa figurine, a major chemical-sensitivity reaction, and a nagging respiratory ailment since the reaction. What is going on? You feel as if the Universe is trying to get your attention, and such is always the case with our challenges large and small.
The Universe wants you—everyone—to find order and a sense of presence. Change, unexpected adventures, and spontaneity are often interesting, educational, and pleasurable but can drift over into chaos and a lack of grounding, which is what you have allowed to happen. Beware that if you try to impose perfect order on your life, thinking, “I will wake up in the morning at 7 a.m., meditate, write, clean the apartment,” and so on, you are setting yourself up for failure. There are no recipes for an orderly, grounded life; such a life must emerge integrally out of living according to sound principles. Your values and goals will guide you, will be the background to your being, but the focus needs to be on the moment, on honoring the present and all it contains, including the activity in which you are engaging. If you constantly feel you should be doing something else, no activities—from the most uplifting to the most mundane—will bring satisfaction. If you are wasting time because you are afraid to tackle a substantial project, why not at least be doing something genuinely pleasurable, such as reading a book?
Right now you feel a little like the boy who is trying to stop the dike from leaking by putting his fingers in the holes but who discovers the leaks are popping up faster than he can plug them. The holes in the structure of your life are popping up in one spot and then another. Instead of stuffing the weak places with the rags of desperation, reinforce the foundation, the grounding for all your days.
 Emily Dickinson, Poem 624, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1960), 307-8.