Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the fragrance of peaches

image

via wikipedia

I wish I could send out, over the ethernet, the fragrance of the peach tea I made today. I wish there was a way to bottle the steam spiralling from the cup, comforting on a worrying day.

Often when I worry, it’s not for me. I worry about my younger son (although he called last night, still happy on his round-the-world sabbatical). I worry for my elder son and my DIL, juggling a problematic pregnancy, a toddler, and two new-ish jobs — each one a demand in its own right. But today I worry for my own beloved, who is working on an ugly court battle on behalf of a family member.

The  law, I once told my mother, is really not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about the law. And if people do not act with good intent? If they elide information, or ‘forget,’ or even flat-out lie? The law will not know that. And sometimes very bad things can happen to good people.

the author's

the author’s

For most southerners (and I have finally accepted the fact that Oklahoma, this reddest of red states, is more southern than midwestern), peaches are comfort food. My fondest summer memories often involve peaches: the homemade peach ice cream my mother made me. The peach cobbler my Aunt Bonnie made whenever I came to see her. Even, last summer, perfect local peaches w/ a splash of local honey and a dollop of good yogurt. Food that evokes happiness.

So today, I added one peach ‘ball’ of blooming tea to the usual house China black. As soon as the hot water hit the pot, peaches filled the air. Aunt Bonnie was hugging me, and my mother was shaking her head, laughing at me. The room brimmed with comfort, and I remembered: it all passes. Even the bad times are part of the tapestry, the shading that gives us perspective in a painting, the dark threads that outline the gold.

I’m okay, and my beloved will be okay. My DIL, my elder son, and my younger son will be okay, too. It will take time, but in the meanwhile? There is this sunlit moment in the breakfast room, and the fragrance of peaches.

with a little help from friends

the author's

the author’s

You know that saying ‘it takes a village’? Well, it does. For any endeavour worth remembering, it takes collaboration. Varied viewpoints, multiple hands, and a LOT of coordination. Witness my niece’s shower.

While I reap the accolades of my niece’s showers, it could never have happened w/out the help of my 3 sisters and a couple of their best friends — what we call ‘sisters-of-the-heart.’ All showed up a day before the shower and swept floors, tidied, and then the day OF the shower made cucumber sandwiches, spread egg salad, cut circles out of bread FOR the sandwiches, and generally did whatever needed to be done, as I made tea, and generally acted like my father the colonel. :)

Who do you rely on in your life? Who is always there for you? As I mentioned, not always are the people who have your back your ‘blood’ family. But they’re no less your chosen folks. In my case? I’m lucky that my best friends include my sisters (and their sisters! :) ). My friends are doers, makers, creators, and worker bees. Not a drone among them — the men work every bit as hard in this un-bee-like ecosystem.

Ernest Shephard, via google

Ernest Shephard, via google

And as you can see, it was a BIG shower for my niece (seated in the heart of her friends & family!). This doesn’t even include those who left early — one sister to attend a funeral, a sister-of-the-heart because she wasn’t feeling well, and others who had to work. This is just ‘most’ of my niece’s maternal aunts & cousins.

Making something like this happen — from the initial lists of invitees to the final sack of tissue Liz took out to the trash as she left — everyone pitched in. They bussed end tables, served as Shower Stork (handing out the many presents), loaded the dishwasher and generally lent their hands.

There’s only one catch to this incredible team work: sometimes, you have to ask folks. You have to be able to reach out. And no, this isn’t always easy. But as I move along my beginner’s path, I’m learning this: my friends & family mind my asking no more than I mind when they need my support. When one sister calls to talk about her classes, or another wants to talk over what to buy for a shower gift, or another needs me to print something at the last minute? I’m there. As they are for me.

So don’t forget: you really aren’t alone. You have all the people who love you, ready & waiting for you to turn to them. And don’t we all get by better w/ a little help from our friends?

talking to strangers

via google

via google

I know, your mother told you not to. But now you’re a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You’re sooo missing out!

Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers — two of the many I meet daily. Two of the many I almost always talk to (much to the eye-rolling of my beloved!). One of yesterday’s visits was at the place where I get my nails done (I can NOT go to my niece’s shower w/ ratty nails!). A lovely woman several years older than I am had driven in from McAlester (about 3 hours from Tulsa) to celebrate her big birthday. She’s 3 years into her breast cancer survivorship, and glad to be alive. In for a facial & makeover, she & I talked as we waited.

She has a son & daughter — the son lives near his parents. Her husband is recovering from a heart attack/ stint operation several years ago, and we discussed the rôle of caregivers. Her insights were helpful, as I work through my beloved’s fall, and now the birth of a grandchild w/ some challenges. It wasn’t only her giving to me, I hope, though: I listened. And (I hope she could tell) I learned.

The other was with a new employee at the salon where I was waiting. We chatted about the demise of a small restaurant nearby, and exchanged the currency humans have tendered for millennia: ‘gossip.’ Why the restaurant closed, the lack of people skills on the part of the otherwise immensely talented chef. And connected, word by shared word.

via google

via google

Listening (and learning) are grossly neglected in today’s hectic culture. Whatever you worry you don’t offer, you have ears. You have a face that can show you’re listening, that you care. How important that is! And if you share a bit of your life, with the stranger who shares his or hers? That’s the connection between us all made manifest. I breathe in, you breathe out. I talk, you hear. You talk, I hear. And BAM! We’re obviously connected, even though we were connected by so many other tenuous threads before we ever met.

I know — it sounds both hoodoo-ey and roll-your-eyes disingenuous. But trust me: it’s also impeccable Buddhism. The ability to offer your listening human heart to a stranger? Who may just need a touch on the arm, a smile, a moment of your attention? Wow — how often have each of us been touched by just those infinitely precious gifts?

So tomorrow? I’m going to sit for at least 5 minutes w/ the woman married to my niece’s husband’s co-worker, who is driving in w/ her pre-schooler to attend the shower. She will know no one but my niece. And soon, I hope, me. After all, it’s all about strangers…and connection…and beginner’s heart.

 

more on time (and acceptance)

the author's

the author’s

I was thinking today about how much I dislike meditating. Not the actual act, but the resistance I have to just doing it. KNOWING that sometime during the day, I should take out the time to sit down and breathe. Now really: how hard is that??

Hard. As hard as adult tonsillectomies. As hard as graduate school. As hard as anything the didn’t involve someone actually dying. And I’m maybe only 1/4 kidding…

Unlike preparing for my niece’s shower, I can’t seem to get in to the idea of meditation. Believe me, I know the benefits: health, peace, happiness. Focus, clarity, love. ad infinitum. But I still can’t make it ‘fun.’

So today, I read some on meditation. Wondering how to meet this resistance w/ compassion. Treating our own selves with understanding & sympathy is, as I’ve written many times, hard. But resisting the basic building block of Buddhism?? I don’t get to do that. ‘Just do it’ is one option, of course. That’s what happens many days. Still, I’d like to understand just why this is so difficult for me (even though all the lit says it’s hard for everyone, I’m sure I’m the worst one ever… :) )

Part of it is that I’m not used to having time. I squander it, I know — sit in the sun on the deck, when it’s even a bit warm, and just bask in the light. Eat poetry, as Mark Strand said. Colour w/ pencils, bake, drink tea. Daydream. These all seem so very important. And so they are. And there’s time, now, for all of this. Which has never ever been the case. Maybe I can accept that.

Acceptance is the key. I need to work on accepting my unloveably fallible resistance. Because how weird is resisting the resistance, as my guided meditation the other reminded me? That’s what I’m doing, I realise (it only took me 3 days of resisting to figure this out!). And to accept something you don’t like about yourself is a whole other level of ‘letting go.’

What is there in your life that you resist? What would happen if you just said, yep. That’s really really hard, and I hate it. And then forgave yourself for feeling cranky, but STILL DID the thing that caused you all the crazy?

I’m not sure what will happen. But that’s my goal this next few months: let go of resisting the resistance, and just accept that I’m not happy about meditating. And still do it. We’ll see what happens.

Previous Posts

the fragrance of peaches
I wish I could send out, over the ethernet, the fragrance of the peach tea I made today. I wish there was a way to bottle the steam spiralling from the cup, comforting on a worrying day. Often when I worry, it

posted 12:11:07pm Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

with a little help from friends
You know that saying 'it takes a village'? Well, it does. For any endeavour worth remembering, it takes collaboration. Varied viewpoints, multiple hands, and a LOT of coordination. Witness my niece's shower. W

posted 5:00:00pm Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

talking to strangers
I know, your mother told you not to. But now you're a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You're sooo missing out! Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers -- two of the many I meet daily.

posted 10:30:46pm Jan. 23, 2015 | read full post »

more on time (and acceptance)
I was thinking today about how much I dislike meditating. Not the actual act, but the resistance I have to just doing it. KNOWING that sometime during the day, I should take out the time to sit down and breathe. N

posted 10:04:50pm Jan. 22, 2015 | read full post »

the journey (taking the time)...
All week I've been on a journey. Well, you  might call it 'preparing.' But to me, it's a journey towards Saturday. Begun (thank you, flu) a full week later than it should have started. S

posted 9:29:22pm Jan. 21, 2015 | read full post »


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