SIX WEEKS: LEARNING THAT NOTHING IS EVERYTHING IN NOWHERE’S LAND (part five)
I never liked the seesaw, not even as a little girl. One up, one down… I didn’t see anything! It was monotunous and made me feel queasy, especially when the random, big-boned kid at the park would plant is feet into the ground and force me to stay up there for what seemed like hours. I didn’t enjoy going up, staying up… I was too afraid to jump down.
Now that I am older (and wiser) I see it all as a question of balance – a game. Perhaps the seesaw was actually preparing us for everything else in life. Those who dare to walk on the seesaw and try to find the magical, middle ground understand how difficult this feat really is. It requires just the right amount of mobility, sense of equilibrium – physical and mental – otherwise you will wind up going down head first, face straight into the dirt.
Here we are in nowhere’s land, disconnected from everyone and almost everything. Yesterday was just perfection. So was the day before and the day before that. I felt light and lovely and protected in paradise. Early this morning I was still up, up, up…
Now it is raining outside the dojo (our temporary home for 6 weeks). We are inside looking out – all four of us – door closed shut (too many flies out there) – no furniture, no phone, no TV, no internet, only one computer that we take turns using. The girls are ok, wonderful actually. They have their barbies and ipods, their imagination. Andrea and I are nervous and fighting – getting into each other’s way.
It is his turn on the computer. He is working on his next book. I am here writing it all down in my journal. Neither one of us, of course, capable of focusing our thoughts on the task at hand. Instead, we are separately thinking about the imbalance, the harsh words exchanged, feeling bad about falling once again from the seesaw, head first deep into the dirt below us – a position from which it is absolutely impossible to see anything at all because all we remember is what we saw… imperfection, dissatisfaction, restlessness, insecurity, fear… perhaps still too much of everything that this nothingness has to offer.
I said it was him – ‘never happy, seeing too many problems‘. He said it was me as he listed in detail all that he saw as being annoying. Behind what we saw and what we continue to see is confusion of where we belong.
The rain is really coming down. I am outside sitting on the wood planks of the patio, my back up against the side of the dojo. I am in this amazing place with rain, sun, clouds and blue sky… mountains and fresh, dewey air.
I stretch out my legs hoping that the touch of the rain on my toes may rinse away the hurt feelings. I am tempted to get up from under the roof and jump right out into the downpour – drench myself in the pureness of all that I see. I should, but I don’t. Instead, I remain immobilized; in motion, only my hand, as it moves across the lined paper, guiding the pen from left to right.
Today I am down, down, down (no random, big-boned kid forcing me to stay here), now realizing that getting stuck up felt a whole lot better than this – on the seesaw, and in life the view is far better from the top.
I am learning… I am being kinder to myself… more forgiving and waiting once again because I have no doubt that nothing is everything… it just takes some time to get used to.
Journal Entry, January 25th 2016, Dojo: Finca Tunduqueral, Uspallata Argentina, 2:00pm
The rain has stopped. A burst of thunder still pounds its fierceness here and there. I pick myself up, wash away the rain that has fallen on my bare feet and legs. I musn’t allow too much time to pass us by.
I think about the words that I read last night: first arrows, second arrows. The first arrow is inevitable, for example physical pain or difficulty – this is something we all experience; the second arrow, however, is nothing more than our reaction to the first, a choice:
When responding to my husband’s behavior, I can choose between an interpretation that supports the relationship or one that undermines it and him*:
It is true that Andrea is less patient than I, that he is much more intense about the future, our future. I could continue to believe that he is trying to sabotoge my happiness (even in a place as unique as this), that he is never satisfied with my efforts, that he should be more tolerant and live the moment more instead of having to talk and think and reason incessantly. It is inevitable that our difference in character will lead to confrontation, but it is my choice to see only the negative. Instead, I could ask myself, ‘Did I give my husband the benefit of the doubt or did I only see and assume the worst?‘. I could remind myself that he is an extremely loving and faithful husband and father that has a strong sense of responsibility for his family and foresees some pretty scary things about the future. I can see how difficult it must be for this caveman to be 24/7 with three girly girls with their girly girl stuff and ways.
And so, I finally get the courage to go back inside… no fear of falling or jumping down (if necessary). I get up the courage to apologize to him knowing that it doesn’t matter who is right and it isn’t important to be right… nobody ever wins when the end result is SEPARATION.
I get up the courage to hug him hoping that he will hug me back…
The day is almost over. We have been inside for the most of it. The girls have played lovingly up until now. But, they too have their limit. Kenia starts to get cranky. She is complaining about Everything, mostly that there is Nothing to do. Andrea feels caged in and lacking patience, yet he knows that this is part of it – the experience. In fact, he unknowingly repeats close to the same words that I had read the night before.
He takes Kenia towards him. She pulls away like a wild animal who does not wish to be captured. He speaks softly to her, but she only hears that ‘ she is not good enough‘, that ‘she is always at fault‘. He asks me to intervene. I do. He continues to hug her as I point out to Kenia how calmly her daddy is speaking, how much love his words express. Without mentioning first arrows and second arrows, I suggest to her that she could choose to see his affection. She reacts positively for the moment, however we continue to go up and down all afternoon and along with this comes the queasiness…
Up and down, up and down, up and down.
Finally the rain stops once again and we are able to take a walk to the vegetable garden to freshly pick our dinner. Only then, are we able to regain our balance and let go…. It is during these times that it is important to remember that we are not the only family that fights and that it is more about the after or ‘second arrow‘ – more about our ability to communicate and understand each other – than the inevitable intensity of the tantrums, which are unfortunately inevitable at times.
Journal Entry, January 25th 2016, Dojo at Tunduqueral Green Village, Uspallata Argentina, 9:20pm
The day is finally at its end. We are all tucked into our sleeping bags, each with our book in hand. There is still some light outside and the clouds are still flaunting colors of pink, peach and purple before being replaced by total blackness and a thick sheet of twinkling stars- stars so bright that when you close your eyes you can touch and also taste them. I look around as I think about today’s difficulties and triumphs and what we learned…
Did we learn a bit more about letting go?…
this too is a form of nothingness, for when we are able to let go of the idea that we must feel good all the time, have always something to do, something to see... when we allow a bit of boredom into our days and those of our children, when we no longer require a specific amount of space to feel the spaciousness, when we let go of the expectations and the negative assumptions – all those second arrows – we are able to reset to needing ‘Nothing’... except love… we can go up and down and up again…
we can enjoy the view from the top and from the bottom… and most importantly, we learn how to enjoy it all for as long as it is willing to last…
and this my sweet friends, is the only EVERYTHING that I strive to SEE!
Peace and love from my seesaw to yours,
* Taken from the book Buddhism for Couples by Sarah Napthali.
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