Where have I been? I have been out rafting in the river of life, receiving many messages of its forever changing terrain. I have been living! But I have to say, I miss, miss, miss writing. I see more clearly than ever my passions and what I hold dear. When you lose time for some-thing important, everything becomes clear, right?
I might not be writing regularly, but I have been reading. Readingmostly about the concept of joy and mostly from the Buddhist’s perspective – how to find it, how to keep it, and how to live it.
Last week I was in meditation and Don Simmons, our wonderful meditation guide, gave us a visual that spoke to me.
He said, “Picture two paths, one is smooth and clean.” I pictured the path where I walk at the park, with its manicured bushes and pleasant concrete pathway.
Then he said, “Now picture a more rocky terrain.” I picture a more mountainous area with dirt and rocks around. Things I might trip over if I am not careful.
“One is not better than the other,” he says, “just different.”
And as he said that I think of motherhood. The manicured path reminds me of a place that might be easier to walk, and also has more people around, and more communication with the outside world. I don’t think very much out there. I usually have my headphones on. I might even jog if I am inclined to. In other words, the terrain allows me to be on autopilot.
In my analogy, this is the world outside my home life. Compassion and joy come easy out here. There’s not much work involved in the joy. I can hear birds, see happy dogs wagging their tails as they walk with their “parents,” I can see people enjoying their walks. I can wave or smile at someone and, more than likely, I will get a warm response in return.
The rocky terrain is also beautiful. There are not so many people here. I have time to think, lots of time to think. I best pay attention here for the rocks. But I like paying attention because I think it keeps me present, in the here and now. And being present, even if I am suffering, is always joyful in the end, because if I am present and suffering, I am working through the suffering to get to the other side of it, which ultimately is joy (for me).
In my meditation, I also saw a Bodhi-tree on the rocky path. This tree is known as “the tree of wisdom.” It is the tree where the Buddha became enlightened, in a scene similar to Jesus’ time in the desert. (By the by, the Buddha was a real man, Siddharta Gautama. He was a prince in India who questioned why people suffer. He denounced his fortune and set off to learn about suffering and how to end it, and he eventually became enlightened, and became known as the Buddha, which literally means “to understand” or “to be awakened.” He wasn’t fat either – the statue is full of symbolism.)
I find motherhood has much in common with the more organic, natural path. I have to watch more carefully. I am more present, and sometimes I am suffering for that presence. I can feel overwhelmed by the emanating emotions from myself and the kids, or I can feel pure joy from just a little smile on my child’s face. Like the mountains, it’s up and down in this place.
Sometimes I get a sweet response from my efforts, maybe even a “thank you,” but a lot of the time I do not get the response I expected. For instance, I asked Jesse just yesterday, “Would you like some gum?” Something she usually jumps on with joy. But instead of delight I got the response, “No mom! I do not want that yucky gum!”
Well, OK then.
It takes both of my paths to make my life joyful. Through my manicured park and through my more rocky terrain, where, thankfully, I also see the Bodhi tree, I am starting to see myself as a more special person than I ever have in the past. Through watching my children, I can see how special a human life really is and what a gift every single person is to the world.
I’m learning that motherhood is a journey to know myself better and better with each new day.
It is in crossing outside of this part of my life that brings me passion for things I enjoy. And I can benefit from them more because I have the tree of wisdom on my terrain. I can see more clearly what passion looks like, what’s real in life.
I am writing! I am fulfilling my passion. I also read this morning, another passion of mine. I took a walk with a wonderful friend at the park – yep, the very one I mentioned above. Later, I will tutor a boy. Then I will pick up my kids and be with them.
Today, I will journey through all of the terrains of my life with joy.