“"What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head””
is not who I am" ~Eckhart Tolle
If you’d asked me a week ago how I was doing, I’d have looked at you serenely and answered, “Amazing. Couldn’t be better. Mindful Awareness and the teachings of the Buddha have kept me in a state of utter peace and...
All my life, every moment has been a means to an end. And every space between every action taken to achieve those ends has been consumed by my obsessive thinking about what I need to do next to get to where I want to be. In other words, the...
I just got back from eating lunch at Whole Foods down the street. My practice of mindfulness has included, prominently, the act of eating. As a woman in this day and age, addressing eating mindfully seems to me to be an imperative, if that...
If you’d asked me a week ago how I was doing, I’d have looked at you serenely and answered, “Amazing. Couldn’t be better. Mindful Awareness and the teachings of the Buddha have kept me in a state of utter peace and tranquility.”
Cut to a few days later, and I would have answered you a bit differently. I might have rattled off the same line as before, only with less confidence, more uncertainty, a wavering voice.
All because of stupid foot pain. Brought upon myself. From overexercising.
I’d been “training” for a half-marathon, to be run this fall — running anywhere from six to eleven miles every other day, delighting in the way I felt in my body after the runs (lithe and youthful), and in the way I was exceeding my expectations of how many miles I could complete at once (never before this year had I ever run more than 7 miles).
It was also nice to be able to wear clothes that last fall barely fit. There’s something about long-distance running that leans the body out. Makes one feel model-esque. Feeds the demon of female desire to be thin and beautiful.
At the same time, however, I was running because I truly loved being outdoors, moving my body, listening to my Buddhist texts. The whole experience for me was soothing. People always say — trainers, psychologists, doctors — that one should find a form of exercise that one loves if one intends to keep it up, maintain motivation. Well, long-distance running was that for me. Running + yoga = my perfect forms of exercise. Both are solitary. Both are meditative. Two forms of moving mindful practice.
But then of course, there’s also that egoic motivation I previously mentioned: the thrilling side-effect of so much running, which is a long and lean body, capable of wearing clothes that make a girl feel good.
So when the pain began, my mind kicked into overdrive. The thoughts were slamming around in my head as I hit mile three – Only mile 3! – and they were terror-based. They were frightening me. Frightening me so badly that I refused to acknowledge that the pain in my ankle and heel was getting worse, that my gait had turned from a stride to a hobble. I kept on running. The fear-based mind propelled me forward — barely — focusing solely on getting in another mile, and another, and another. It wanted me to get to at least mile six, otherwise I’d lose something valuable. The thing that had been keeping me feeling so good all these months. The thing that was, it now appeared, a prerequisite to my spiritual sanctity. All my waxing on about being so serene and peaceful because of a mindful state had everything to do with the fact that I had taken up this running program and was feeling so great in my body; that I had this thing to look forward to each day, as I hit the road with my headphones and my “Fitness Tracker” App launched to record the number of miles I managed.
The morning I did my foot in, I continued running despite experiencing physical pain. My mind ignored my body’s screaming pleas to get off my foot, to stop running. My mind — the fear-based mind — screwed up my heel so badly that I haven’t been able to run since because the pain is that unbearable. I can barely walk. And as a result, the old demons lying latent in my mind, leftover from my days of being sedentary and overweight and depressed as a teenager, resurfaced almost immediately.
People who know me here in Portland only know me as a healthy, well-groomed mother of four. They have no idea that, at one time in my life, I was suicidal, trapped in a house with a raging, alcoholic, and eating –OVEReating — to soothe my intense pain. They have no idea that I was raised by a mother who could very well have passed for a human being possessed by a monster, a devil, at certain times. That I had a father who was so distant and such a workaholic that I literally can’t remember a single time in my entire life when he locked eyes with me for more than a second. He always averted them. He never could give me a straight answer. He never could cop to the fact that he was married to an addict and an abuser of his children. He chose to live in a delusional mindset, that he had a wife and two children, the picket-fence version of the American Dream. He, the son of a high-ranking mafioso from Sicily; he, a self-made anesthesiologist; he, a man whom I loved desperately. DESPERATELY. A man from whom I knew without a doubt I was cut from the same cloth.
People in Portland would be shocked to know about the demons of my past, I imagine. And so I keep them locked away in a closet.
One of my therapists along the way once told me that anything we keep secret is inevitably the source of deep shame. SHAME. Yes. I feel shame. Shame for the following:
1. that I am unable to be normal about food and weight
2. that my mother is such a sloppy, psychotic mess
3. that my father doesn’t know how to love me
4. that I know I am intelligent and gifted in certain areas, yet have done nothing tangible with that intelligence and those gifts (i.e. am career-less at 38)
5. that my fear of becoming my mother — sloppy, overweight, drunk, unproductive — literally rules my every waking moment to the point of insanity
6. that my ancestral lineage is rife with psychosis (my mother’s side) and deplorable ignobility (my father’s side)
Yes, I feel shame. And, yes, I am 38 and SICK OF FEELING SHAME. God dammit. I’ve had it. Judge me all you want. I know you will. But who the hell cares at this point? What does anyone’s judgment of me matter, really, in the long run? How could it make me feel any worse than I already make myself feel, so ruled by this despicable SHAME that I am?
This blog is my tool for courage. Courage to speak the secrets that cause me shame.
I am two years away from 40, and I remember my mother at 40: sitting with her legs folded under her, on the living room floor in the house in which I grew up. The hell house. It was so late it was nearing the morning hours. The end of her “Lordy, Lordy, Gloria’s 40!” birthday party. I had come home mid-way into the middle-aged revelry, dropped off by a friend’s parent after a church youth group trip to Wintergreen for night skiing. It must have been a friday night. Night skiing youth group excursions were always on a friday night.
My mother had disintegrated into a slurred-talking, mouth-stuffing, humiliatingly loud-mouthed birthday girl. Nothing unusual for her in this sort of setting. But the vision of her at her nadir that night has remained vivid and haunting to this day: her kneeling there on the living room floor, surrounded by a few party stragglers — other wine-guzzling “friends” of my parents from church — loudly passing gas and hollering at someone a few feet away, all while gesticulating with her right hand which held a precariously full glass of wine — possibly her eleventh or twelfth… or thirteenth, who knows. The wine in the glass was naturally sloshing about, causing random, circular stains to form a scattered pattern on the worn, cornflower-blue living room carpet. I stood there in the doorway, my eyes stinging from the harsh wind from the mountain, my cheeks flushed from the cold and thrill of downhill skiing, wishing with all my might that I had the superpower to make my mother disappear off the face of the earth. Wishing someone would knock on the door and tell me I was adopted, that this woman was not the woman whom I had to claim as the source of half my DNA.
My father, I remember, was standing by the kitchen counter, on the landing above the living room, staring off into space, eating some cheese off a mostly-emptied hors d’ouevres plate. He appeared oblivious to the antics of his wife. I had no powers to render things invisible, but I felt as if they had the powers to render me so. Yet, I remained a feeling being. A child. And the loneliness was so pervasive, the emptiness so painful, that I became desperate to escape it. So I went to my room and pulled out the stash of candy and treats I kept there. I turned off the lights, and I began to eat, desperate to feel something good inside me. Desperate to shut out the horror of what was going on.
Ten minutes later, my mother was pounding on my door, screaming at me. I was screaming back at her. She clocked me across the face. I yelled that I hated her. There were still party-goers downstairs, just below us, inevitably listening to this ugly exchange. Eventually, somehow, it ended. My cheek smarted from the sting of her irrational ire at me. I went downstairs. My candy stash was gone. My belly felt sick. My head hurt. I believed life was dark and scary and lonely and too long to endure. It appeared that the final stragglers had left. The house seemed emptied of strangers. My father was nowhere to be found. I walked down to the living room, looking for any more food to eat, thinking there could be hors d’oeuvres plates on coffee tables with munchies available to maintain the numbness the food gave me, the numbness from the pain. It was then that I saw the silhouettes in the hallway between the living room and the downstairs bathroom. The silhouettes of my mother and the priest — a Jesuit priest who was my parents only real contant “friend.” They were kissing. My heart dropped. My eyes watered. I felt nauseous. I felt hate. I didn’t know what else to do other than go upstairs, my heart pounding, and bring more food with me, to eat, to numb, to escape. But there was no escape. The food was only a temporary palliative. When I’d finished eating it, the pain was only worse, but the incredible discomfort of my belly at least gave my brain something else to obsess about.
And that, my stay-at-home mother friends and acquaintances here in Portland, is why you really can’t judge me for the secrets I keep. You can’t judge anyone — any adult. The idiosyncrasies and behavioral annoyances or hang-ups you see in them that you want to judge?: they are results of a childhood you know nothing about. You think you can see someone grown-up and know everything about them, but you simply don’t.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m proud that I’m still alive, that I never did what I wanted to do at 16, which was to end my life and escape forever from the disgusting world my parents had set up for me. I’m proud that I live thousands of miles away from them now, on the opposite coast, married to a man whose childhood was remarkably functional, and the mother of four, seemingly very well-adjusted children who have never seen their mother drunk, nor have ever had a hand laid upon them in anger, nor have ever been called a demeaning name. I am so very, very proud of that. But to be that, I have had to work so hard. And I am still tripping up with my own internal journey. I’ve realized, I am good at avoiding being my mother when it comes to everyone else. I don’t treat people — especially my family — the way she treated hers. However, my challenge is to not treat myself as she treated herself. This is where the next 40+ years of my journey must take me: to a place where I can release the shame, find my power, and not hide behind the secrets that shame me.
This post started out about my heel pain, and how it reminded me that I can be obsessed with my body image; but I end this post delving deeper, realizing that my obsession with my body image is so very different from most women’s obsessions with body image. It has nothing to do with wanting to look a certain way to others. It has EVERYTHING to do with not becoming my mother. Not turning into a 40 year-old slob/addict/abuser of self and her children. Everything I do in every waking moment, the closer I get to 40, is rooted in that obsession. Can I get past it? Well, I suppose, the first step is recognizing it. So this post is just that: my first step.
Practice non-judgement of the adults you know. Remember they were once children. Likely running from their own demons. Dealing with their own shame. We all have some, though in varying degrees. Mine, perhaps, are larger and more scary than most. But then again, maybe I just don’t know. Not everyone tells their secrets. That’s why they’re called secrets.
All my life, every moment has been a means to an end. And every space between every action taken to achieve those ends has been consumed by my obsessive thinking about what I need to do next to get to where I want to be. In other words, the whole of my existence has been trudging up a mountain, aiming to pick up forward momentum, falling on tree roots, discovering I might have strayed, and then picking up again to check my map, get my bearings, confirm with a compass that I’m going forward, indeed, and then trudging again towards those ever-elusive goals. The goals which my mind — key words: MY MIND — has determined will bring me that everlasting satisfaction that IT (my MIND) desires to feel.
Have you ever noticed that we are always going somewhere? Always working towards something? Always convinced that whatever is going on right now in our lives is not enough; that there’s something bigger and better in our futures that will make life just right. Usually, if we get right down to it, the goals we set for ourselves are set because we believe the achieving of them will soothe our doubting mind. The mind that doubts we are good enough without the achievement of those goals.
Are you a writer? Do you aspire to write the next great American novel? Do you aspire to write ANYTHING that is publishable? Anything that has your name on it, for which you receive monetary compensation, that will be read by many others whom you will likely never meet in person? What if you never got a thing published? Not in your whole life? What if you did get a thing published? In fact, what if you got many a thing published? What would change about YOU in either circumstance? You might say, in the former, you would feel like a failure, a waste. In the latter, you would feel like a success, a worthy human being. In fact, who was it who told you either of those options would change you into either of those polar opposite states of mind? Who told you that not publishing a thing would make you a failure and publishing something would make you a success? Somewhere along the line in your childhood, you got that message. Someone told you that, whether directly or indirectly. Now, here’s the key: you chose to believe it. Or was it you who chose to believe it? Was that really YOU? Or was that your mind?
This is the thing that has changed me forever: the realization that my mind is not me. The things my mind believes were told to me by other people’s minds who believed those things. My mind chose to believe their mind’s expressed beliefs, and then, I — ME — subconsciously absorbed my mind’s beliefs as ME.
The beauty of Buddhism, I’ve found, is that I am able to step away from that mind who believes all these things it has been told my the multitudes of people throughout my life, and I am able to say, “No, mind, you cannot rule my emotions…No, mind, you can run away with those thoughts all you want, but you can’t take me with you…No, mind, you are quite likely wrong, though you think you are right…”
After I got home today after school drop-off, I set about making an Marinated Italian Tuna Salad that I enjoy. I was going to make a big batch of it, then divide it into tupperware containers so I’d have lunch taken care of for the week. The making of this salad requires quite a lot of chopping (the vegetables) and mixing (the dressing), so I decided to use the time as an opportunity for mindful meditation. I moved slowly, with focused awareness on each and every step of the process, careful to observe when my mind began to quicken and tell me to hurry up, this was boring, there were other things I should be doing. Each time it did, I did a body scan, checking in on what that mind intrusion did to my body. My shoulders tensed, my chest tightened, my mouth pursed. Consciously, without judgment, I focused on my inhales and exhales — on each inhale, I pinpointed the body part with the tension; on each exhale, I worked to release it. Continually, as the process became more tedious — chopping onions, chopping tomatoes, tearing basil leaves — my mind re-entered and barked at me to hurry up again. And each time, I breathed deeply, and without judging myself for being unable to completely rid myself of that stress-inducing voice in my head, brought my focus back to the chopping, the tearing, the mixing. Appropriately, while I made the salad, I listened to the latest Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh on Pandora Radio. His talk soothed me. I like to pretend sometimes that he is my real father. His gentleness and the purity of his message of mindfulness and compassion epitomize my ideal version of a father.
In his talk, he referenced teenage suicide. He explained that we human beings who identify with the thoughts in our minds tend to believe that our feelings have way, way more power than they actually do. When we have an intense feeling — anger, self-hatred, grief — we feel consumed by it. We feel it will destroy us. We feel desperate to get rid of it. And here is the key, he explained (this was the part that really got to me today): we are WRONG to want to get rid of that intense feeling. I know what you’re saying — is he crazy? He wants us to feel consumed by anger/grief/self-hatred? No, no. That’s not what he means. On the surface, you’d think that was what he means. But if you consider that those of us who feel most overwhelmed by our intense feelings and most desperate to escape them are those of us who turn to self-destruction. We either get online and begin surfing the internet, perhaps looking for the latest thing to buy to make us feel better. Or we log right onto Facebook, wanting to escape in the photographs posted by people we know — photographs that typically display perfect-looking images of a life we erroneously believe must be better than ours (which in turn makes us feel worse, makes us sink deeper in the pits). Or we walk like a zombie to the refrigerator or pantry, searching for something to boost the serotonin in our brains — sugar, carbs, anything sweet. Or we look at our watches, nervously anticipating when happy hour begins; perhaps rationalizing in our heads that happy hour could begin two, three hours earlier on this day, should we decide it does. Or maybe we throw ourselves into our work, staying extra hours at the office, obsessing over a project to the point of sacrificing time with our loved ones. Whatever our choice behavior to escape the intense feelings may be, we feel absolutely powerless to avoid that behavior. We feel literally compelled to do it, even though there is that voice in the back of our heads murmuring softly that we have a problem, that we are going too far with whatever we’re doing — shopping, eating, drinking, working. That voice is easy to tamp down because we are so practiced in tamping things down anyway. Tamping down those intense feelings that led us to the action that spurred the voice’s admonishments.
So Thich Nhat Hanh says the answer is to sit with the feelings. Face them down, so to speak. Not let them run you away. He doesn’t mean to stare them down with a vengeance, thus creating a feeling of resistance towards them. Rather, he means to gaze at them clearly, without fear, without judgement. To see them for EXACTLY what they really are. Just a feeling in our body. That’s it. A feeling in our body that we misinterpret as a devilish demon, capable of tearing us into little pieces. A demon against which we stand not a chance. So what does our anger look like when we look at it nonjudgmentally, with clear eyes? It looks like clenched teeth, tight shoulders, a set jaw, a rapidly beating heart. That’s it. That’s what we think is going to kill us. Accompanying that feeling is the thoughts in our heads that created it — thoughts that swirl around in our minds. Not us. Thoughts that were fed to us long ago. ”How dare that person do that to me? They should have done this or that and I’m pissed off!” ”I can’t believe they didn’t do that when I asked them to! People are supposed to do what I ask them to do, not disregard me altogether!” Inside, those thoughts rage, the seeds of which were planted by a mind that decided it needed recognition and respect to feel worthy. The feelings of anger came from that belief.
All feelings have an end. That’s what you’ll realize if you think about the intense feelings you’ve had in your life — even the good ones. They’ve never lasted forever. And so: why, when we are in the midst of the feeling of them, can’t we simply stay and ride their wave, until they are gone? Why do we feel such an intense need to take off running in the opposite direction? Why don’t we think we can bear the feeling of them?
So you might say: whatever, Rosanna. This sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Are you telling me to stop taking my Prozac? To stop exercising? To stop going to yoga? To simply stop whatever I’m doing when I’m feeling like shit and breathe and notice my feelings until they go away? If it were that easy, then why wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Why do we have so many mental hospitals all over the world, drug companies profitting from the proliferation of new versions of anti-anxiety/anti-depressant drugs? Why does every magazine I read now reference ways to reduce stress, become more zen, the upward trend of yoga and meditation? Please don’t tell me this simple instruction to feel one’s feelings is all one needs to get over them?
I’ve realized that there really are some answers that are so simple it’s crazy. This is one of them. I know because it is the only thing that has saved me from my depression, my self-hatred, my issues with obsessive-compulsive behavior. That single thing is just: seeing the mind as separate, seeing clearly the thoughts that create the feelings, and then sitting with those feelings non-judgmentally, curiously. That’s it. Take it or leave it. I’m just telling you what has worked for me. And this is coming from someone who has been down in the depths of despair more than once in her life. And that’s putting it mildly.
Thich Nhat Hanh rightfully explains that teen suicide is the result of teenagers believing their feelings will never go away BECAUSE they never DO go away BECAUSE they never face them, feel them, and learn to not be afraid of them. The teens who end their life were taught early on that the feelings will destroy them, so they must run, run, run, as fast as they can, to get away from them. And then: when the feelings continue to nip at their heels like a rabid dog, no matter how far or long or fast they run, the teen eventually gives up. They think that’s it: they’ll never go away. And everytime they catch up to me, they consume me again. And again. And again. And now I just can’t take it one more time. I can’t leave those feelings in this life, so I must leave this life altogether.
As a mother of four, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to figure this out now. My kids are 8, 9, 11, and 12. The teen years loom. Teaching them not to fear their feelings. To see their feelings as tame and temporary, despite how uncomfortable they are, will be the sole best thing I can do as their mother. I hope anyone with kids reading this get it and can help their kids do the same. Say to your kids: Do you feel sad? FEEL the sadness. CRY. Lie down, close your eyes, and notice how it makes your body feel. Do you feel angry? Punch a pillow, scream everything you feel at the top of your lungs. Let it out. You just have to do it once, though. More than once, and you reinforce the feelings. Just let them out, then STAY with them as the feelings tremble within you. Don’t go distract yourself with TV or video games or a bag of chips from the pantry. Don’t suffer under the delusion that when you feel NOTHING, the feelings have gone away. Feeling “nothing,” in fact is the one and only feeling that will destroy you in the end. Feeling something, everything, is the way out. Eventually — probably not even as long as you think — you’ll see that that feeling you thought would eat you up has in fact come and gone. It peaked, it hurt, it effected your inner body, and then it slowly dissipated. And when it did, you survived. It didn’t take you down. Feelings never will. Unless you try to run from them. In which case, they’ll always chase you down in the end, clamoring for you to notice them, acknowledge them, be unafraid of them, so they can be given permission to crawl under a rock somewhere and die a slow and certain death. For a period of time, anyway. They always do come back. But they never stay forever. And the withstanding of them becomes less and less forbidding. You can do it. I know you can. I’m your mother, and I promise you, I know you can.
So be mindful of what you feel today. Stand firm in the most intense of those feelings. Like a tree in a windstorm. Be calm, be still, be rooted, be aware. Do it for your kids. Do it so you can teach them to do the same. So you never have to worry about them thinking the feelings are stronger than they are, and committing the ultimate escape from which you can never get them back.
I just got back from eating lunch at Whole Foods down the street. My practice of mindfulness has included, prominently, the act of eating. As a woman in this day and age, addressing eating mindfully seems to me to be an imperative, if that woman is to live a truly conscious life. Because: so many women — most women — have such a fear-based relationship with food. Me included.
And s0 — the practice of Buddhism has been a healing force not only in my ability to live peacefully, presently, and intimately with my deepest self – the “God” within me — but also in my ability to sit down in front of a meal and honor the food I eat just as I honor the breath that keeps me alive.
In Buddhism, the practice of mindful eating is called Oryoki — which means “just enough”. Paying attention to each bite one takes, with reverence, with focus, and with the intent to chew completely and consciously until the stomach feels satisfied. In fact — to eat until the point PRIOR to complete satisfaction. To eat until 80% full. The practice of Oryoki is what I attempt to do with each meal. ”Attempt” being the key word, as I am by no means perfect at it. But I do try, each and every time, to eat without distraction, to eat slowly, to pay attention to what my body wants to eat, to honor my body enough to stop eating when it has been sufficiently satisfied.
That is what I was doing an hour ago as I sat at the outdoor picnic table at the Whole Foods four blocks from my home, eating a bountiful salad with a side of Kung Pao tofu. What I observed as I ate, chewing slowly, tasting mindfully, were the multitudes of others who were eating at the tables around me, none of whom — not a one — were eating without something in their hands which occupied their gaze and attention. Most notably, the object of their distraction?: Iphones.
One woman in particular caught my eye. I observed her with the eye of a curious scientist. She sat hunched over her compostable salad container, plastic fork in hand, shoveling bite after bite into her mouth as she maneuvered the screen of her cell phone with a pair of fingers, sliding them this way and that way, her eyes tense and wide and darting. In her left hand, she clutched a paperback book, which, between bites — bites taken only when the right hand released the cell phone screen long enough to seize the plastic fork and shovel in another bite — she perused with laser focus.
I watched her as I listened to my inhalations and exhalations and tasted the myriad of flavors on my tongue — roasted garlic, broccoli with currants and cashews, red peppers, heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil, creamy tofu. I felt so very close to my SELF, engaging in these mindful practices; and was so cognizant of how very far away that woman was from her SELF, occupied as she was with the dual distractions of cell phone screen and paperback book. The food, as it passed her lips, was ignored, unrecognized, an unwilling participant, as it were, in this late afternoon ritual of hers.
I felt sad as I watched her, as I remember being her at one time in my life. Unable to eat without a magazine to read or a computer screen to navigate or a TV show blaring before my eyes. I remember when I’d finish those meals of ore — how overfull I felt, how unsatisfied, how plagued by voices I would become post-meal. I remember how alone I felt at the end of those meals, how slightly crazed and controlling I would become, either chastising myself for eating too much, or planning what I would eat at the next meal to compensate for what I had eaten. The torture of living like that — this is what I felt as I watched this woman.
Every once in a while, she would look up from her pair of devices, half an egg roll hanging from her mouth, and I could see that she was checking to see if anyone was watching her. When our eyes met, her eyes quickly darted back to the Iphone. Her shoulders tensed again. She swallowed madly. At the table next to her, another woman ate hunched over her disposable container of lunch, and she, too, was busy looking at her Iphone. The two women were like mirror images of each other, and I was struck, as I slowly let my gaze meander around the outdoor eating area, by how many people there were otherwise engaged while eating.
I forget which Buddhist teacher it was who said this, but it stuck in my head, and rings so simple and true: ”When you read, read. When you eat, eat. When you read and eat, read and eat.” What I took that to mean, is we owe whatever it is we are doing in any given moment the respect that it deserves — the respect that LIFE deserves — FULL ATTENTION. When we are reading, let us just read — and do it with focused attention, hearing the words written in our heads, absorbing the ideas, the insights packaged in those sentences, so intentionally written for our consumption. Let us honor the words, the author, the experience of reading — by JUST reading. Concomitantly, let us honor the food we eat, every bite of which came to our plates via the work and effort of another human being, somewhere, somehow. A farmer in the midwest or the Central Valley of California. A grocer, loading his truck. A Whole Foods chef, carefully chopping and seasoning as he or she was taught. Let us honor the bodies we walk around in on this earth, paying attention to what our bodies crave and desire; how our bodies wish to feel when they stand up from the table and go about their day.
Eating a mindful lunch at Whole Foods today, and observing all the mindless eating around me, made me sad that our world is filled with so many people who pay no attention to the moments they are in. People who seem almost desperate to escape whatever it is the moment has in store for them — escape those moments by means of Iphones and reading material. Computer screens and Plasma TV’s. When they emerge from the eating, they feel physically unwell and desperate for another means of distraction.
When that woman emptied her lunch carton, she stood up abruptly, and I watched her overweight body lumber out of the outdoor eating area and back into the store. Ten minutes later, she emerged eating a cookie and walking rapidly toward her car. One second her hand was in the brown paper cookie sack, and the next, it was reaching and inserting its contents in her mouth. The look on her face, I must say, exhibited sadness. I wanted to hug her, really. But of course I didn’t. I took a few deep breaths, smiled barely to myself, in gratitude for my mindful eating practice, and recycled my container.
Off to the next moment in my life.Read More
Now here I am. It’s a sunny Saturday in mid September. I just closed the door the family office. The room is white. I’m aware of the rustling of green leaves outside the windows to my right, through my peripheral vision.
The last five days, I’ve been floating on mindfulness. Consciousness of my life, moment-to-moment.
At this moment, I am free from expectations of myself. This post is purely an outlet for me to write, in the ten minutes I have before I must take a shower and ready myself for the dinner party we must go to this evening, celebrating the wedding of the grandson of my husband’s client.
One of my children is at a birthday party, playing laser tag. Two others are at the art store with their dad, buying puffy paint and fat pink ribbon, to construct a “birthday bow” for a friend whose birthday is the following friday. My firstborn is downstairs on the laptop computer, practicing her typing skills.
Life is perfect as it is now. Nothing needs changing. Acceptance – true acceptance – is the way.
A short, quickly conceived post on essentially nothing is what I have to give. What I want to give. And so I give it.
An hour ago, I stood on the front lawn, hugging a brown grocery sack full of nutritional supplements, discussing my visit to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. last month with my neighbors, the Rosenbergs, whose ancestors were Jews in the Holocaust. Today is Yom Kippur. Today the Rosenbergs fast until sundown. Their grown children are scattered about the country. The Rosenbergs doubt their children are fasting today. With each generation comes a revision of the forebears’ priorities.
The day after tomorrow, I am supposed to get onto the PSU website and register for a class or two. I’m a non-degree student there this fall, eligible to take a maximum of 8 credits. Between now and Monday, I need to decide what makes most sense for me — to take a class on Research Methods and Statistics for Psychology, or to take a Writing class. The prior would be to fulfill a prerequisite for admissions to the Lewis & Clark Master’s in Professional Mental Counseling program. The latter would be to fulfill my desire to write more, to have things to write about, to have my writing read. Which is right for me? Which path? My almost-11-year old daughter told me the other day that I should be a psychologist. That gave me pause. I always said I wanted to help teenage girls on the brink of suicide, as I once was. Yet, writing is what I’ve always come back to, time and time again, since I was that hopeful 8 year-old typing stories about love and loss on my black Olivetti typewriter.
Monday, I’ll go with my gut and sign up for one or the other. Probably writing. I might as well. A degree in psychology isn’t going to do much for me other than break the bank unnecessarily. We have four college tuitions to think about, after all. The writing thing would stimulate my passion, would give me a vehicle to rev my engines.
Time for that shower now. This re-boot of this blog is turning out to be quite a relief. No more expectations of long, well-thought-out posts looming in my mind’s eye. Just little, nonsensical musings. Me, with free reign to vent it all.
Ciao. Ciao.Read More
I haven’t written a new blog post because I haven’t been inspired to write one.
Lots of things have happened in the last two months. I discovered my paternal grandfather was a made member of one of New York’s major organized crime families for all the years my father was growing up, and at least a decade before he was born, and all the way until he was off into Medical School. I’ve been corresponding with an FBI researcher, an expert on the American mafia, and specifically La Cosa Nostra of which my grandfather was, apparently, a key figure. I have all the facts. I’ve become obsessed by them, actually. I think about them morning, noon, and night, and run over and over in my head the possibilities of how these facts effected the internal world of my father. The father that has been such a tragic figure in my life.
I am ashamed that this is who my grandfather was. I am ashamed that my belief of being the product of hardworking immigrants was a sham. That I am, in fact, the product of a criminal. That all the lying done to me by my own mother and father was simply a continuation of the lying my father’s father did to him, the world, himself, and the United States government.
In 1980, I remember going to Sicily to see this grandfather of mine. He had Alzheimer’s at the time. We took a rented cinque-cento to the apartment complex in which he lived part of the time — “Grandma and Grandpa’s city house,” my parents called it. Later I would find out that my grandfather owned not only the apartment in which he lived, but the entire high rise, PLUS the two high rises adjacent to it. When he died, in 1982, there was a lot of hub-hub over my father and his brothers inheriting this valuable, prime real estate in the heart of downtown Palermo. Millions and millions of US dollars would go to each of the sons of this man. Where did my grandfather, the so-called dressmaker immigrant who raised his four boys in the early years in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, get the millions and millions of dollars — in the form of billions and billions of Italian lire — to pay for such prime real estate? Well, the answer is obvious to me now.
So many answers are obvious.
I remember walking into that dark penthouse apartment in Palermo, that summer of 1980, behind my father, who entered the room, a dining room, around which sat several old men smoking cigars. I remember my father walking up to the old man in the wheelchair. He was stooped over. Only a smattering of thin gray hairs sprouted from his speckled bald head. His mouth hung open, drool spilling from the sides of it. My father walked up to him and knelt before him. My father placed his head on this old man in the wheelchair’s lap. I watched, at the age of five, as my father’s shoulders shook, as this old man’s eyes filled with fat tears, as he kissed the mass of thick, wavy, dark hair on my father’s head.
Now I think — obsessively — about the reasons behind these emotions. The sorrow. The tears. The regret. The inability to take back what is irrevocably one’s life.
I know I must write about this. Write thoroughly about this. I have been piecing together a timeline to understand how my grandfather fell into the role of consigliere of this family. How he became the target of FBI surveillance during the years my father was at Brooklyn Polytechnical High School, then New York University, then University of Lousiville Medical School. How much did my father know about what his father was doing during these years?
I have all the names. I have all the dates. I have all the ACTUAL FBI surveillance documents. I have the actual photograph of my grandfather — the one that I hung on our dining room wall when we first moved into this house in Northeast Portland as a way for my kids to remember their ancestors, their Sicilian immigrant great-grandfather, who had the balls to leave his country of origin, risk it all, and seek the American dream, a better life for his kids; a story that I now know was all bullshit fed to me by my father — attached to the biography of my grandfather from the crime files given to me by this mafia expert. There it is. The guy who made my dad and a quarter of whose DNA runs through my blood. A guy who’s done God knows what.
The best man at my grandfather’s wedding was a well-known mafia assassin.
These facts make me sick. They keep me up at night.
Eckhart Tolle, how does one stay IN THE PRESENT MOMENT when one discovers that one’s past contains dark and terrible secrets? How does one LET GO of the past and just BE without processing the past, without attempting to make sense of the past?
So this is the dead-end to which I’ve come with this blog. The spiritual journey has come to a screeching halt. I have to address this thing somehow, likely through uncovering all the facts and exposing all the truth my father denied me about that side of my family. Perhaps by writing about it. So that’s what I think I’ll do.
A part of me fears writing about this. All the documentation I’ve read about La Cosa Nostra and my grandfather’s associates says that this particular family was remarkably successful at keeping things a mystery. In other words, they were excellent at lying, at covering up, and DENIAL.
I’ve always said my father was the king of denial, when it came to my mother. Now I know from where he learned it.
So it’s late. I’ve just written a post that scares me a bit. And I haven’t written in so very long that I’m not sure it means anything that I’m posting at all. I have basically broken every rule of successful blogging there is. Zero consistency. No themes. No lists. No links. No nothing.
This is mostly just for me. A forum to process my journey, so I can make sense of it.
Ciao. More later…Read More
I’ve written several drafts of different posts, but never published them, obviously. Not because I didn’t like their content. I did. It’s just that I never found the time to wrap up each one, and so each time I came back to an unfinished post, my mind had already moved on to another topic, and, hence, a new beginning to an unfinished post was born. Several times over.
I’ve read that letting more than a week go by without posting on a blog is blog-suicide. A few times, I considered taking it down. Once, I erupted in anger at my husband, out of the blue, when he merely asked me how my day was and my only internal response was, “Yet again, I didn’t write on that new blog of mine,” which prompted me to say, “I’m taking down my blog, you know!” Almost as if I was sticking it to him. What I was sticking to him, I don’t know. And God knows, he had no clue why I was saying that when he hadn’t even referred to the blog, much less why I was so incensed about it.
I should give him more credit. He knows me well. No doubt he gathered that I was frustrated by never having the amount of uninterrupted time in my day to give to creating quality written work. Quality being a relative term, and, as far as his wife is concerned, a term that implies perfection.
Perfection my several unfinished blog posts were not.
And so here I am, a month out from my last post, writing about absolutely nothing other than the simple statement that I am not going to abandon the blog. If there’s one thing I’m NOT going to do, it is to quit this blog.
Quitting has always been a forte of mine. Just as soon as I view myself as going from EXCELLENT at something to MEDIOCRE at that something, I duck and run. I can’t count how many time I’ve done this.
Nobody reads this blog anyway. Especially now, after this long since I last posted. My meager few readers from a month ago have no doubt shaken their heads with disappointment in me upon touching this website — www.attendingmylife.com — and finding nothing but the same old post entitled “The House That Made Me Lost.”
The girl had potential; but now she’s showing her true colors. That’s what I hear them saying. Or that’s what the critical, cynical, judgmental voice in my head hears them saying, anyway.
I’ve been reading a lot of fiction in the meanwhile, you know. And the spiritual journey that led me to dreamily begin this blog has been at somewhat of a standstill. Not that I am still not forever changed by the philosophies of Tolle and Zen Buddhism, but you know how spirituality can come in waves? For a period of time, you can feel “floaty” in the world; and then you sort of drift to the ground and become more a part of the mundane again. Though that “floaty” quality is latent, and you know it, and you can still taste it in your mouth here or there; but you can’t quite summon its fullest intensity by will. And so you just go with the lull. And proceed with life. Trying as you can to lift off onto that cloud again, but knowing that it can’t just happen; it needs to be patiently awaited.
So I have a choice, as I see it: take down the blog because I’m struggling to write a weekly post on the subject of my spiritual journey OR keep the blog and write about my struggles as a temporarily spiritually diminished person?
Life has been fine lately. Great, actually. We had a fantastic Spring Break, the six of us. Went skiing in Hoodoo in Central Oregon. Stayed a couple days at a beautiful resort called Pronghorn, where the kids rode bikes freely and my husband and I had really quality time together as a couple — something we rarely get. The weather was beautiful. Sunshine. Dry. CLEAN — gloriously CLEAN — AIR. Anyone who’s never been to Oregon and breathed in the air here must make that an item on her bucket list. Breathing in air in Central Oregon is a transcendental experience. You feel instantly ten years younger. And the word HEALTHY no longer feels like something to aspire to be; it becomes something you FEEL upon waking. Just by existing.
I’ve been reading a lot of fiction…did I say that already?? Anyway…part of my feeling disgruntled about posting on this blog is that I’ve had desires to write fiction, not nonfiction, and particularly not nonfiction about myself…
I’ve also had the unfortunate experience of the woman who gave birth to me (I don’t call her “mother” because she was never a loving presence in my life; not in the least), out of the blue, choosing to disrespect my request that she not contact me or my family EVER. Yesterday, I sent my daughter to get the mail, and there it was: that awful circular scrawl on the front of a large pink envelope, the sight of which made my stomach do flip flops and instilled in me the FEAR OF GOD. Do you remember that Julia Roberts movie about the woman who was married to the abusive, pathologically controlling husband? Do you remember that desperate escape she made from him, willing to do just about anything to flee from his oppressive clutches? Well, just as I imagine her VISCERAL FEAR as she fled him, that is how I feel to my bones whenever the woman whose DNA I must claim is fifty-percent mine in anyway infiltrates my life.
But I was proud of myself. When my daughter, who knows some of my personal history — “Your maternal grandmother was hurtful to her children when they were young, and she persists in lying about the truth of how she treated them” is the general sum of what my children know — approached me with wide eyes, holding the envelope and carefully choosing the words with which to announce its identity: ”Umm…Mom?…I think your…Mom…well…I think this is from her…”
Inside, my first reaction was panic. Heart pounding, head tightening. Then, I went straight to mindful presence. Not letting the frightened child in me take over. ”Oh,” I told her, “That’s too bad” — using the same tone I’d use if remarking on bad weather –”Just rip it up.”
I was sure of everything except that last instruction to my daughter. I guess part of me wanted her to know that I wasn’t willing to open a letter from a person who has hurt me and whom I’d asked NOT to write me; that I wasn’t the sort of person who was going to engage in drama with someone like that. And so: rip it up seemed a symbolic act of that, to myself, and to my daughter. Problem was, as I finished up in the bathroom, my daughter was standing over the kitchen garbage can attempting to rip up a FAT pink envelope, which, it turned out, contained a pile of photographs of my biological forbears with my biological offspring (apologies for my excessive euphemisms…I can’t bring myself to call them parents…), taken in the years PRIOR to my awakening to the ills of having my abuser in my life and the life of my children, PRIOR to my standing up to my abuser and saying firmly that I DID NOT WANT HER or HER PARTNER in my life EVER AGAIN.
The intent with which i knew my maternal forbear was sending this was but a clear sign that she had not changed.
In the ten or fifteen minutes after I joined my daughter at the garbage can and helped her dispose of the rest of the envelope’s contents (swiftly gathering the photographs and stuffing them under a pile of eggshells and orange peels), my daughter and her younger sister began peppering me with questions about the people responsible for this, the ones they’d just been startled to see were in photographs with THEM — my biological parents whom they hardly remember. They were questions whose answers I could not possibly make 100% truthful, as 100% truthful is disturbing even to adult ears, much less those of my tender eight and ten year-olds. Hence, I had to swallow the difficult pill of not having my children understand precisely why I cut out their maternal grandparents from their lives. They sort of do, as they understand that mom’s mother was mean and hurtful to her. But the extent of that pain is not something I want them to ever truly know. And so I must be willing to sacrifice the desperate desire the little girl in me has to have people believe me! Believe me that those two adults were not good to me! Please, please, PLEASE believe me! No one believes me! They will come back and hurt me! People will believe them over little old me! I have to convince others so I can stay protected! I have to convince others so they don’t side with them!
It is the most difficult thing a little abused girl can do: not tell the whole awful truth to convince the ones she most loves so that they will understand her motives and support her and protect her. But with small kids, it is what I must do as their mother. Protect them from my truth. And hope that my daily respect and love for them will one day show them that I deserve their love back. Will one day inspire in them a belief that their mother’s decision to do what she did when they were young — extricate the family from those two people — was the absolute best decision for them and for her.
Time to close my eyes and jump off the blogging cliff. Time to publish this EXTREMELY IM-PERFECT post. Time to change the precedent and stop aiming to make a post perfect; otherwise the blog will commit suicide, and I don’t want that to happen.
Kind of fun writing today because I’m thinking everyone thinks this blog is dead now anyway, so nobody will likely be reading it, which means imperfection is not to be feared that much more by MOI!
Have an imperfectly mindful day. Or at least pay attention to the fact that you are not having an imperfectly mindful day. Either way, at least you’re aware in some way.Read More
What the Buddha said is true. All suffering comes from becoming ATTACHED (key word: attached) to desiring something you do not have.
Which is precisely what began happening in me on the day after Valentine’s Day when I first laid eyes on this home. It had come up during a casual search I’d conducted on RMLS online, when I was just internet-window-shopping for fun, seeing what homes happened to be for sale in a certain rural area west of town that had always interested me. My husband and I went to see it on that Friday, just for kicks, to satisfy a mild curiosity, and we were taken aback by falling instantly in love with it. And I do mean LOVESTRUCK. From that moment to just a day or two ago, neither of us were able to stop thinking about wanting it to be ours. DESIRE dominated our waking moments and grew bigger by the day. Progress on my spiritual journey to be more mindful and slay my egoic voices was stalled. I became singularly focused on wanting that house to be OURS, to moving to that little piece of heaven with our kids, and to making a brand-new life for ourselves — a life I imagined to be different and BETTER than the one we were in now. I felt anything but PEACE within.
We decided to go for it. We called our long-time real estate agent and got the ball rolling, feeling out the owner (there was no seller’s agent) and discussing how to sell our house so we could make a contingent offer. We went on Mapquest.com a million times, trying to map out routes from the house to the many places we would need to go — the kids’ school, their swim team practice, my husband’s work, the grocery store. It was located on eleven acres northwest of the city of Portland, so to get there, you had to drive deep into the woods on winding back country roads. Which is why we kept going on Mapquest.com. We had to figure out how we would make our lives — especially our childrens’ — flow smoothly if we lived there. We wanted this house in the woods on all those acres because we wanted a quieter life, a simpler existence. So if we were in the car all the time, driving great distances to and from school and home, what good would a “Zen” house be?
For a week and a half, we gripped the notion of moving to this house so hard our knuckles turned white. Everything that turned up as a potential roadblock — the inordinate commute, the inevitable need to switch the kids to a new school that was public, the care and maintenance of eleven acres — we knocked down with a good solution. Get used to driving more — everyone in the country does it. Switching schools will be good for the kids — teaching them to handle life changes will build their characters. Teach the kids how to drive a tractor — learning how to work and try new things will help them believe in their abilities. Or hire a landscaper.
We wanted the house so badly, we were willing to make it work, no matter what.
We stayed up late into the night during that week and a half, gearing up to buy this new home. We discussed it ad nauseum. I tossed and turned in bed at night, picturing myself creating an organic garden and my husband lobbing a football to my son across that massive yard. I imagined myself wearing jeans and work boots all the time and writing at a desk with a window overlooking grass and trees and trees and more trees. I saw myself hopping in a pick-up truck and bouncing down the winding country roads to retrieve my kids from their new little school on top of a hill. It was a dream I’d always had, to live in the country, and I could practically taste it.
But we’d only actually seen the house that one time. So it made sense that we should drive out there again before going through with the whole deal, just to make sure we were okay with the location. To get a real-time sense of those driving distances we’d been so obsessively Mapquesting for a week. (Underlying all our excitement, there was the nagging concern neither of us wanted to articulate that we could be getting ourselves into something over our heads.) So, nine days after we’d toured it and fallen head over heels in love with it, we went to take one last look at it. One final test drive–literal and figurative– of this new dream of a life on which we were about to embark.
At first, it was fine –the drive out of Portland on Highway 26; the exit onto Cornelius Pass Road; even the arrival at the intersection of Cornelius Pass and Skyline Road. We’d remembered doing all of that on our first visit. But the jog around Skyline to Rock Creek Road and beyond? That was the part of the drive I hadn’t exactly remembered. Maybe I’d been chatting or thinking about something else the first time we’d driven it, but whatever the case may be, I clearly had blocked out how deep into the woods — and I do mean DEEP — the house was.
By the time we finally reached the house, my heart had sunk to my feet. I knew there was no way I could regularly drive those roads and get the kids to where they needed to go unless I conceded to live in our Suburban for the greater part of my day. EVERY DAY. And when I imagined those chunks of time when my husband needed to go away on a work trip? My GOD. I couldn’t swallow the idea of being holed up in that deep pocket of the woods, that far from civilization, with the kids, all by myself. It frightened me, honestly. There were houses not too far up the road from the house we wanted which reminded me of the movie The Deliverance. S-C-A-R-Y. Think abandoned cars. Think possible meth labs. Suddenly, the idea of being all alone there with the kids and some emergency happening and my husband being out of state was freaking me out.
“So…can you see yourself living there?” My husband asked me, as we made our way around the circuitous route back to Skyline and human civilization.
Sadly, I said no. No, I knew I could not. Too Deep. If only the house weren’t so deep, then it would be perfect.
I felt a bit of a lump in my throat when I told him that. Yet I knew it was definitive for me. I’d become so attached to the idea of living there, the idea of NOT living there HURT.
We drove back to our home of the past twelve years — a 1923 bungalow in the heart of an urban neighborhood in Northeast Portland — in silence. Everything we’d been talking about the past nine days felt kaput. It stung. We’d wanted the dream. We’d ridden the wave of excitement, imagining all that would change and the beauty of living in that oasis of perfection — the log-cabin-like home, all newly remodeled with cedar and spa-like bathrooms outfitted with stone and tiles; the huge great room with the cook’s kitchen; the sunroom off the back of the house, which faced South, with its floor to ceiling windows; the two decks; the many skylights; the two sheds spaced well away from the house, which my husband and I had fantasized about someday turning into a cozy guest quarters and a yoga studio; that freaking beautiful yard, with the five acres of perfectly manicured grass and the six acres of forest beyond, all that would belong to us. Just us. And now it was all gone. Burst like a bubble, with a painful “POP!”
We called our agent and put a stop to the offer she was drawing up to submit to the owner. We told her we’d driven out there once again, just to make sure the location was doable for us, and we’d realized it just wouldn’t work for our family, not a busy family of six. She made the call to the owner, and just like that, we went back to the reality that we lived in the same house we’d been in since 2001, and we weren’t going anywhere.
Since then, I’ve tried to write a post for this blog about this whole subject, and I’ve written pages and pages of NOTHING. I threw them all away. Everything sounded forced. I couldn’t find my real self’s voice. It was just an ego writing, trying to jazz up my descriptions of the house and the story to make it more interesting than it actually was. This afternoon, I spent two hours trying to edit and revise one of those drafts — the longest one — and still didn’t have the heart to publish it. Something was wrong with it. I didn’t like the way I sounded in it. Whiney. Contrived. Trying too hard. No point.
Tonight, I did what I do every evening after dinner, and took Whitey, our dog, for a walk around the neighborhood. I put my headphones in my ears, as I always do, and turned on an episode of Tara Brach’s podcast. In it, she talked about how we sometimes seek comfort in false refuges such as material wealth or a sense of control. I thought about the house and my attachment to it. I thought about how sad I felt when it slipped through our fingers, when we knew it wouldn’t work. I thought about how I’d been stuffing my food in my mouth without tasting it these past nine days. How I’d been looking in the mirror more these past nine days, finding things about my body to criticize. How I’d spent precious time I could have been reading my novel or talking to my husband or playing chess with my son searching the internet for a new handbag; then checking mapquest again; then looking at the house on RMLS again; then looking to see what boots were on sale at Nordstrom; then back to mapquest and RMLS; and so on and so on. The Monkey Mind in command. EGO at rule.
Somehow, when the idea of buying that house fell from the sky of fate, all my work of being present and mindful and fully accepting of all that is NOW had gone out the window. WANTING that house had put me right back into the SUFFERING the Buddha talked about. Now I was suffering from all ends because wanting had piled upon more wanting upon even more wanting.
I turned off Tara Brach’s gentle voice, pushing pause on my iPhone, and relaxed my brow. It, too, had been furrowed almost on a constant basis these past two weeks. There was my dog. There was the perfect night sky, deep blue, but light enough for the outlines of the trees to cut intricate silhouettes. There was the air — I breathed it in. It was cool and fresh. There was the sound of the pitter patter of Whitey’s gait. A man was exiting his car in a long overcoat, carrying a cumbersome instrument case of some kind — a bass? a cello? — into his home. Back at our home — the cozy bungalow we’d fallen in love with when we were 26 and 27 and the parents of only one child, a 10-month old — my four children were reading in their beds with their lamps on, their stuffed animals at their sides, their teeth brushed, their minds at ease. All was well in their worlds; and so, therefore, was mine.
Instead of seeking refuge in material wealth, Tara had said, we can find shelter through the gateways of TRUTH, LOVE, and AWARENESS. My Truth is all that I’ve said on this blog. Who I am is not my name or my outer appearance or my age or my education or my role as a mother and wife or MY HOUSE. My Truth is that which I am as I breathe in this air and listen to my dog sniff and see that neighbor enter his home and take in the night sky. My LOVE is those children in those beds and that husband tidying up the kitchen after dinner–as well as all beings with a beating heart with whom I share this world.
I am AWARE of the moment, and the moment feels HUGE. Funny how SMALL the moments of my life had felt when I took the dog on the same walk during these past two weeks. My attachment to wanting that house had literally SHRUNK the moments of my life. And I wanted them to feel HUGE again. Huge and in technicolor. Here is MY LIFE right NOW.
The rest of my walk tonight felt almost sublime. I felt humbled by the realization that I’d lost my way — that the wanting of that house had made me lose my way. And humbled that I had been wanting a new life when the one I have is so perfect, just as it is. By the end of the walk, I spoke in my head a promise to myself NOT to look for homes again, not for a long, long while.
How easily and insidiously the ego can creep up on you when you least expect it. For me, a cursory search of RMLS online just “to see what is out there when we eventually move” had resulted in an ignition of my EGO at full throttle.
There was a lightness in my step as I reached the gate of our driveway and unfastened Whitey’s harness and leash. I forgave myself for the pages of crap I’d written in an attempt to create a fabulous blog post about the amazing house that was going to change my life. Philip Roth, whom some say is the greatest American writer alive, has said that one of the worst things about being a writer is all the writing you have to throw away. I used to agree wholeheartedly with him on this. But not tonight. Tonight, I felt grateful for all the hours of frenzied effort I’d undertaken to write run-on-sentence after run-on-sentence as I tried to force a plausible and flowery excuse for why I hadn’t written a new post in so long. An excuse which said, in a nutshell, that I was too busy to write a post because we were about to buy a house, and let me tell you all about how fabulous it is and why life is going to rock once we buy it! All those multi-tangential, nonsensical drafts were the work of my EGO, not mine. And now they existed as undeniable proof that I had failed to step back and witness my ego’s WANTING and so got swept up by its allure. I’d lost my way.
Tara Brach says, “If we can learn to open to the aliveness within us, we discover that we can love this life no matter what.”
Have a mindful day, in the home you are in.