You have reached your destination – any annoying satellite navigation system
Be where you’re at – Buddhism, oversimplified
We write lists, make our way through tasks, assuming that once goals are achieved there will be a permanent change for the better. But this is not how life is. Is it? Not mine at any rate. I tempt myself into thinking that next month, if I can just finish the things on my current plate, life will have more room in it; more room for picking up my Ukulele, for meditating, for playing with the kids, for making a start on any of the three book ideas that roll around my head almost constantly. But it never does work out quite in this fashion. Something else, something newly Important or Urgent pops up in my real-life inbox screaming for attention. This last couple of weeks hasn’t been any different – a voluntary role I have has taken up an unexpected and unprecedented amount of time, on top of the usual caring, writing, cooking, and moving-piles-of-stuff-around that passes for keeping this place superficially tidy. My emotions have run deep, high, strong and stretched. Sleep has been interrupted, temper has been short. All those things that I am really hoping to get round to will all have to wait, just that little bit longer. It is all a bit irritating, really.
Before I had kids, I went to a fair few Buddhist meditation classes. I loved the peace, the seeing life from a fresh perspective, and the general decency of the people who attend such things. Since the kids arrived, the discipline of sitting on a cushion has almost entirely left me, despite the fact that the word ‘meditate’ frequently occurs on lists I write for the next week, month or year. But, my time spent in Buddhist meditation classes was not entirely in vain. I was paying attention when the tutors frequently reiterated the simple notion that we cause our own suffering in life, and we can free ourselves from this cycle through developing our own awareness.
I know the hurly-burly I live within is self-created – even if it doesn’t always seem that way. So I can resent and resist the tough moments, rant my way through them. Or – I can find a space in which to smile sweetly at the degree to which it is all self-inflicted, and remember another oversimplified Buddhist principle, that everything changes. Buddhism would say ‘Feeling frustrated with seemingly unobtainable goals? Let it go, in the here and now, you have reached your destination.’ ‘Don’t like where you are? Don’t fight it, be where you are at – this too shall pass’.
Today, the sun shone, and our little corner of Devon stopped feeling as if it were at the mercy of a mid-Atlantic Storm-Cat. With the hubby having to work, the kids and I headed down to the beach with a packed lunch made for kicking sand into, and my as-yet-untested Christmas-gift Storm Kettle. The kids found little sticks and twigs, I got the fire going, and sandwiches were munched while we waited for water to warm. When it did, we drank hot apple juice and melted marshmallows in the embers. Lush, as the modern vernacular has it. For the first time in more than a fortnight, I didn’t think about what was next on the list, or even mull over what had already been achieved. We just sat in the sunshine, being where we were at – our destination.