When it is hot, be hot.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 | Adopting Devils

To decide to have a child is to decide to allow your heart to go walking around outside your body.

Wyatt’s TMO teachers presented us with that sentiment on Mother’s day, as their idea of a festive mother’s day apparently involves making one cry (they also offer handprints, and that poem about how the handprint won’t be this small for long—oh, and checkbook covers, which I quite appreciate.)

Let me just say that the decision to adopt a child—now that, that is popping a chunk of your heart out and sending it tossing around in the Pacific in a Pepsi bottle.

I posted a few days ago about control, and not having it, and oh, that’s ok, I’m all right with that, I said, merrily. It’s fine.

Right. Just dandy. I am perfectly ok with not being in control, which is probably why I dream, alternatively, about the two most obvious things that are out of my control, at the moment—a job I’ve applied for, and going to China. Or about leaving kids somewhere, or failing to meet a deadline…everything short of naked arrival in math class the day of the final, really. Apparently I am anxious.

There are many, many things in life I cannot control. Other drivers. Airplane pilots. Acts of nature. Whether or not, say, Julia Glass has also applied for the writing gig I want. (My favorite friend said today, in response to that, that I am much funnier than Julia Glass, to which I say, why, thank you, my ego swelleth, but the job still goes to the Pulitzer winner) China. Interest rates, the price of eggs, virus mutations.

Buddhist principles suggest that the problem with those things is neither the things, nor my inability to control the things—it’s my attachment to the things, or their outcomes. If I can release that attachment to outcomes, I will also release my anxiety. Christian philosophy places the “things one cannot change” in the hands of God, politely capitalized. Jews, I believe, put things one cannot change in the category of things one does not yet understand, with the idea that one should have faith that in time, all things will become clear. It strikes me now, as it has before, that these are mostly matters of semantics, of applying different words and possibly different mental techniques to what is essentially the same question: How can I not feel so bad when I am afraid?

There is a reason, I think, that we say that we “practice” religion. We also “practice” meditation, and yoga. I propose that one thing these things have in common is that we will never get them right. If you aspire to behave like a historical figure who’s acquired the status of myth for his legendary kindness—oh, plus miracles—it’s not like one day you’ll be able to say oh, well, ok then, now I can move on to mastering chess. We never achieve enlightenment, and all things never become clear. We just….practice.

I would like to say that today I could use less practice. Which is just another way of saying that we may or may not be able to go get Rory in June, or July, or August…

And so I turn to my garden, which I note is another common suggestion in many religious practices. Cultivate your garden. The idea being, I suppose, that here you can impose some measure of control, just to lighten up after all that practice. The Parent Association at Sam’s school (apparently NOT the Parent-Teacher Association, now that I come to think of it) has a deal with the farm where we get our plants anyway—the ones you can’t grow from seed here, like tomatoes and peppers—and one must fill out the form, to request one’s plants, which one then goes and chooses—just as I would have chosen them last year, only with, I suppose, the addition of the form. A level of bureaucracy has been imposed on the process to permit the transference of some of the funds to Sam’s school. An advantage, for me, is the introduction of a requirement that I actually consider how many plants I want, as opposed to last year’s plan, which featured a wagon and three children who really, really like tomatoes. I think that, provided I also subtract the children from this part of the process, this will be a good thing and result in fewer tomatoes at the end of the season, which will mean I will not feel obligated to dry them, and then not use them, because I cannot figure out 1)whether I dried them safely or 2) how to use them. They are still in my cabinet, though, do I get points for that?

Tomorrow I plan to lay the mulch, add the compost and get ready. Sam and Lily—and maybe even Wyatt—can put in at least some seeds this weekend. It’s a little early, but I’m feeling good about frost.

That’s a piece of Buddhist advice, btw. A koan, even, because in its entirety, it’s a mysterious response to a question about dealing with discomfort, but one of those things I think we understand better the less we think about it. Hmmm…The less we think about it. I think I’m onto something, there.

Anyway–I’m ready to take that particular advice. When it is hot, I will be hot.

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1 Comment to When it is hot, be hot.

shirlee
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Good post. It all boils down to the same thing – it isn’t where we are going, but the journey that matters. So trite and so true. Achieving one goal only opens us up to striving for the next. As we practice faith or patience or whatever it is we are learning as we go, we begin to focus less on ourselves and more on the world around us. That, I think, is the ultimate goal of every religion. Because only in denying ourselves can we truly begin to love others. Without love, we lack empathy and compassion. Without those, we become less human.

Who knows? Maybe we will travel to see our daughters before August. And maybe those tomatoes my husband planted weeks ago will bear fruit.

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