Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the center cannot hold

Things are falling apart. Actual things: my wardrobe, my bicycle, my immune system, the plumbing. I know that entropy is inevitable, but when it occurs at this rate even I can see that something in my life is off-kilter.

It would be interesting if I could set up a poll here, Shelayna-style, to gather advice and commentary. I could ask questions like:

1) Is it too much to ask of one's bike (and oneself) to commute from Culver City to Brentwood to Santa Monica to Brentwood to Westwood to Culver City again in a day? With some running around after children in a park too? Don't farmers and hunters in many cultures demand far more of their bodies than this daily?

2) Is it more responsible, as a divorced mother, to try and maintain two separate lives (dating and children) or to try and integrate one's family into all that one does?

3) How many of you actually sit down and eat three meals a day?

4) At what temperature does it become necessary to have indoor heating?

5) Is a bathroom sink really necessary? I mean, can't you just use the bathtub faucet that's right there?

and so on. When I am exhausted---physically, mentally, and immunologically---I tend to lose my sense of perspective and cannot tell if the behaviors I am engaging in are whacko or not.

And when things fall apart, I tend to get wistful for Lives Not Lived. You know---what would have happened if I had married X and become a midwife? kinds of things. NOOOOOOOOT good. Or to get really maudlin about the kind of childhood I provide for my kids and start thinking of all the ways it could be better. Unattainable ways. Like, for instance, if I had married X and become a midwife and we lived in a cabin in the mountains and my children wore beautiful handmade linen clothes and milked goats when they were thirsty and scrambled up butternut trees to gather nuts when they were hungry. Like that.

But I know better. I know that all of this surface stuff is as changeable as the temperature. I know what needs to happen: sleeping enough. Eating well. Meditating and being grateful, mindful, and calm. When the center is taken care of, everything else falls into place.

Everything I have learned, through the years of self-cultivation and meditation and talking to smart people and reading up on psychology, tells me that energy spent wishing and worrying is not just wasted, it's actually harmful. That it drains us of our joy, our energy, and our health.

So, onward. I'll do the foolproof fix-it tonight: a milk-and-honey facial (2 Tbsp. honey, 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour, 2 Tbsp. milk mixed together and smoothed on the face for 10 minutes, then rinsed off with lukewarm water and followed by a splash of rosemary tea) followed by a candlelit yoga session and a half-hour of writing. Before I sleep I will consider my extraordinary luck in knowing the people I know, having the children I have, living in this incredible place I live. And tomorrow I'll call the plumber.

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