"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: peace of mind

“acceptance” . . .

You know how people talk about “just accept it,” as though if you acquiesce and accept whatever, that it will make it okay? The zen book I am reading, “Being Zen,” handily counters this notion by saying it’s much deeper than acceptance. That living your life as your practice means that it would help if you realize what your expectations might be and that they are the real root of the problem of being unhappy. A real no-no. Because if you don’t have whatever expectations you might have about how life ought to be, then there’s nothing to accept, per se.

To put it another way, we, in our American culture, have a lot of expectations. Some might even say that they’re part of an “entitled” world view: every man and woman is able to pursue his or her American Dream and succeed to some degree, find the love of your life, bear beautiful, inspiring children, live in homes with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, huge flatscreen TVs, and have enough money to do and wear what you want.

If these are our widely held expectations, then there’s a lot of acceptance to be had when we’re missing some or many parts of that American dream. A Zen approach is basically to have no expectations at all and to experience the present moment for what it is, without judgment nor opinion, even. Otherwise, the book says, we are just living a “substitute life,” not a real one in a universe where we are not constantly feeling hemmed in with what’s working or not working for us.

Seems easy to describe. Harder to live by.

peace of mind . . .

our daily bread . . .

I’ve been thinking a lot about how things are going lately. Outside of ourselves, it sometimes feels as though everything is in play and mostly out of our control. Yes, we can sign the affirmation for recycling in our state with the passage of a bottle bill. But we can’t make Washington change. Nobody seems to be able to. We can’t make the overextended countries in Europe save themselves. We can’t do anything about the stock market nor its impact on our savings, such as they are.

What we can do every day is to realize there is a difference between all the hurtling conflict in the world and how we choose to live our day. It’s the small things, it seems to me, that truly make a difference: reading the newspaper and having breakfast together; having something light and fresh for lunch. Doing chores so that they’re actually done, and not just sitting around waiting for the next step. We are fortunate that we have time to enjoy with each other. Freeing ourselves from being dragged along by the behavior of others outside of ourselves gives us space and energy to do what is meaningful to us, even if it means correcting mistakes in something we’re in the process of making (the corners of the middle 5-star square in a quilt hanging don’t meet properly,) or being honest about why we decide to do things and then do them well, or drop them altogether if we have been doing things for the wrong reasons.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic that we can find peace of mind for ourselves in these small ways. But I don’t think so. Maybe that’s what they mean when they talk about being mindful. That word always has lots of baggage for me because it seems to entail some level of having peace of mind already in order to promote it. So, appreciating what we have so much of already is a start to living with peace of mind. The idea that the glass is half full or even almost full is a recognition that whatever we might think is missing could be something unnecessary or even bogus.

Now, I think I’m going to have my breakfast and read the paper. How about you?