Thursday, November 26, 2009


I once took an online quiz which told me that, deep down inside me somewhere in the sub-basement, lived a Buddhist. So I started reading about Buddhism, as I would like to acknowledge my neighbors.

One aspect of Buddhism which I find fascinating is mindfulness, being fully aware of the moment and relishing simple tasks like cutting vegetables, sweeping the floor, looking at a sunset, or showering.

Unfortunately, I tend to be more mindless than mindful. First, much of what happens in my life requires ignoring, not embracing. This morning, I decided to have a cup of coffee and some toast. Of course, since I love homemade bread, I put a slice in the toaster, and part of the crust fell off and ignited in the heating elements, which in turn caused the smoke detector to do its job and jolt us into awareness. Then Kiki decided to get up and make toast as well, followed by Rocky, who blundered around in the refrigerator, knocking items off the shelves onto the floor, and then rather ineffectually wrangling the enthusiastic dogs away from the butter. He then sat and shoveled cereal into his mouth, taking huge bites, much of which fell back out into the bowl. Meanwhile, Kiki read the sports pages out loud, complete with commentary, and rubbed the jam on her toast with her fingertips, wiping them on her sweatpants.

I have difficulty with the concept that I should relish these moments. If I were mindful, I would most likely end up in the happy home.

Second, I need to live in the future, or unpleasant things would happen, like no supper on the table, bills wouldn't get paid, or we would run out of toilet paper. Then I would be relishing in my family's whining, collection calls, and other unpleasant things I would rather not think about.

Plus, in my rare times of solitude, which are in the car for my 45 minute commute, I am mindful, but it is more in the interest of self-preservation than self-reflection.

However, there may be something to this mindfulness--yesterday I left work and walked to a neighboring business, operating at my normal rate one level above warp speed. When I arrived at my destination, my heart was racing. I thought, "Am I having a heart attack?" No, I just got there at a fast rate of speed, scuttled across the street like a game of Frogger, and zoomed up the sidewalk despite being so out of shape. Of course I was out of breath. As I said, mindless.

So, on the way back to work, I strolled, aware that this was the end of November and the weather was so mild there was no need for a coat, admiring the red bushes in the parking lot, and breathing in the fresh air. It was a few minutes of peace.

I think this would be more effective if everyone in the house would be more mindful. But since I live with the uninformed, perhaps the more mindless the better.

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