In one of the Sutras the Buddha talks about the four kinds of horses: there is the excellent horse, the good horse, the poor horse and the very bad horse. The excellent horse moves before the whip even touches its back; just the shadow of the whip or a sound from the driver is enough to make the horse move. The good horse runs at the slightest touch of the whip on its back. The poor horse doesn't go until it feels pain, and the very bad horse doesn't bulge until the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.
I came to Europe approximately 3 weeks ago. And for most of that time, I have been a Very Bad Horse.
Somehow the separation from my family has been brutal. I understand at a very rational level that it is the psychological effect of "coming to stay". But the heart is seldom rational, and the memory of my child's face or voice has plunged me repeatedly into the abyss of distress. I have also missed my mother, the comfort of her home, the warmth of the linen on the beds, the smells of the kitchen, the flowers in the garden, the special way the sun touches the window. Every single little thing has made me feel homesick... An interesting affair when you were as eager to leave as I was.
Then, the death-blow... my best friend is diagnosed with cancer, and I am here, impotent, looking at my computer screen and wanting to jump out of my skin. How can something like this happen when I am so helpless and useless... But it does.
All this while, and for 16 days and 16 unbearable nights, I have the FLU, and I mean it in capital cases. I do not sleep at night, because I am too busy coughing, sneezing or snorting disgustingly. My boyfriend doesn't sleep either, and probably has the very urgent instinctive need to choke me or suffocate me with a pillow at the very least. Yet, praise his heart, he doesn't, but rather takes gentle care of me. I wish I could say his love cured me, but it didn't. Fevers came and went, sore throat at bed time, sorer in the morning. Mucus my constant and revolting company. And my mood just kept improving.
Christmas came and went, together with a quite frank speech from a concerned boyfriend who gently but firmly crossed every T and dotted every I. So I faced the new year with a strong decision: Stop complaining, stop the bleeding wounds, stop the heartaches... just STOP.
January 1st finds me in the Gompa, resolutely doing prostrations, cough or no cough, pain or no pain. I continue to ache at different times, when I see little children with their mothers for example, or see pictures of smiling little girls. I still miss my mom and my heart goes out to my best friend every single day. But the point is not to deny these emotions. The point is to accept they are there and go on. The point is, when you find yourself to be the very bad horse, you get inspired and try harder.