in a few moments, i will begin my mommy day. i will be better at it today than yesterday…but not because practice makes perfect. last night as i was coaxing my insomnia out the bedroom door, i opened and read a chapter of a book that a sharp and enlightened friend, also a new-ish mother, passed to me many months ago. the book is titled “Buddhism for Mothers” by Sarah Napthali. i’ve been remiss in reading it cover to cover…and without realizing it, i made it another “should” on my list of Admonishments for Procrastinators. when i mentioned to another friend that i’d only managed to pick it up and read certain parts that spoke to me in those moments, he said, “how very Buddhist of you,” or something to that effect. i loved it.
so last night i did it again, i picked up the book and selected a chapter toward the end. i was reading it, all full of myself for already “knowing” a great deal of the information, when part of it struck me full force in the chest and shook me with new awareness, spreading electricity from my solar plexus to all parts considered. and of course it did, why else would that chapter have been chosen for me? the page i dog-eared, the question that started the movement inside of me, was predicated on such a simple twist of perspective…a simplicity so common to my greatest insights…like your quietest friend approaching with a hug and a knowing smile. it is a simple question reframed…a question we ask ourselves in the face of every decision, struggle or strain – “how do i approach this moment?” instead, ask yourself “what does this moment require?” i first applied it as i was staring over a bowl of cookie crisp, chomping away with my head swimming in not very zen thoughts about the book and the Buddha. i threw the brakes on that train of thought and asked, “what does this moment require?” and my answer? “enjoyment of this loud and silly sugar snack.” from there i stared at each floating cookie, the dismembered chips floating and sticking to the sides of the bowl, and reveled in the crunchy ridiculousness of calling this substance “food.” it took all of 15 seconds of providing what the moment required for me to feel the smirky grin of understanding and connection crawl across my face. cookie crisp has never felt so good, never spoken to me like it did last night. it was the most zen cereal experience of my life.
in a discussion on the fallacy of “self” and its very existence, on the impermanence of everything, Sarah reaches deep into the Buddhist teachings to shatter my illusions of “the person i have become today,” and of “me-ness.” i have a lot to learn about and through meditation. i am a beginner with a busy and intrusive mind. i need it though, to sort through all the bounty, pain, joy and sorrow that fills my dreams and minutes. i feel comfortable living in this moment without a “self-image” except that i’m not very good at it…as indicated by the use of the word “i” at least 20 times already in these paragraphs. so perhaps it’s more accurate to say that i’m comfortable with the “idea” of living without a self-image, and that i’ve tried to think and read my way around any regular meditation practice.
that little taste of the Buddha, masquerading itself as a date with “whole grain” frankenfood, inspires me to write here, and to press on in practice and habits that feed illusory bodies and impermanent minds with something a little more substantial than floating cookies.
mmmm. floating cookies.