The days immediately following David's departure, I still held a half-acknowledged delusion that he was still around somewhere and would pop his head round the door at any time. By the weekend I had fully adjusted to the longevity of his absence. I reflected then on quite what it was I wanted to develop for myself over the next four months. I resolved on three broad areas - practical, spiritual and creative.
Practically, its mainly to improve my general fitness through swimming and specific exercises to strengthen my back - plus having a general health check up at the Doctors surgery. Also I need some reassurance about the current state of my hearing. Lately I've begun to notice mild changes in the effectiveness of it. I can mishear, or strain to hear if people talk quietly, or with their backs to me. In a noisy street, or places with a lot of background noise, I can struggle to catch everything that's being said. There is also the 'getting a will written' issue that I put in a pending tray until after David had gone.
Spiritually, I want to increase the general frequency and tenure of my meditation and devotional practice. Meditating twice a day, plus doing my sadana, a puja and additional visualisation practices at weekends. I see it as a four month experiment with my practise to see what results. I also have regular study preparation to do for a retreat I'm going on in May based around Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara. Also there was a feeling that when David comes back from Ghuyaloka it would be good if I too was in better spiritual fettle, which might help ease his return to this context.
Creatively , I have two designs for paintings of seed syllables to work out, that I want to give as ordination gifts to David and Paco on their return. Plus I'd like to develop other artwork ideas as an ongoing thing, and to start selling them as I've mentioned previously. On top of this to continue adding regular content to this blog and to my dharma writing,with the occasional report in to Shabda (the WBO's monthly order journal).
It was clear from this, that if any of this was going to happen, plus maintaining a healthy amount of down time, meeting with friends etc, I would need not only to be more disciplined, but also get more organised. So I've set about revamping my Google Calendar, and worked out a basic weekly programme, where most things have some sort of regular slot, or slots. In the light of experience, I've already adjusted the frequency of some things. The exercise regime needed a more gradually build up or I'm going to be exhausted by July, which would sort of defeat the purpose. What I can fit into a morning routine is limited so I've adjusted timings and moved some practices to a later evening slot. It might be a tad ambitious, but I think I can adapt it as I see fit, even allow myself to fall back from it. To have a more flexible approach without feeling any sense of guilt or of having let myself down, or off the hook in some way.
I had a letter from David today, that he wrote over a week ago. They were just about to seal off the valley for the duration of the retreat, and were allowed to right some last letters before the Ordination Course starts in earnest. He sounds to have settled in quite easily to the new routine, and to be enjoying it too. I knew he would once he got there. Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!
At work we've decided the date of my handover to my replacement it is, auspiciously, to be the 1st May. Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!