Calligraphy by my friend Jennifer Baylis; verse by me. The full verse is: There is no such thing as an insignificant moment.
I was hoping it was some kind of coy euphemism, when I rolled up to part three in Mary Oliver’s Devotions, entitled: Dog Songs. Turns out, it was just as I’d feared. This section of the book includes 10 poems about dogs.
Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs. Anyone who knows me well, knows that even if I were bleeding to death on the street, I’d pause my demise to give affection to a passing four-legged friend. I guess what I’m saying, though, is that there’s a difference between loving dogs and reading poems about them. I mean, I love cats, but I draw the line at collecting kitschy cat figurines or hanging up a calendar featuring kittens in baskets. I love Ani Difranco too, but I wouldn’t put her picture on my fridge. You get the idea.
But I find value in asking myself why.
Why do dog poems cause me to bristle? And while I’m at it, what do I have against cat figurines or cat calendars? If I were to walk into a friend’s house and find a picture of Ani D on their fridge, what then?
Judgements creep in and perfume my consciousness with righteousness sometimes, and it’s a scent I do not find pleasant.
Yet, to be without judgements I reckon is impossible.
So, the best I can aspire to is to keep a close and curious watch on myself, and to breathe into the folds of what arises, in the wake of what I see.
…two broken down cars, and a partridge in a pear tree.
I just found out that sometimes both your car AND your husband’s car are dead in the water at the same time. Yeah. It’s not great.
What I’ve thankfully learned over the years in having a mindfulness practice, is that a good practitioner isn’t someone who never experiences stress or inner afflictions. A good practitioner is someone who’s diligent and is able to use the tools of the practice in order to not have the stress, or whatever affliction is at hand, running the show. If stress were a theater actor, a good practitioner understands that it will sometimes have a part in the play, but they’ll know how to not cast it as the main character.
As new practitioners, it can be easy to think that to live a spiritual life means we have to hide certain parts of our self or cover over certain difficult emotions. But this is not the case – doing this is called spiritual white-washing.
Mindfulness isn’t about getting anywhere else or doing anything different – it’s about directly experiencing things just as they are, and keeping our wits about us in the process. With diligence, over time, our mindfulness practice has the capacity to create a strong foundation in affording us the ability to stay well-grounded in the midst of, say, having 2 cars that are broken down. To see the stress associated with whatever’s going on and to also not lose sight of the bigger picture.
So, while it’s rather stressful having our household’s two vehicles be DOA, it could be worse! I mean, really. We could be on fire.