Under the surface of things, it's been a pretty turbulent semester over here, in ways that I haven't quite been able to articulate (but that make some days feel pretty utterly off the rails) and that have put my back up against the realization (once again) that I am quite good at advising my students to take it easy on themselves and to weather hardship without judgment--and not at all good at taking my own advice. This morning, padding out from my bedroom to reheat the rest of yesterday's coffee as my second mug of the day, I looked at the counters getting covered in dirty dishes and realized that I've fallen back under the illusion that if I were just more together--if I just, for instance, could keep the dishes under control, especially now that I live in a house with a dishwasher--I would finally get "it" right. It's a strange (and, I think judgmentally, self-dumbing) illusion to fall back into, particularly at the end of a year in which I have taken up Zen practice, which (of all things) I would have imagined could somehow save me from this particular brand of self-damaging thinking. And yet, and yet. There in the cluttered kitchen, I realized that I might be wading more fully into a new realization--wading into in the manner of walking waist-high through a low surf, with the ocean floor's sucking sand pulling at my feet and the water not the easiest medium through which to move my legs--and that that realization is precisely what I've voiced aloud (and with all appearance of confidence) to increasingly loud audiences: that practicing life isn't the equivalent of mastering it, that practicing life is the being in it, mess and all, over and over, which is a harder and more counterintuitive thing to accept when the "it" I'm in is silently messing in its process of transforming into something different.