Today I had a small revelation that I somehow keep thinking of as a Zen moment, which may be a misnomer but it has a special zing that I like so I’ll take it. Anyhow I think we are all guilty at one time or another of getting swept up in the moment, and our bodies go on automatic pilot and brains fizz out.
My classes today began at 1:30 p.m. So, feeling I had so much free time before I needed to get ready to go, I spent much of the morning blog surfing. Before I knew it, the clock on my computer tells me it’s 10:30. Hubby’s classes on Wednesdays begin earlier, at 11:30 so he would be leaving the house at 11, and I would not leave until one (technically). Now I don’t usually keep secrets from him, but for some of the past several weeks I’ve been leaving home around noon and stopping off at Wendy’s or some other quick food joint and ordering a hamburger. You see, Hubby doesn’t eat meat, and ever since the girls left home I’ve kept a more-or-less a meatless kitchen. (I do keep canned tuna in the pantry and once in awhile I’ll make up a salad for lunch for myself, and I have some canned white chicken just in case I have a guest who simply can’t face a meal without some sort of animal flesh.) Anyhow, Wednesday lunch out by myself has meant that I can indulge the little girl in me that never outgrew hamburgers without feeling guilty because I know Hubby liked it better when I adopted his no meat custom, but I digress. I also need to get a bag of potting soil (near Wendy’s) to finish up a potting project I started yesterday.
It’s fast approaching but not quite 11 o’clock when I shut down the computer and go to get ready, realizing almost simultaneously that I hadn’t cleaned the kitchen. Rush, rush. Bathe. Brush teeth. Run a comb through the hair. Rush, rush. Quickly to the kitchen and get the sink cleaned out and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I almost forgot! Daughter and family are coming for dinner tonight as a break in their long and busy Wednesday. I had planned a simple meal of manicotti, veggie, and salad, but the hooker was that I make my own crepes for the manicotti wrap and, while it’s very easy, it takes a lot of time standing at the stove. So I get to work. Quick, quick. Mix the batter, heat the pan, time’s awastin’! I’d barely gotten started when the phone rang. It was Hubby’s brother in Washington wanting to check if a certain date in June would be a good time for him and sis-in-law to visit for a couple of weeks. I didn’t want to rush him, but damn! those crepes weren’t going to cook themselves! Hurry, hurry, hurry!
It’s five minutes to noon when I finally finish up and rush down the stairs with keys to the car in hand. In spite of my haste I’ve remembered my class things, including the digital camera for the photography class. On the way to Smith’s (a grocery chain almost exactly a mile away and near Wendy’s) I realized I didn’t have enough veggies for a decent salad for tonight. I’d have to buy them now and drive back home to get them in the refrigerator because it would be too hot to leave them in the car until nearly 5:30. Well, I may just have to eat my hamburger while I drive to class. Why do these things happen to me!?
At Smith’s, I quickly rounded up my veggies and a loaf of bread (which I wasted extra minutes reading the labels to get the highest fiber per slice; you know, at my age!). A woman in the gardening section told me I could get my potting soil from the parking lot garden supplies and the cashier could tally everything up together. Splendid! That’ll save me valuable time. So I paid for my purchases and the cashier rang up my potting soil and away to the car I go. Luckily I had parked the car near the garden area.
But while I was throwing my veggies in the car, I saw the gardening attendant leaving his position in the parking lot and trotting off inside the store. Oh great! But everbody deserves a pee break. I just hoped he didn’t have prostate problems. I went inside the display of myriad garden soils, mulches, and composts and did not see any of the 2 cubic feet bags of soil I’d paid for. Meanwhile my watch keeps ticking the seconds away! Why do these things ALWAYS happen to me?! I ignored the other little voice in my head that I kept hearing–you shoulda quit messing around reading blogs! Just as I was heading back to the store to see if I could someone else to help outside, I see the poor garden attendant standing hidden in some large potted shrubberies (hoping to have a smoke, I think) and he sees me at the same time. I apologized for rushing him but could he please help me out here, since I had an appointment soon. To make a long story shorter, he was OUT of the dadgummed 2 cubic bag of potting soil. He offered a switch, 2 of a smaller bag, but my eyes told me the two of them did not add up to 2 cubic feet even though montarily it would have been a good switch. So, no thank you, I’ll just go get my money back!
So here I am, it’s nearing 12:30, and I’m rush back into the store to get my $9.49 plus tax back. I’ll never make it to class by 1:30 if I take time to eat lunch. But I need to eat so I pull into Wendy’s drive-thru. Damn! There are 4 cars ahead of me. What to do? Will I make it if I get stuck in line? In the meantime I HAD to get back home (a mile away in the opposite direction from class) to get those veggies in the fridge. But I underestimated Wendy’s dedication to get you in and out. In a little over five minutes I had my burger combo in the car seat beside me and was on my way home. I could feel my stomach lurching while my heart beat ever faster.
All of a sudden a book that I’d read recently to my 4-year-old grandson came to mind. It’s called ZEN SHORTS and it’s written by Jon J. Muth. In it When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways.
“Michael,” said Karl. “There’s a really big bear in the backyard.” This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addie he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. (from book jacket)
Just thinking of the book and the stories about Stillwater the panda made me feel calmer. My mind began to slow down and I began to think in a more rational manner. The rock in my stomach began to dissolve. At this very moment it was exactly 12:42 p.m. But really, what was the worst that could happen if I didn’t finish eating and leave home (the 2nd time) by one o’clock. I might arrive a little late, but I’d still be able to make the class. No one would shoot me. No one would shout at me. My world would not come to a sudden end.
What really happened is this: I stashed the veggies in the fridge, sat down at my own kitchen table and ate my hamburger and most of the fries in a calm and slow enough manner so as not to get the food stuck in my esophagus (as sometimes happens when I eat too fast). At a minute or two past one I was again on my way. I made it to class with more than 10 minutes to spare.
I resolve to remember Stillwater the Panda as often as necessary in order not to carry unnecessary frustration around. I think it would be a good lesson for us all in this hurry-up, faster-I-go, behinder-I-get world!
(P.S. Now I have to hurry off to bed because it’s 11:04 p.m. G’nite.)
I’ll have to tell MAry how much that book has changed our lives!
Hopefully Thomas will take the zen message to heart too (though somehow i doubt he’ll be able to do that for a long time!!)
I was wondering who recommended that book to them. I love it; wouldn’t mind having a copy for myself. Please thank Mary for Pop and me as well. (I love having friends in high places!) Hopefully the book will impact Thomas as he grows up, too.
OH, this is great. I’m glad i decided to read it instead of continuing to beat my head against a wall with a manuscript that is going nowhere fast. The whole day has been a blowout in terms of actual intellectual work for me. I need Stillwater right now too.
And yes, Vim-the-elder, Thomas will need a LOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGG time for the Zen message. I think his daddy only manages it part of the time. 😉
His sister, on the other hand…that will definitely need a different story. not sure which one yet, but a different story.
Dad was referencing the book just last weekend too. I’ve got to send mary an email right now!
I have NO TIME to read that book – i have to clean the house, the dogs, the car, go to work, pay the bills, do the laundry, shop for food, watch my important TV shows, dust, mop, eat, and somewhere in there sleep.
I guess I am the prime candidate to read the book and would love to see it when I visit.
You are so right, we “imagine” oursevles into a corner of frantic behavior – the “what ifs” of the world collect like little dust bunnies and scurry us all over the place – until we relax and sweep those bunnies up and throw them out we will never stop rushing!
Recently I was walking one of my dogs and a neighbor of mine has these beautiful roses alongside the walkway – big bunches of them and I usually look at them and smile – but this time I actually stopped and had my dog sit and I leaned over and smelled those roses. The scent brought back memories of my mom who loved roses and those memories were precious to me. Just taking those few seconds, really, to do that “stop and smell the roses” routine for real made my day so much nicer. And why not do that with so many other things in our lives – stop and realize what is around you and enjoy it – we may never have that moment again.
Thanks for reminding me to do just that. I think I will go sit and read my book for a while now and get off this darn computer!
Thank you. I too get caught up in myself. One minute meditations help too.