Monday, November 21, 2011

There's more reality out there than you bargained for

I made a trivial mistake a while back of subscribing to a cooking magazine meant for another generation, for women who have fresh rosemary and currant jelly in their pantry, and who don't mind cooking and eating baby animals. (I just can't.)  Like every other magazine these days, it has an article about how meditation will help you continue to live an insanely ambitious, stressful life. Sigh.

So I turned to the Sunday paper and read there an advice column. The girl - okay, young woman - wanted to know if she should keep trying with her sincerely repentant boyfriend, The Cheater.  If she would ever learn to trust him.  The answer agreed with my understanding of reality: If you stick with him, understand that he will always have that trait. Ask yourself whether it's worth it anyway.

 The article mentioned that if you sit still and shut up and stop planning to make currant-glazed lamb chops with pistachio couscous for dinner, you will gain insight into your own mental patterns, and that will help you be less enslaved to them.  This is true, and it seems to be much emphasized in American Zen, as part of the search for happiness the Boomers ushered in.  Which has led me recently to study a book titled Ending the Search for Happiness by Zen psychiatrist Barry Magid.  What a relief!

Less talked about is that you will also begin to see the reality outside your mind. To see other people as they are, not through your filters and illusions.  That's awareness. The wisdom part is accepting that not only is the other person what he or she is, but that change, if it comes at all, will come slowly.  The very charm Confused Girl loves about the guy, that's something a lot of other girls respond to, too. I am not being facetious when I say that the only times I've seen important personality change in other people has been when they had a stroke, or a similarly dire stroke of reality.

I did adopt a new habit in one fell swoop, or swooping fall in early September, in which I broke my right arm, as I have complained about here, but not enough.  I began doing walking meditation every time I walk.  I don't mean just when I go for a walk or walk the track; I mean when I walk down the hall at home.  No dark hallways for me.  An example of how occasionally Life teaches you to watch your step.


  1. One sees what they want to see, and it much easier "they think" to complain about it than to act on it. Not in the case of your fall, though because stuff just happens in life, regardless of how careful you are. I fall going upstairs, with my numb left side and when it happens I wake up suddenly. Better than coffee!
    Some stranger asked me an opinion of his relationship, and although I am good at reading two peoples long term potential, told him that you would never take what I say over what is right now. People's life path has its own course with wisdom, and you can't spoon feed 'em.

  2. I enjoyed your post. It’s a lot like college – we should absorb everything we can but ultimately you need to take what you’ve learned and apply it.

  3. watch our steps indeed, and not just in case we fall, but in case we miss something good along the way.
    Ah, happiness. Maybe if we looked at it like brownies: you can't eat them all the time, but when you do they're a really good treat.