At a conference I went to a few years ago we were taught a form of meditation called tonglen to help us teach our children with more kindness and patience. In tonglen, you breathe in and imagine the most noxious place you can think of (a port-a-potty is a common choice) and then breath out and imagine the most wonderful, peaceful place you can think of.
I can’t remember what my noxious place was at the time, but right now this is it: trapped in a small room, no longer writing, with three whining children complaining about each other, cold rain keeping inside and cranky with pent-up energy, and an old dog whose farts smell disturbingly, exactly like last night’s meatloaf.
A deep breath.
But where to go? A beach? The mountains? The bathroom, all by myself thank you very much? But there’s these warm bodies here, good books, and suddenly lots of hugs and snuggling. Why move? In the blink of a moment, happiness.
But what kind of bizarre meditation is it when your bad place and your good place are one and the same? Does that work, or is this so messed up that it would make a zen monk’s head explode? Can anything other than family do this? Unless I start having really good experiences in port-a-potties, probably not for me.
One truth: home schoolers ask too many questions. Guess how many of us it takes to change a lightbulb? Again, I’ve failed to write, and failed to meditate, but at the moment, I’m entirely sure that that doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s enlightenment, or at least as close as I’ll get now that I’ve given up coffee.
One more truth: when dog farts, open window.
For James Vance, and his family
4 months ago