Thursday, November 6, 2014

Get out of the way of the Way

I read the Tao of Pooh some time ago, and am currently, finally, reading the original Taoist mystical text, the Tao Te Ching. That is, my eyes are reading the words on the page. Not much useful happens next. The Tao is a tough text to understand; its depth, endless. It’s about The Way (Tao), integrity, yin/yang, the nature of Life. I don’t pretend to be a true scholar, and just writing about the Tao is a quagmire of confusion, but here’s an excerpt of how I’m playing with the ideas lately:

I am standing washing dishes for the umpteenth evening in a row, adrenaline coursing through me, my breath shallow, as I wait for A’s telltale steps down the stairs signalling “all is well with our now sleeping children”. Some powerful hidden anger overtakes me one evening, I believe it was a Saturday after a long day outside. A rage-filled roar in my head shouts: HOW HAVE I LET MYSELF BE TRAMPLED BY FEAR??? The children (Ben) will fall asleep eventually, it is the Way. Parents (me) agonize over it, to the point of feeling traumatized. My roiling insides begged for mercy, for me to get out of the way of my own self-torture. It’s been life changing.

Dry rice is falling all over the floor, getting stuck into every nook and cranny of the kitchen, Daniel’s diaper, the toaster oven, everywhere. The boys are playing with it, merrily scooping it from bowl to bowl with a variety of utensils, happy as clams. It is the Way of children everywhere. Keeping a clean house as a parent is not. Neither is letting myself freak out about it.

Years of trying to get pregnant. Lots of asking “Why me??” with no good answers. Asking “why me?” is not the Way. A friend who recently experienced a miscarriage told me she is no longer beholden to believing in Karma. She no longer thinks it was anything but “shit” happening. Shit happening is the Way. What we do about it is what matters. I asked if she thinks things happen for a reason. She said she does, but not in a personal way, rather in the “Way things are” kind of way.

Lately, I have been feeling like the less I resist the Way of Life, the easier everything is to take. Duh. Like the classic pop psych maxim “resistance is persistence” I am slowly letting go of the illusion of control. It’s a mind game, and playing it, I win so much back! My joy in watching the children being children, my gratitude for their lives, my appreciation of the simplicity of our family existence right now. I am taking care to check my brain regularly: Am I getting in my own way right now? Is my brain making up stories for which I am suffering needlessly? Am I present to love?

The Way is the Way. How we experience it is up to us.


Rattley Bumpa

NB: this was written in early October.

The sound a pick-up truck makes driving near a fresh construction sit. The name of a great kids’ book. The feeling of my heart beating erratically in this moment. It’s been a doozy of a month with my older son Ben starting pre-school, saying goodbye to the crib/toddler bed and none of us sleeping through the night once yet since it all started. I have a benign heart arrhythmia, which is apparently very common. It was really bad when Ben was an infant; so much so that I saw a heart specialist, got a (clear) echocardiogram, wore a holter monitor for 24 hrs and had blood tests. The results, apart from being relatively reassuring, did nothing to curb the missing beat. My blood pressure is also outrageously low (80/50 or something). Eventually it went away. Didn’t really rear its head when Daniel was born. Just now, around the time Ben was going to start pre-school. I have different philosophical and existential explanations for these phenomena. Being deeply empathic to your offspring is a mixed blessing and so our own foundation is shaken along with theirs when paradigms shift in their little lives. Some of that is our own projection, either of what we think they must be going through or tapping into our own childhood grief. They say having kids is like watching your heart walking around outside your body, only moderately being able to protect it. The whole thing [love] is epic. All I know is that when I am earth rattlingly worried and overtired, in the way that Ben deftly inspires, my heart starts screaming! It goes boom, boom, boom – pause – adrenaline shot – breath intake – massive boom! Over and over. I feel like I should take off like a rocket!

I just left Ben’s bedroom after watching that precious kid go to sleep and then giving him some Reiki. Alongside the usual mantras and energy involved was a bone-deep, soul aching plea that I could ever fill him up with enough healing energy and strength to make up for my anger, frustration and shortcomings, not to mention all the other daily afflictions in his young sensitive person’s life.

Oh sweet Ben, how you set my heart aflutter!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Down some other road

I’ve been thinking about words lately, lyrics in particular. Artists write them down because they have something to say (besides any pressure I’m sure they also experience!). Everyone has something to say so it begs the question: what would your song be? What would be mine?

La, la, la,
I tried to get pregnant and then 5 years later did. 
Thought about a dog but I’m glad I had a kid. 
Stuck here in the house while my baby snoozes on. 
Happy that he is so I thought I’d write this song!

A sure hit! Maybe I’d sing about the various trials of childrearing (pick one), or a love song (for sure). Right now I’d rant a rock anthem about how on this extremely rare afternoon alone (save sleeping baby), when I’d planned to finally start an iMovie about the kids, the application won’t open (long story). A and Ben are in the Big City having Big City adventures, donuts, dumplings, subway rides, the works. I feel a little lost actually, un-tethered. My main purpose these days is the fam; it’s been halved and I am with the not-especially-conversant half. Oh, we’ve had fun, precious time, but the dynamic is so different without B&A around. Those two drive me nuts sometimes but I already miss ‘em. I guess we’re all pretty attached, as evidenced by the upheaval in our home re: Ben starting pre-school. Neither parent has been sleeping well, anxiety is high. Ben is miserable every morning, happy every afternoon. Such a roller coaster! For me, it feels hard to set him loose into a bigger world. His former daycare was so small and cushy. It’s an act of faith really: in our choice, in the timing, in him most of all. We certainly question the decision, regularly contemplating selling the house, buying an RV like that Kellogg family with the heap of kids (12!), and just homeschooling along the way. School of life. Now doesn’t that sound like [crazy] fun?

All that extra free time gave me the gift of a song instead of a movie. The words are below, with a tune partly inspired by “Wrong song” on Nashville. I attached my very low-tech, real-person-voice, Guitar Band recording of it, if you dare. It’s a song for Ben (who belts out “Wrong song”)…

Down some other road

Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in bed on rainy days?
Counting out the many toes, under our duvet
But life’s too short to hide inside our heads or homes my son
Grab the wheel, resolve of steel, and let’s go for a drive!

Hop in the van, child, it’s gonna get wild
Life ain’t all roses, though it comes with a smile
So much to see, so much to be, so this is life…
Driving you down some other road

Take me by the hand, baby, get a little crazy
Clouds are a formin’ and it seems a little hazy
But I swear on my life there’s a rainbow along for the ride…
Driving you down some other road