Archive for mindfulness

The end in the beginning

A girlfriend once told me that I wrapped presents so poorly that no gift inside could overcome the offence I’d given by the mayhem of paper and tape on the outside. That was almost forty years ago. The sight of wrapping paper to this day makes me want to smoke crack.

A few Christmas seasons ago, I was in Buffalo with my partner staying with her family. The night before Christmas she took all of the gifts she’d sent to Buffalo in advance out of the boxes, so that she could wrap them here in our small bedroom. The room seemed an unshakeable chaos. There were sixty-two presents. I started to cry on the inside.

My beloved was in her element and conducted before me a symphony of wrapping. She saw no chaos. She saw the end in the beginning, perfectly appointed presents with delightful cards, never disorder, no antagonism between love and skill. Sixty-two marvellous gifts, given in love (successfully).

Genius sees no complexity. It sees the end in the beginning. We don’t. I don’t. We see a mess.

Related

Back in 2016 a woman in my Dialectical Behavioural Therapy class told us she was “practicing not having Costco-size emotional reactions to 7-11-sized situations.” It became my motto.

Suddenness

Yesterday in New West I had lunch with friends and got a doggy bag with half a roast beef sandwich and a bunch of fries. Walking toward the Skytrain station I saw a couple of bedraggled guys and asked them if they wanted it. They said no, and then one of them pointed to an older, intoxicated fellow a few yards away and said “he might.” That third fellow said he did and reached out for the food. Then one of the original pair jumped over and yanked the bag from my hand: “Nothing for him!”

The third fellow wailed: “You took it from me!” That angry complaint was aimed *at me*, I realized with some fear. He started after me as I hustled up the stairs to the train. The stairs must have deterred him.

I’ll feel safe when I get on the train, I told myself. But I didn’t feel safe … for the rest of the day, unable to return to the quotidian habit of forgetting the suddenness that surrounds us.

Simpleness

My recipe for making people happy:

  • Tell parents that their infant is beautiful.
  • Tell neighbours that their dog is beautiful.
  • Tell children that their bikes are fantastic.

Facebook friends append some ingredients to my recipe:

  • Little kids also like to know that you love their sneakers.” (thanks to S.M.)
  • Also, tell them their lemonade is good. Buy a second cup.” (thanks to @bfwriter)

My favourite ‘mindfulness’ activity …

… Counting the container ships in English Bay while walking along the seawall. They hide behind other ships, emerge, recede into a faraway haze, disappear behind Stanley Park or UBC. In one walk there were eight at the start, by the Cactus Club, then thirteen right before I got to the pool on Second Beach. The counting discipline makes me feel strangely great, as my patient friends will attest.

Thanks to John Glionna for the photo.