“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”
My days are packed with one mundane chore after another. One laundry pile is barely folded and put away as the next is ready to wash. It seems a new month begins and just as suddenly it is over without my permission. I try to mark the days and seasons with rituals and routines that make them distinct, but they can easily blend together in my memory. When I pause long enough to reflect on this, I feel stunned that so much time has passed and I am still folding the same laundry. Was I thinking that someone would show up at my house and do it for me? That I would inherit a wardrobe of clothing for my family that would magically clean itself? That I would suddenly enter a world where clothing is optional and no laundry is required?
I am easily seduced by the mentality that there is some great external reward coming, some special time or event on the horizon that will allow me to transcend the bills and dishes at home and the endless stream of patients and paperwork at the office. But the older I get, the more I know in my heart that THIS IS IT. My life is blessed with an endless stream of ordinary. That special thing or time is a mirage, and the closer I get to it, the more I can see it is not real. What is real however, is the present moment. And MY present moment (and the one right after that) just happens to be filled with laundry, dishes, and bank ledgers, and car problems, and teenage drama, and all sorts of other mundane stuff.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t enjoy looking forward to a good tropical vacation, or that special times like Christmas, or snowstorms, or summer camping trips don’t help me to transcend the ordinary. But barring any disasters, the stuff my life is made of: my boyfriend, my three adolescent children, the man I affectionately refer to as my “work-husband”, the 1200 or so patients at our clinic, the dog, and all the other beloved characters and related challenges presented to me daily probably aren’t going to change that much in the foreseeable future. And truly, I would hate it if they did.
I get it, things can and will change, they always do. If I don’t make them change myself, then change will come to me whether I like it or not. I try to pay attention to what people are telling me. I try to watch the signs. I have lived without awareness and it got me into trouble. There is a fine line between being comfortable and taking something for granted, and I have to walk that edge whether I want to or not. Complacency does not make for a satisfying life, but as the serenity prayer tells me, comfort is found in the gracious acceptance of that which I cannot change.
I struggle with thoughts that would have me believe that something in my life isn’t good enough or perfect enough. My finances, my health, my body shape, my relationships, my yoga practice, my writing, all are subject to my harsh scrutiny. Certainly I know it’s important to regularly examine myself and my life, to do literal and metaphorical spring cleaning, but this ruthless internal critic and the associated duality is not helpful in my quest for peace and contentment.
I can hear the robins singing in my yard on this very early full-moon morning after Good Friday. Easter is tomorrow, and spring is here, and there’s a pile of laundry waiting to be folded on my couch. For that I am supremely grateful.
ॐ – पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमआदाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Om – purnamadah, purnamidam, purnat purnamudachyate, Purnasya purnamadaya purnamevavashisyate.
This is perfect, that is perfect, perfect comes from perfect,
Take perfect from perfect and the remainder is perfect.
May peace and peace and peace be everywhere.
[Invocation of the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad]