Most days when I get up, I make a strong cup of Goya espresso coffee; while waiting for the water to boil, I feed the cats a pouch of Whiskas (not because it's good for them but because they like it) and I sit, in the zazen sense of sitting, not to meditate but to awaken and to focus.
I sit on a couch facing the fireplace focusing my eyes on the mantel just below a Civil War sword—a family heirloom—that I hung there with "Stand by the Union" engraved on it's blade as I sip from my cup, held with both hands, waiting for the intoxicant to awaken me.
I have a mantra. I silently repeat this as I inhale the quiet morning air with the light coming through the blinds; the air is perfect, the light is perfect, the time is perfect, I am perfect. And as I exhale I silently repeat that which encompasses everything that I would rid myself of: my resentments, my fears, my regrets, my impatience and all the other vain deceptions and clinging imperfections of yesterday or tomorrow that make up who I am.
I'd begun sitting there with the purpose of replacing the uncomfortable that of life with its beatific this. But after several months of mornings before the mantel, I realized the most important word of this mantra was not this and the wished for perfection it stood for; nor was it that and all I wanted to shun. It was a new word that slowly came to me lightly on my breath; one that inserted itself between the two. A simple and beautiful word. That word was and.
I would not try to replace one part of my life with another, I would "Stand by the Union."