Words and phrases fascinate me. A stunning turn of phrase can take my breath away. I am a bit of a mystic and philosophy and poetry move me. The first author I completely fell for was Madeline L’Engle, in her book, “The Small Rain.” Her way with words was an other-worldly experience for me. It was as if she was putting my own thoughts onto the page, just arranged more beautifully than I could have crafted.
It is easy for me to get pulled into a great abyss of “wasted” time, thinking and mulling over things. A couple of words can get stuck in my head and just meander around playfully for days. Of course, all along, I’m doing my chores, and folding clothes and doing dishes, and reading to my kids. Meanwhile, there is an ongoing reverie playing out behind all these scenes, holding a word in my hand, and slowly turning it over and over and seeing it from all it’s sparkling sides.
Today, in the midst of boys going wild in my house: literally bouncing off the walls in high pitched excitement over having a friend over to spend the night and getting to camp in a tent in their room, then play all day today – in the midst of all that noise, I sat at my kitchen table and read a little from, “The Dude and the Zen Master,” by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman.
The section I was reading was talking about being truly happy and grateful right where you are, being able to say, “This is it. This shore, where I’m standing right now, is the place; whatever I need is right here.” They were talking about how difficult that is. I think every time I drive down my driveway into a sunset and see my little house on the edge of the horizon, out in the middle of a little field, I feel like I’m in the happiest place on earth. But, then, there’s all these things we have to do to fix up the place.
The book was talking about how all of us are always looking at that distant shore, plotting out what we have to do to get there, and then we will have it all together, and then we can relax. There is always some other place to be, more things we want to learn or gather. I guess that is true. I mean, to be static would be to not be growing. I am happy where I am, but yet, there are all sorts of things to work on.
Take this parenting gig, for example. We never get to rest on our laurels and think we’ve accomplished anything. There are constantly new challenges, and that’s good and that’s fine and that’s half the fun.
Bernie: to get to a new other shore, we have to choose a different path from the first, like getting a different vessel: rowboat, sailboat, dirigible —
Jeff: — submarine, pogo stick —
Bernie: — glider. We choose our vessels and the methods to propel them, which are our practices, to get where we want to go.
They talked about during different parts of our journey, we have different people in our lives too. There are people who guide us when we are young, and then we move on, and find other people to travel with. Some are with us always, and some are there for certain parts of the passage.
I realized that Scott and I are not only people in Ben and Bean’s life right now, we are also the vessels. We are the Submarine and the Pogo Stick. We are carrying them at this point, for only a bit longer, as they get more and more independent. What a privilege it is to be travelling with these boys through their early years as their personalities and their characters are developing. We are their ride, and we are along for the ride. We are in this together. Sometimes we get to lead them, and direct them. Sometimes we are learning more by watching and listening to them.
Ben struggles with outbursts of anger. Our world seems to be bursting at the seams from fits of “lashing out irrationally” (a favorite line from The Santa Clause with Tim Allen). We see bad behavior from grownups all over the place. We barely watch television because of that. We get to model behavior that we feel is appropriate. We get to go into situations much more subdued than even we would normally act, because we are working hard to show calmness in the face of frustration or bewilderment. Anger is not something that gets put down easily, it is an emotion that burbles to the surface from a deep place.
I have no wisdom right now. I haven’t figured anything out as far as how to help my son display his feelings appropriately. All I know is that I am on this path with him. We are journeying through these issues together. Part of it is simply bloodline. We are all one family. Ben and Bean are from the same stock, and Bean is a completely different personality type that seems much more ready to go with the flow and be mellow. Ben prickles and sparks. He can be a porcupine or a love and he can go from one to the other at lightning speed. He comes by it so naturally. He is so much mine. He also has creativity and sparks of ingenuity flowing through him, shooting out of his fingertips, and eyes and heart. It’s a wonder he doesn’t explode.
So, I am breathing deeply, and knowing that the path is an interesting one. I am happy to be right where I am right now. My path keeps moving beneath my feet. We get to continually practice kindness and gratitude, and hope that it rubs off on our more high-strung, or outspoken family members.
I think it’s fun that sometimes I feel like the submarine, trolling, submerged, thinking I’m being deep, and sometimes I’m the pogo stick, spazzing out right along with my kids over some new adventure or blowing up bottles of Diet Coke with a Mentos mint.
Free use photo from here