I hitchhike to work — with a psychiatric nurse who hates her job, and with a mason who says, “I love to work. I love it more than eating.”

At the office, not yet at work, I put on water for coffee, meditate, look through yesterday’s mail. There’s a deadline to meet, but no clock to punch. I get in at 9 or 8 or 7 or 6 or 5, and start right in if I’m feeling good and stare out the window if I’m not. I call a friend and talk about my hardest work: relationship. She says it’s hard because I’m not loving myself: “You’re a giant hopping around on one leg.” Who isn’t, I wonder. Who sees their own beauty and power; who isn’t taken in by fear?

I’m still afraid — of the hard work of living, of the stunning realization that there’s nowhere to go but deeper into myself. What a journey — through the crooked streets of mind, the twistings and turnings of time. I die and I’m reborn, but who’ll name me? Nameless behind my desk, my face, the other faces, I’m God no more or less than you, poking in my ashes, a phoenix rising. Words, words . . . but this is no divine light, this is a city burning. Jealousy. Confusion. Between the water and the steam.

Coffee in hand, I write in my notebook:

There aren’t any formulas for happiness, or security. The world isn’t any more home than I allow it to be. I protect myself from this realization by creating structures: “getting up early,” “relationship,” “work.” If some activity, some moment makes me feel good, I identify with it, try to turn it into my life, replace the unknown with the known. How silly: it’s already gone when I touch it. Happiness isn’t freedom and freedom isn’t anything at all.

I read a few pages from Hugh Prather’s There Is a Place Where You Are Not Alone:

The one tool I had was the recognition that I could accomplish nothing by myself and that I must consult directly the Guide who had brought me this far about every further step to be taken.

I think about my maps and metaphors, my bewitching vocabularies of need, the glittery temples I wander through, smashing false idols and erecting new ones — my grand and pitiful mind, clutching what it knows the way my youngest daughter clutches her blanket, taking it everywhere. Prather writes:

Perception seems to encircle you. It is a ball of images filled with sound and confusion. But notice how paper-thin and one-dimensional it is. Just behind it is endless light that is still and entirely joyous. This is your Self, the undefined something you seek in all your striving, the place of rest for all your onward-rushing thoughts, lovely in its contentment and harmlessness, brilliant in its health and peace, whole and free, and forever untouched by constantly changing self-images.

Outside, the traffic is humming. Soon, phone calls and visitors. God in all his disguises, me in mine. Hating and loving this work, this life, this pain, this peace.

— Sy