Friday, May 6, 2011

Lessons from a Lost Shoe

I woke up at five in the morning yesterday. I laid in bed and thought, "Ok, this isn't so bad, I can have some quiet time to myself." While I was marveling at my opportunity, the Moose woke up. He is a very joyful soul in the morning- unlike the rest of us who are not morning people. My planned for aloneness was short lived. We meandered down the stairs and started onto the usual morning things albeit an hour early. For no particular reason the Mule also got up so there we were, having breakfast at 5:30 a.m. They did their reading and English lessons which does not happen often enough so there was a plus side to being up so early. By seven, my husband, heading to work for his first day back after his recovery, came in to tell me his car had a flat tire; he took my car. At 7:45 a.m. anticipating the kids going off to school and at last having a stretch of quiet time, the Moose's tennis shoe could not be found. He went into orbit. An hour later, he was late to school- it took him time to simmer down and agree to wear another pair of shoes. I found the missing shoe in his sister's swimming bag (who knows why) so I road my bike to school to give it to him. By nine in the morning I had used up my day's reserve of patience, but I also had a bike ride and fresh salad from the farmer's market. It is wise to take the Pollyanna approach and end on what good came from it, though the truth be told, I would have drank a beer if someone had offered.

Letting go of judgment- good or bad- is a step toward peace. It helps to see the good in the bad, and it helps to approach mundane chores as an opportunity for quiet and stillness. Nonetheless, letting go of the voice of judgment is hard. Taking a meditative approach by acknowledging "there it goes again," helps, but I still loose my equilibrium from time to time which does serve to remind me that nothing good comes from my frustrations as when I witnessed the Moose's fit over things not being as they should be. I asked him, "Which is more important: the shoe or school?" He grumbled, "Schoolllll." We sat on the front stoop for a bit staring at the garden. I hugged him and said, "It's ok." We could all benefit from some reassurance that it is ok to let go of our frustrations and pain, but so often we are left with our judgments which don't always help calm us down- "it should be here!" or "it should work, arghh!!!"

My children have a storybook, The Lost Horse by Ed Young. It is based on a Chinese proverb. With the loss of his horse, the wise man in the story says, "You know, it may not be such a bad thing." With the return of his horse with a mare, the wise man says, "Perhaps it is not such a good thing." When I find these ribbons of truth in stories, it speaks to me of their veracity and of our need to consider them. Judgment is not always useful.

Suffering can't be avoided, but labeling our sufferings or letting them define us is best avoided. My sufferings are not so much; I am grateful. Observing the loss of temper in the Moose and maintaining my own was hard- it took something from me. I was tempted to join in on the mayhem. I just wanted him to go to school, but I knew using anger and force would not server either of us well.

Rumi writes, "I want one who can quit seeing himself, fill with God and, instead of being irritated by interruption and daily resentments, feel those as kindness." Me too.