Yesterday, I started reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chödrön (the phrase above appears in her book). The title looked resonated with me, given my recovery and recent reading habits, and so I dove in. The more I read, the more I connected with Chödrön’s gentle style of teaching. Her words rendered the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism into a manageable, applicable step I could take. Her concept of attachment, which she refers to as shenpa, was perfectly clear; the concept took everything I’ve been reading about Buddhism (and Taoism, for that matter) and presented itself to me as my family watched a movie, and my dog Charley rolled around by legs, and my cat Big peered up at me with his large, yellow eyes. In that ordinary moment, it clicked. I got it. NIRVANA!!
Heh. Okay, I’m not anywhere closed to enlightened, but I’m making spiritual progress. I took Chödrön’s advice and began looking for shenpa to rear its irritable head in my life. As she promised, it didn’t take long. My children went crazy shortly after breakfast this morning, and I banished my oldest to his room…twice. It was necessary. but I didn’t approach him calmly. I allowed myself to get “hooked” and I became lost in one of my story lines. This particular one goes something like. “Robert deserves peace and quiet at all times because he’s in recovery, and even if he wasn’t, it should be peaceful and quiet because that’s what he wants.”
It doesn’t take an enlightened soul to point out that I have aneight and four-year old and that my household will be many things, but quiet and peaceful won’t be one of them for some time. My children need to learn to control themselves, yes, but they need to be children, too. They need to express their energy, and I need to back off and calm the hell down.
*deep breath* I’m trying to. I’m not going to give up until I realize—and I mean, fully realize—that no one can rob me of my serenity, just as no one can rob me of my sobriety. I choose the way I react, just as I choose not to take that first drink today.
As I sit here, my youngest son is napping, and my wife and oldest are at a birthday party. I just finished a good cup of coffee, and I’m going to have another. My house is a wreck, and I need to wash and fold clothes. I need to run the dishwasher, I need to call my brother…but I don’t need to do any of those things. I could, of course, but I could also sit and enjoy my coffee. I could listen to some music and enjoy the relative calm because it won’t last. In fact, nothing lasts. My life, thoughts, body, and energy and in flux, just as the universe is. My body and mind intuitively know what’s good for me at this moment; I just have to be patient and listen.
That, my friends, is what I call progress.