It felt good to not be task driven, no laundry to be done, no groceries needed, no studio cleaning or painting (not that any of these activities are bad or boring but I find they can create this momentum of "I need to get this done"). Removing these tasks felt like opening up a space, kind of like clearing your desk, quieting the ever present momentum of doing. Tarthang Tulku in his book "Gesture of Balance", says "When we let everything be just as it is and listen to the silence within our minds - this becomes our meditation. This silence is not just absence of sound or freedom from distraction, it is full openness, the presence of the mind." Maybe that's what we were aiming for without knowing it, some "gesture of balance" against the stage of usual activity.
So a Friday without an agenda felt like letting go, letting go of expectations, a space clearing, a departure from the usual. Is it the Puritan work ethic that drives that list making and task seeking behaviour that can seem so tiring and habitual? It is seldom that I get up in the morning without thinking of all the things I want to and need to do. Does that make me feel important, accomplished, satisfied? And why is the list always longer than the day?
It was a freeing experience to just get up and take the day as we found it, to wander and chat with gallery owners, nothing to buy, not necessarily looking for art selling venues, just being open to whatever came up. A door is open to a narrow stairway in Fan Tan Alley, let's go up. Chat with the young art seller who has just launched a website. Talk about the enormous round skylight in this one time gambling den. A little shop with "Etsy" style goods on the corner; let's wander in and have a look. Chat with the owner of "The Mercurio Gallery", a beautiful little space full of treasures owned by a silversmith of 30 years, who just decided to open a gallery when the spaces adjacent to her studio became vacant a year ago. In "Dales Gallery", we get a tour of the photography exhibit and learn how the photographer has cleaned the garbage up off the streets in the photos (digitally) and made the streets glisten just a little more in the dark, how he has created the perfection that lives in his head to share with us. We sense he is creating a mood of peace and serenity by aiming for the perfect landscape, the Vespa framed by the yellow and blue walls like some abstract painting. We have another lovely chat and wander on.
It is a lovely free afternoon, punctuated by a cup of good strong coffee before we start the walk home. What time is it, it doesn't matter. It is an experience of "no expectations", of sheer being, of connecting with others with no agenda. The body and mind relax. A vacation from the usual way of being. I don't feel great, one of those days when for reasons that always baffle me I feel vaguely unwell, but that's okay too. I keep remembering the Suzuki Roshi phrase I found the other day "enjoy your difficulties," and so I don't feel bummed out by body's failure to live up to my expectations.
Perhaps tomorrow, though I have things to do and places to go and people to see, I can carry with me that sense of just being, with no expectations, no agenda, that has caused my whole being to relax its grasping after how I think things should be. Maybe I can let go just a little more and slide into that place of just being.