My days, I largely devoted to writing, aiming to get the first draft completed of a newish Dogen piece I'm currently writing, called 'Firewood becomes Ash.' All went well for a week, but just as I found my creativity ploughing into the snowdrift of how to conclude it, I got a phone call. The one person I'd arranged to work the quiet period between Christmas and New Year had fallen ill - could I organise new cover? It wasn't so bad as I'd initially thought, it was one day of cover by me, and two days from another member of staff. Though, nothing could make it anything less than an unwelcome interruption, for both of us, of our holiday breaks. I did mentally step, briefly, into the quicksand of despondency. I can see, in retrospect, that this situation bore more than a passing resemblance to some of those dismal days in the 'nineties', when I ran my own business. The emotional discomfort and fidgeting I can feel whilst in a position of responsibility, appears also to date back to this time. This mixture of aversion, increased levels of anxiety, and diminished confidence in my decision making, can, at times, wind me up good and proper. Sometimes, I yearn for the quiet obscurity and contentment I associate with a background supporting role, whilst at the same time realising how short lived that contentment can sometimes be. As I do so easily get bored and restless with creatively undemanding positions.
Getting consistent amounts of sleep would be a help, but it is still a struggle. I resorted to herbal sleep tablets over the holiday to help me relax and unwind. I'm still using them at the moment, but I don't want to come to rely on them. They're not always consistent in there effect, sometimes, I end up being physically relaxed, whilst simultaneously being suffused by an aura of anxiety - a sensation which can feel distinctly alienating. That said I don't feel quite as mentally ragged and on edge now, as I did in 2007, which is a boon. I hope 2008 will continue to improve on this front.
At work, the protracted process of revamping Customer Services has begun. I don't have some huge overarching vision for it, more a sense for what will help move it towards a healthier state .i e. one with clearer boundaries and a more shared sense of responsibility for tasks. This is my starter for ten. I imagine this process will not be without its tensions, disappointments, set backs and challenges, both on a personal and a collective level. However, there is too much history of illness and burnout connected with the Team, for it's current set-up and mode of operation to remain unchanged. Old habits and ways will die hard I expect. I will also need to raise the level of my on personal practice too; managing anxiety better, keeping my nerve, and facing up to some of my oldest and most entrenched habits. Watch out ! this could be a bumpy ride for all concerned, including me. Perhaps by the end of 2008 I too will be able to exclaim 'YATAA ! ( I did it ! ).
Last Saturday, 19th of January, was the 807 anniversary of Dogen's birth. On the Friday before, Paco and I performed The Shobogenzo Puja, that I compiled towards the end of last year, (You'll find it somewhere else on this blog). It went fine, and I thought flowed smoothly. There was only two of us, so we did a lot of it in unison rather than call and response. I imagine the 1hr and twenty minutes running time (which included 20 minutes meditation) would be more 1hr and forty, if we had done it as I'd originally conceived it. I might adapt it further and produce an abbreviated version, if I thought it would work. Anyway, it has had its first public performance, one which I felt more than satisfied with. I can't imagine how Dogen would have felt about it.