My monk, Titch Nhat Hanh, practiced something called a tea meditation. It’s said he would spend an hour drinking a cup of tea with his fellow monks. It sounds glorious. Honestly, I’m saying that without rancor or sarcasm. In his book Anger: Wisdom for cooling the flames, he talks about how a cup of tea, when drunk with mindfulness, will bring us back to ourselves. The whole world melts away when you spend the time thinking about nothing else but drinking the warm infusion of leaves, smelling the botanical aromas and feeling the concoction infuse your soul with each sip.
I have started my own tea ritual at night before bed. I’m not able to completely concentrate on the tea, I don’t quite have the discipline yet. I also have a bird who demands my complete attention after being left alone all day. I have a small one-ounce cup I try to put out for her when I drink but she doesn’t seem as interested in the tea as she is in pushing the small cup off the desk. She makes me smile. The tea does make me pause, to inhale the floral bouquet (tonight is lemon balm) and try to exhale the feelings of being overwhelmed, overworked and inactive in the direction I want to go. The herbals I drink at night are designed to promote calm and restfulness of mind after the long days I’ve been having, and the spice teas I drink during the day are to get more liquid and less chemicals into my body for better health.
I didn’t practice last night. I was too tired to do anything, including sleep. I was irritated because work was long, lunch was gastro-intestinally distressing and the work environment dredged up some old forgotten feelings from long, long ago of people long since passed. I watched TV eating salted caramels from Costco and stayed up well past my bedtime (8:30pm!) and still couldn’t sleep. I eventually got up around 10pm took some Tylenol then rubbed a melatonin infused lotion on my legs and feet and eventually fell into a quasi-restful slumber. I blamed my restlessness on the family interaction from the night before, I blamed it on working too much, I blamed it on being too tired to sleep. In reality, I didn’t bring myself back to center with a cup of tea after being scattered mentally, physically and emotionally from the day. Rituals are powerful tools, even when they are as simple as a cup of tea.
It was in the pre-dawn hours this morning while driving to work a baby deer bolted in front of my car. It wasn’t even big enough to make the car shutter as it threw off the small animal like a dog with rain water. I had no time to react, to hit my breaks or to even swerve, which would have put an abrupt end to my day. I pulled over about 100 yards away from the impact and as the morning began to shimmer in the sky I could see the dark body of the fawn on the side of the road. It was too dark to see if it was breathing and it wasn’t cold enough to see the steam from it’s breath. I wanted to believe it was okay and at the same time I wanted to believe it’s death was swift and painless. How those two diametrically opposed outcomes could rest peacefully in my mind still boggles. I couldn’t go to it because I didn’t want to know. It was cowardly, it was inhumane. If it was in agony I didn’t have any means to end it’s suffering, I couldn’t do it for Dotty, a creature I loved, I couldn’t pick up a rock and bash in the brains of a terrified animal to ‘help’.
Many images and thoughts have come from this experience unbidden and not totally unwanted.
- It’s warning of jumping too soon into my plans for resolution with my sisters.
- There is the guilt of thinking it was following it’s mother across the road and it was too intent to be with her it didn’t hesitate.
- Anger at the house which allows the deers to graze in their yard so close to the busy road. It’s not a kindness befriending wild animals.
- Shouldn’t I feel something more than just casual remorse for the loss of life. I’m too numb.
- There should be a company you can call where someone quickly comes out, slaughters the venison and distributes it to the poor and hungry before the body starts to break down and spoil the meat.
- What am I suppose to learn from this? Why did a baby deer have to die in order for me to learn whatever the lesson is? And how many more animals will need to be sacrificed before I learn it?
- How completely blessed I am because it could have been so much worse.
On my drive home from work I didn’t see the body. I’m clinging to the hope I just stunned the little tyke and it’s with it’s mother being suckled back to health.
Boxes have been dancing around my head like cubed sugar plum fairies. In my first attempt at therapy with a Jungian therapist she diagnosed me with past sexual trauma based on an image in a dream she made me draw out (it was a doozy of a dream). I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY OF THAT KIND OF TRAUMA. She told me it didn’t matter if I remember it or not, the dream image was proof. So I’ve been carrying around this idea in my head and dreading the day I would have to unbox it and deal with something I couldn’t remember. Ellen and I talked about this. No memory means no memory. The dream image is just a dream. There are survivor behaviors I exhibit (behaviors defined by talk-shows and internet articles), but it’s still not proof of abuse. We discussed my childhood and some of the frugal techniques my parents employed could explain a lot of those issues. Something which needs reframing further down the road.
Ellen pointed out the issues are in boxes and neatly put away. They are safe and secure and they don’t need to be dealt with right now, if ever. Not avoiding. Not ignoring. JUST NOT NOW. I can adjust their position on the shelves, but I don’t have to do anything right now. Right now is just too busy to be opening a possible cobra-in-the-box to scare me back into the void. I don’t need that right now. Relief doesn’t even describe what I felt at this realization.
Then why have the dream? Why would my subconscious bring this to my attention? One of the ideas which came to mind is I am starting to reduce my dependance on Ellen. It’s nice to have someone help you sort out the threats from the paranoia, if you will and it’s easier to have her on my calendar then to deal with things as they happen. I am doing okay on my own but I’m always afraid I’m going to mess up. When I start spinning on that fear I eventually stop myself and correct it with: “So what? You mess up. It’s not the end of the world.” Considering how many time I’ve found myself at the equivalent of square one due to mis-calculations and didn’t die or get arrested proves messing up isn’t the horror my brain has always made it out to be. Though the tool doesn’t present itself at the start of the spin, it does work once I get my hands on it. As long as I don’t stop trying I will succeed. As long as I get up every time I fall, I will cross the finish line. Right now, doing the needful is enough.