Sunday, April 3, 2011

Waiting Vs. Now

Eat, Pray, Love was recommended to me a summer or two ago by my friend Jackie. I read it then, and saw most of the movie tonight. It made me want to eat pasta, specifically the pasta at the restaurant "Afternoon Tea" in Japan. Seems a strange place, but they have a dish of tomato sauce pasta that looks exactly like one of the shots in the movie (every time I get it). Can't say I need to learn how to eat since I like making and eating bread too much, but I liked the story. I like a good struggle and to know what someone learned from it. It is hard to climb up. I have learned this both literally and figuratively after my hike up Fuji san. I wanted to go to an ashram any where after reading of her growth from meditating with chomping mosquitoes. So far I have no doubts about the love part, but still, I appreciated her struggle.

My daughter watched it too. She liked the scenes set in India. I had to wrap the blankets like a sari around her several times. Later, in the shower as I was giving her the business to hurry up, she asked for "ten more minutes" at seven years of age mind you. I told her two more minutes if she could do it quietly. She rambles nonstop when she is tired. About a minute later she asked me to look into the shower. She was sitting in the tub meditating! That was how she managed to keep herself quiet for one whole minute. Made me laugh.

At the beach this week we mostly ate something off the grill and salad along with the occasional batch of margaritas. On one of the shopping forays for salad fixings, I noted the cashier had a tattoo down her left arm that read, "Live, Love, Laugh." A long time ago I used to write that phrase over and over. It seemed like a good idea then. However, in that moment, I was wishing the cashier wasn't tuning me out and pretending that I wasn't part of her day. Is it too much to think that we need to accept every part of our day as our life? Really, even my exile is part of my life so I have to face it with equal vigor. Splitting who we are at home and work or even home and exile seems false. Our interests and curiosities travel with us.

There is a song called, "Waiting for my real life to begin" by Colin Hay. I love several songs on the record Going Somewhere. I swear "Maggie" has to be a true story- it moves my heart to hear it. The song about waiting for my "real life" is jokingly referred to by my husband who works too much as his theme song. The Navy doesn't offer much slack time, but he can retire eventually so that is the sad joke- his real life will begin when he is free to make choices about his time- to include eating dinner with his children. It sends a chill down my spine to think how much of life is spent in the "not" the life you think you will live mode.

My dad wants to find a new career. When I asked him what he liked to do he wasn't exactly polite. He doesn't go for that kind of idea. But to me it is all about knowing what you like, what you love, so that even when the Navy owns your time 24:7, your office can still be a peaceful place with your favorite tunes, a beautiful tea pot, and treasured photos. Or so that when you are wondering why you need a double masters degree to wash laundry (the all day no dryer kind of affair), cook, and teach ungrateful children (my own) English that you pull yourself up and realize you had better have that cup of tea, write that story, take those photos, and have a deep thought because this is all you got, today, so you had better like something about it. I guess he is right too in the sense that you can do any kind of work if there are other things you like, but he likes to work; he is happiest when he is busy.

Figuring out what you like and what makes you happy is work, but so is making your life full of what you like. You have to own up to what you like, and it is important to remember what you like. For a long time I have wanted to write something "meaningful." I just couldn't figure out what to say. I would read beautiful things and think, "I could never write like that." No, I can't, but I can write something. Finding "my way" has been a painful, funny, loving, fearful adventure that is not over by a long shot. I still get lost regularly. Leaving Japan after the triple disaster with the cloud of radiation lurking in the nebulous when will we return zone shook me up. Having a lot of family and visitors is great, but it is also means less quiet and routine for days on end which messes me up. Traveling wears me out and makes me cranky which messes me up. Lots of things mess me up. Now I think instead of "Live, Love, Laugh" it has to be something else. Maybe, "Others, Me, Others." That sounds terribly selfish, but it has some truth. Maybe, "Routine, Chaos, Others, Me, Longing." That is more like what I have just been through. I'll have to think more on it if I get the chance.

While my husband was deployed to Iraq, I owned up to an interest that embarrassed me. I logged onto an Oprah Winfrey online "course". It started at the base pharmacy where the TV was showing an ad for the show and ten part course. Having also just seen it in a magazine, it felt like it was one of those sign posts telling me to pay attention. Admitting to myself that I was curious about the Power of Now book and conversation seemed new agey to me. Oprah follows what she likes and becomes a billionaire while I am scared to admit I might be interested. Turned out it was a great conversation between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle. It opened me up to Buddhist thinking in new ways. Tolle's message is a very Buddhist one; he also wrote of how living in the now is a part of Jesus' message as well and cited scripture passages for reference. It opened a new place inside me. I am not beyond Oprah or self-help books; I wasn't keen on admitting that, but I appreciated the enlightenment.

I feel pain from love and hurt. I grow with new and old ideas. I like routine and novelty. I hate change, and I love it. Sometimes I know that this is my real life, and sometimes I am "waiting for my real life to begin." I wish I had control over my life, but I do not, really. Letting go of even a little of that idea of control brings me some ability to rest in today, where I am at this moment, the beauty of right now- my mother's house, my father's ways, my munsters asleep, my thoughts, my likes, of these things I know. I like that I can admit that.