“what’s zen’s antonym?”

Yeah, I couldn’t put my finger on the right word, either, so I looked it up.

Here are some choices: clinging, illusory, time, vice, self, imbalance, finite, ego.

I’ve been called, a couple times, “so zen.” I guess this means I present myself as together, or connected, body and mind. Or that I see things without distortion by my own thoughts and feelings. I take it as a compliment, but honestly, I feel closer to its opposites at least once on any given day.

Sometimes I can’t let go. Sometimes I put on a happy, calm face when I’m anything but. Sometimes I focus too much on the future or the past. Sometimes I do things that are not the best for me or others. Sometimes I feel like I could just tip over from the weight I feel from all that I find so worrisome and important. Sometimes I just want to make a mark, to make myself known, because everything does feel so finite… And I want to last, and last, and last. I want to matter.

Who isn’t the opposite of zen, at least once a day? Aside from this guy?

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For the majority of any given day, I am not “so zen.” I’m just doing my best. Like everybody else.

***

A year or so ago, my sister and I both ended up giving our sister-in-law the same children’s book for her daughters, our nieces: The Three Questions (by Jon J. Muth, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy). Please get it (reviewed here) if you don’t already have it.

The three questions? “What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?”

And the answers? “There is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing by your side. . . . This is why we are here.”

It’s a beautiful story. It makes being at least a little bit “zen” a lot easier.

A fine friend

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That’s our girl. She’s at a party right now to celebrate a friend’s ninth birthday. It’s a sleepover with a luau theme, featuring pool time, bowling, and watching the birthday girl’s big brother run a 5K in our little town.

When I was our girl’s age, my parents would never have let me be at a party from 2pm till 9am. Things are different. I’m different. Parties are different. I’m getting nearly hourly updates via text on how the girls are doing.

I told our daughter as I took her to the party, “if you need us, ask Ms. J to call me.” She “mm-hmmed.”

“I know you probably won’t need me, though.”

“Yeah, I never need to leave a party.”

And not this party, especially. The birthday girl is a lovely person–kind and enthusiastic, laid back, independent… I love our girl to be around her. This friend is heading off to a magnet school. Our daughter will miss her but said, “That makes sense, though. She’s so good at so many things, she’s so creative and smart, she’s really special.”

She said all this with such blithe generosity. Not even an atom’s worth of envy or self-doubt. (I fear I learned those two last things too early in life.)

She saw a piano in this friend’s house. “Oh YES! I can play ‘Happy Birthday’ for you! I’m learning piano.”

She is a fine friend. The finest. She has no idea how to be anything but.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep.

what’s for dinner

what's for dinner

I’m a little excited. We got this new super-duper blender, see, so I just made Carrot Ginger Tofu Soup. We’re going to have it with some garlic naan. Just tasted it: delicious. Have a good Friday evening, all y’all out there.