“MINDFULNESS” — by Melanie PAUL
You Can’t Find Peace, It Is Not a Lost Shoe.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
I planned a better morning … lost keys, spilled cereal, running late, tears, tears, tears. As the day went on the tornado sat over my house and continued its destruction. By the end of the day, I was in tears as my daughter cried for what she described as “no reason.” My heart sank. I finally got her to bed and sat on my couch between what might have been folded laundry had the one year old not “helped.” I slid off the sofa and into the heap of Legos. I was done. DO YOU HEAR ME, UNIVERSE! Done. I took a deep breath and went somewhere else. It wasn’t a clean house or Hawaii or a meadow filled with flowers. I went in and then came out. I reached over to a stuffed animal that wasn’t supposed to be there and held it to my face. It smelled like Dreft and apple juice. I am HERE! Right HERE, Universe. I laid there for twenty minutes swaying between guilt, anger, depression and fear. And then I prayed. I allowed myself the opportunity to get back to a place where that Lego stuck in my back actually hurt. I looked at the remaining two hundred pieces and made a little house. These annoying little pieces made something …dare I say, cute. I left everything right where it was, showered and went to bed grateful.
The next morning, the seven year old looked worn. I waited until she hugged me and I apologized. I wasn’t specific. It was over but like most tornados, there is a clean-up effort that takes many hands. I had to admit that I wasn’t present, even when I was there. She admitted that arguing with me was the only way to pull me out of whatever I was doing. We both admitted that getting more things was not the solution to getting along. We started giving. We are more excited about trips to donation centers and shelters for the underprivileged and abused than we are about Christmas and birthdays. Together, we reached a place of effectiveness. There is something wonderful that happens when we visit a center and a young lady sits next to me on a bench as our children play. “This is first time in two days that she has let go of my leg.” The wind blows and we both tip our heads back and drink it in. “That feels great,” we both say at the same time. We laugh until we cry. She grabs my hand and our heads touch. The art of losing bags of unused clothes and toys left plenty of room for mindfulness and understanding that went deeper than any feeling of peace that we attempted to conjure up.
Here is just a short list of what the hands, feet and heads do at our house
1. we appreciate our surroundings and acknowledge the beauty.
2. we accept one another as we are today and only today
3. we do not promise anything
4. we operate with trust in God and each other
5. everything we do with our whole heart is a gift, what we do with half our heart is an obligation — we are honest about our intentions
Our little family uses mindfulness practices that work well for us. Watching food coloring as it changes the color of water and being still does NOT work for us. Riding silently in the car does (even with the baby). It doesn’t mean we are angry at each other. It is quite the opposite. She and I are dwelling in the same space together. We are both fully present and aware. We still have less than favorable moments but we refrain from using words like “bad” or “good.” Our experiences are bigger than that. There are fewer apologies, too. When we allow ourselves to be present, active and open. I find that our actions and reactions are deeply rooted in how it will be received both inwardly and outwardly. The extra ten seconds that we take between stimulus and response means that the wheel of consequence makes one full revolution. We directly affect what will happen within our own lives and directly affect what happens in the lives of others. We have eliminated the disconnection that leads us to the idea that this is only happening to me.
Mindfulness isn’t about meditation, converting to a new religion, seeking answers to life’s problems or escaping into a cave of wonder and light where everyone holds hands, and sings Kum-ba-Ya., however nice that may sound. It isn’t about well-behaved children, finding your “soul-mate” or success. I still lose my keys and kick the loudest toy on the floor, waking up the baby when I’m locking up the house for the night. I’m a single mother who still doesn’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I suppose if I were an advice columnist and you wrote me a letter explaining everything that is “wrong” with your situation, my advice would read as follows.
Dear Something is Wrong,
Congratulations on identifying that aspect of your life that has caused you great harm or turmoil. You are now in a unique and amazing place that allows you to be honest and compassionate with yourself. Embrace your mistakes. Do not look for peace. It is not a lost shoe. Peace is within you and around you, running fresh in your veins. Acknowledge only those parts that you are responsible for and accept those little bits of sand as opportunities to foster change. Surround yourself with what is working. Fill the universe with what you already have to offer.
The world says “Thank you.”