Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice
At 30,000 feet, enlightenment seems much more possible, I find. Yesterday, as the lights of Ho Chi Minh City drifted past in the darkness underneath me, I read these words by Zoketsu Norman Fischer (in Shambala Sun, May 2012):
“Practitioners have always understood impermanence as the cornerstone of Buddhist teachings and practice. All that exists is impermanent; nothing lasts. Therefore nothing can be grasped or held onto. When we don’t fully appreciate this simple but profound truth we suffer, as did the monks who defended into misery and despair at the Buddha’s passing. When we do, we have real peace and understanding, as did the monks who remained fully mindful and calm.”
This passage made beautiful sense to me. I mentally sketched out a blog post about non-motherhood and freedom from grasping. I even took a photo of the sky through my little oval aeroplane window to illustrate the post.
A few hours later, having been picked up by H at Bangkok airport, I was strolling happily and peacefully with him to our hotel and suddenly a motorbike swerved very close to us. At first we thought the riders had lost control of their bike, so it took a moment to register that they had sped off and that my handbag had been wrenched off my arm and was sailing away down the street with them.
When very suddenly relieved of a wallet, camera, iPod, journal, some medicine and a locket (why? why did I decide it didn’t go with my dress and take it off?) it turns out I am, after all, a huge walking bundle of graspiness. I think I spent about six hours straight reworking those few seconds in every possible different formation so that I didn’t lose my bag. I imagined and wished for improbable, if not impossible scenarios in which my things were returned to me. In the end, the best I could do was hope that the thieves’ needs were greater than mine and attach myself to a mental image of one of them having a rare opportunity to give someone he loved a beautiful locket and of her treasuring it and keeping it safe and wondering why there was a tiny dried flower inside it (the first H gave me).
So quite clearly, I am not in a position to be writing about detachment or peace with impermanence in relation to non-motherhood or anything else. But the fact that there seems to be a Buddha on just about every street corner of this beautiful city is helping me to be philosophical about it. And evidence of hardship all around – real hardship, not just a bunch of frozen bank accounts and a grazed wrist – is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am.
For now, that’s about the best I can do.
If you would like to read more about Buddhist thinking in relation to non-motherhood you might like this post about workability. If you’re interested in the idea of contentment, you might find this a helpful thought (I do).
But in the meantime, how about you? Have you ever mulled over a connection between non-motherhood and grasping/not grasping? And if you too aspire to grasp at things less tightly, have you made any progress?
[Since the photo I took for this post disappeared with my camera, the
beautiful image here is reproduced with permission from cornflower blue studio.]