Into my empty mind came the remembrance of Thanksgivings past, in which I drove I-71 from Columbus to my parent's house on Greenlawn Avenue in Akron in the worst traffic of the year - bumper to bumper at 72 mph. During that drive I would vow things like, "He's not going to get to me this time," and "I'm not going to get mad at anybody today."
In time my parents moved to a small apartment in a nearby town, and Cassie held the Annual Dysfunction, as someone later termed it, not in jest, then my father died and we all went to a horribly expensive restaurant. Then I held it in my house. Then my mother died. Then my sister moved to Australia. Then my brother finished his dying of liver cancer. Things change.
Midstream we began the Thanksgiving dinner at the church. It was something Tina came to - her family didn't like her, either - but she died last year. I miss her acerbic presence in my life; she was irreplaceable. Well, they all are. We all are.
I didn't know much about vowing back then. Nor was I in the habit of expressing my anger, irritation, resentment - just kept them on simmer. Of course, that kind of vow is an evil virus that can take over all your feelings and put them in the deep freeze we call depression.
I've been teaching the Great Vows for all, and thinking how the second vow is a natural for this great family holiday in this country of rampant consumerism -
Greed, anger, and ignorance arise endlessly, vowing to cut off the mind road.They do arise. And the vow is not to stop them. The vow is to let them pass, the way you do when you meditate. The vow is to get off the long train of resentments, preferences, desires, by doing something else. Cut off the mind road of long stories, hear the music, and enter the dance.