Posts Tagged ‘Kurt Vonnegut’

“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.

Read Full Post »

Jonah is the lord of self-admonishment.  By this I mean he will do things like shout “NO SHOUTING!”(particularly fun in crowds), repeat recently-declared edicts: “no hitting mama,” or even dole out such specific pretend punishments as “two minutes in your room!”

…but he is also the prince of self-permission.  Gazing longingly at my black soda, he’ll widen smiling eyes and say: “go ‘head!” — as if he’s simultaneously both the one who wants the soda and the one who may bequeath it.  He knows that in the real world he can only have black soda when he does poopy on the potty (which he is getting better at, though he still squats with both his hands and feet on the toilet seat, knees doubled up to his chin, skinny little butt poised over the water – and more often than not he’ll still just poop whenever and wherever he wants, black soda temptation notwithstanding)…

…but when you don’t give him what he has just given himself permission to have/or say/or do, he follows up with the most annoying sound in the world – this screechy, whiny, bitch-boy noise that grates on you in milliseconds, usually resulting in a time-out in his room where he’ll retreat to admonish himself once more:  “Time OUT!  Be QUIET!” — and, as Kurt Vonnegut liked to say, so it goes.

Therefore, it’s especially nice when what Jonah wants is what he’s about to get anyway.

“Go see Barkley?” he asked this morning; it just so happens we go see Barkley, Andy’s parents’ dog, most Sundays.

We are next to one another on the couch and I look up at him.  Before I can even answer, Jonah is nodding and smiling, eyes big with anticipation of Barkley-fun.  “Go ‘head!”  he says brightly. “Uh-huh!”

“Yay!  That’s right!  We’re going to see Barkley!” I answer with all the cheerfulness I can muster for 8am Sunday morning.

“Yup!”  he agrees, grinning around the thumb in his mouth.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: