Sunday, May 18, 2008

Really, I Do Have Other Things On My Mind

Today, while the kids were having fits that they had ignored the five minutes of requests to put shoes on if they wanted to go with Dad on errands, and therefore missed the "going with Dad" part of the afternoon, Dad went to the craft store and bought watercolors. There is currently a blissful quiet from upstairs, where T is whistling while he paints, R is chiming in with an occasional question, and J is too intent to make a sound. I am not there because in situations that involve paint, I am the anti-bliss as I freak out unnecessarily about things like spilled rinsewater cups, so I am making us all happy by not being there right now.

Which gives me a chance to catch up on some other things like laundry blogging. While Callapidder Days did host her Spring Reading Thing carnival this year, I decided not to join because I am so frustrated by the growing pile of three-quarters finished books on the floor next to my nightstand. Really, I might have thought of it as encouragement, but I am terribly frustrated because the same five books have been on my Facebook Visual Bookshelf for months now.

The irony is that I actually did finish a book, and it's the one I was least committed to, least interested in, and frankly, was somewhat sorry I was reading. I drank the Oprah Kool-Aid in a moment of winter dreary weakness, and bought Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. But, in a moment of unthinkingness, I put it in the bathroom off the laundry room, where, alas, my best reading is done these days. While it is no longer the sanctuary it once was, with a child who loves to wash his hands (really), it's still the place I get the most chunks of uninterrupted time. So why I can't remember to throw The Memory Keeper's Daughter, or Life of Pi, or A Walk in the Woods, or any of the Ames & Ilg books in a laundry basket, I don't know. But I didn't, so lucky Eckhart got my time.

Have you ever had a Bad Boyfriend (or Girlfriend) who said to you, "Oh, baby, you're too good for me"? If so, I hope you were smart enough to know that no matter how you felt about him (or her) before that moment, the only appropriate answer is, "Darling, you're absolutely right. It's been fun but I'm gone." It took me about three boyfriends with that line to figure out that if they knew that, I should too. (Which was about one too many, but I was young.) But alas, I am out of practice or I should have known it with this book, too. On page 7 (SEVEN! That's really early! So early in the book I had barely cracked the spine! Which meant I probably could have returned it but felt guilty doing so and stupid for not getting it from the library! Even though the last library book I got out for me was, oh, OCTOBER and I'm still renewing it since it's in the "incomplete" too!), Tolle writes of his own book, "It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless. It can only awaken those who are ready." My friends, I am apparently not ready. The book was meaningless. Or maybe just the things he was writing about are things covered already and better by Thich Nhat Hanh and Madeleine L'Engle and even Freud. But I had paid for the book, so I hated to bail on page 7. So on I went, learning, or re-learning, the ideas of separating ego from being, and rediscovering our inner space, and being awakened to the infinite possibilities of us all.

To its credit, the book did remind me that "this too shall pass," which was a mantra for me in my work life, was equally applicable to my home life. And while it didn't transform my parenting or reduce my overall stress level, it did save me from a cranky outburst or two. And it had an interesting reminder for me on page 274: "Some changes may look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge." While I don't always buy that (for example, nothing good emerged from my mother's death), it helps with some of the smaller ones, like the loss this week of my favorite tree. Our backyard neighbors have a tree that is gloriously alive on the side that faces their house, and dead as can be on the side that faces ours. This week, a branch the size of a small tree fell from their tree into our yard. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but any of us would have been crushed beneath it had we been outside. We were also fortunate that there was no damage to the house, because my favorite tree, my flowering crabapple, bore the brunt of the damage and blocked the branch (that was bigger than my little tree) from getting any further to the house. It was quite a memorable incident, watching something like that blow down and towards the room you and your children are in. The kids are still talking about it too, as you might imagine.

I couldn't bear to cut down the whole thing. It had four main trunks, and two were completely sheared off by the branch. Another was cracked to the point of no return, but my tree guy, who knows how I love that tree, didn't cut off the merely mortally damaged one. He knows he'll be back for the whole tree soon.

And while I am really sad about this, the tree solidified its "favorite" status by saving my house and family from the branch. And I am starting to get used to having more sun in the backyard, and there is some creeping excitement at the idea of an excuse to really re-do our back yard.

But as to A New Earth? Buy it used, if at all. Or if you haven't read any Zen or metaphysics. But I've got to get a book I like better in the bathroom.


And, two Sunday Shout-Outs: Thanks to R at My Life as a SAHM for the link to Because I Said So with the html code for strikeouts (like laundry, above. I thought that was just a TypePad thing.

And for a good giggle, do check out this post at Callapidder Days on her advice to people who find her through Google. She made me giggle, and that's always worth passing on.


brandy101 said...

Our Archdiocesan rag, er, newspaper had a scathing review (as you can imagine) of the Tolle book and the "seminars."

If you want something with more meaningful thoughts (and aligned with our faith) please try The Holy Longing by Ron Rohlheiser. It has so many lines I wanted to run a highlighter across! Ron also has a blog with essays that are often very helpful. I think its

He has done a great deal of work writing about grief/the grieving process. It might be helpful in coming to terms with your poor crabapple tree.

Adam L said...

Adam L here from Hungry Machine Inc, the guys behind the Visual Bookshelf.

I wanted to suggest that you try embedding your bookshelf directly onto your blog. Visit the profile tab, then click toggle to rolodex, then click embed this rolodex. Copy that code and enter it into your blogger account. If you want to, that is :).

Adam L
Hungry Machine Inc