Tuesday, December 28, 2010

organizing my life

I am spending this week organizing my life. Not metaphorically, mind you, but in the real world. I am tackling a bunch of irritating clutter spots, and issues. I cleaned out the desk in our foyer yesterday, finding all kinds of odd things. We had a Christmas stocking we bought for the cats, 4 years ago. I found school pictures, pictures of Largo as a puppy, a newspaper article about Obama's inauguration. Pocket knives, old cough drops, keys to thinks we don't have. Coupons that expired in 2008.

With that cleaned out, I tackled the buffet that I use as storage in our living room. I threw out a lot of stuff, arranged things in ways that made more sense, but still ended up with too much crap. We have 10 or 15 bagged, magnetic hinges. A picture frame our son made when he was 5 or 6. Lots of playing cards. A huge box of matchbooks. I drew a line and threw out the snow globe. I pulled out a seahorse I found on the beach, a fossilized barnacle, couple of other things. I set these aside for display. Then I heard crunching behind me. Largo had the seahorse in his mouth and was trying to eat it. Apparently he thought it was a tasty treat. I managed to salvage it.

Tomorrow I tackle the radiator by the front door. This has long been a spot where things get tossed. I have no idea why anything is there. I am going to get rid of everything, and find some sort of storage for the dog's poop bags. Seriously.

After that, I am painting the inside of the front door, and the windows surrounding it. The dog chewed the paint off the bottom sidelight a couple of years ago, and I have been looking at, and being annoyed by, the bare wood spot for all of that time.

After that, I tackle the household paperwork and odds n ends that always end up in my sitting room. Probably why I have never really gotten to use that room. Well, that, and its really cold in there. Once I get it cleaned out, I can work on getting it to be useful space for me. I want to use it for meditation, and for quiet time.

So maybe all this cleaning isn't just literal. Maybe it is a metaphor. Now that school is over, I need to tame the chaos, and make space for the next adventure. I need order, so that I can be organized for our son and the planning and paperwork that will come with the college admission process. I need to gather my sources, so I can write my portfolio, so I can graduate. And with everything in its place, I can relax. I don't feel like there are chores hanging over me, left undone. I guess a little order will feel like an accomplishment as well, a sign that I did something with my time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

how the buddhist thing is going

So, I've spent the last couple of months trying to live by Buddhist principles. I've had some successes and some failures. I find meditating really really difficult. I enjoy the way I feel afterward, though. And for me the most difficult parts aren't what I thought they would be. I really thought that quieting my racing mind would be the big hurdle, but actually, it's been the pain of sitting. I have trouble with my knees. Lots of trouble. As in pain, in every position but one, which is stretched straight out. So I could meditate laying down, but then I fall asleep. Sitting in a chair has been the best I can manage so far.

I thought I would feel frustrated, irritated, with trying to have empathy for people I dislike, but instead, I found it freeing and enlarging. I don't know how/why that works but it does. I still get pissed. I still flip people off or curse in traffic. But there is a moment, immediately after, where I seek for and find understanding. Go figure. I feel I have made incremental progress, but see myself on a path that will expand my world, and improve my life. That's a good thing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

what makes christmas

What makes Christmas? I was thinking about that the other day. We don't have a lot of serious strong traditions in our family. Some years we put up a tree, and decorate it. A few years, we just put up a little 2 ft pre-lit tree up, and left it at that. We usually put a wreath on the door. We go to my parent's house for Christmas Eve, where we have a large Italian seafood dinner, and open gifts with my family. Christmas morning, we wake up fairly early, make cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, and open our gifts to each other, and see whats in our stockings. Then we head to my mother in law's house for Christmas with my husband's family. We open gifts, take a walk if the weather allows, and then have a nice Christmas dinner.

We used to assemble a gingerbread house every Christmas, when our son was little, but he has outgrown the practice. He used to leave milk, cookies, and a note for Santa out on Christmas Eve. I would drink the milk, eat most of the cookies, always leaving one with a big bite out of it. This too has been outgrown.

We have some favorite activities. We go see the lights on 34th Street in Hampden. It always makes us smile. We try to go out to Largo, to see the Festival of Lights in the park. Joyous! We take our son Christmas shopping. Up until recently, this was a trip to the dollar store, armed with a long list and his allowance money, supplemented by a few dollars from me. This year he has a Visa debit card, and an itching to go to the mall.

I am not sure what part of this is the essential part. It changes as we grow older, but somehow stays the same. I think maybe it's just one of those things you have to enjoy as it happens, and not try to quantify.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

the impersonal universe

The universe is impersonal. Things happen in it, without regard for what you want, how you want it, or the power of your personal thoughts. The universe is impersonal. It doesn't give a rat's ass whether you are happy or sad, whether your plans are disrupted, whether what comes your way is fair or just. The universe is impersonal. There is an order to it, a balance, a completeness. But none of this is taken to an individual human level. Said another way, bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. This may piss you off. This may make you cry. This may make you rail against the heavens, gnash your teeth in despair. But it is what it is. The universe is a thing of beauty, a system of infinite possibility and potential. It is also horrible and powerful and terrible, depending on where you stand while it does its magic. You are every bit as important in the whole as a bird, or a gnat, or a grain of sand, or a tree. Humanity does not make you privileged. It doesn't make you favored. It just makes you self-aware. This doesn't mean what you do or say does not matter. It does matter -- to you. To the people around you. The universe is impersonal, but you are not. Because the meaning of life IS personal, and you decide what that meaning may be.

I find great comfort, when things are not going my way, to remember this -- the universe is not personal.