Mother and a Monk.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I have a small library of self-help books (because I love them,)
where other peoples' knowledge, beliefs and confidence, 
give light to MY intuitions about life and provide me with beautiful insights,
let's be honest,
much cooler than my own.
Tucked in between my inspirational readings is a small intrigue for Deepak Chopra and his teachings.
I'm hardly a 'follower,' haven't seen any of his millions of interviews, just have a few books and really like and connect with what he has to say.
When I heard his son did a documentary on him, I had to watch.
I don't normally take the time to SIT during the day. 
That's preposterous.
Mostly because I have too much I want and am trying to do.
Partly because, if I do, I'll pass out.
But this day I decided to sit.  Take a break and watch.
It was VERY interesting.  Learned some things about Deepak I didn't know.
Oddly, something even MORE came out of it.
I turned the TV off and sat there.  Thinking about monks.
(Deepak was invited to an Ashram in Thailand to become ordained as a Buddhist monk.)
I've always been SO enthralled with the quiet life of monks.
The solitude that envelopes their serene landscape like a blanket each day.
Their walking meditations along the mountainside, wearing nothing but robes and the skin on their feet.
Sitting, breathing and meditating for HOURS on end.
It has always seemed so lovely, so peaceful, so ENLIGHTENING to me to be able to live that way and devote your life to living peacefully.
You know what's enlightening?
Being a mom. 
At first glance a comparison between the two lives, well, seems ridiculous.
You can't compare these two worlds that seem to exist on opposite ends of the spectrum.
My life is loud, stinky, chaotic. . .it's every emotion you could possibly ever feel, every day.
To feel 'zen" on a Monday is out of the question.  Or longer than three minutes at a time,
where ANY silence is ALWAYS interrupted by a whining voice, a temper tantrum or someone who needs help wiping their butt.
I highly doubt a sweet Buddhist monk could cross over into my world,
and keep his shit together.
The first five minutes of the hours between 4-7pm, would send him running barefoot back to the hills from which he came, probably tripping over a wayward pink winter boot, catching his robes on the plastic sword of my 4-year-old stuck in the safety locks of the kitchen cabinets.
Not so enlightened now, are we?
So what is real and true, I asked myself?
The life of a wandering mother?  Pacing the tiles of her cold, sticky kitchen floor?
Or a monk?  Padding the trails of a mountaintop?
If anything, the life of a mother, minus the robes and bare feet, chanting and all that, seems to me far more enlightening then walking through a Zen garden.
The values of life that monks spend days on end understanding and accepting,
we learn quickly, as mothers.
We are forced daily to understand and accept the idea of impermanence.
That nothing lasts. 
That the babies we held so closely for so long, eventually leave us and don't need us like they used to.
Motherhood teaches us daily, what it means to be patient.  Loving.  Kind.  
Understanding and accepting, in the midst of rage, frustration, anger and sadness.
How to summon up a little more of each, when we feel we have nothing left to give.
The life of a monk, to me, couldn't be more contradictory to my own life, most days.
I don't doubt the mountains, the ocean waves, nature in all it's glory in those far-off, beautiful, sheltered places, could provide some sort of clarity, answers and love from the universe.  That those magnificent landscapes won't move you to tears with all their splendor. 
But you can't say, as a mother, that you've watched a baby being born, had one pulled from your own body no less, laid across your chest in all its innocence, that it's not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.  
You can't deny, as a mother, in that moment, that the landscape of your life has changed forever, for good,
no matter how rough, raw and pain-filled delivering that one little body in to the world may be.
To not, even for a moment, see, FEEL and believe that God or something SO much bigger than you, really does exist.
If you were asleep at all before motherhood, seeking 'consciousness?'
Be assured, you can count on motherhood to wake you up, in a way sitting cross-legged in an Ashram could never do.
To truly live, feel and breathe every emotion on earth,
comes with being a parent.
Real anxiety in watching your baby girl wheeled away for an x-ray, your son lay under an MRI scan, to feel the deep physical and emotional pain and suffering of a parent, in the quiet but torturous moments of just WAITING. . .
for a diagnosis, an answer, a phone call.
The all night vigils held in a mothers' mind, in bedrooms all across the world, 
praying for a fever to break, the vomiting to stop, the cough to clear up, peace to be restored in our small, little worlds.
I doubt many monks have fully experienced the undue suffering to a child, even death, that may bring relief from pain to a parent, but an irreplaceable and everlasting hole in your soul.
To feel TRUE grief, TRUE sorrow, TRUE anger and try to accept it all and move forward with it.
 Although there is lovely noise to be heard in the sounds of palms flapping in the breeze on an ocean-side cliff, in the soft chime of a bell or the melodious hum of a chanted 'ohm,' 
I have proof that the life of a mother, the sounds of every day in my world,
the simple sounds of a squeaky dresser drawer sliding open in the dark hours of early morn, 
are equally as lovely.
Small noises of little feet padding to the bathroom, the clink of spoons and forks from a full dishwasher, and of course, the deep, guttural belly laughs,
can beautifully welcome in a new day, sealing yet another peaceful nights' sleep, giving way to another day to start over.
How splendid it is, I know, to watch a sun set, a moon rise, a storm roll in,
but to also witness little legs and feet splayed wide across fluffy comforters, a healthy, happy, child, sleeping heavily,
who's heart beat and every peaceful breath, becomes your own.  
THAT is real.  And amazing.
I DON'T doubt those peace-filled monks experience beauty and gratitude daily in their quiet surroundings.  But they will never experience the REAL beauty in their own sleeping child, the deep gratitude for their small life free of pain, suffering and full of good health. 
I don't judge and really do respect the life of a monk.
I didn't craft this piece to say my life is more enlightening.
Instead, I understand, there life isn't so different.  
That many of them, like me, are working hard each day to root out the obsession I have with my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own crazy little life,
to live in a more balanced and altruistic way. 
To eventually devote myself to something bigger than me,
raising children.

Like a monk in the hills,
parenting is practicing EVERY day, the art of letting go.
Not just of our children as they grow, but a little of ourselves, our beliefs, our ideals about the life we thought we knew.
Surrendering to it all the best we can.
And moving forward to do more good.
I DO believe that clarity, peace and increased awareness can be found in the quiet moments, something we can practice each day even as mother's.  
That beneath the runny noses, doctors' visits, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, strained marriages, blocks, legos, play-doh and naked Barbie's, 
peace CAN be found. 
To find TRUE beauty in lanky limbs, sweet, morning breath, crayola-colored pictures and Santa jammies.
Although sitting in stillness would be unbelievably beneficial to my own tired body and weary mind, 
being a mom forces you each and every day, to get out of your own head.
But these little people?  THEY are the real teachers.
And the life of mothering them?  
Teaches you all you'll ever need to know.
I'm choosing to stay over here, where I FEEL.  Where I am vulnerable. 
As painful as it is to be a parent, it is a life, even after we're gone, that keeps us alive, makes us FEEL alive, bringing with it all the gratitude in the world.
I will continue to be intrigued by the quiet life of a monk,
but quietly humbled and forever grateful for experiencing the life of a mother. 


gabbygrace said...

such a wise, amazing post, love it and fyi...this tired overworked mama can't wait for school aged kids, when wisdom replaces reality tv as a brain freeze :)

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