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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Resentment: Def. A feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury – real or imagined.

Andy has brought Jonah to three post-op doctor appointments this week.  God knows what would happen if he did not live where he does and have the job(s) he does.  E and J have been unable to bring him to his last 4 appointments.  What does the school do if there is a child who needs an eye surgery and doesn’t have the transportation to get there?

The laser surgery was medically successful, at least initially, but I had to take the whole day off Monday because everything happened excruciatingly slowly.

This video shows Jonah, gowned up and ready to go, stuck in a room Does he like Dora? the nurse kindly asked and we said yes and we said sure and we said thank you when all we wanted was to get going. Andy is standing between Jonah and me as Jonah walked his circles in the small space of the room.

Five minutes after this Jonah had a major flip out, throwing himself on the floor in the hallway, kicking, screaming, pulling hair, biting.  Nobody came out to help us.

Eventually we got him back to the room and calm.

O

The operation itself was quick.  Jonah got sick afterwards and kept wanting to itch his eye.  so I used a tissue to gently press on the eye, and I kissed it soundly, over and over.  Kiss eye?  Kiss eye?  Yes, Boo.  Kiss eye.  Of course kiss eye.

O

It was more difficult than usual to send him back to school, an hour and a half away from me, where I see him so infrequently and have so little control over what happens to him.  I have to trust.  One of the check-in people on eye operation day noted that Jonah was at a residential facility.  She mentioned that her daughter was autistic and how she would never, ever trust anyone to take her precious baby away from her.  “I don’t trust nobody with my baby,” she declared.   It was as if she had slapped me in the face.  Who says that to someone whose kid is already in a residential facility?  What do you know about why we did it?  I wanted to yell.

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Jonah & Andy, walking the halls before the room where you gown up.

– – –

And so I crawl along, filled with dread, with grief and terror for this world, with my heart broken for those at Sandy Hook in CT.  I read all the intelligent arguments about mental illness, parenting, gun control, and violent games/TV, and I find no answer in my heart — and that, maybe, is what frightens me most.  My mental state becomes fragile when I am confronted by humanity at its worst.

Which did not help when very recently I was the target of verbal anger, delivered in front of others and with a ramped-up rage that left me in disbelief, filled with embarrassment, and completely stunned. Despite a nonverbal apology later for the “confusion,” (not the behavior), I think maybe too many people enjoy railroading over people like me, who don’t fight back.  One witness, upon seeing my face fall, told me coldly to “suck it up.”  Maybe I really don’t belong in society, such as it is, because that kind of behavior seems so foreign to me that I have no response but tears.  It will pass, it always does, I regain the strength and something restores my faith and I keep on going.

Yet there is a lot that’s wrong with all the people in this world.  With our priorities and with our ignorance and with our anger.  All of us.  There are a lot of things one can say about me but I will say this for myself:  I may be meek, but I am kind, and I don’t take advantage of people’s weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and I care about how other people feel, and I have never treated anyone the way I was treated today.  So perhaps people like me really shall inherit the earth, like the Bible says.  Watch out then, bullies, because things are gonna get a whole lot more mellow. (Quite rightly).

If I were a Buddhist all of this would play out in my head and heart quite differently.  I would be thankful to this person for their challenge to my ability to be compassionate and understanding.  I would consider them my teacher.  I would not only forgive instantly but also revere the perpetrator – very similar to Jesus’ “turn the other cheek.” That’s some serious shit to truly take on, though, which makes me admire earnestly practicing Buddhists and Christians all the more.  Perhaps I should just up and go to Plum Village for a while.  I need to pound the lessons into my head.

Of course this whole story – every little bit of it – is nothing compared to what has happened and continues to happen in Newtown, CT.  Burials, burials.  An entire community with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Pain-filled awakenings from nightmare hours of darkness.  God only knows the horror.  God help all the mourning people. I just can’t muster much joy in Christmas this year;  I have had the wind knocked out of me and am only a stranger, miles away.  But I can pretend, and the pretending will become real.  Smiling begets smiling.  Breathing allows for release.

Hope.

At least I am still able to crawl along.  To let go of the resentment.  Breathe, breathe.  Let it go… Feel gratitude.

I’m a Weeble, you see.  I wobble, but I don’t fall down.

Weebles just, well, rock on.

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Sorry for the Buddhist-poem-flake-out.  It’s all part of the necessary path, I guess.

“There’s no earthly way of knowing… which direction we are going…” ~ Willie Wonka

Not only don’t I know which direction we are going, but I don’t even know now where I am.  I sleep as early and as much as possible – greedily falling into the cushion-y darkness where everything turns OFF for long, glorious hours.  I wake confused, then teary, and I gulp down the pills that help me through the day.  I’m just not hungry lately either.  It’s as if I got to an anxiety/fear point so high I smashed through its glass roof (Willie Wonka style, speaking of the great confectioner) and now I’m flying around grasping at different ideas, completely ungrounded, definitely dazed, and evidently, flaking out as well.

All these thoughts.  I decided I ‘m going to learn Spanish.  I want to visit Mansfield, MO, home of my beloved heroine, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I’m going to read books even as an English major I’d never dared attempt:  Les Miserable and War and Peace.  I’ll learn to play guitar.  Write a novel, maybe even out of this blog.  Visit my relatives, send them all care packages.  Volunteer to read to kids at the library.  Walk dogs at the humane society.  Do yoga.  Learn to paint.  Anything, everything.  Something so I’m not nobody doing nothing.

Sometimes I have these grandiose plans to change the world, at least my world and the people in and around it, making positive deposits in the great big bank of karma.

But still I play out scenarios of the day we drop off our son, over and over, with different circumstances and outcomes each time…except he is always gone at the end.  In the scenarios we always have to go, we always drive away.  He is always, always gone, and he will be gone, and he will be gone soon.  No wonder I am meditating on impermanence.  I can’t really comprehend any of it.

Andy and I met with a mediator and we have workbooks to fill in, just like we did at the church when we were planning to marry.  Everything is cyclic.  We will wait until Jonah is at his new school and then we will re-convene, workbooks completed, bringing yet another thing to its conclusion.

My friend H (bless her) invited M and me and Jonah to her pool again tomorrow, thank you thank you thank you little H.  To her it may not be much but to us it is everything.  Yesterday M and I had to drive Jonah around the entire time we had him; there was simply nowhere we could go.  It poured rain and Jonah didn’t want music.  I got him singing at one point but then he started his repetitive requesting-phase:

Wannatakeabath?  Wannatakeabath?  Wannatakeabath? Bye Bye M.  Wannatakeabath?  Daddy?  Wannatakeabath? Bye Bye M.  Daddy?  Daddy?  Grandma?  Swim-pool? Swim-pool? Wannatakeabath? Wannatakeabath? Wannatakeabath? Wannatakeabath? (Insert BLOOD-CURDLING SCREAM instantly followed by giggling laughter).  WannaseeJack?  WannaseeJack?

And I curse myself for gritting my teeth and wanting to shout SHUT UP because soon enough I’ll wish I could hear his little voice, no matter what it was saying or shouting or screaming.

Oh, what a weird place in time & space this is.

“For the rowers keep on rowing,
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing…

~Willie Wonka

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“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh (The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching)
 
I am losing a lot, like it or don’t, as P would say.  But I’m tired of myself, tired of carrying on in my grief, so I’m turning (as you may have noticed) to Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite Buddhist monks, for guidance and peace.  I’m turning to the Buddhist view of impermanence – that which says nothing has permanence, that permanence is an illusion we cling to.
 
Well I’m a Buddhist by circumstance, then. Yet I am also many more things: raised Catholic, I still go to Mass on occasion and cling to my roots, finding solace in the ritual of the Mass.  I may be other things I haven’t even discovered yet.  So it goes, to throw in some Vonnegut.  This is my favorite little story about Kurt Vonnegut, taken from Wikipedia:
 
In the mid 1950s, Vonnegut worked very briefly for Sports Illustrated magazine, where he was assigned to write a piece on a racehorse that had jumped a fence and attempted to run away. After staring at the blank piece of paper on his typewriter all morning, he typed, “The horse jumped over the fucking fence,” and left.[17] On the verge of abandoning writing, Vonnegut was offered a teaching job at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. While he was there, Cat’s Cradle became a best-seller, and he began Slaughterhouse-Five, now considered one of the best American novels of the 20th century, appearing on the 100 best lists of Time magazine[18] and the Modern Library.[19]

The lesson I take away from all of this is I can’t abandon life by sitting in my soiled self in the sorrowful, shallow end of the pool.  I have to keep writing because it saves me.  I can come out the other side of this, make myself into someone good, be Jonah’s mother as best I can, be the change I want to see in this world (thanks, Gandhi) instead of complaining about the changes that aren’t happening.  I may moan and rave, cry and bitch, but I’m not going down without a fight.  I am recharged with people all around me, some who don’t even know me.  They care and they tell me so and it helps like they will never know.  I am not alone, I tell myself, mantra-like.  I am not alone.

Mary helps me too.  Yes, that Mary.  The mother of God Mary.  She sure had a difficult child, an only child (it seems) and she lost him too, in many ways, before she really lost him.  She understands. 

  • St. Josemaria Escriva: “Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle.”  “When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down.”

How can I believe all these things simultaneously? 

“Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then; I contradict myself.  I am large – I contain multitudes.” ~Walt Whitman

(I’m actually quite scrawny, but I think Walt was being metaphorical). 

I am going over to see Jonah-boo tonight, to take him on the “Groundhog Day” tour of his favorite things:  the train, car ride, maybe grandma or a peanut butter roll.  If it is warm enough, swimming and splashing. 

I am looking forward to it, whatever it brings.  I love him so much.

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