I read this little article by Eckhart Tolle in O Magazine a while back and have been carrying it around with me, in the hopes that I will come up with some creative way to get those words sunk into my brain. I thought about making some sort of art project that would hang on the wall at home, reminding me every day. I thought about some sort of card I could carry around with me. Maybe I should get them tattooed on the back of my hands so that I see them all the time. I guess I could just commit them to memory, as I used to do with Bible verses earlier in my life. See, there are many practices that went along with my faith that would still be great to apply to my life now. As I've written before, I miss those practices.
But Tolle talks about the thinking being the problem. The whole idea is to be in the NOW. Memorizing ideas isn't going to free me from my self, from my egoic mind. The only thing that is going to work is to just be present, now.
But, today I woke up groggy and grumpy. Today I decided to stay mad at Marco for something he said last night. I feel justified in my anger. Though I don't hang on to anger long and it has now dissipated int a general fog of grump toward him rather than outright hostility. But it makes me want to look for things that he did wrong in order to add a jolt to my anger. Yeah, that guy is a jerk. And I can't quite wake up today. I feel uninspired and anxious and generally bleh. So, when I was listening to A New Earth in the car, I found myself thinking, "Well, I don't have to be present today because today I'm feeling grumpy and tired."
There's the obvious answer which is that it is all the more important to be present on days like today. It is paramount to my spiritual growth that I practice the disconnect from all the junk and just sit in this moment. But my ego is quite delighted with my mood. It doesn't want to be relieved. I want to stay grumpy and be mean to people and just stay stuck. I want to eat a bagel with veggie cream cheese even though I'm not hungry. I want to sit in front of the TV and watch all my recorded Oprah shows. I want to be anywhere other than present. I want to put off my growth until tomorrow. I want to be a good mom tomorrow. Next week I'll feel better. When we get the financial situation resolved I'll feel better. I'll be present on vacation. If I can just take a hot bath, then I'll feel ready to be present.
It's just so lame how obvious it is. I get it. I freaking get it. Now is never going to come. Now just is. And if I can't be present now, then I never will.
I was watching Oprah with Maya yesterday. She was a full-blown toddler, and we had both kind of had it with everything and needed a break (totally justified). Oprah had on a bunch of country singers. One of them was the guy who used to be the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker. And he sang this song called It Won't Be Like This For Long, and I almost started crying. First of all, the idea that my girl (well, all my kids to be) is going to be grown up and leave me filled me with such sadness. I'm always trying to wait out my current circumstances. I'm always hoping for that light at the end of the tunnel. I'm always waiting for tomorrow. This too will pass. Yeah, it freaking will pass and then what? You'll be wishing yourself out of the rest of your life. I need to get that phrase out of my lexicon.
It's made all the more clear with a child. Being a mother is hard, that is definitely true. And there are moments you don't like your child that much. Whining and tantrums can drive you to drink. And all those things make you want the day to end, make you want to do the easy thing, to not be present and exist in the frustrating madness that is toddlerhood. And I don't love being pregnant. I am more emotional. I am more worried. I am gaining weight and having trouble dealing with that. And I know I need to give myself a break to just be human and to know that it is hard, and I don't have to be Supermom. HOWEVER, I'm finding that I am wishing away this period of time. I'm using the difficulty of these circumstances to give me the excuse to be absent and to escape and to not be present. And I know that I'm going to be sorry. I know that in a few years, when Maya is older and not so new to the world, I'm going to wish I'd been more present and not been so frustrated and not tried to escape. I'm going to wish I'd watched less TV and read more books to her. I'm going to long for the simplicity of bubbles and Itsy Bitsy Spider and counting.
Balance. That's what I want. Somewhere within me is the desire and capability of achieving balance. Give myself a break, yes. Let myself off the hook completely, no. And only I really know my own motives. Only I know the real reason behind my eating and my laziness and my splurges. I'm the only one who can bring awareness and stop the madness. I just have so much trouble doing that without being overcome with guilt for being a bad mom, a fat person, a terrible housekeeper. How can I achieve the goal of holding myself to a higher standard while not torturing myself for being human?
Oh yeah, I can just be present.
I started doing this thing with Maya when she gets worked up that seems to work most of the time. I tell her to take a deep breath. It's ridiculously cute to watch her stop crying and force herself to take a big, deep breath. But it works. And she's beginning to do it for herself. It's amazing. She'll start to get worked up and crying, and then she'll stop and take a deep breath to calm herself down. Sometimes I just say, "Calm down" and she takes a deep breath. It's not foolproof, but it seems unbelievably effective. Now, if I can only get myself to calm down in the same way, maybe I'll be on the road to presence and peace.
Take a deep breath.
Take another deep breath.
Take a sip of water.
Yeah, that's about right.