Some things make me embarrassed to be human: pet clothes boutiques, deep fried Twinkies on a stick, and having spent my spring break at a place where there was a Beef Jerky Outlet. I don’t like to be confronted with things that shamelessly celebrate our most basic (basest?) desires and our insistence on indulging them. I at least like to think of myself as restrained, tasteful. But I’ve learned that when things outside me are irritating, I should probably look inside at whatever is getting its feathers ruffled. And though beef jerky, even deep fried and on sale, wouldn’t tempt me, many other insta-indulgences would.
I struggle with the indulgence of escaping reality, for example, of letting myself drift away from the present moment into what I wish was happening: I wish I could have stayed in bed this morning with Gabe because he’s sick and needs extra cuddling; no, I did not pay attention to sky or the clouds or anyone else in the house. I paid attention to how much my actual day was going to be an obstacle to what I wanted my day to be.
I’m also sort of a tabloid addict, and if there is anything legal and sober that allows you to escape from reality faster than “Us” magazine, I’d like to know what it is. I buy clothes that I don’t need and forget what I already own; I want my body to look different than it does, and fail to appreciate what it already is (like 97% of all women–yuck), and I wish that people in general were smarter, kinder, healthier, and more accommodating of me and my desires than they are.
So I do get how not being present makes you, well, not present. On the other hand, I very much like the idea of being able to look forward to things, which I don’t know how to reconcile with staying in the present moment. If there are any Buddhist readers out there who would be willing to share their thinking on this, it would be awesome. Seriously.
I feel quite strongly about looking forward to things, because when we are depressed, we lose that ability entirely. Also, I suspect that paying attention to things (the crab apple tree next to our parking spot at Gabe’s day care, the rhododendrons in the Smoky Mountains, the size of Jacob’s feet) has an intrinsic connection to the unfolding, the development, the cyclical nature of that thing. In other words, paying attention connects you not only to what is happening right now, but what will be happening. Looking around can equal, or at least allow, looking forward.
Here are some things that I’m looking forward to right now. It would be very lovely if you would let me know what YOU are looking forward to these days! And below, a poem by Christina Rossetti about celebrating the quickening of new love, the heart waking up to joy and anticipation (and a little bit of a happy birthday wish to my lovely sister whose birthday is this week). She’s getting really old…
FYI: this poem is sweet to read out loud.
I’m looking forward to:
- watching Jacob run track in his yellow and red customized Nike cleats (“Mom, they’re NOT cleats, they’re Spike Shoes”)
- my linden tree blooming
- the Royal Wedding
- coloring Easter eggs with a “marbling” technique I read about in a magazine
- Noah and Jacob’s May birthdays
- Gabe wearing shorts
- more green, less gray
- spring cleaning my carpets
How about you?
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.