Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Do Not Want To Hurry-Now

The air is different. Clearer, cooler, less dense with humidity. Sounds are clearer as well. This may be a trick of the imagination, but so it seems to me.

This sense of fall brings with it huge relief at the same time it brings a sense of melancholy. My mind roils and churns with this thought and that one. My heart turns with this emotion and the next.
A thing comes from left field and as soon as I turn to catch that, I hear the sound of something dire approaching me from the opposite direction.
I cannot keep up.
I cannot catch everything hurled or tossed or gently offered my way. I have to choose what to drop, what to hold close.

This past week was a wonder of peaks and valleys. I did and I did and I trudged and I sprinted and I was pulled under and I was lifted up. I feel tattered. I feel torn.
I feel shop-used, I feel worn.

I want to say, "I give up."

One cannot, though. One cannot.

In the midst of all of this I had a perfect moment yesterday. Owen and I had gone out to check for eggs in the hen house. The air was like it is today- you could go out and not have sweat falling from your face, you could feel sweet breezes. There were no eggs but Owen wanted to play in the chicken coop. Not really the perfect place for a small boy to play. There is, of course, a lot of poop in there, but still. Doors and runs and so forth and I let him.
I sat in one of the chairs that Mr. Moon and I have set right beside the coop so that we can watch our crazy chickens if we want and I watched my grandson, making play in the coop.
And that was all.
A beautiful day, a small boy doing what small boys do- playing.

No more than that.
And I thought, "This is all I want."
My mind was quiet. I was not anticipating the next thing or worrying about what I had to do or what might be undone. I simply sat and watched Owen and he handed me feathers from the coop through the wire and he carried things around and described to me what he was doing as he did things and he laughed.

It was that perfect moment and I was there, fully and able to realize that.

That was all.

Part of the reason I had been there so fully was that I had been sent a little thing by Ms. Bastard-Beloved.

HERE is the link.

But the meat of it, for me, was this passage:

We live in an unquiet world, and I wish us way more than luck in navigating it. There is a stillness available anywhere at any time if we tap into it, and some seem able to find it even in times of great upheaval and conflict. I think of people like Paul Rusesabagina (profiled in the film Hotel Rwanda). I had a chance to meet him, to interview him, and there is a calm humility about him that must have served him well during the terrible days of siege. Everywhere there are people — in our neighborhoods, families; at our workplaces — who have that calm center. How do we enter that state? It’s a question tackled by religious leaders, philosophers, scientists; and a question ultimately each person must answer for her or himself. One approach is to slow the thoughts… or even, as some Zen meditation urges, to temporarily cease thought. That cuts against the grain of our hurry-now culture.

And I thought of all the drama we put ourselves through for no apparent reason whatsoever. Our hurry-now culture of do, and do, and do. How it's never, ever enough, whether we are making money or gardening or cleaning or learning or even "enjoying" ourselves. Never enough. We could be doing a better job of it. We could be learning more, doing more, all of it "better and better" as if there were some goal ahead. As if we could take all of these prizes of having done with us to the grave. We seem to want to provoke ourselves into greater and greater states of chaos and when we are on that ride of doing, of hurry-now on to the next thing, we are signing the death warrant of any hope at calmness, at peace, of having a quiet mind, a still heart.

Why do we do this? Why are we so bent on experiencing everything we can? Is that truly what we are here for? And even if it is, if we are so hurrying-now, how can we really and truly experience anything? Much less enjoy it or even appreciate it.

Are we so afraid we are going to miss something that we end up missing everything?

I think I do that.

And I don't want to. I don't even think I have a natural proclivity towards it, that chaos. I think the way I grew up made me believe that if I was not in crisis, I was not doing my job. Perhaps crisis was my way of not having to truly think about what was actually real and scary and painful. I sought out people and situations where drama and crisis were prevalent and I inserted myself into all of it but as I have grown older, I have stepped back. I have realized that life will hand me more of those things than I want and to go out and purposefully (if unseeingly) seek them out is insanity. For me.
I certainly cannot speak for everyone. We are all different.

So this is what I am thinking about. How, at this point in my life, at least, what I truly want is to try and live in as peaceful and quiet a manner as possible. To know in my heart that it is truly okay and perhaps even my sacred duty to take care of what is around me from my chickens to my garden to my grandson to my marriage to...this life. Of mine.

I want more stillness. In this way, when life does hand me crisis, when someone needs me, I will be more able to deal with it. To help. To find a way to live with what is given. I do not want, nor am I able, to completely untangle myself from our hurry-now life. From chaos. I do not want to be a complete hermit. I am not a monk or a nun, put here on this earth to do nothing but meditate. To seek mindlessness. I have too much urge to nurture. But I also know that I have the mind of a monkey, always reaching out to grab and taste this hurt or that duty or this "should-do" or that perceived place of "helping."
I know that.

I don't want to do that any more. I do not want to hurry-now. Some people face the last part of their lives with the need to taste, to experience it ALL.
I have given up on that.
I want to do the very best I can with what I have here before me. I have spent my entire life getting to this point of this vast richness of a life which, if I slow down and take care of, is enough for me and more. No, I do not seek mindlessness. I seek mind-full-ness.

After that realization yesterday, after that perfect mindful moment, Mr. Moon and I drove to town to meet up with Billy and Shayla and Waylon and Denise and Lily and Jason and Owen and Hank to eat supper.

The sky looked like this:

And this:

And this:

I was not calm. I was agitated. I was not at peace.
Nor was the sky, even with that tiny strip of rainbow.

And supper was not calm either. Two boys, two-years old, almost. Monkeys.

That is the nature of the two-year old. The monkey nature. Climb and discover and taste and throw down and go on and do it all again. Test every limit, throw oneself into every bit of chaos that can be found. This is how we learn when we are that age. But we grow, we mature, we find other ways to gain knowledge. Hopefully.

I found Billy's eyes across the way and I knew he wasn't feeling well and I knew that we were not going to get to share calm time with each other, the way we had wanted to.

But in that moment, when our eyes met, we both understood that it was not possible then and there. But that also, in that moment, we knew that there was nothing to be done about it and that if this is what we could share, then so be it. I probably should not have even raised my camera. But. I did. And I have those eyes to look at whenever I want. Those kind, loving eyes of my Billy as his son drinks deeply from his cup.
And I am mindful of him, as I am of all the ones I love whether they are with me or not.

I am going to try to make of each day a place of not hurry-now but of be-slow and notice. To love the ones I love fully. To tend to that which I love fully. I am not even sure that it's possible but I am going to try. Step off the stage and back into my life. To say no to stress which I can avoid. To say no to worry about things I cannot control. To be available but not to force myself into places I am not doing any good in at all for anyone.

I am always going to struggle. That is who I am. But I do not have to dive into the deepest part of the rapids in order to increase that struggle. I do not have to take out my pen and sign the death warrant of any peace of mind and heart which might be available for me. I can put that pen to use writing poetry if I want, I can be still and sign my name to peaceful pursuit.

If there is such a choice, dear god, let me do it because to do otherwise is insanity for me. And at the age of fifty-seven, I have spent enough time with insanity to last me the rest of whatever years I have. One cannot give up, but one can change course.

I am going to try.


  1. Kind Mwa rushed off to Amazon in the middle of a conversation and sent me this book: Full Catastrophe Living: How to Cope with Stress, Pain and Illness Using Mindfulness Meditation - Jon Kabat-Zinn

    I think it has the answers you're talking about here, but they come with a lot of practice you might not be open to. I've read it and I'm still at the thinking rather than doing stage, but it will come. I know it's the right thing.

  2. well, this post calmed me right down.
    this weekend is 22 years since i survived (thank goodness) a horrific car crash that, quite literally, has scarred me for life.
    but i am lucky to have available physical therapy and i am alive.
    also my relationship is troublesome right now and i was squawking around the house earlier alternately crying and hollering and generally disturbing the peace of the cat, who deserves his peace.

    Thank you and thank you thank you for the pictures of the sky. sorry about my erratic capitalization. here's a poem that i love.

    The Armful - Robert Frost

    For every parcel I stoop down to seize
    I lose some other off my arms and knees,
    And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns--
    Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
    Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
    With all I have to hold with, hand and mind
    And heart, if need be, I will do my best
    To keep their building balanced at my breast.
    I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
    Then sit down in the middle of them all.
    I had to drop the armful in the road
    And try to stack them in a better load.

  3. I love that book Jo mentioned.

    I love this meditation. Loved the chicken coup moment with O. Love your photos that help tell the story. Esp sweet Billy.

    Living alone without electricity and water for 4 days made me realize the need for more quiet.

    Working at the library right now and everyone is still.

    Missed you.

  4. At 61 for me, trying is the rest of my path. Yes, trying is so good. I love trying.

  5. You don't know how happy it made me to click your link to John Green reading DFW. That commencement speech is my favorite. I am a John Green fangirl since 2007. He is an amazing person and author and I just love his youtube videos with his brother Hank.
    I am also too busy trying to experience it all that I experience less. Stillness does not come easy to me, but I crave peace and tranquility like nothing else as I get older.
    Good luck to us all in trying.

  6. Oh, the giving up struck a chord with me since I just watched the Treme episode where a pivotal character commits suicide because he cannot cope post-Katrina, and his family is so angry at him for giving up. Do you watch the show? It's quite poignant. I avoided it as long as I could, but once I started watching I knew I had to go back home.

    Sorry for the apparent non sequitur.

  7. You have so beautifully and gently put into words what I have been struggling to express. Peaceful consciousness, true awareness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  8. All you can do is try.

    A good message today to just remember to slow down and savor the good things...the truly important parts of life. At least that's my take on it.

  9. Sounds like the bell of mindfulness has rung for you in a big way.


    Yay that, and good on ya.
    ps I love that picture of Billy and Waylon. Sweet.

  10. I so relate to this. And I have slowed and divested myself of stress as much as possible. I have nothing to prove tqo anyone. Thank goodness I don't have to play the game anymore. I have changed course.

  11. Some thoughts on this post:

    I happen to think that you do that a lot.

    It was interesting that you compared those little guys to monkeys. I'm sure you know that in Zen practice one is called upon to calm the "monkey mind."

    I am grateful sometimes for the grace of Sophie, my daughter. Her living and being has taught me that calm, a calm that I never knew I had until I knew.

    I've always felt terribly intimidated by David Foster Wallace -- thank you for posting this passage -- it makes him more accessible.

  12. Jo- Sigh. We all need it. You know we do.

    X-ray Iris- If I write something that resounds with someone else, I feel as if I have served a purpose. Robert Frost served a universal purpose. Thank-you for that sharing.

    Bethany- I have missed you and thought of you so much. I knew you would be okay- we are all capable of dealing with days of no electricity (although no water is harder) and we learn from them, even if we do not enjoy them. But I know your strength. I have trust in you. But I'm glad you're back.

    liv- What else can we do?

    Mel- There are no coincidences? Sometimes I wonder about this.

    NOLA- I have watched some of Treme, but not that episode. It is painful to watch but it is beautiful.

    See Kate Run- It seems as if it would be so easy and yet, I think it is the hardest thing in the world to be mindful, to quiet the mind.

    Mel's Way- That is a big part, I think. I do.

    Stephanie- I know you know these things already.

    Ms. Fleur- Isn't that a beautiful picture?

    Syd- I keep thinking of John Lennon saying, "I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go by and by. I just had to let it go..."

    Elizabeth- I think I do enough. I want to realize that to my bones. I think that Sophie is one of your greatest teachers as my children are mine. I have never been able to read DFW either. Don't know if I ever will. But I understood this.

  13. I love you, Ms Moon. I really do.

    XX Beth

  14. I read this post earlier today, and now again. Right now I feel stressed, the getting, the having, the not enough, is really taking a toll on me. I need peace. I need quiet. I need to just be.

  15. Yes. Just recognizing it is enough. It is the entire world in one perfectly imperfect chicken coop.

  16. Beth- And I love you.

    Angie- It is ever so, isn't it? Which is why those moments of complete peace are so very, very precious.

    Nancy C- Amen.

  17. Mrs. Moon, this post is deep and wide, and it's what I've been thinking about--while not engaged in chaos. Which is to say that I haven't been thinking about this stuff enough. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  18. This post is so beautifully written and wise.

    I especially liked this.

    I want to do the very best I can with what I have here before me. I have spent my entire life getting to this point of this vast richness of a life which, if I slow down and take care of, is enough for me and more. No, I do not seek mindlessness. I seek mind-full-ness.

    Amen, sister. Amen.


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