I ran this in the Eye at some point and have read it aloud at almost every spoken word gig I’ve done. When the Lancaster Performing Arts Center put on a lives-of-women-themed show, the directors turned it into a performance piece. People like it.
I pour the batter onto the griddle, then repeat the act five times. As the half-dozen circles brown, I step back from the counter, plant my feet wide, turn them to the right and stretch over and down into triangle pose. Several breaths later, I straighten, flip the pancakes, then repeat the pose to the left. My spine appreciates the stretch. My mind notices the stack of laundry waiting to be sorted.
My life is like this. Moments of focus squeezed in between the daily chores. Actually, “focus” may be an overstatement, since my mind never quite clears. It slows down perhaps, exits the freeway, for a more leisurely cruise past pastures and rolling hills, but never idles.
Does this inability to empty my mind, to become One with Nothing (or is it One with Everything?) prevent me from attaining enlightenment? Most spiritual guidelines stress a deeply meditative state as a necessary gateway to transcendence.
But I’m not so sure. I mean, I’ve heard the Buddha story, the one about “being enlightened with all things,” but he only found “enlightenment” because he abandoned his wife and son to follow his solitary path. I’m not so impressed. Give me the mother immersed in the cyclical processes of housework, immersed in cycles like Mother Nature herself, not just observing them from underneath a tree as if one was no more than a rock.
Ah, they say, but that is the point – one is no more than a rock. Sure, I answer, in a great cosmic soup sense, that’s likely true. But a rock, useful and beautiful as it may be, will not be picking up little rock children from school, kissing little rock owies, reassuring little rock hearts that sometimes friends get in fights and say mean things but often make up again, will not be making sure little rock bellies are safe from hunger. While Buddha refuses to move from his spot beneath the tree, Mother tends to life.
I do not deny the beauty of stillness, the possibilities inherent for fulfillment when one achieves the state of emptying oneself. But I laugh to think that I, in whom life already resides with such fullness, am somehow less close to Truth.
In the half-hour between the time the children leave for school and my husband returns home, I will finish my yoga routine: dog pose between emails, cobra after I sweep the floor. But at this moment, this place in time made sticky with maple syrup and smelling of cinnamon and vanilla, as my children delight in the breakfast I’ve made them, my mind and heart swell, and I am, at once and forever, enlightened with all things.