I am open and raw. I've just come home from a weekend meditation retreat; two days sitting in zazen and two days driving by myself. Four days of aloneness. Me. Just me. And it was good. I do well with peace. With silence. It was nice to be responsible only for myself; to be pulled from my environment and put into one that was neat and tidy.
At the retreat nobody left their towels on the floor. Nobody pooped in the hallway. Nobody burned noodles onto the bottom of a pan and left them languishing in the kitchen. Nobody told me I was cruel to charge for my work. Nobody screamed at me. No life and death decisions had to be made. Nobody died.
And then I came home. The older kids were studying for finals and feeling the pressures of society and numbers and grades. Middle had a cold. Little had a second degree sunburn on her shoulders. The Mister was packing for a business trip and feeling behind, nervous and stressed.
There were dishes in the sink. The laundry was piling up. Dog fur bunnies mocked me as I walked through the house. The tomatoes needed to be watered. The chickens needed to be fed. Four quail had died and another wasn't doing well. An unexpected medical bill arrived in the mail. A sixty hour work weekend loomed in the future. I forgot to attend an online class.
My mind began to spin. Why are we working so hard? Why can't we seem to catch up? Why can't we clean up? Why does everything cost so much? Why don't we make more money? Why does everybody else seem to have so much more than we do? Why are we failing? Failing! All this effort and for what? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We've fucked everything up -- our kids, our lives, our jobs, our house ...
And then I remembered to breathe. In and out. In and out. We are employed. We have a roof over our heads. We have three amazing kids. We have insurance should something go wrong. We have food on the table. We have love.
It doesn't matter that the floors are scratched, the furniture is mismatched and the house paint is fading. It doesn't matter that the grass is overgrown. It doesn't matter if someone gets a "C" rather than an "A". It doesn't matter what school we go to or if we even go to school. It doesn't matter what our bank account says. It doesn't matter what others think about us. It doesn't matter if we are fat or thin. We are not numbers or letters. We are not our clothes, our house, our jobs or our car.
It's all an illusion. We are nothing but our thoughts. I am a woman; a woman with a menagerie. A woman with a beautiful mess.
Now I'm going to go to the kitchen. I'm going to place my hands in front of me in a position of prayer and bow to the sink. Then, quite simply, I'm going to do the dishes.
My name is Shalet and my practice is counting my breath. Thank you Maezen.