Zen-ing Out


I am holed up in bed. It’s two in the afternoon and it feels peaceful if slightly decadent. After the dark shakiness of this week and the rather long nights talking things through with the hubble, it feels like the best place for me to be. It’s actually the only place I want to be. Safe and secure in an oasis of snuggly white warmth. It’s raining heavily and the air smells metallic and dirty – wet earth and rain, a smell I love – and its peaceful. I’m listening to this album. It’s lovely.

This morning I took the cat, who seems to spend most of her time annoying the shit out of me, to the vet for her yearly jabs. I do feel for her, having a thermostat shoved up her bum at every visit, then being poked and prodded and jabbed with needles. She has a lump on her back that needs to be kept an eye on but apart from that, she’s healthy and a good weight for a big furbag. She’s happily sleeping on a huge pile of my Indian imported floor cushions like the princess and the pea. After I dropped her off at home (yes, I came all the way back to the house to drop the cat off home), I did what I always do when I’m down, I went shopping. I bought the Beanie some new PJ’s, soft and fleecy and a book called The Owl Babies, because she’s my little owl. Did I mention she can count? Yup. My two year old can tell you how many lady bugs or bees are pressed into a piece of play dough – she can do up to four. I’m pretty amazed by that I have to say. And then I took solace in my local bookshop coming home with Zen tomes (one called ‘There is nothing wrong with you.’ which made me chuckle) and a little book called ‘Lessons of a Lakota’ by Billy Mills because I have an interest in Native American everything.

I’m currently listening to The Painted Drum on audio by Louise Erdrich and it has been quite entertaining. I’ve also just picked up Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali on audio. I have read the book but I thought it would be good to have this in the car. I love listening to stuff in the car – it’s where I do most of my learning I think. I most often have Wayne Dyer with me or Louise Hay or, my favourite, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I love her combination of spirit and honesty and her earthy yet lofty blend of Native wisdom and Buddhism. It speaks very deeply to me. She makes me feel peaceful just listening to her. Yesterday, when I was deep in the tremors, I opened ‘The Dance’ and from a chapter called Choosing a Joyful Dance, this is what I read,

‘Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be…someday,
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment, and again in the next and the next and the next…’

Are you willing to be completely at peace with how things are right now in your life? Are you willing for just one moment to let go of all your dissatisfaction, all of your suffering about how things are? Are you willing to let go of all the worry and tension in your body and simply breathe?

Am I? The thing that I struggle with (among many others) is the feeling that to accept myself as I truly am, in this moment, in this day of motherhood, is to accept something intrinsically wrong. My mothering is wrong. My discipline is wrong. My anger is wrong. How, I could ask, could one ask a murderer to accept how he is in the moment? I’m not really comparing myself to a murderer but I think that it’s somehow flawed to ask of myself, feeling as I do about motherhood, to simply accept that this is how it is. How I am. I don’t want to accept that this is how I am. I don’t want to be this. I want to be something different. Something better. How do I come to a place of acceptance about something which feels wrong in my heart? That is what I am struggling with today. I want to sit with my discomfort but I don’t. I chew over the fact that I fail every day to be the mother I wish to be, the mother my daughter deserves. I know that she chose me and on some level what I offer her is necessary for her journey, as well as mine, but I also believe that my desperate desire to do better, to be better, is also part of this journey.

When I look at my anxious, frustrated, impatient type of mothering, I am struck by how much like my mother I am. I grew up nurtured by a woman who would rather walk for 5 miles than wait 10 minutes for a bus. She pushed me, like a real stage mother, to win, to be better than every other person I could be pitted against, especially if it was in an area that she believed I would do well in, or an area where she herself wished she could have played. I was a smart and capable kid. I could do anything pretty well. I was adaptable and gifted in many areas (though not maths!) and so I did pretty well all round. This led to many difficult and stressful times for me, all brought about through my mother’s love for me and her desire for me to do well. I understand now that this was perhaps not the way to handle things but she didn’t know any different. She was motivated by many things, guilt and fear among them. She was by nature, a highly stressed individual, probably from living through the war and evacuation and poverty and then with my violent father for 26 years. I know that living with him would put anyone under severe stress and so its not really surprising that I have inherited, from pregnancy probably, the same traits of anxiousness and fear. I was born into fear and have lived most of my life with its shadow snapping closely at my heels. It’s not that it stops me from doing most things – it doesn’t. I am both fearful and stubborn. But I suspect that it stops me from doing many things that I don’t realize. Probably because I am unable to truly let myself break apart. Like last night. I cried but could not let go, not truly. I was worried that I would wake my baby girl. I hate crying. I both felt and wanted to break through the door that separates me from my true emotions and could not. I pulled back because it seemed less painful to remain where I am than to push through into that empty darkness that waits for me in the room beyond. I couldn’t move through that doorway because I don’t honestly know how to. How do you let yourself break apart? How do you give yourself over to the sorrow – to anything without holding just a little of yourself back?

And so today, I meander quietly through my life, seeking for something that will make sense of my experiences. Something that will give me hope. A book I picked up today is called, ‘That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek.’ I liked the title. The author, Cheri Huber, is a teacher of Zen. The explanation on the back of the books says, “What we are looking for is causing us to look. That’s why we need not go anywhere, do anything, learn more, figure anything out or worry about going wrong. We need only to stop, sit down, be still and pay attention.’ Easier said than done for this restless, mangled spirit. But I will try.

I will try.

May your caravan be filled with the music of silence.