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Further Up the Road

Johny Cash's "Further up the Road" comes on the radio on the way to the kids' school. The normally chatty little ones quietly stare out the window. It almost looks like the foggy days I remember from my childhood in central valley California. Except it's smoke. My six year old daughter Arya asks, "Daddy, is the world on fire?" Before I can catch myself, I say "Yes sweetheart, in one form or another." The car is silent again. My seven year old boy Finn finally chimes in, " I can't wait for the houseboat wedding this weekend! It's going to be legendary!" Legendary is his new favorite word and I smile at its appropriate use in this context." Arya adds, "You're so lucky Cheri said yes." My smile brightens. "Indeed," I say, "Incredibly lucky."

Driving back home from their school to begin my day of teaching online, I think about last Saturday when, despite the heat and smoke, I spent the night in meditation out in the desert. I wanted to process and let go of hatred and fear that have been festering in my heart. Indignation turned gangrenous. I wanted to treat these emotions with waves of empathy. What I discover in the wee hours while serenaded by distant coyotes and bathed in the relief of a cool breeze is that the person from whom Ive been withholding empathy is myself. Old tapes on repeat. "You're a bad boy." August was a HARD damned month. And I've been shouldering more blame than necessary. I decide to forgive myself for mistakes made under the world's pressure. I decide to try and make wherever I am beautiful regardless of how polluted the circumstances. I decide to be armed with empathy and fierce with kindness. No easy task.

Today I get to practice.

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