The Way Out and Back is Not the Same
100-Day Gong Day 51
Today for me is day 51 of the 100-day Gong. Can you believe we've come that far from Winter Solstice already?
Essentially, we're halfway between solstice and equinox. We've moved out of the still point of midwinter but we're not all the way over to plowing the fields yet. It's time to ask groundhogs for their predictions. In the Celtic calendar, it's Imbolc, where old crone energy is replaced by maiden energy. And in the Jewish calendar, originating farther south, it's Tu b'Shvat (was just last week), which is the New Year of trees!
So, what does it mean to be halfway through a 100-day discipline, halfway between midwinter and spring?
There's an exquisite tension between being mapped onto the cycle of the year and having the day-by-day accounting of 1, 2, 3, ... all the way through 100. It's tempting to check off days one by one. Every day is a numerator with 100 as denominator, or a percentage "done."
50 percent? Halfway there? All downhill now! On the way home now!
Or maybe not. Not my experience, anyway. Mapping onto the seasons helps, as does looking at the 30- 60- and 90-day marks , and my subdivisions into nine-day cycles help get away from the decimal also.
Heraclitus said, "The road upward and downward is one and the same." The road to wealth can get you to poverty also. You can come back down from a mountaintop by the same trail. If you don't shift paradigm and find a new road, you can just keep on going up and down. But of course, Heraclitus is best known nowadays for having said that one can't step in the same river twice (although he didn't exactly say that). If the road up and down is one and the same but the experiencer is constantly changing, then you can't step on the same road twice.
That's where my thoughts have been with this halfway point. When I hike, or even when I'm driving somewhere, I tend to prefer loops over covering the same ground on the way both out and back. Including today, I have fifty more days of commitment to this same set of practices. Is that the same road up and down? Or is it the paradigm shifter that allows everchanging me to step into the everchanging waters of the river?
The truth is, if I'm paying attention at all, I can travel an identical path out and back and the experience is completely different. A tree can be almost unrecognizable seen from one side or the other.
Every day another step, the numbers ticking in the background like mala beads up toward 100.
At this halfway point, I'm definitely used to the practices, used to doing them, grateful for doing them. Sometimes I don't want to do them, because sometimes I'm just so tired I don't want to do anything at all. But because I'm committed to the Gong, because it's supposed to be "work," it's supposed to be building willpower, I do the chore/practice anyway. And I'm always glad I did.
That's where it becomes a perpetual gift, a gift that keeps giving. Because now when there's something not part of the Gong that I need to get done but am just too tired, I have the experience of pulling myself up and out of "too tired," doing it, and experiencing the gratification of having it done..