Thursday, July 1, 2010

Attachment to Groundhog Day

I did a lot of house work yesterday. I mopped, I dusted, I cleaned bathrooms, and then my children came home. One had a bucket full of rocks and sand (they did "sand art" at school). The other one brings a bag of "recycled garbage" home every day- it's his art projects but he's obsessively possessive and prolific- it's a big bag and a new bag everyday. Groan, there is mud, rocks, drips, papers, and bedlam in my momentarily clean house.

I had the thought that it is what you do, not the result that is important. It made me feel temporarily better except when I kept seeing the piles and calculating how much time it was going to take to clean it all up I felt the frustration growing. All that Buddhist mindfulness stuff is so right on especially if you live with kids. Clearly, calculating the future in this manner is not helpful. It is all so fleeting.

I am pretty sure I had kids to make me a better person. They challenge me to maintain my cool (I lose it all the time). They challenge me to comprehend things I accepted as dogma (why do we eat pigs and not dogs?). They challenge me to tempt them into learning new things (you have to make things interesting when trying to teach repetitive stuff like letters, reading, numbers, etc.). It keeps my humble since it regularly demonstrates my failings and weaknesses as a human being.

It's only groundhog day if I see it that way. I did my chores, I will do them again, there will be time for that mess later. Oh, to feel this to my bones is my hope. My husband often jokes that he is "off to the salt mine" as he grabs his "obento" and heads out. There is a lot of repetition in life and yet it is all different, everyday. It is how I see it sometimes that makes me think it is the same. It is not really. It's an attachment to the idea that groundhog day is boring (referencing the movie Groundhog Day).

I remember reading Eckert Tolle (showcased on Oprah) while my husband was in Iraq. I came across his description of people using gadgets from a different point of view- that if you step back and watch the person with the gadget, they are interacting with a flat screen and a bunch of buttons. Interacting with the world around us versus a box with buttons, now there is a thought. My chores, the routine work I do everyday, are the real life interactions I want to skip, but the box with buttons is what I like better. It's so odd depending on how you consider it.

In the few minutes before we head off to school, my son and I have been reading about robots. The book is outdated, but robots fascinates him. Robots that clean, cook, run errands, etc., sounds really appealing, but what does it leave us to do. Is there no value in the drudge work? I don't quite accept this as I am thinking again of the Buddhist,Thich Nhat Hanh in particular, "drink your tea." I am thinking, "sweep the floor."

I got angry last night- the mess everywhere, kids running around the table, homework not being done, etc. A giant wave of reality and crashed into my attachment to my clean house and my delusion of control. I yelled. My son offered me a hug and told me I needed to take a deep breath. My daughter brought me a bedtime story to read, Peaceful Piggy Meditation. I felt terrible that my kids had to help me "calm down." A friend on FB pointed out that maybe I wasn't such a bad mother if they had these tools in hand to comfort me. That made me feel better.

I think I had better just get back to drinking my tea, washing my clothes. It's my darn thoughts that keep getting me in trouble.