Wednesday December 23, 2009
Later today I’m off on the first retreat I’ve been on for some time, at Satipanya in Shropshire, and I’m looking forward to a few days of meditation and reflection. So yesterday I was putting things in order ready for the departure, and this included sorting out the kind of backup solution for my desktop computer that I should have got round to ages ago.
The trouble with moving large chunks of data around, however, is that things can go wrong, and when my aging desktop wheezed a little too despairingly and then decided to go into a sulk half way through the most ticklish part of the operation, with only one third of what I needed on my external hard drive, I knew that I was not going to have the quiet evening of reading for which I had hoped.
And as computer sulks go, it has to be said that it was a fairly determined one. Several hours fiddling around with the Linux command line to coax my machine back to life was not exactly how I wanted to be spending the evening before my retreat. But at the same time, the knowledge that I was going on retreat the day after certainly moderated my frustration. And this, I think, is interesting: why should I have naturally found myself moderating my response with more care than usual prior to a retreat? The answer, I think, is because experience shows that anger, frustration and impatience have a long half-life: they don’t disappear overnight, their effects continue to resonate, and that if you give in to them, and then the following day head off to the wilds of Shropshire, then they follow you – and that does not make for particularly enjoyable meditation. But I also wondered last night, as I set my online backup running (just to be doubly safe) and went to bed, whether I would have been quite so careful if I was not going on retreat the following day. When you are meditating a lot, you notice the effects of these things more; but that does not mean that the effects are greater. In the hurly-burly of daily life, sometimes it may be all to easy to fail to notice the longer resonances and after-effects of earlier states of minds.
Anyway, everything is now backed up, last night I slept well, my bags are packed and it’s a beautiful morning of sunshine and frost. I’m off. See you all in a few days!
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