Monday, January 19, 2009

tea and cakes and coffeespoons

I'm realizing that the prerequisite for temperance is mindfulness. In being unmindful, I managed to eat way more pizza last night than I should have, curse way more this morning than I should have, and inhale more crackers, Coke and taco truck quesadilla just now than I should have. I'm not going to beat myself up about it - but the thing missing from each episode is a presence of mind and apprehension of the effects of my actions that would have prevented those behaviors. Mindfulness is the only thing that reminds me of the reasons for my decision to modify my life. And it's not a bad way to live, being mindful! Look at Rilke's explanation of what it feels like to be completely mindful, in the least that's what I think this poem refers to, and if you don't like my interpretation you can go get an English degree and then come talk to me about it.

Sonnets to Orpheus
Part Two
Sonnet 1

Breath, you invisible poem! Pure
exchange unceasing between the great
ether and our existence. Counterweight
in which I rhythmically occur.

Single billow whose slow degrees
of ocean take place
in me; most frugal you, of all possible seas--
winnings of space.

How many parts of this space already were
within me! There's many a wind
like a son to me.

Do you know me, air, full of places where I
used to be?
You, once smooth rind,
roundness and leaf of my words.

Also a great Buddhist quote that I picked up at Dharma in the Dishes, the blog of a nice lady who adopted veganism and seems to have gotten much healthier in all sorts of ways.
"If while washing dishes we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way, we are not alive during the time we wash the dishes. We are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life. We will only be thinking of other things, barely aware. Thus we are sucked away into the future--and are incapable of actually living one minute of life. Every act is a rite of mindfulness." Thich Nhat Hanh
I always seem to be looking towards my next cup of tea, pinning my hopes and happiness on some nebulous future event. If I'd adopted an outlook like the one above, I probably also wouldn't have had such a sucklicious day, forgetting my wallet at home, driving half an hour to my parents' house, then driving all the way home and back again to get it, and using up half the morning grousing about it. Yes, you're not the only one. Any harebrained thing you've done, I've done you one better. If I hadn't forgotten my wallet, I might not have had such a pleasant conversation with my brother about foster children and education on the way back to my house.
I think the mindset of 'someday I'll have reached my goal' is what gets people off track in the first place. You can't look at your life as a means to an end goal. You can't wait until you do what you've been hoping to do to be happy and at peace. You have to be those things in the moment, all along the way. What you're accomplishing isn't the meaning of your life, nor is it the source of your joy.

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