Thursday, January 5, 2012

Stop Trying So Hard

I'm 50 years old and just beginning to see a few things clearly.

I tried to hard to give my first three children a better life than mine, or at least, a better childhood than my childhood... less rules, more fun, good food, good books, many songs, hugs and words of love.  My childhood wasn't so bad, but I grew up with a lot of loneliness.  I so wanted my kids to know they were not alone.

But, it turns out, every one of us is, ultimately, alone. I didn't really know how to deal with my own loneliness so I covered it up with fun and food and books and songs and do do do.  They were good things to do, but I wish I had focused less on doing, and more on being.  I wish I had taken an honest look inside and dealt with what I found.  I wish I had made time for parenting me.  I wish I had spent less time trying to be perfect, less time giving, and more time simply seeing and wondering and appreciating.  I wish I would have helped my kids understand that loneliness is inevitable, and showing them what to do with that feeling when it does come.

Good parenting has little to do with providing, showing, leading, guiding.  It is really about being... about letting my kids see me being. Awake. Sad. Appreciative. Distressed. Creative. Mad. Kind. Kind to me. Aware of the kindness of others. Compassionate. Alive.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” -Pema Chodron

There is no need for the armor of perfection.  The perfect mother will not have a child who knows what to do when despair falls on her.  The perfect mother will not have a child who knows how to dig himself out of a pile of mistakes he has made.  The perfect mother will not have a child who can see all that is good and pleasant in this world.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”  -Pema Chodron 

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”  -Pema Chodron

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